Thursday, August 6, 2009

Family Blues

I am so frustrated with family right now. Our society values family and commitment to family so much. So when you feel like breaking from that expectation, it feels like you are committing some cardinal sin. My family has been a continual source of stress and drama for me. I recently told my sister that I had to limit my contact with her and step back. This was really difficult to do, but was on the advice of my doctor and therapist. Basically I need to try to minimize the amount of interaction I have with those people that are "energy suckers." I am trying to recover from all of the stress. My body is telling me that if I don't do it now, something very bad is going to happen. Even knowing this, it is so hard to do. I can't even explain the knot in my stomach when I told my sister that I had to limit my contact. The other thing the really irks me is that my sister told me not to long ago that she knows how "easily" I get stressed out. WTF!! It's not like I am stressing over a a chipped nail! My life is full of big, stressful things. It pisses me off that my family would view me as just "easily stressed," particularly when I feel like I have done pretty well in the face of everything. I mean, maybe I am giving myself too much credit, but I think that I have done a pretty good job of keeping my sanity in the face of a lot of crap.

I have my niece with me this week (my sister's daughter), so the family situation has come up. I feel so badly for her. My sister is a mess (and I am not exaggerating) and I really worry about my niece. My sister's husband is a total loser. She recently left him after he hit her and my niece, but she is now back with him, insisting that he has changed. I seriously doubt it. I just hope that she can keep up in school and get the heck out of there as soon as she turns 18. Ughh...

On top of this, we are having major issues with Gess's family right now--particularly with his mother, which is just making things difficult. Why she needs to make an issue right now when Gess has been so sick, I don't know. Basically, over the years his mother has said many, many inappropriate things and has just not dealt with Gess very well at all. He has been pretty tolerant and forgiving, chalking it up to her just being out of touch or something. I had enough of it after the last comment that she made to me about being glad that we deal with the CF so that she can have her own life. Gess talked to her about it and she got mad at him. Seriously! Then things have just went downhill from there.

Apparently while I was out of town, Gess talked to his mom and these issues came up and he had a long, difficult talk with her. Basically he told her how the things that she did when he was a kid were so hurtful (like when he had to take care of all of his own medical stuff and she appeared like she didn't "care" about him being sick--his words). Gess was hopefully that it would move toward a better relationship, but it seems like it has done the opposite. Apparently he invited her to "talk" to him about the stuff via letters and she has done so; we get something in the mail from her almost every day. He kept them all and didn't open them at first. Instead, he brought them to his therapist's office to read them there, as a "safe" place. He didn't tell me much about what was in them, except that they were what he expected, and not in a good way. Also, in one she made a statement that "Lisa settled for you, even knowing you have CF." I cannot wrap my head around that statement. I can't think of any possible scenario in which a mother would tell her child that someone else "settled" by being with him. And I just can't imagine how that would feel.

As much as I am troubled by my own mother, there is still a part of me that wants acceptance and love from her. So, to have your mother make such a derogatory statement, in such a clear and direct manner must be devastating. It breaks my heart that he has to be dealing with this on top of everything else. I think that it shows amazing strength and character for him to try to communicate with her and I am so saddened that she responds like this. I really don't know what her issue is, but I just want to scream, and tell her to stop being so selfish and be a mother to her son. I know that she has went through a difficult time; I can't imagine what it would be like to have a son diagnosed with a disease such as CF. It would be utterly devastating and incredibly difficult. So a lot of leeway has to be given on how a person deals with that sort of thing; but that can't excuse this type of behavior and mindset. And really, what it is doing is ruining any chance that she has of a relationship with him. I really wish for his sake that this wasn't going on. I see how much it hurts him and how difficult it is. It makes me so angry that his emotional energy is being spent on this, instead of on getting healthy and fighting CF. I wish that she could see how her attitude affects him (and me) and how damaging it is. We deal with the CF alone, not because we choose to, but because that is the only choice. She isn't available or able to help deal with it, and from his perspective, she wasn't able/available long before I came into the picture. I wish that we had more help in handling this. It is exhausting and incredibly difficult to do on our own. And as it is now, involving "family" at these times seems more like an additional stressor than help. (There are some exceptions, this doesn't not apply to all of the family--for example, his Dad has been great in helping. He has been to the hospital with Gess many times and I know that he will always back me up in dealing with the doctors or even in talking with Gess when things are difficult, etc.).

I wish that it were easier to turn away from family. The concept of family is great. I love the idea of having a group of people that are there for you no matter what and who love you unconditionally. People that you call if something happens, and you know will be there. People that support you and carry you if you need it. I would love to have that sort of family. In generally that would be so great, but especially in dealing with a disease like CF. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, that has not been the case for us and I hate to see the toll that is taking on Gess. Which of course makes me want to stand up and fight for him even more. I want to protect him from this hurt, but I can't. I wish that he could focus on his health and have more support. Also, I wish that I had his family as support. My family is completely worthless when it comes to any of this, so I wish that I had them as backup. I wish that I could talk to them about what is going on and have them a part of our life. I really just wish that I had a "family."


jordysmom said...

I'm so sorry. I don't have any advice, because I've never figured out how to deal with MY family, and the fact that THEY are completely worthless too. I do know how much it sucks though, and I understand how hurtful it is to both you and Gess.



Leena said...

i'm catching up on blogs as I've been swamped lately. Just wanted to let you know that in society (and family systems theory classes) 'family' is who you surround yourself with and rely on for support, encouragement, and your general well-being. In my youth and 'family' ministry - family means something different for every single person. I know you long for your biological family to be supportive -- but know that it is OK to call the ones you lean on everyday for help and support your 'family'. I'm sure they consider you the same. Lisa, I want to applaud you on the hard steps you are taking with your sister... it is really really hard and will take some getting used to but it WILL do wonders for your health! And there are ways you can still be there for your nieces/nephews even if you separate yourself from their parents.