Bereft

Warning: Long ass post, very personal and irrelevant to other people. Disregard if you don’t want a healthy dose of negativity.

I’m going to preface the ranty/bitchy/sad part of this post with a few things.

First, I know my parents love me. I know they are proud of me. I know they talk me up and brag to their friends and our other family about me. I know they care that I succeed. I know they respect me. I know my sister loves me, is proud of me, and respects me as well. Second, I know they are all doing their best in very, very difficult situations. Third, I acknowledge that compared to many, my situation is not that bad. I am not ungrateful for the many blessings I’ve had in my life. There are people that struggle far worse than I do, than I have, and I’m lucky for any help I get in this world, and I got more than nothing.

That said… My parents respect me and are proud of me, but I don’t think they realize how much effort goes into who I am. They have not ever understood that I’m not naturally exuberant and carefree, that good grades aren’t simple, that work isn’t easy. My hard work tends to go unnoticed. They notice the results, but the effort that goes into achieving those results seems to be unacknowledged. In the past year or so, I’ve tried to communicate that a bit better, but it still tends to go unnoticed.

My whole life, I have strived to be better. Not to be perfect, but to succeed as much as possible. At first, it was because that was what was expected. Then, as time went on, it was because I wanted some form of attention and praise from my parents (and if not them, then authority figures that could substitute for them). No matter what I did, it never really seemed to be enough. I did, at some point, start doing things for me…but that feeling never really went away.

I think part of the disconnect stems from my sister’s more emotional nature. I’m very logical, and I tend to be closed off emotionally unless prompted. My parents don’t prompt me, so they don’t see the feelings behind the actions frequently. My sister has never been afraid to scream, yell, argue, cry, etc. I never do those things with them. At an early age, my sister was in therapy and hospitals, all encouraging family communication; as a result, my parents communicated regularly with the help of therapists with my sister, but they never communicated with me like that. I don’t know that they realize how much it feels like they emotionally understand and support her, and not me. My dad used to be there for me far more frequently growing up, but as an introverted man, communication was never his strongest suit.

Throughout the most recent bout of struggling my family has gone through, I’ve tried to keep a logical mind. I have been legitimately, truly concerned for my sister’s welfare. There were times I questioned her ability to make it through another week. I am happy my parents are there for her, and have stood by her through these tough times. It’s been very difficult being far away throughout it all. As much as I try, I can’t stop feeling like my parents care more about her than me, though. It is irrational. I know they love me. It just seems like every conversation, every caring thought, focuses on her  and her issues. She needs their support…but I do too. I need their love, and to hear them care about me too. In my family,  negative things are communicated readily and easily, but positive ones rarely are. Complaints and worry get more volume than love and praise.

This weekend, it all went to shit, at least on my end. I have no idea whether or not my parents realize this, though I do believe on some level they do. I got a present in the mail (a new outfit) that I’m reasonably positive is an indicator of their combined guilt. My dad talking to me separately about things also indicated they knew I would be upset.

For months, my sister has been going on about my parents buying her a house. She has been persistent beyond rational thought. At her most unstable moments, she has still been diligent that my parents were buying her a house. She was doing drugs and causing scenes at her apartment, not caring about the consequences. She invited my parents to multiple showings. When she got evicted, she was happy about it. Throughout all of this, my parents have been insistent that they weren’t going to buy her a house, no way, no how. A couple of weeks later…and they’re buying her a $25K trailer. Logically, I do understand. With her prior evictions, bad credit, medical history, and other issues, it would be nearly impossible to find a place willing to rent to her. The stress of her living situation has made her mental situation worse. She’ll still have to pay for lot fees and utilities, so it isn’t entirely free.

At the end of the day, though, my parents are essentially giving her $25,000 towards a home. They’re paying her car bills and phone bills, giving her money regularly for gas, and taking her out to eat with them.

Last year, when I graduated, it wasn’t even a week when my father was pressuring me to get a loan to take over my car payments. It wasn’t a month later when I took over my phone bills and car insurance. Grad school was entirely on my dime. My father pays for nothing right now in my life. I pay all of it. In fact, the one thing I do with him is give him my money for my phone, since it’s less expensive on a family plan, and despite my paying my bills on time and using less than my share of the data, he still wanted me off the plan. Last year, when I needed rent money since my first paycheck wasn’t coming for a week after the due date (as in, I’d pay it back in a week), he said he couldn’t help me at all.

My sister has been getting rent money for years. She’s been having her car and phone bills subsidized for years. In fact, this was her fourth car they’ve assisted her with, after car accidents and poor maintenance killed the other three.

Again, I’m grateful, because my parents helped me through college. They  helped me as a child. They give me presents at holidays and when I’m with them, they pay for most things. That said, it still stings and hurts and stirs all sorts of rage for the inequity of this situation. I am close to $80K in debt from grad school, and I’ll be paying off those loans for the next 10-25 years. I will not own a house or even a shitty condo until I get married or after that 10-25 years, because I can’t save up the $25-50K necessary for a down payment. I throw away money in rent month after month, unable to get ahead at all because I’m so busy keeping afloat. $25K would make a world of difference in my life.

I don’t ask for help, and when I do, it’s turned down. I struggle and work my ass off, and I do everything right. Meanwhile, nothing. My sister does drugs and gets arrested and evicted and she gets a huge financial subsidy. I know she needs it more than me, arguably, but at the same time, she doesn’t seem to acknowledge and fully appreciate how good she has it.

If that isn’t enough, when she was arrested and subsequently committed, someone stole her laptop from her car (why was it in her car?). So my dad is getting a new computer for his birthday, and of course his top of the line electronics go to her. I’ve paid for every laptop I’ve owned myself, after hard work in retail for over a year and then via loans. My sister has gotten more than 3 laptops from my father and one of my old ones, all for free. It’s just that one more thing.

It’s driving me crazy. On top of it, conversations focus all around her and how awesome things are with this house payment thing and her getting medicaid. Yes, the medicaid is a blessing, but my mom saying it’s the best thing she’s heard in weeks kills me, when I called her because I had good news of my own. It’s like there’s not enough attention and support to go around, and because I seem to do ok without it, I don’t get it. When I’ve tried to communicate this in the past, I get yelled at or nothing happens, so I’ve given up. My closest to communicating was telling my mom to not talk about my sister to me anymore. I can’t hear about it. I want to know if she’s close to death (aka something extreme happens), but that’s it.

I want to be a good daughter and sister. I do. I realize that I should be happy my parents are helping her, I should acknowledge that it’s difficult and this is the only thing they see as possible to do. I know they don’t have unlimited funds and that they’re likely stretching thin with helping her. I want my sister to be well, to be happy, and to feel empowered to improve her life and find happiness. I want my parents to have an easier burden and be happy.

Despite all that, I can’t seem to shake my anger, envy, and sadness about it all. I feel neglected and unfairly treated…and I hate myself a bit for feeling like that, too. I want to be happy, too, and I’d love to have my family behind me, supporting me and showing me equal love and affection. Money isn’t everything, though this post likely seems like that. I just wish they’d acknowledge me sometimes too, or understand how hard it is to “do everything right,” and how support from them really would make all the difference. I wish they’d realize just how inequitable it all seems sometimes. I know they love me, but with all this going on, it feels like they understand, care about, and generally love her more. Irrational as that is, that’s how I feel.

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One response to “Bereft

  1. I wanted to “like” this, but I was afraid you might misunderstand. Ever read “Parable of the Lost son”? It’s a bible passage. Don’t mean to go all Christian on you, but for some reason it came to mind and I’m just passing it along in case there was a reason for it. I just popped on to start a new blog for bootblacking and decided to take time to read this. I love you and just wanted to pose one question… “Would you trade places with your sister, if you could?” sometimes, struggling to get something… to really earn it from hard work… is more character building in the end. You might not realize it right now while you’re struggling. But later when you look back, you’ll see. At least if you’re as introspective as I think you are.

    There might’ve been a reason for me to read this passage right now… right before I’m about to leave for my competition… so THANK YOU!!!

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