"The problem here is a totalitarian uniformity, a cult-like mentality such that even allies are enemies if they fail to follow the Exact Party Line. " - Phyllis Chesler

Monday, August 11, 2008

10 + Years Of Changes

I may have written some of these thoughts before, so forgive me if they are repeats.

I've taken a very personal spiritual journey which started with a physical illness in 1998 and since that time I know and feel how much I have changed.

I don't think the people who knew me back then would recognize the person I am today. Please do not get me wrong. I do not think I am super perfect, super human or have all or even most of the answers. I only know the enormous changes I have made in my personal life for myself.

I still have a temper when certain issues or hot buttons are pressed. And admittedly it can be a quick fuse. I still have a low tolerance for what I perceive to be disrespect toward me. I am perfectly fine with disagreement in a respectful way. However if on a job or even on the street someone is extremely rude and abussive I'm going to get angry.

The difference is how I choose to handle these moments. I don't always achieve the peaceful approach I would like to know I can, but I do most often now. As a 20 something I just spilled all over!

But I have been blessed to have some amazing people come into my life and show me love and acceptance which taught me about being soft and how that can also be strong.

I'm a bit more bold on my blog, because as I've said before, this is my place to get it out of me, and I know that here where you all come to check in on my personal thoughts and feelings, I have your acceptance and understanding even if we wouldn't do or say the same things. Well ok, for the most part. HAHA!

As many of you know already, my brother, my YOUNGER brother is getting married at the end of this month. We haven't been that close most of our lives and this goes deeper than just saying that. In the 80's the term was "disfunctional family" and my family completely fit that bill.

The last couple of years have been a big step in the healing process for my mother and myself and hopefully that will lead to a better healing process with my brother. As much as I don't like what I had to live as a child, I came out with my wits and strength. He shut down. He became hard. I am not even sure if there is a machine that could chip away the surface he has created around his core. I'm the lucky one because I can feel and I was willing to do it. I hated the process. I won't lie to any of you. CHANGE is painful not peaceful as we often think and hope it will be.

But so much good has come from this process. I have a really good relationship with my mother. I can have some decent conversations with my father, now that I have learned how to "work him" and I have learned to start loving and accepting myself, good, bad and ugly.

My parents didn't mean to be the people they were and I have forgiven them, just as I want the same from my brother for whatever ills he feels I imposed upon him as the mean big sister.

Funny enough, I have a lot of friends who had really bad sibling rivalry as children, much worse than what I had with my brother and now they are all very loving and close. But when you come from such dysfunction it's not surprising that at least one cannot let go or get out of his own head and memories that he has most certainly distorted to make things worse than they were.

But I digress. I have forgiven my parents and that has made things so much better for all of us.

However, families have patterns. If you are willing to open your eyes and ears, you might be surprised in how much you had no control over the life you were handed, just by realising that what you are living with your siblings is pretty much what your parents lived with theirs. Cyclical.

On my mother's side I have an Uncle that I and she haven't spoken to in 10+ years. I since I graduated college and she in about the last 10. I think it's rather sad.

For a time, it was good to be disconnected. That time gives us all the chance to regenerate and reboot. But then as souls who are certainly connected there has to be a time of healing. Sadly this has not happened and this Uncle and his children are not accepting the invitation to my brother's wedding.

I could be angry for this but instead I feel sad and also feel all things considered it's for the best. Because of the following statement made directly to my mother:
"There haven't been any positive things from your family over the last 10 years and we feel it's not in our best interest to come."

I don't feel sad for myself but for him and his family. That he is a grown man in his 60's who doesn't have a clue how to heal or find peace and still harbors the hurt and hate in his mind.

And ironically most of all he missed his opportunity to make the postive change he claims he has been seeking. For when you always point the finger at others -- you often forget there are always a few pointing back at you.

And sadly he also takes a cleaver to the truth and chops it up.

Over the last 10 years my parents have done so much for his family and at each turn my poor mother, who is battling Leukemia, but wouldn't tell you as I am, because she wouldn't want that to be an issue, has had to bear the brunt of his finger pointing ways. I was glad when she cut ties with her brother because I feared what that was doing to her physically.

Case in point: A few years ago my Uncle's Mother in Law was in a very nationally publicized car accident and was lost for many days while my cousin was on her way to visit from up North. My parents live about 20 minutes from the Mother in Law who my mother always had affection for and went to visit every now and then.

My parents learned about this woman's dissappearance because my grandparents saw a news story and called my parents asking if they knew about the situation.

My parents were shocked. They immediately called my cousin to say let me help you, what can we do and of course as parents do they did add why didn't you call us?

The mother in law was found by a road cleaning crew and turned out to recover. Her car was of course totalled.

My father had many connections with car dealers and he called one and had that person donate a completely new and free car for her.

What did my parents get? Chastized for how they treated my cousin. She complained about the message my parents left her. How could MY parents be so insensitive.

Mom continued to send the Mother in Law cards at every holiday and even went to visit her a few times after that incident. A couple of years ago, she got a letter, which I feel is just very nasty and psychically rude, asking her not to send anymore cards because she felt they really had nothing in common but my Uncle and that there was no reason to continue the relationship.

There was a time it made me really angry. I even wrote a tell off letter when graduating college to my Uncle for how he berated my mother for not inviting him to my graduation dinner.

Basically his response was to photocopy the letter and mail it to my mother telling her how she was a bad mother for allowing her (24 year old) daughter to be so disrespectful to him and also for all my spelling errors. (HA ON THAT. I DO spell horribly.)

I wrote to him because I wanted him to know that the guests were my choice and that I chose a small party for a reason and that I didn't like how he treated Mom. It was harsh in tone but I don't think horrendous, other than my bad spelling. :-) I would probably write a different letter today.

I am and have always been very sensitive to other's needs and I knew my parents were going to use credit to pay for a nice dinner at the Rainbow Room. Therefore I only invited 3 friends and my grandparents and parents and brother. And it cost them a fortune. I also didn't see the big deal in making a production as they did for my cousin who graduated that same year. A fancy invite came like it was a bat mitzvah! UGH!

The ironic thing about my letter is that it was truly unedited thought, which is EXACTLY what this Uncle does to everyone else. Today I would just write the paragraph above this one and let it stand for what it is and nothing more.

This wasn't the begining of things in this story. This is the cream in the oreo cookie. There's tons of cookie surrounding all these juicy details I write about today.

I write this in this detailed way for two reasons. One: to show the thought pattern & Two: to show the change.

10 years ago I was and would be angry and tell you off. Today I just feel so sad for him that he can't get over it, accept his part in it all and forgive and heal. It's a much more rough place to be living and while he has a good bank account and nice home I'd venture to say that my little New York rental apartment is a much better place to live.


Sandi said...

Hi. Found your blog over at Drowsy Monkey. Sounds like you have come a long way in the past 10 years. Although I didn't come from a dysfunctional family, there were issues (as there always are) that left scars. It took me until mylate 40's or early 50's to finally let go. Can't change the past, can only change my reaction to it and, hopefully, learn from it.

Lauren said...

Hi Sandi, Wow new and read this very heavy and long post. Gotta give you bit KUDOS!

Da Old Man said...

I've been thinking along the lines of what you said a lot lately. My aunt and my mother both died within about a year or so of each other, and both in approximately the last year. For so long, I could barely keep track of my uncles and aunts, who wasn't talking to whom based upon things that happened so long ago, they all forgot the why.
At my aunt's funeral, it made me realize how silly it all was.
Your words just reminded me of all that.

leezee52 said...

Wow what a powerful post!

I just want to ask a question were your parents Holocaust survivors because I see alot of unhappy children of survivors or were your parents born in another country, I know of some children who's parents were immigrants and were raised with the ways of the old country.

I hope you understand what I'm trying to say. I have the utmost compassion for these children!

Lee :)

Jessica said...

Great post! Doesn't it feel good just to write it all out? :) I'm glad for your change...it's nice, and a lot heather to feel sorry for people than to be angry, or crazy upset about things that you cannot change anyway.
I know this from experience.

Have a good week!

Lauren said...

D.O.M., Can't help but think that at least with your relatives they had the maturity and decency to show up at the funeral. When my grandmother died almost 3 years ago, my Uncle didn't show up. He lives about a half hour from my parents and grandparents. It's just a sad sad situation.

Lee, NOPE. I am third generation American.

Jess, it is "nicer"!

I think in reading all your comments it just shows all of us how normal this kind of stuff is. Sad but normal. Isn't funny how we always think it's just our families?

Chat Blanc (aka Sandy) said...

I admire your desire and ability to change, and accept those who aren't interested in doing the same. I can understand the heartache that brings. I'm sooooo happy for you that you've grown! Sounds like you've found a happier, healthier way to go! :)

Drowsey Monkey said...

That's a very personal post and I appreciate you sharing it with us.

I know what you mean about change, I don't think I'd recognize the person I was 10 years ago ... and that's a positive thing, because it means growth. The woman I was when I was married is almost a ghost to me now.

Families are weird. I had 2 aunts who lived beside each other and didn't speak to each other for over 50 years! I've never understood that kind of bitterness ... or stubbornness, eventho I am a suborn person.

Good for you for being so honest about yourself and and for being willing to change. That says a lot about your character ... and it's all good :)