Cliché

A new year has begun and I can’t help myself. My thoughts keep turning to how I might make this next trip around the sun better than the last. 2017 left a bitter taste in my mouth, and I’ve come to realize this is largely no one’s fault but my own.

The few words I wrote last year (and the many that I did not,) focused heavily on the stuff that has weighed on me for some time now – my aging mother, the silent war that wages on between her children, and the stifling sense of defeat, depression and sadness that has draped over my soul as a result.

The last quarter of the year really did me in. I had latched on to my anger and bitterness so tightly that I could hardly stand myself. I hadn’t spoken to either of my brothers in months, and every day, my stomach churned with resentment over their continued absence and lack of any sort of support in the daily care of my mom.

I used to be so close to one of my brothers, the one who is two years younger than me. He and his family used to be such a big part of our life. He and his wife used to spend so much time with us years ago. They came over to decorate Easter eggs with us, or carve pumpkins for Halloween, or just to hang out on a long, dreary winter day. He was my kids’ favorite uncle, hands down. And I realized one day in recent weeks, that in spite of all the reasons I’ve had to be mad at him … I missed him. I just missed him.

Why I’ve continued to remain connected to him on Facebook, I don’t know. I suppose it was just some twisted need to know what was going on in his life, and allow myself to feed my resentment every time I saw evidence that he had any opportunity to enjoy life without having to stop and worry about our mom. I could remind myself once again how unfair it was that my brothers seemed to have abandoned her, and left me and my sister to do all of the worrying and care-giving. But I realized maybe it was a good thing after all when I saw that he posted a Facebook status after Christmas, saying how he used to look forward to the holidays, but now he’s just glad they are over. It sunk in that for months, I have failed to think for a moment what it might be like to be in his shoes, and that maybe there was more to his absence than sheer selfishness.

Before I could talk myself out of it, before I could make a list of reasons that I might regret it, I sent him a text, telling him I felt the same way. I said I hated how divided our family had become, that Christmas just wasn’t the same joyful holiday I used to see it as, and that I knew I bore some of the responsibility for the huge mess that is now our family.

My mind was riddled with thoughts about how hurt I was going to be if he fired back at me in anger, or worse, didn’t respond at all. I tried to hang on to the hope that even if nothing changed as far as his involvement with Mom, I could work together with him to repair our relationship. And to my surprise, he responded immediately. My phone dinged over and over as he sent buckets of words back to me, expressing his sorrow over being at odds with me and my family. Words of regret and explanation poured back and forth between us, and tears were shed on both sides of the conversation. We finally made plans for his family to come spend an evening at my house in the near future.

I cannot begin to describe, or even really understand the relief I’m feeling. We are a long ways from repairing all of the damage that has been done, and it’s quite likely that some of the family divisions may never be healed. But I’m trying not to focus on the what-ifs. I just know that I’m only beginning to understand the real meaning of forgiveness, and hoping that I can keep myself from falling back into old habits. I don’t know what it all means, especially because I still feel a lot of resentment toward my youngest brother and can’t see taking any first steps with him at this point. Not to mention, I’m pretty sure my sister is going to be hurt and angry with me, since it has been “us against them” for such a long time.

I guess I’m just allowing myself to be okay with baby steps at this point, and trying not to feel pressured to figure it all out right away. I only know that I haven’t liked myself very much lately. I’m reminded again that “they” are right when they say that withholding forgiveness hurts no one but myself. I’m tired of opening my eyes every morning and my first thoughts being dark. I just think there’s a lot that needs to change inside of me before I can find the sense of peace that I seem to forever be chasing.

So here I am, at the beginning of another year, setting goals and hoping hopes that I can get something right in whatever number of days I have ahead of me. I wish my resolutions could be as simple as improving my diet, exercising more, or getting more organized. I still need to work on those things, but I have to dig a little deeper than that this year. And maybe one of these days I’ll find that the world has become just a little bit better place.

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13 thoughts on “Cliché

  1. Tee! I’ve missed you and your writing, been wondering about you, your Mom, your family.

    I’m so glad you took the first step and I hope that you can talk things out with your brother and that you miss him … maybe starting there will create a soft entry for him to return to everyone’s life.

    I just wrote about family estrangement today myself ~ but I’m on the other end of it, having been cut out of my sister’s life. Her choice, and it’s taken almost 2 years for me to accept it. But now I do.

    Hugs
    MJ

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve missed you too, MJ! I’ll be over to your site soon to catch up. I’m sorry to hear how things have ended up with your sister … especially because I know how much love and compassion you have in your heart, and I know how much this must hurt.

      Seems like so many of us end up in these kinds of struggles, don’t we? There’s got to be a better way to work things out than to go through all of this heartache! Hugs to you, my sweet friend!

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      • thank you ~ and I’ve been thinking about your worry that your sister will feel like you’ve jumped ship by reaching out to your brother. Tell her she’s welcome to come along but you can’t go another day without trying and that you’d always regret it if something tragic happened and you hadn’t at least tried. It’s brutally honest but needs to be said. We can’t be expected to pick & choose, doing so gives someone else control, and not in a healthy way. I wish you peace and I hope to hear of some good news from your meeting up with your brother ~ hugs!! MJ

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  2. I know how important family is to you, and it makes me so happy to hear your brother responded and is willing to get together. Baby steps are good!
    I certainly hope 2018 is a better year for you. You deserve it, as good of a person as you are.
    Looking forward to hearing how things go!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Shadowrun! You’re right … family is important to me. Don’t know why things continue to roller-coaster so much, but I hope there’s still a chance for things to change for the better.

      And I really hope to come around here more often. (I know, I know … I keep saying that and then drop off for weeks and months at a time!)

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  3. Talk about cliche, here is one for you, but it’s true; A son is a son until he takes a wife. A daughter is a daughter for all of her life.
    I only have one sibling, a brother. My mom is not well. He doesn’t even know half of her health issues, because he doesn’t get involved. At this point, I don’t really think about him much. My husband helps me with helping my mom, so it’s not too bad yet. If her health deteriorates from this point, I’ll see how I feel. For now, I’d rather not have him around anyway. He’d only complain that he has to give up his own time to help out (which is his MO).

    Good luck with everything. I’m glad you took a chance with the first move. I hope things improve for you soon.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Lori! I know you’re traveling a similar path. It’s just so hard to understand, isn’t it? It’s hard to want to even try when you feel so alone in all of the worry and work that goes into caring for a parent. I’m glad your hubby helps you and hope that things continue to remain as manageable as possible.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh wow, we’re traveling a similar path! My only sis and I have been estranged for THREE years and I, too, have been living with resentment over the fact that I’m our mom’s caregiver while sis has the luxury of working, making good money, traveling, visiting her kids, and doing what she wants when she wants … without having to cart Mom from doctor to doctor, do grocery-shopping, cook, run mom’s errands, etc. etc.

    For Christmas this year, I sent Sis a card and small gift, hoping to mend the rift and guess what? She responded! We’re taking it slowly … baby steps … but steps in the right direction. No, she can’t be here to help care for Mom, but that’s something she feels guilty over. I think I’d rather do the caregiving than live with the guilt.

    GOOD for you, taking the high road! Sometimes somebody just has to knuckle, to fight down that pride and make the first move. Here’s praying 2018 will see a full reconciliation in your family — keep us updated, okay?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I feel for you, Debbie. At least I have a sister to help tag-team with me. I can’t imagine being all alone in the role of caregiver, the way you are. I’m so glad to hear that you’re seeing signs of healing in your relationship with your sister. I’ll be praying for both of you!

      I had to swallow my pride in order to reach out to my brother, and keep telling myself it was the right thing. I’m really hoping we can find our way to a good place again.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for your prayers, Tee, and I’ll add you to my prayer list, too! So often we think prayer doesn’t work, but it does (it just takes longer than we’d like, or arrives with a different answer than we’d hope!)

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I look at this situation as, at its root, another example of “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” Who knows, maybe as we age, the orbits of these two planets synch up a little bit more?🌌

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