I have some of the most amazing friends in the world! I have never been able to figure out why they are better to me than my own family.
Yesterday, my son told me that he cannot help me drive to TX when I move. He said he has some training and symposium things that he must attend. I knew when I asked for his help that he was not enthusiastic. And that’s not unusual. His life is regimented by my daughter-in-law. That, in itself, is hard to deal with. I love her, I really do, but my son no longer makes any decisions for himself. Unfortunately, I cannot change that, and I will not interfere in their marriage. If he’s happy, I need to stay out of it. It’s just sad…
I asked him to help me go through the basement and help me get rid of things that I don’t need–and there are a lot of them. He got his 5 boxes of baseball cards and a couple of other things he wanted, and then he was ready to go. He kept looking at his watch, and I knew that my daughter-in-law expected him home by a certain time.
I went back down to the basement and went through things, filling up three large bags of things that I sure don’t need. And then I fell on the basement stairs trying to carry one of them upstairs so I could get them to the garbage can. I called my next-door neighbor and she came over to help me.
Yesterday, when I got the email from him telling me he cannot help me drive when I move, I cried all afternoon. I started to think about why my family has never helped me with anything. It started in childhood (but that’s a story for my therapist). As I grew up, I became very independent, and I was determined to make my own way. I started working in the ER of a local hospital as soon as I graduated high school. I went to college for 1-1/2 years because I was supposed to. But I didn’t want to go, and I decided I was not going to stay where I didn’t want to be. I got married and 4 years later had my son. 2 years after that, my husband walked out because he “couldn’t handle the responsibility.” I was determined that would not keep me down. I had a 2-year-old to take care of. I rented a small home (a converted chicken coop), and found a job, then a better job, and then a better job. I grew in confidence and compensation. I was providing a good home for my son. At one point in time, my ex called me and said he wanted his family back. I told him that no one would ever have a chance to do this to me twice.
That’s a long way around to saying that I rarely asked or depended on anyone else for anything. However, my family never stopped relying on me for help. One example: My younger sister (married for the 3rd time) and her husband adopted a child from Korea. What they didn’t know was that he had several problems not disclosed prior to bringing him here. My sister tried very hard to deal with his issues, and she was determined to help him live a normal life. My brother-in-law (low life idiot) walked out because he “couldn’t handle the responsibility.” The adoption wasn’t final, and when the agency found out he had left, they told my sister they were coming to get the baby. She called me at 4:00 a.m. crying and said she needed me to come and be there because they were coming at 9:00. I was four hours away. I packed up my son and left. Got a ticket on the way, but made it there in time. It was heartbreaking. We had all become attached to this little guy. I stayed for two days (at the risk of losing my job–I hadn’t been there long enough to have any vacation time). The last thing I did before I had to leave was take her to the hospital where they admitted her to their mental health unit. She needed more help than I could give her. But my sister and mom were angry that I left.
When my dad died, my sisters decided that I should move to FL to help out my mom. Losing my dad was really hard for me. He was the one who stood between me and the rest of the family. He knew the treatment I got growing up. And now my sisters determined my son and I would have to leave the life I had built and go help my mother who never had a kind word to say to me — ever. As independent as I was, my family still controlled me when they needed something. I knew they would keep pushing me until I went. The drama continued to escalate until I relented.
I spent 18 long years in FL until my son finished graduate school. I had a great job with a large healthcare organization, and they offered me a transfer to a hospital in TX that needed help with acceptance of the electronic health record. I jumped at the opportunity, and in 30 days I moved into my brand new beautiful house in TX. My mom had wanted to drive with me, and when we pulled into the driveway, the only thing she said was that I might as well have moved into a city. This house was in a neighborhood of homes there were not built on top of each other. My lot was wooded in the back and had large trees on both sides and in the front yard. And that was what she had to say about it? My sisters flew down to “help me move in.” What they really did was steal from me. I had 18 silver dollars that my grandfather had given me for each birthday until he passed. Those disappeared, as did a lot of old home movies and photos. They weren’t there to “help,” they were there to take what they wanted and leave. These were things I had accumulated over the years. I was furious, but I didn’t say anything because it wouldn’t have helped. They wouldn’t have lied about it–they would say they were entitled. I never understood their thinking along those lines… And they were angry because now they had to deal with my mom. My 18 years of prison wasn’t enough for them. And, they were angry that now they didn’t have a place to go in the winter when they were retired–their plan was to come stay with me.
These are just a few of the things that I have dealt with over the years. I finally cut all ties with my sisters and my mother, and life has been so much better since then.
For every other move I have made, my best friend in FL as flown out to help me. No questions asked–she would just be there. But timing just wouldn’t work for this move.
But now, my son… I’ve always been there to help them with anything from taking care of my grandson to helping them out financially. I paid for all of his schooling–just paid off his college loans last year (and he’s 41). I have never felt that they took advantage, I always did everything I did out of love. And now, when I need them for the first time ever, they are not there for me. I don’t understand.
So, once I stopped crying last night, I sent a message to one of my friends in TX (people in TX are wonderful by the way), and asked if she would be willing to help me drive from here to there if I bought her a plane ticket to get here. She called me a few minutes later and said that she and her husband want to drive up here and back to TX with me. Her husband will drive his truck, and she will hop in the car with me for the drive back. He was worried that the weather might be bad in February, and he wanted us to be safe. More crying. I have never even met her husband, but he was willing to go so far out of his way to help me!
Why? I have thought a lot about this since yesterday. I think the truth is that I have never wanted or needed anything from my family. I’ve never asked for anything, I’ve only given. I don’t for a minute regret anything I have ever done for any of my family.
But I realize that my friends accept me for the person I am. They love me for myself, and not what I can do for them. I’m not saying that my son doesn’t love me. I honestly think he doesn’t understand that I really do need his help. I’ve gone through chemotherapy and radiation, and never asked them for anything–except that my daughter-in-law took me for my surgery. I live alone and take care of myself. Disability has been something I never even thought of as a possibility. But, I am in a situation that is totally unfamiliar to me. And they don’t understand.
I know that writing this doesn’t change anything, but at least I get it off my chest. Maybe someone has an answer? It’s not me…