because we can (Photo credit: ben matthews :::)
Several months ago I had a big blow-up with my sister and brother-in-law. Accusations ran fast and furious and I was left wondering exactly what I had done wrong. I had innocently triggered a lot of old feelings from them. I was accused of being viciously insensitive and abusive.
They were partly right. I have done and said a lot of wrong things when in the middle of depressive episodes. I accept responsibility for that. However I have controlled my reactions for some time. So when they attacked me I was befuddled and hurt. In their eyes I have always been abusive. This is patently untrue. It hurt me to realize that even the good times we had when I was well didn’t count. And that my learning to control my reactions towards them in recent years didn’t count either.
The problem was that they were mistaking my behavior from my illness for who I really am. And they should know better.
Anyway I tried reasoning with my sister but eventually lost my patience because she was more interested in beating me up with all the things I had done wrong in the past. I lashed back in a rather mean way telling her that she needed to deal with the problems in her own life rather than focus on me. Specifically dealing with her husband’s abusive behavior towards my dad and myself.
I wouldn’t have said anything except for the fact that he had come down on me so hard and let me know that he considered me a completely worthless piece of trash. The irony is that everything he was accusing me of was more true of him than of me. He boasted about what a loving, caring person he was and how much he does for others while accusing me of being completely unable to care about or do anything nice for anyone in my entire life (despite the fact that I gave him my low-mileage car, gratis).
The truth is that he is an insensitive jerk who is taking financial advantage of my father.
Unfortunately my sister completely supported his attack on me. So basically I lashed back saying that he needed to stop using our dad as a piggy-bank and look for a job which he has refused to do for two years.
My sister didn’t talk to me for six weeks. I felt awful about that but I felt like I really needed to be firm about it and not back down. Eventually she called and although she did not apologize to me we did our usual thing of sweeping things under the rug and not talking about it.
Don’t get me wrong. I am glad she is back in my life and I do care about her. But it is the uncomfortable feeling that since these things have not been talked about and could erupt again at any time that bothers me.
Frankly I am tired of this. I am tired of pretending that things are ok when they are not. I go on believing that we are getting along great and that they have forgiven me for the past until, guess what? They’re baaack!
I am tired of them playing on my guilt about the past. And I am tired of them pretending that they haven’t contributed to some of the problems in our relationship. Because they have been hurtful and abusive also.
For instance my brother-in-laws’ hatred of me stems from the fact that he thinks I never liked him. Apparently I did something when we first met but I don’t remember it. I honestly don’t. My sister told me that I started crying and that he felt that I blamed him for that. Interestingly enough, she herself doesn’t remember anything happening either. I had gone years not knowing that he felt that way until she told me that is why he doesn’t like me. So here I was with my damn bipolar guilt thinking I probably did do something so I actually went to him and pretended that I remembered what happened and apologized.
Maybe I did cry (I mean that goes with bipolar right?) but I certainly do not remember hating him at first sight. I didn’t even know him, I thought he was pleasant and was glad that he was making my sister happy. Honestly though, I don’t remember being depressed that day so I guess it will always be a puzzle to me.
The truth is over the years I have observed things about him that have disturbed me and I have actually gone out of my way to be nice and not say anything and to be supportive. For instance that fact that he gets fired from jobs (usually because he won’t do what the boss asks him to do) and expects my dad to bail him out. And it has gotten worse to the point where he literally expects my elderly dad to support his entire family indefinitely (or at least until he gets his “big break” as a writer, which hasn’t happened yet). This behavior has gone on for about twenty years and I have said nothing.
At the same time he has cruelly persecuted me for being disabled and not working. I actually was working part-time for a while and even that wasn’t good enough for him. I actually had one of his friends verbally attack me at a family function because she thought I was faking my problems. I have never said anything to him about how much his attitude has hurt me. He would probably just tell me to get off my pity-pot.
What can you expect from a man who criticises my eighty-four year old father for not walking fast enough?
But, you see, I am the problem. I am abusive, not him. Because of that whole “bipolar thing”, you know.
I asked him to trim my bushes in my yard once and only once. Paid him a handsome $100 for it, too. He trimmed the sides of my very overgrown bushes and then left. I called him telling him that he had done a good job and asked when he was coming back to finish since he had not trimmed the tops of the bushes. He got mad and hung up. You see I had not told him specifically to trim the tops of the bushes so he felt no obligation to do it, despite the fact that they were very overgrown. I was out of $100 (another nice thing I had done for him that he won’t acknowledge) and had to hire someone else to finish the job.
He of course told my sister about how I didn’t appreciate what he had done for me and how “mean” I was.
Cry me a river, I am sick of this sh**.
I am at the point where I think I need to set some firm boundaries with him and my sister both. I am not sure how to do this but I know that both of them have been using my guilt about my past behavior as an excuse to treat me badly. I can’t let that go on, They accuse me of not having respect for them but they do not believe that I deserve the same right.
It ends now.