Tag Archives: siblings

November Musings…

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I have been participating in NaNoWriMo and decided to write my memoir. It is amazing how the writing flows when the story has already played out. What I am most surprised about is the various segues that occur when writing about events in the past. I notice that my older sister comes up in my life so often I have to ask myself if I am writing her story or my own.

My sister’s behavior towards me starting in our childhood looms over me as I write. She passed away a year ago, unexpectedly at the age of 65. I feel like I had already grieved her passing because we had been estranged for a few years and I never expected that we would make peace, we were just so different, it was a difficult relationship for me. The funny thing is that I don’t think she ever saw it that way. In my writing yesterday, I was able to see that I had been emotionally battered by her all my life and that being a victim of emotional battering by several people was just a pattern I developed and felt comfortable with. I hope those days are over for me as I begin living my 65th year. I am a senior citizen now, writing is my current passion and I know that I need to start saying “NO!” to a lot of things so I can fully investigate and honor this creative side of my being.

My children seem to be thriving, that is the one big worry that is always in the back of my mind. I know that I need to trust that all the tools their father and I and their education have given them are enough to navigate the current chaos we live in but I still think it would be great if we could be physically much closer than we are currently. But we have all made our choices and fortunately we have a strong family connection that makes it possible to communicate often.

Writing in November in this structured way is a wonderful jump start to a lot of people hoping to write their novel. Why not believe that it is possible for me too?

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This is my ranting blog!

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…and because it is, you can stop now if you just don’t feel like you
want to hear it!

When I was around 14 or 15, my mother decided to go back to school
and get her Master’s degree in Social Work, Family Therapy. Good for
her, I thought. How wonderful that she has that much ambition. I was
only in the 10th grade probably but I already knew I didn’t even want
to go past high school education. Back then, it was quite possible to
get a good paying job with a high school diploma and I couldn’t wait
to begin my “real” life.

Well, my mother was working and going to school at night which meant
that household duties fell to us children. My older sister’s constant refrain
of “I didn’t ask to be born” which meant “so I don’t have to do anything”
also meant that most of the household stuff fell to me because I was a
pacifist and the noise from constant yelling between her and my mother
just didn’t suit my style. So plug away I did and most of the time, I was
okay with it because frankly, I like order and I like quiet.

When it came time for my mother to begin preparing her thesis, she relied
on me to read and record the passages of the books she was assigned so she
could listen to them while doing something else…very efficient. It never
occurred to me until recently that this was its own form of child abuse. After
all, I had to use my “free” time to do her work. One of the books she/we read
was by Virginia Satir, a pioneer in the field of NeuroLinguistic Programming.
I so enjoyed reading the book, not to mention what I learned psychologically
about words, their uses, their meanings, etc., that I forgot to be mad at Mom
for cutting into my time. As a birthday present to me for my 18th, my mother
bought me my own copy of the book which I noticed again today. The inscription
always makes me sad and a bit guilty because I was not living at home at the
time of my 18th birthday, having opted to skip the chaos and turmoil at home
and travel to places abroad. An emergency at home brought me back almost a
year later, and to be honest I don’t remember when my mother presented the
book to me finally but I have always loved it and read it often to understand me
and the rest of the world.

But I began this blog saying it was a rant and I’ve gotten off course. My rant is
simply that I still feel put upon. My family, which now includes my siblings, my
nieces and nephew and my own children, still put unreasonable emotional demands
on me at times that I am powerless to ignore…I love them all dearly but sometimes
I wish I could fugue…

Thanks for listening…

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Stream of consciousness writing

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Wow, I just re-read yesterday’s post. I sound angry. It was an honest post though and although
I will be the first to agree that some sentences could have been better constructed, I’ve decided
to just leave it alone.

I am working with a lot of things right now. The first priority in my life is to make sure that my
Dad (two months a widower today) is okay and that all documentation allowing him to secure the
benefits he is entitled to after my Mom’s passing are taken care of. In this country of very slow
bureaucracy, there is not much to do after requesting a document than to sit and wait for it to
be ready. We are good at waiting; we know our part is done.

These last few weeks have found me in good health and in good spirits but every so often I do
feel that my days are lived in a bit of a haze. I feel like I know where I’m going and what I have
to do to get there but I am sometimes frozen in a thought…or worse, beginning a thought and
losing its thread in the middle and not being able to remember what the original thought was.
There is tremendous temptation in me sometimes to believe myself headed toward the forget-
fulness of the Alzheimer’s that diminished our lives when it gripped my mother. It was not all
negative though. The last 6 or 7 years have allowed me to get to know my father in a completely
new manner. I don’t really think I will or want to be another Alzheimer’s statistic. It was sad to
watch my brave and tenacious mom succumb to the illness. She is now resting in peace; I am
fortunate to have been able to spend so many years of good time with her.

My Weight Watchers journey continues positively. With my husband being away for a week or
so, I am able to eat some foods that he does not care for (tofu, brown rice, some exotic fruits,
some lovely Indian fare, etc.) and can keep a better handle on the “treats”. I will never blame
him (or anyone) for the extra 40 lbs. (it was 50 when I started!!) that I carry. No one forced me
to consume the extra food. The program works, any program works really, your mind has to be
in the game, however, for the success to be lasting. I think I shared that this time, I am pretending
to be getting ready for my television debut! It is a lovely fantasy. Last weekend, I spent a couple
of hours with my father going over some clothing of mine in a closet. I was shocked to see the tiny
clothing I fit into 20 years ago! I know I fit into the clothes because I have pictures of me in them!
I will never go back to a size 6…but I am still having trouble getting rid of clothing that I know is
not going to be loved as I once loved it.

All this decluttering has also sent me into the boxes and boxes of pictures and letters that have
accumulated in my drawers and shelves. I ran across a picture of me taken in 1967 just before
I turned 12. In the picture were my three siblings and our paternal grandmother. I examined
our faces closely. My oldest sister’s expression held a slight sneer as she turned to face the
photographer, who I suppose was our mother. My own expression is one of worry although it
could also have been caused by sun in my eyes. My younger siblings have neutral expressions.
The only one who looks like she was talking or about to smile was grandma. I think I will always
remember that about her: talking or smiling!

By the time the picture was taken, I had already decided that upon return to New York after that
summer’s vacation, I would devote all my energies to relearning Spanish. I find it hard to believe
(after all, I was only 11) that I had the discipline or pride to make that decision. A better one could
not have been made and I am glad I did it. Being fully bilingual has served me well.

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Parental trauma

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My daughter thanked me the other day because she felt that she and her
siblings are ‘parental trauma-free’…I am not sure that I agree with this assessment
but I am grateful that she can see us in this manner. It is no small thing.

I have lots of trauma, not only inflicted by parents (mom mostly, isn’t that always the
case?) but also followed up by an older sibling, multiple intrusive aunts and
the nuns, always the nuns! It takes a lot of discipline not to fall back onto old
habits of feeling like what I do doesn’t matter, not being good enough, smart enough,
pretty enough, thin enough…why in the world would relatives/teachers/mentors/bosses
not want to be nice and loving towards the people in their life who could profit
from them instead of fearing them? Where is it written that because you weren’t treated
nicely, you somehow had a license to be nasty to everyone?

My life has been pretty good for the most part. This year has been a little harder than
other years because I have lost a lot of loved ones and other people I knew and admired.
I have allowed myself to grieve longer and more openly than in other years. Perhaps the
fact that I am older is making me realize I’ve lived longer than I will live and it is
making me feel a sense of urgency to complete tasks and projects, which at the same time
has brought an unexplainable paralysis which keeps me stuck in an unpleasant place.

I believe that all thoughts are energy. I know it is so and yet, even though I know
better, I have allowed myself to veer into a path of negativity which does not serve
me. I want to find a way to be kind and not rehash the many disapproving comments
I remember from years ago which I still allow to hurt me. Patience and kindness to
me first and foremost.