I know how this cycle goes, and I know that when someone is upset, folks get tunnel vision, rushing the upset person as if through a water slide, the end result being, ‘I now feel better and I understand the lesson in my earlier anguish.’
Yes, it’s great to feel that way, but the whole process defeats itself if it isn’t a PROCESS. Sometimes the water slide is stickier, and, sometimes we need to allow space for the upset person to be upset before our scramble to flush their problem away. Sometimes, we need to feel the stickiness of our problem. We need to feel the upset. Mostly because, when we try to rush it along and can’t, we feel even worse -- like a failure.
That’s how I feel now. I suppose this icky, sticky feeling is the source of all movements toward justice, equality, retribution, safety, boundaries, health, mental health, optimal health health health. Sometimes we get used to feeling accomplished; we feel safe in our safety net. Then the icky sticky feeling comes and, shit -- you wonder why it’s sticking to you this time.
My father moved in with my husband and me, and even though most audiences moan at the ‘amount of responsibility we’ve taken on,’ my husband and I both have found it to be monumentally less stressful than the insecure act of caregiving from a long distance. I don’t worry or wonder, because he’s here. I know he’s safe. He has everything he needs and he will never lack. We spend just the right amount of time together. It’s visceral. I don’t worry if I should be talking to him more or something like that, because, there’s an honesty and openness that is innate. If he wants to be alone, he expresses that.
Now, I am not getting on some kind of horse from which I tout perfection and balance. But here’s the thing. I put in a lot of time and energy into his health and wellbeing. It does not feel like a chore, because he’s my father. I would be doing it anyway, and the fact that he’s under my roof makes it easier. But. But. But. I have two siblings. They may have fooled me before because I was not always around -- how did I know how much they called? Well, now I know for certain. I know for certain that my brother has never called.
Let that sink in.
In fact, my father called HIM on Father’s Day, and they spoke briefly.
My sister returns his calls sometimes, during which she talks AT him for a few sentences before informing him she’s on her way to work.
So now I cannot escape the concrete knowledge that my two siblings put in 0% toward the care and wellbeing of our father. Zero logistical contribution and zero emotional contribution.
I thought I’d moved past the razor edge of this gut-wrenching betrayal from my siblings. I’ve written about it, talked about it enough to seal the chapter. But as I sit here today, the betrayal and abandonment has a razor edge again. One of my father’s longest, closest friends suffered a heart attack a few days ago and died. I texted with my brother, and in that conversation my brother expressed real feelings about this event and real concern for my father’s grief. However, THERE WAS NEVER A CALL. THERE WAS NEVER A CALL FROM MY BROTHER TO MY FATHER.
My father certainly has failures in his past which include failures in supporting his children sufficiently. But, as I’ve always felt, if they don’t feel obliged to contribute care for my father, why don’t they feel obliged to contribute care for MY SAKE?
I’ll never understand it and I won’t forgive it. And today, I can tell it’s going to take me a little bit to move through the stickiness of it this time around.