Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Judgements, Expectations, and Family Ties

Growing up I had a friend named Olivia. Her mother was from England and she was very proud of being English. Although she must have lived in the United States for at least twenty years by the time I met her, she still spoke with a thick accent and refused to change her vocabulary to accommodate us dumby Americans. She would always call bathing suits swimming costumes, and the back yard was a garden, rain boots were Wellies whether they actually were or not; and there were a million more that I have since forgotten. It could sometimes seem charming, but more often than not it came off as pretentious; clearly she knew that people did not quite always understand what she was referring to, and she didn't care, she just wanted them to know she was from England. She always seemed to be of the opinion that English people were more cultured and civilized than Americans. And not just some English people like herself, no, no, she thought the whole country was better. So why did she move to the states, marry a Greek man from Charleston, South Carolina and live out the whole of her life as a United Stated citizen? I think it probably came down to money, because she was obsessed with presenting her family as very wealthy and civilized. The more money her husband made from his computer jobs, the bigger the houses became, the fancier the cars, the gardens became more and more extravagant, the clothes they wore were suddenly so posh, and they were living the American Dream.

But no matter what, no matter how many years it had been, or how many good friends had been made, or how successful the family became, in her mind it still was not England so it could never be quite as good. There is a point to all this, just bear with me a bit longer. It was not just language, ideals, and possessions in America that did not live up to her idealized dream life; she made it very clear to everyone that her husband and her daughter, my friend Olivia, were not up to her standards because they were tainted somehow by too much Greekness. That seems like a crazy claim to make, right? How could I know such a thing about the way someone else feels unless they came right out and said such a thing? And why would a mother feel that about a child, much less say it outright? Why would a woman marry someone she felt was not good enough? Well, people like to think those things don't happen, but they do happen, they happen all the time. Having such a dysfunctional family myself, I am fascinated by the dysfunction of others. And the older I get, the more I realize that there are very, very few families out there that do not have some sort of issues with communication, or understanding each other, or maybe there is mental illness in the family, or addiction, or whatever it may be, they are human too. But people hide that stuff and portray their lives as perfect to the outside world, not wanting their weaknesses to show. For some people this may be fueled by competition, others may simply not want to expose their vulnerabilities for fear that they may be hurt that way. Who knows, but hiding the dysfunction of billions of families behind creepy plastic painted facades of happiness only serves to weaken bonds and perpetuate the disintegration of the family unit. But I'm running off on a tangent, my point is much simpler.

This woman had two daughters, Olivia and Eleanor. Olivia was the elder sister, my friend, and she took after her father in looks and character. She was quite pretty with very thick, dark hair and huge brown eyes. She had rich, buttery, olive skin and strong bones. But her mother would constantly make all these passive-aggressive comments regarding her coloring and her obvious Greek characteristics. She would unapologeticly compare her to her sister Ellie who had received her mother's looks. She was fair skinned, slender and had dark blond hair like her mother. And in her mother's eyes, all these traits were far more English and therefore more acceptable. She fiercely disliked her mother-in-law who was a short, round, Greek woman from the south. She was loud and boisterous, she liked to cook and eat, and she was very NOT English. She would liken her daughter to the grandmother and the father and then put them down; and Olivia knew how her mother felt about her.

Now, my Mom has always talked about these circumstances as if they were just so sad. How could a mother treat one child as if they are better or more important than another. How could her daughter's looks make her less lovable, she always cries. And over the past couple days, as I've listened to her go on and on about this family, even though it's been almost ten years since we've spoken to any of them, I've realized that she is just like that woman. And maybe it bothers her so much to think about her because she knows, however subconsciously, that she feels the same way about her own daughters and is ashamed to admit it. Projecting much?

I basically stayed away from my family as much as possible until recently. And coming back here has been a crash course in acceptance. The only way for me to move on with my life is to accept that I will never have the relationship with my mother that I wish I could have. I simply have to accept the only relationship she can offer and try to make the best of it. Trying to fight it is only making me fight with myself. I'm fighting with myself over something I want and know I can't have and it's driven me crazy for over fifteen years. My mother sees me as the frumpy, embarrassing child. I don't dress right, I don't speak correctly, I'm not polite enough, I'm too quirky, I'm too shy, and she's always told me. And my sister can be crude and disgusting, she can act like a mental patient, but all is forgiven because she fits into the picture of life that my mother has in her head. My mom wants herself to be living in a huge, antique home with a very handsome, very successful man with her very attractive, blond children standing primly around her. She pictures herself and Lily as fitting into this mold, she's delusional of course, but she has no idea that she sees herself so falsely. They are prim, and thin, and beautiful. And they act like the world owes them everything. They look like two little English garden statues. And me with my brown hair and breasts and my ass, and my crazy, unconventional tendencies simply shatters her picture perfect illusion.

I struggle daily with wanting to accept myself, because I actually think I'm pretty enough and really cool. But it's hard to stay positive and move forward when someone is constantly questioning things that you thought were fine. We went out to dinner last night, it was the last evening we had alone, and we walked to the other side of town to eat at the Exeter Inn. It was a very warm night and I had overdressed slightly. I sweat very readily and profusely if I get to warm, much of it is due to the methadone but I'm sure being overweight does not help. So by the time we got there, I was definitely sweaty and my forehead was slick with shine, my feet were slipping in my boots from the moisture I worked up chasing my mom to the restaurant. And when we walked in my mom asked me where we should sit, and I immediately said let's not sit at the bar, let's get a table in less light with less people. But no, she wouldn't have it because then we wouldn't be on display, she wouldn't be able to shamelessly flirt with someone else's date then. So she dragged me to the bar, and we sat directly under these lights that were making me even more hot and sweaty, so then I started to get anxious because I knew I looked like a wet seal on a bar chair at this point and everyone is staring and my mom is scrutinizing my skin and whining about why it's so blotchy and why don't I go get the facial she set up for me, blah, blah, blah......it got so bad I could feel my ass sweating. I couldn't even think about eating because now I felt sick I was so hot, the lights above me felt like flames and my Mom is looking at me like I have three heads, "what is wrong with you, Nellie? I don't remember you being such a sweaty person. You know, that will stop once you lose some weight". It's always about my weight or my skin, is it possible that all the pressure makes both worse? Finally she relented and let us move to a table in the corner, away from the lights and a breeze coming in from the open doors. It was the table I really wanted to begin with. But she wanted to sit at the bar because she likes to put on a show. And the whole night I knew she wished she didn't have to sit there with me. And I try and try to talk to her, to relate, but I just don't know how she sees the world as she does.

Anyway, this is a big ramble and I know to anyone reading this I probably sound like I'm seeing more into things than what's really happening. But if I went into more detail, I swear you would see that my Mom really is ashamed of the way I look and she treats me accordingly. And it makes it hard to not obsess over things that someone harps on you about all the time.

So I'm off to Curves which she made me join. I'm glad I get to go, but I don't think she wants me to go so I get healthy and feel better. I get the distinct feeling that she wants me to go because if I'm going to live near her and be seen with her I can't be fat. And I can't have bad skin. And I can't wear weird clothes. She signed us both up but she's gone once while I've gone every day. Honestly, I like going alone. I just wish she could accept me for who I am and I'm starting to consider that that's never going to happen.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

It is, without a doubt, the most beautiful day of the Spring season so far. It is warm, almost hot actually, and sunny with a slight breeze. Never mind that it could still snow again; the crocus and miniature iris don't seem to be too worried about it, so why should we?

Today is an unusual day because it is just my mother and I at the house. Many things have occurred in order for this situation to be, not many of them good. But still, I can't help but appreciate what is, no matter how it came about. It's so quiet and peaceful without everyone crowding into this little house, six or seven cigarettes being smoked at once, legs to step over everywhere you walk, shoes left to trip on, pee on the toilet seat, and always at least one person bitching about something. None of it, we have none of it today. Or tomorrow, or the next day....and then back to the same old.

I have yet to clearly explain why there was this trip to Virginia to be made in the first place. Oh, before I really get into things I should mention that I may have to run off abruptly as my Mom and I are heading to the mall shortly to return some china she bought and replace some and buy some more, I think. I'm just being dragged along for the ride. I better get some good lunch out of this, she said we could go to Legal Seafood, yummy, she better keep her word. If I have to lug in the boxes of wrong china, stand there and talk about china, and then lug out the new china, I should get a lobster roll for lunch, right? Sorry, I know I sound bratty and spoiled when I write that kind of thing. But it should be known that I really don't like malls, or shopping very much for that matter. I love clothes, and if I had a lot of money I would buy a ton of clothes. But I would go alone and have the people working at the stores help me with decisions, and get it done, bing, bam! My Mom loves to wander around and buy frivolous things and it drives me crazy.

But I have to go because in addition to my brother, Scooter, having to be in court in Virginia on Monday, my sister Lily has finally been asked to leave the house. And, of course, my Mom is all torn up and depressed over it. For some bizarre reason, Lily has always been my Mom's favorite. I know every parent says they don't have favorites, but they do, they're only human, they can't even help it. Some people, related or not, just get along better than others. Lily and my Mom are really similar, so it's not really surprising that they get on better than her and I. And she just has a totally different relationship with my brothers because they are boys. As far as mother/daughter time goes, she'd rather be spending it with Lily. That's okay, I've definitely begun to accept it over the years. I sort of think I know why, so it makes it easier to accept. I don't just let her buy whatever she thinks about wanting whenever, I'll force her to consider reality, and she hates that. I'm just a drag to her, I think, because we're so different. I'd rather hang out outside and drink beer or wine, barbecue, listen to music, go to the beach and smoke weed or something and my Mom just doesn't get it. It's cool though, I'm trying to be chill and just do the stuff she likes while I'm here. She won't be around forever, so if I were to be an ass and not spend time with her now, I would definitely regret it when she isn't here to spend time with. It sucks to think about, but it's true. I really wish I had spent more time with my grandmother and I don't want to feel the same about my parents. Although getting through to my father, never mind spending physical time with him, is quite interesting, to say the least.

Anyhow, I love my Mom, no matter how different we are, or how much I disapprove of the way she goes about life, or the way she deals with Lily; I have to go do some lame stuff so she doesn't freak out even worse about my sister. My sister, who by the way, didn't just get kicked out on her ass like she probably deserved. No, she is being put up in a hotel for the next two months while she finishes her student teaching and the last few classes she needs to graduate. And then, in two months time, she is supposed to have decided on a place to go next. I'm hoping that going to a shrink with my mom and my siblings will help make that happen. My Mom has a tendency to give in and give everyone a million and one chances that they don't deserve. I can totally see her letting Lily move back in after school is over. But that would negate all the progress made by having her out for these two months. We deserve to have a sane, calm existence. And she makes that impossible. Two months is just enough time to begin to feel normal again. To be able to sleep maybe. To get the screaming out of our heads. To get used to some kind of routine without having to constantly worry about when the next outburst will be. Then we deserve to have the time to try to accomplish something. Because of Lily and her craziness, the lives of four other people have been put on hold in a lot of ways. Of course, Lily is not solely to blame. We all made our own choices and my parents did a lot of damage all on their own. But as we became older, it was Lily and her insanity that has made life really hard. So to get rid of her, just to live in peace, my Mom has to pay for a weekly hotel room for her to stay in......oh, I'll have to finish later because Mom is ready.......I'll be back later, I hope...unless I die in the china store.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Another Bunch of Craziness

Here are some pictures of my sister at Christmas time. It's hard to believe that someone so innocent looking could be such a witch. She's really narcissistic and rageful, but you couldn't tell by looking at her, and these pictures don't really do her justice. She's really quite pretty in person, very small and pale and blond. She looks like she couldn't and wouldn't hurt anyone.

This is my Mom with Lily

This is Lily with our cousin, Emma. And then Lily, below, holding up her Coach purse she had to have for Christmas.

There has been much activity in Crazyland, New Hampshire these past few days or so. My sister is off on another rampage which always affects everyone in the family in so many ways. Living with Lily is like living with any addict or alcoholic, although drugs are not what makes her act like this, she's simply mentally unstable all on her own, without any help from narcotics of any kind. Of course the misuse of her medication clearly exacerbates the problem, it's not the sole issue here. That would almost be a relief to have addiction be the issue. At least then there is a clear problem with a clear solution. Drugs are an issue, stop using drugs, get clean, live life. But in her case, as most people who are addicts, she has more than just that issue. She is an addict, prescribed or not she takes opiates, but she also suffers from several personality disorders; that is, of course, probably what caused her to want to self-medicate to begin with. But it's getting so out of hand now, something has to be done. Even my mother is beginning to understand that it's gone too far. That's huge, Helen admitting that Lily is super crazy and needs help is a revelation for our family. We have been pleading with our mother to do something about Lily for years, and she would always blow us off by saying Lily was depressed or was more affected by the way things were growing up, my dad was the most mean to her, or that she just doesn't know how to deal with life. And she would make sacrifices so that Lily could finish school, promising that as soon as she finished that semester she would have to move out, but of course that would never happen. And it would just go on and on. We couldn't do anything ourselves without the support of our mom, she was the owner of the home and the only one who could say "Get out" and mean it. But finally, after twenty-five years of manipulation and anxiety, my Mom has had enough. She's getting too old to deal with this crap. She's done her duty for her children and it's time for her to be able to live her life for herself. Whatever it was that broke the camel's back doesn't matter to me nearly as much as the fact that it has been broken and we may have a possibility of living in peace in the near future.

My Mom is listening to people tell her about having a person who is an adult sectioned. I'm going to have to look into what, exactly, that entails. I have a lot to do today, but tonight I'm going to try to do some research on what that would mean for all of us. Maybe it could help other people who have someone like Lily in their own lives. From what I've heard in passing so far, my understanding is that the police and judges get involved and basically force the person to get help from a mental health hospital. But the person has to be proven to be a danger to themselves or others. Lily is definitely a danger to others, and without a doubt there is a major likelihood that she could hurt herself acting the way she does. Maybe it would be the best thing for her, she would finally get in depth therapy and there would be no point in lying to her doctors because they would already know it was pretty bad if she had to be sectioned to begin with. Because she is so manipulative that her doctors now just buy into her crap and prescribe her whatever she wants. It's crazy how the way someone looks can be so deceiving; blond hair, blue eyes does not an angel make. But men in particular are very susceptible to her wiles. She flirts a little and this man prescribes suboxone, an opiate replacement medication, to a young girl who has really had no history of opiate abuse to the degree that she should need that type of medication. She got him to give it to her because she still gets high from the crap. Someone like me or my brother, who shot dope, we don't even feel it, it just blocks our receptors so we can't get high. Well, methadone is what I prefer to take, and do take, but it does the same thing as suboxone. But my sister never did enough heroin or opiates in general to make her need replacement therapy. She uses he script to get fucked up everyday legally. She sniffs a chip of suboxone every couple hours or so. The sniffing makes it hit her just as hard as sniffing dope, how is that any different from just using illicit drugs? And then the idiot doctor gives her a benzo script too. That's, like, a really bad combo which can be totally lethal. If she were to take a bit too much of a mixture, her heart could stop and she would die. And she has a history of having a bad reaction to benzos, they make her crazy. So my Mom is trying to call her doctor now to tell him she is misusing her meds, and she's given her the option to stay here at home and go to a really in depth therapist who does, like, four hour long sessions. It's that or she needs to get out as soon as she graduates. And she doesn't want to go to the therapy, so hopefully my Mom will stand by her word.

I'm actually hopeful that things may be different this time. My mom made an appointment for her, my brothers, and myself to go to a family therapist and she's promised to do whatever the therapist tells us to do. And I know that the therapist is going to agree with us and make my mom stand up for herself. Having an adult, mental health professional say it like it is could be just what my mother needs to hear. She thinks that we are just biased and being mean sometimes, but having an outside source back us up could be the catalyst we need to make a change. Especially because we have a lot of Lily's outburst lately recorded either by video, audio, or a combo. It's hard to lie when the actions are right there in front of you on a t.v. screen. There will be no denying the level of crazy once we're in an office away from the mayhem. It's easy to want to downplay it when it's not actually happening. It's easy to not want to think about the problem when you're away from it because there is so little time in life to be peaceful when you live with a crazy person, you try to take what you can get. But that ends up biting you in the ass because then when it happens again, which it inevitably will, you haven't set up any supports for yourself and you're just stuck in the same cycle. Having her actions taped makes us unable to downplay it after the fact as not that bad. It IS that bad, and we need to remember it and do something.

Lily got into an argument with my brothers last weekend, and for the rest of the week it has been a disaster. She and her boyfriend were sitting on the couch in the living room, lounging around, chain smoking cigarettes, food and glasses all over the coffee table, being basically loud and obnoxious as usual. And my brothers came out to get some of the breakfast I had made for everyone (eggs, potatoes, danish, etc) and there was none left because they had taken huge portions and didn't wait for everyone to have some. So that wasn't even the issue, it got worse when Rob started talking about how he was going to take out the kayak that we all got for Christmas next weekend. And my brothers were like "No, you're not taking that out before anyone in our family takes it." And they were kind of getting annoyed and one thing led to another and Rob jumps up from the couch and puffs his chest up, sticks out his chin and is towering over my brothers now. He knows that was a confrontational move, he knows my brothers don't appreciate him using his height to attempt to intimidate them. Sam and Scooter are not very tall but they are very strong. Especially Scooter, it's unnatural, he can eat whatever he wants and he never gains weight, he stays fit beyond believability. And he's beat Rob up already on several occasions when Rob has challenged him. So it was just a bad move. Clearly, things were slowly getting more and more physical. Rob stands up, they move forward, and the defining moment came as my sister kicked her foot out at Scooter's head and he catches it with his hand. At the same moment, with his other hand, he flicks a lit cigarette at Rob. Sam notices that the cigarette landed on the new couch cushion and reaches for it, passing by Rob in the process. Rob mistakes this gesture as a move toward him and flails out a fist towards Sam, this creates an instant reaction in Scooter and he jumps on Rob and puts him in a face-reddening headlock. Now my sister is screaming for them to get off Rob and my mom and Larry (oh, yes, Larry was here for the weekend as well. Although he was surprisingly easy to get along with this time. I'm actually glad, for my Mom's sake, that he was here) come running down from her room upstairs and join the melee. So now both my mom and my sister are screaming their heads off and Larry jumps on Scooter, putting him in a headlock. So it's a big pile of men in headlocks, flailing around on the couch, until they must have become tired out and they separated. But not before Lily had called the police, again. It's her favorite thing to do, yet it always seems that she gets herself in more trouble than anyone. At this point the police in Exeter know my sister is insane. But they have to come out to make sure no one is hurt once they get a call like that. So Saturday at Noon we have two cruisers parked outside our house, Lily is screaming bloody murder so loudly that all the neighbors must have thought she was being murdered inside. It was totally humiliating, yet they left without doing anything about her, once again. She can drive through town in the middle of the night with no headlights on, all wacked out on benzos and they let her go, they catch her with weed and let her go, she smashes her car and gets away with it, when is it going to hit the fan? When is she going to be held accountable?

So after the cops leave, Lily goes crazy because my brothers weren't arrested because Rob didn't press charges because my Mom told him he would never step foot in this house again if he did. It was hours and hours before she stopped screaming and smashing things. They dogs ran and hid in the bushes behind the house because she was freaking them out so much. And now Rob isn't allowed back in the house, for now anyway, we'll see how long that lasts this time. He's always never allowed back, and then there he is, smelly feet, loud mouth and all the very next morning. Lily sneaks him in at night and my Mom doesn't want to create more problems so she says nothing. Lily has the ability to drag something out longer than anyone I've ever met. I don't know how she has the stamina to stay angry for so long. I feel so emotionally drained after just a short time of being angry about something. I actually become physically tired when I've been upset for too long. I just don't know how she manages not to collapse after being so angry and dramatic for so many hours and days in a row. But manage it she does. She's the Champion of Grudge Holders, the Queen of Condemnation, the Czar of Revenge, she never lets anything rest. She never passes up an opportunity to make a scene, and it's quite exhausting honestly.

I think my mother really knew that something was wrong, beyond what she had been previously willing to accept, when Lily began to use feces in her revenge plots. Yes, you read that correctly: feces. The first time, she simply picked it up with bare hands and flung it at Scooter's door to his bedroom where it splattered, hung, and slid down the white wooden door. It should be explained that she came by the excrement due to the fact that our mini little rat terrier becomes so terrified by her that she shits herself everytime Lily screams. So Lizzy had just crapped on the hallway floor when Lily happens by and an amazing idea popped into her pea-sized little bean brain and she scooped up the poo and flung away. Then, she must have been so pleased by the horrified reaction of all who were present and she added it to her repertoire of hideous go-to revenge tactics. She decided that it would be better if the person didn't know the shit was there and just smelled it, not knowing from where it came. She stuffed it under doors so people would step on it when they opened the door. She's really gone bonkers. We can't leave our bathroom products in the shower because she'll pee in mouthwash and shampoo or spit in body wash. We're not sure of our food is safe. How can people live like this?
Sorry if this post was all over the place and hard to follow. I'm just so stressed because you never know when she's gonna blow. So we all walk on eggshells. When is she coming home from school? Will she come in screaming or crying? Will she start problems later tonight? Will it be a good night or a bad one? It can take a lot out of a person to be so anxiety ridden all the time.
Anyway, on a positive ending note, I'm really hyped about joining Curves. I think it's really going to help me to lose weight finally. I really need to not be so fat. I can't wear anything properly. Everything I own is too tight or too baggy and I just look ridiculous. But it feels good to get some exercise and hopefully I'll start to see results soon.

VV is the shit

VV is the shit
We all have to love VV