Thursday, July 17, 2014

The house of blues

In the last week, two friends have each lost a parent-in-law. As friends do, we’ve been talking through their specific losses and then more generally about death, funerals, family dynamics and other things like that that are uncomfortable and tend to only get mentioned during times of loss. It’s a way of coping, to be sure, and I think it’s helpful to those who lost their family members.

Honestly it helps me too. My family isn’t especially close, and I don’t know what things will be like after my parents die. At this point, I hear from my brother once a year, when he sings happy birthday to me and then usually drops a personal stink bomb on me (he’s generally got some bad things going on at home, and I’m sympathetic but come on, that’s what you’re going to tell me about on my birthday?). One of my sisters, well I don’t even know how to describe things. I think the last contact was a text from me to her about nurse’s day. My youngest sister and I are probably the closest among the four of us. But we’re separated by a big giant ocean, so even there we’ve got distance.

This all makes me feel sad and frustrated. I’ve tried for decades to have closer relationships with all four only to hear mostly crickets. At the risk of sounding like a whiner, I’ve given up. There’s only so long I can continue to be the one doing the heavy lifting with little to no response or effort in return.  My emotional energy has limits, it’s not never-ending. I need replenishing too, which means my relationships have to be two way. For my own sanity, I’ve just stopped trying any more.

What’s really strange to me is that I’m closest with those who aren’t actually physically related to me. I guess that speaks to the fluid nature of family. I’d say I’m closer to two of my step sisters than my brother and one sister (and really, they haven’t been legally step sisters since I was 12). How weird is that?

Anyway, I’d love to put a bow on this post and write a happy ending, or at least a neat conclusion but that's not happening. There isn’t one now and maybe that’s just the way things are.

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