I attempted a short post, because I love them. I failed. Involved topic. A for effort?
March 13th I got my first vaccine shot. My sis in law, Aunt Leprechaun the doctor, set it up for my brother, Pat (her husband), my sister Marie from Milwaukee, and me. We have asthma. Marie and I were both at 11:30 am. I saw her there.
I passed Marie's two daughters sitting in her car on my way in. I asked if they wanted to come watch me pass out. I'm the funny aunt, which trust me isn't saying much because Ann and Marie set the bar low. I might out myself as 'aged-before-my-time' when it comes to tech stuff, but lawdy these two . . . Marie is plain old aged. Ann is ultra controlling (remember Dad's 80th gift that I took a pass on being involved in?)
Marie was done before me and texted to say she'd try to swing by my house later.
It happened to be Mom's 78th b-day. I hoped my siblings (who all live nearby except for Marie) would gather around the same time on our folk's patio to say Happy B-day. I had something to share with them (not as exciting as a move to Hawaii, mind you) and I was hoping to do it once. I didn't want to try to organize it with the 'I have something to talk about' premise because I didn't want them getting worked up. Staggering 'news' leads to head's-up phone calls and side conversations, etc.
I texted Marie while I waited to be released: ARE YOU GOING TO MOM'S NOW?
Marie: GETTING SOME LUNCH.
I drove home, and wondered if maybe my sisters were at Mom's. I drove by. Mom lives around the corner from me. No cars. When I got home, I called Mom.
Me: HAPPY BIRTHDAY. (chatter, chatter) DO YOU KNOW WHAT TIME MARIE'S COMING BY?
Mom: SHE WAS PICKING UP SANDWICHES AFTER HER SHOT AND THEN SHE AND HER GIRLS WERE HAVING LUNCH AT ANN'S .
*insert dagger #1 My thoughts: I JUST saw Marie and she didn't invite me to lunch. One of the daughter's she brought is my goddaughter. I would've loved to get caught up.
Mom: ANN WANTED TO HAVE DINNER WITH US FOR MY B-DAY. SHE WAS GONNA ORDER US STEAKS FROM GIBSONS. I TOLD HER TO JUST USE MY GIFTCARD RATHER THAN SPEND HER MONEY. THEN THE SHOTS GOT SCHEDULED, SO I TOLD MARIE TO JUST COME WITH HER GIRLS FOR DINNER TOO.
*insert dagger #2 My thoughts: I'm the only other daughter. If the girls are having dinner with the folks, why not include me?
Background: My sisters were always grouped together growing up. I was 2.5 yrs younger than Marie, but you'd think it was a decade. My 2 brothers weren't invited. Mom used to host Pat and his kids every Sunday for lunch while Aunt Leprechaun cleaned her house. My rug-rats and I were never invited over just for kicks. In other words, my brothers have their own 'audiences' with the folks.
I wish it didn't hurt. I DON'T want to care. Really. I'd like to carry on like I GOT MY OWN THING GOING ON AND I DON'T NEED YOU. My sisters annoy me and my folks play favorites, but being excluded sucks.
Me: OK, WELL I MADE YOU SOME IRISH SODA BREAD, MAYBE I'LL STOP BY WITH IT LATER.
*silly me, I was still considering sharing my news with them and I wanted them in one place. I figured they weren't as likely to call and leak it to my brothers, but I decided against it. My mood had shifted.
|Irrelevant pic. It's a GF cupcake aka a little bit of heaven. A woman I know who has celiac sent two cupcakes home with Tank. Photo taken after I inhaled the first one. He works with her and someone gave her too many for St. Pat's day. I needed this!|
Coach was standing there during my phone call. I motioned to him that I had a dagger in my chest. He winced. I couldn't wait to get off the phone so I could cry, but Mom likes to ramble, pretending this is all normal family dynamics:
'WE'RE HAVING DINNER AND DIDN'T INVITE YOU, BLAH BLAH BLAH.'
I hung up and cried for a long time. The kids who were home came running. They were appalled. Not surprised. Reminded me that I didn't need my sisters/ family, etc. Coach hugged me and told me he wished he knew what to say.
Later we delivered the warm soda bread. I wanted to see them eating and make them feel like the ass wipes that they are. Curly came. Mini and Tank weren't home. Coach needed to drop Reg off somewhere, so they literally popped in and left. We were masked. Mom, Dad, Ann, Marie, and 2 nieces were not. They were schmoozing with Marie's other kids on a zoom. We stayed 5 minutes. Coach made me promise not to lash out. Who knows how many b-days Mom has left? I decided not to ruin it.
I simply said: LOOKS LIKE YOU GUYS ENJOYED YOUR MEAL.
Curly said about 4 times: WELL, WE NEED TO GET GOING. WE'RE GOING TO CHURCH. (mass is at 5:30 and it was 5:00. Church is 30 seconds away, but Curly wanted OUT OF THERE - she was being
my body guard protective).
Things I wanted to say but didn't:
My kids would enjoy a steak dinner. Let me know when you'd like us to schedule that.
Hope you enjoyed your dinner, minus the most interesting person in the family.
How do you sleep at night?
Kiss my ass.
Marie wanted to stop by my house so I wouldn't find out about the 'gathering'. I'm sure Mom called her at Ann's and told her that she'd 'told me' so Marie stopped texting me to see when she should stop by.
Not sure which is worse:
1) Mom acting like their dinner plans made sense, or
2) Marie trying to keep her lunch and dinner plans a secret.
I can't help but wonder if some of this stems from Ann's dislike of me, because she can't control me - she'd rather I keep my distance. The family generally tries to keep Ann happy. An impossible task.
The next day Marie texted to ask how Pat and I felt after our shot. I was tempted to call her up and say: MY ARM HURT, BUT MY FEELINGS HURT MORE FROM HOW YOU CREEPS BEHAVED. I ALMOST picked up the phone to tell her this. Instead, I just didn't respond.
I've said nothing about the 'incident'. Mom NEVER calls me. As a rule, I think she expects her kids to call her. She called me on Tuesday to say the soda bread was great. Perhaps a twinge of guilt? Or just testing the waters to see if I was ticked? Fortunately, I was busy with the toddlers, so I chatted for less than a minute.
Where to go from here? Suggestions?
*Remember that talk with my parents last year when my dad blew off our Yellowstone plans and my folks didn't seem to get it. Maybe they're too old to grow or apologize or be called out for lousy behavior. What excuse does Marie have? I was on a road trip Friday and didn't get to meet with my therapist, so relying on you to sub in for her. So much cheaper than real therapy. Lay the advice on me.
I'm sorry, Ernie. Your family truly sounds toxic. Also, mind-blowingly clueless about how other people might feel. My only advice is that their behaviour speaks about THEM, it doesn't speak about YOU. Their exclusion of you says more about them than you, it says that they are toxic, uncaring, frankly really mean people. I have been reading this really great book called Wake Up To The Joy In You, and it's a weekly meditation. It has been really eye-opening and helpful to me. I don't know if you are open to meditation or interested at all, but it is a really good source on looking within and realizing that there is NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU and that when your family behaves in this manner, there is SOMETHING WRONG WITH THEM. Anyway, I don't know if that helps. It hurts to be excluded, full stop. I wish you could cut them out altogether. They truly sound mean.
I am glad you got your shot though! That's the one upside here.
I don't know if you really want my advice but my advice is to stop having a relationship with your sisters. Honestly. We need to stop telling people that family needs to stick together for the sake of the family. This is mental abuse, friend. I get you want to be part of your parent's lives but your sisters obviously seem not to care to have you be part of theirs, so why care to be part of theirs? You have a caring husband, six great children, and that there is more family than most have in a lifetime. It seems almost cruel to put yourself through this. You deserve so much better.
You can adopt my family.
And we love soda bread.
I could also write a book about my non existence in my birth family except for when all-the-things needed to be done. My daughter asked me once why I put up with it knowing full well that I would not tolerate such from anyone else. For me holding my tongue was because: 1. No words from me were ever going to change mom, and 2. At the end of the day I can look myself in the mirror and not have to beat myself up for how I acted. She may have been doing her best. She endured a lot before she had me.
I'm no saint, but I'm comfortable with the way I handled things. And a mantra that's on continual loop in my head? You cannot have a rational conversation with an irrational person.
You and Coach have a lovely family, and delightful friends? The problem isn't you. And you can't fix other people, no matter how much you want to. Take the high ground! Hugs! KS. G'ma
Nicole - I do agree with you that this is more about them and who they are. They get caught up in little trivial conversations that don't interest me. I think part of why I don't gel with them, is that I am capable of thinking outside the box. I don't always go with the flow. For example, they think it is weird that I write a blog. They are probably bothered by it in part because they don't have access to it.
The hard thing is that I was brought up to believe that our family was the bomb. We had it all going on. Tight knit, sense of humor, straight and narrow, etc. I don't drink the Kool Aid anymore (years ago I did), but it is still hard to break away from the mindset that our fam is an example for others, and if we are then why don't I fit? Even when I KNOW all that I do, I still struggle.
I am not opposed to meditation. I do a rosary meditation most days. I think I will look for this book. It sounds like something I would really benefit from. I have considered breaking all ties. My kids have so many cousins. Plus that would impact their relationship with their grandparents. I have distanced myself considerably from them, my sisters in particular. That might be why they feel better about leaving me out, but even before the distancing - they left me out anyway.
Friends that know me are blown away by my siblings' and my parents' behavior. I struggle with whether or not to be upset with my folks, because I worry that I'll regret that once they are gone. It is a fine line.
Kari - I do value your advice. I really don't feel like I have much of a relationship with my sisters. I've distanced myself from them over the past few years. I don't text or call them to chat or to tell them when stuff happens here. Marie will occasionally text me to say: "Mom said such and such happened, that's a bummer or that's exciting."
It's hard with my folks. They are a big part of the problem. I do want a relationship with them, but they mistreat me a lot. They act as though I am a second class citizen. I feel like they tell themselves, "Oh it's just Ernie. She'll get over it." And that somehow makes it better. I also think they recognize that my sisters are more needy. Ann is divorced and Marie clings to them - I think Marie doesn't have many friends. My parents like to be needed. My sisters struggle to make a move without my folks' approval or input. Not me. So, my folks probably bother with me less because they think I don't need or request their input enough.
Consider yourselves adopted. My Irish soda bread is kick ass.
The nutty thing is back when I drank the Kook Aid I thought my family was the end-all. Coach's family bugged me. Since I quit the Kool Aid, his sister and sister in law who are both in Chicago are more like true sisters to me than my own sisters. They know what we went through with Lad in the fall, because I trust them. They are the real deal. Supportive, fun, and open minded. They are what I think of when I think of sisterhood.
KS G'ma - Thanks for sharing this. You make a good point. I do agree that sometimes people fail us but it's because they are limited in what they can do or who they are. I honestly wonder if my mom doesn't grasp how to have 3 girls because she grew up in a family with two girls and two boys. She doesn't get the dynamic of three. I also agree that I can't fix other people. This is something I need to be reminded of. My mom and I were once very close. Along the way, I started to see things clearly.
When Marie announced that she was moving back from the east coast (where we thought she'd always live because of her husband's military life), I turned to my mom and asked her how long she knew this was a possibility. She said just for a few weeks, but then she said: I THINK THIS IS GOING TO BE SO NICE FOR ANN. Huh? That cut me like a knife. I already lived in the area near Ann, but Marie was going to be so good for Ann? What was I chop liver? I think my mom just doesn't get how her words impact people. THINK! I want to say to her sometimes. I have so many examples like this.
I'm honestly happy to have broken the mold and branched out to be who I am. What does not kill you, right? It is a comfort that my kids and Coach and my friends are so great, caring, and supportive. Ed likes to point out that my kids (himself included) are the best, most well-rounded, unspoiled grandkids on my side of the family. His point, that I should have the last laugh here. My kids and Coach see the whole thing quite clearly.
Ernie, my heart just breaks for you. The other commenters have offered great advice, but we all know it's so hard to not let this stuff hurt us. Try focusing on the amazing people in your life - like the lady that sent you those fabulous cupcakes! She thought of you as she has recognized that you are special and worthy. Some of my mantras come from Al-Anon learning (I was married to an alcoholic; it's been 25 yrs but I still use these tools regularly) -try to release the other person (people) and not let their activities control you. "Let go & Let God" can be powerful; also accepting that no-one can "make us feel a certain way". We control our reactions to their actions (and yes it's friggin hard to do!). These ideas sound simple but when it comes to our heart, it isn't simple at all. Final thought - as this works for me - when you are feeling hurt & sad, trying listing all of the amazing things in your life that you are grateful for - nothing is too small to go on the list. hugs xoxo
Wow! That’s just heartbreaking and you should be very proud of yourself for not reacting. I remember you trying to address an incident like this fairly recently and coming up against a brick wall. As other wise commenters have said, you need to protect yourself and your family, and I agree minimal contact is probably the best way forward. I know it’s so hard to witness this behaviour, not just for you and Coach, but to feel your kids are excluded too. Just awful. Concentrate on your own lovely family and remember you can’t change other people, but you can change how you react to them. By your own admission, you’ve not much in common anyway, or desire to spend time. Focus on the in-laws and friends and family who appreciate you and who you do enjoy spending time with. So hard I know. I’m not surprised your friends are amazed! x
Also - fabulous news you got your vaccination!
I have no advice... But your story had impacted me. They other day, my parents invited me and my brother and our families to have dinner. When we arrived, I found out she hasn't invited my sister, because she assumed my sister wouldn't be available. I insisted that the next time, she absolutely must invite my sister, even if she thought the answer would be no. So the next time my mom invited me to do something with her, I followed up and asked whether my sister was also invited. She was invited, but declined.... You and your story have made me want to make sure that my sister knows she is always invited, that we want to include her, and that it is her own choice not to participate, rather than us trying to exclude her or unintentionally excluding her.
I'm so sorry. What a terrible way to treat you. <3
Oh, maaaaaannnn. Your family-of-origin just sucks. I'm so sorry. I'm glad that your family supports you, and that you have Coach's family too. And how great that you got your shot!
It breaks my heart to read that your relatives treat you like this. You do not deserve this toxic behavior. Thank goodness for the kind, loving people in your life. Coach and your kids’ response to the “daggers” as you wisely called them.... I’m glad that you have people in your life that support you, that appreciate your talents, that laugh at your jokes, and who can see what an awesome person you are. (I’m also glad you got your shot!)
Folks in the comments have some wonderful suggestions & thoughts. Wish I could favorite every one! Hope things somehow get better.... Maybe moving to Hawaii is the answer after all! *grin*
Ditto what Kari said. Forget your sisters, adopt our families, bring us soda bread. We are very appreciative folks. Sorry this happened.
My dear friend. This breaks my heart. I can not understand the blatant non-caring actions of your family. I too think you should not even bother with your Sisters. But you should try to keep up with your nieces/nephews if possible.
Like the others said, they are the issue, not you. Of course, I know that doesn't make it easier.
I too believe just because someone is 'family' doesn't mean we should take their shit.
I'm happy that you were able to get your first shot though; that is good news.
Big hugs. XO
Oh, Ernie! The fact that they didn't invite you and then your sister trying to hide it from you is all so heartbreaking. Also, the fact that your mom just planned it without you and then told you, tells me that she's not trying to hide anything and that she just assumes you wouldn't come (working, driving kids, etc.) I know you say you don't need them and I'm sure you've gotten to that point because you've taken a lot of crap from them over the years but they are your family and I know it still hurts you.
I'm so sorry about all this. Perhaps an honest, calm, civil conversations with your sisters to tell them that this hurt your feelings would be helpful. (I know having a calm and civil conversation with them might not be possible though. I'm sure they would be extremely defensive and not open to honest dialogue.)
The bright spot in all of this though is how loving and supportive your husband and kids are.
Pat - Thanks for the suggestions. All great ideas. When I was in high school, I attended a retreat and we learned to Let Go and Let God. Everyone has offered great ideas and support and I really appreciate it. I think it will do me good to focus on the things that I am grateful for - most specifically the relationships that I value. Even as I write out my response here, I am reminded of things that I sometimes forget, like how my sisters and mom gravitate towards one another because they need each other's inside-the-box thought process. Proud not to be lumped in that.
Charlie - Yes, it is true that I can't change people. My mom does things that I can't understand - particularly as a mother myself. But then, I suppose she does her best. I have REALLY distanced myself from my family of origin, and most specifically my sisters over the last few years. That has helped. I hold certain things in life to myself, like the fact that I'm trying to write a memoir. When I don't share things with them, they have less chance of hurting me. Sometimes I still stumble across things that remind me that they don't include me, like when they posted on FB the photos of them at a concert together for Marie's b-day. Didn't invite me. It is also true that spending time with them makes me want to pull my hair out, but it does still hurt to be left out. I am very grateful for my two sister in laws.
Charlie - Yes, I am super excited to have already gotten a vaccine. Glad that Aunt Leprechaun included me in that group. My asthma is not nearly as bad as Marie and Pat's, but I have wondered at times how my asthma would ramp up if I got covid.
Eli - So glad that my saga has caused you to be inclusive with your sister, even if she has no intention of joining you. It warms my heart. Really. My kids are all different and don't always get along. I do hope that their witnessing of how my family of origin behaves that they will be inclusive as they become adults and have their own families, etc. Thanks for sharing this.
Suzanne- Thanks, it is pretty lousy and knowing how much my family has always considered themselves the very best, it makes me pause and wonder how they think this behavior is the right kind of example.
ccr - Yes, Coach and the kids are super supportive. I wish Coach's two sister in laws lived a tad closer. We don't get together all that often. They're in other Chicago suburbs. When we are together, we have a blast.
Maddie - I do keep my distance from them, and I am very busy - so this stuff doesn't crop up often. When it does, I am reminded of how crappy they act and they think it is acceptable.
Hawaii - so tempting. Of course, I'd buy a house big enough for visitors and guess who wouldn't be invited? Ha.
Ally - Consider yourselves adopted. Seriously, I really cherish all my great readers. Such great insights, thoughts, and support. Irish soda bread is best served warm, so people just need to let me know when they're in town and I will get baking!
Suz - I was tempted to text my goddaughter and ask her to let me know when she is in town next and we can have lunch. She's a good egg. Marie has 5 kids, and my goddaughter and one other daughter are great. They also drink the Kool Aid, but I know they are crazy about me and I have to wonder what they think whey Marie and Ann exclude me. How is that explained exactly? Goddaughter is very intrigued by my blog. I've printed out a few stories and given them to her, because she enjoys them but won't share the URL.
I agree, they are the issue. They suffer from small-mindedness, and judgmental tendencies. Ick. They cannot form a thought unless Mom gives them permission to. I don't get that. I love when my kids think up stuff on their own and enlighten me.
My arm killed, but yes - glad to have one shot done.
Beth - Yes, it is heartbreaking. They consider themselves so wonderful. One way to demonstrate the difference between me and them: they answer the phone or talk to people with a fake voice, sickly sweet approach, but that isn't natural. I don't put on airs. Can't do it.
I would consider a conversation with them, but I don't know that I can do it without lashing out. I also don't think I want to show that hand and let them think that I wish I could hang out with them. My aunt in Florida invited the 3 of us to Florida for a weekend about 8 years ago. OMG - I stand out like a sore thumb with them and they aren't my cup of tea. Boring. Big time. Doesn't seem to make sense that I hate being left out, I think the time I miss with my mom is probably the hardest part. She doesn't make time to do things with just me, so if I don't get included with these two morons then I am out of luck. That hurts.
I sometimes feel guilty that I have shared the truth with my kids about my sisters and mom, but I think they have learned about how to treat people. I am also very grateful for how wonderful they are. Ann's kids barely talk to her. Everyone blames her crazy ex-husband, and he was crazy - but she has many, many unaddressed issues and the way she treats her kids is inexcusable. My folks and siblings brush that under the rug. Like she is entitled to be horrible to them as a result of what her ex put her through. Mind blowing.
My husband and I get our first shots this week. And Arizona opens up to 16+ on Wednesday, so my teens can start getting vaccinated.
Your extended family is kind of terrible. But you have survived and thrived.
Kara - It was so easy to get a shot since it was set up by my sis in law. I dread trying to get the shots scheduled once my kids age group is ready to go.
I do think that in this case what does not kill you, makes you stronger. ;)
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