Friday, July 27, 2012

Blood is Thicker than Water (but not as thick as honey).

I can't say I exactly have writer's block, but rather writer's non-starter. Too much going on in my family life, in my personal life, and in my working life, and I don't know where to start.

As longtime readers know, my family is big and varied. Many members of my immediate family are actually stepfamily members but have been in my life so long and in so much depth that it's impossible to separate the real from the not real and what is "real" anyway? Each of my four families (mother's, father's, stepfather's, stepmother's) reacts to things like conflict, crisis, holidays (sometimes conflict and crisis lies within this category!), and the like in very different ways.

Due to this, I have a...confused... sense of what's normal. It's more like an occupational hazard that I have to just deal with. I have to juggle very different personalities on a constant basis and as my families have been hit hard lately with illness, death and just life that happens as the founding (in my view) matriarch and patriarch members of each family battle age.

Due to the nature of proximity, my coworkers are usually the ones who hear things first. They are two feet away when I get bad news, the first people I see in the morning if I'm distracted with news I've gotten the night before. Cancer, Alzheimer’s, divorce--my family has been hit hard in 2012.

During the latest bit of news that an aunt has been diagnosed with uterine cancer, I started to notice eyes glazing over- just a little bit. I could almost see their thought bubbles--"Didn't she have an aunt that just got cured of cancer? Is this a new aunt? Actually, doesn't she have an aunt only a few years older than her? Wait -- is this a different aunt? I actually thought she had an aunt just die? From ....lung cancer?"

Not only are all of those above statements true; all of these were/are different aunts. Some biological, some step. One not even related to anybody at all, but a family friend who we called "Aunt" for our whole lives.

Yeah, it's weird.

My grandfather--you pick the relation--was arrested last week. For what, I won't get into here for his privacy and mine, but he has been exhibiting symptoms of dementia for a long time and this was simply the catalyst to kick us in our collective asses, pull our collective heads out of the sand, and deal with this bad situation that's not going to magically fix itself. My sisters and I held a conference call -- yeah, as if I didn't do enough of those -- last weekend to try and figure out what we can do and what our roles will be. We are trying.

My grandfather was sent to a psychiatric institution for a mandatory hold, and then went back to jail yesterday. We bailed him out, and he is now home. We are figuring out what to do. Court is next week. I got a long text from a sister last night, to several of us, as she attempted to update us from afar. She said at the end..."Now is the time to knit ourselves together as a family. We need to be a strong unit for Nana and Pappaw, and we need to show that our family won't break."

Blood? Forget it. Those words were sweet as honey that sticks us together and flows through our veins, recognizing, knowing.

Remember me? I'm the one who loves you.

I'm driving to Kentucky in an hour.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I am struggling.

It's the point I was at this time last summer, and the summer before that. And probably the one before that. It's middle of summer; middle of the season where all terrible things happen to me. Nothing terrible has happened yet, but I'm waiting for it.

I struggle this time of year.

I want to smack my head against my desk for feeling this way at all. You know, this desk I have in this big office with a big window and cherry furniture. Sometimes I'll be standing in the middle of my office with my bluetooth in my ear, on one of my zillion conference calls I have per day, I'll stop and pause. Note the TV in my office tuned to Cspan. Note that hey--didn't I get everything I wanted?

I did. And, I do want it. I am lucky beyond measure. I've worked hard for this, without sacrificing my relationships with my family and friends. I have life in abundance.

I said that word to myself last night, willing the anger not to rise up. I am blessed with work/friends/family in abundance. But still, the anger comes. Boiled over at 3:39 this morning as I tossed and turn. Anger at God, anger at myself, anger at the anger cycles that come this time of year. Anger that it is just damn hard to love someone that doesn't love you back. It is hard to face that feeling day after day, year after year. It makes it impossible to move on; to find someone new. Anyone. Days like this, that hateful, mean feeling rises in my throat....and i would give ANYTHING to be able to go out and run without causing permanent damage to my ankle--my doctor nixed running until at least one year post-surgery. Walking just doesn't let me get the mads and the sads out the way running did.

Yesterday it's been 9 months since the break. I feel broken all over, and vulnerable today.

Time for another conference call.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Let it be.

This past weekend, I spent a long weekend in Florida with my oldest step-sister and my two oldest nieces and oldest nephew –S, C and L ages 17, 14 and 13. I’ve written of them many times, and their influence in my life is unmistakable. Their very presence made our (very newly-formed, blended) family go in a direction that produced instant cohesion. We avoided much of the yours, mine conflicts because almost immediately after my mother and step-father’s union, my step-sister gave birth to S. I had only been an 8th grade graduate a few days when she arrived. S was, simply, ours. We could all love her mutually. She belonged to none of us, she belonged to all of us.

Our (for me, this side of my) family life and dynamic is not an easy one. It is fraught with tension, hints of mental illness, and a tendency for the melodramatic. In the middle of the storm there always, always has been S, C and L. They’ve grown up to be such wonderful kids and easy teenagers that I’m constantly amazed when these tall, hilarious, creative, talented kids still tries to crawl into my lap. They slip their hands into mine to hold. They lay in bed with me and ask for backs to be scratched. This weekend I got a glimpse of the still-difficult live they lead, largely at the hands of my step-sister. I could elaborate further, but I would likely end several hours and tears later. There’s no use.

After a particularly tough few hours, I watched them play in the ocean while I sat on my towel with the Beatles cranked up in my headphones and trying to slow my beating heart. They laughed and played like the toddlers I once knew. I watched them and hoped with every fiber of my being that they break this cycle. That they will be the ones to break this vicious endless cycle of finger-pointing and blame and too much yelling – not for us, not for our family, but for themselves.

I want these things as I watch them teeter on the end of adolescence and I watch and I cry and clutch my fists to keep my dreams for them inside. Let it be.

Last night, I ended what was a small flicker of a relationship. I actually cooked for this one – I really did try. I told people about him. I slept with him. I tried. But it still didn’t work. I don’t know, honestly, what to do anymore. I am very pessimistic that anything will be happening for me in this game of love.

I know, I know – it’s easy to wave me off with a “Ah, well you’re just 31! You’ve plenty of time!” The reality is—no, I really don’t. I don't have all that many years to find, nurture and grow a relationship, have babies, etc, before that window of time will end. I can do math. I doubt my chances of meeting The One are going to grow ever larger as I age, become set in my ways and continue to set myself up for a life alone. Do I like it? No. But it is what it is. I feel like I need to let go of this future life I’m envisioning for myself and just let it go.

Let it be.

Let it be, so that I can eliminate expectation and come to terms that maybe I’m a kick-ass aunt because they are the only children I’m going to have in my life. Maybe I have such a large and meshed-together and extended family unit(s) because they are the only family I am going to have. I just don't know. But I know I can't stop listening to this song.

“Holding out for some perfect reason/
Staring at the skyline with expectation.
Never finding what I believe in/
I’ll wait if I have to…
But feels like my hope’s slipping away
While I’m waiting here
Feels like I go from green to grey
As I lose another year.”

---Gavin Creel