Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Brother Dearest

Warning: this is another rant session.  One of these days I'm going to have to write about some nice stuff that happens to me.  Nice stuff does happen.  I just don't write about it.  I prefer writing about my turmoil.  It helps me think things through.

The relationship with my brother has been odd to say the least.  He was raised by my grandmother and great grandmother (a separate very long story) in England and I had very little contact with him during that time.  I moved to the US with my sister and parents when I was seven and we left him behind.  He moved over nine years later after they both passed away within a month of each other.  We were great friends back then.  He taught me how to solder.  We hung out together.  Played checkers a lot.   Went to the movies together.  As he got to know more people and made friends we hung out less but still got along fine.  After I moved out of my parents house we lived together on and off for a few years.  We got along fine.  Then I moved to another part of the state.  He met the love of his life and got married.  They went to Hawaii for three years on a work contract.  Things were never the same again.

Once he got back, I kept trying to hook up.  We lived near each other again but they were always too busy.  Didn't matter how many times I asked they were busy.  Over the years this degraded into a once a year three to four hour get together the day after Christmas with a few emails exchanges in between.  Once I bought a house this get together was ALWAYS at my house.  I cooked.  I cleaned.  I hosted.  They brought beer (we don't drink) and presents.  On the years that they went skiing instead, I mailed a box full of presents which often got sent late (I'm notorious for this).  We received and envelope full of gift certificates to places we don't shop at.  In fact I still have a few of them since the stores went out of business.  The emails got fewer in number and I always initiated the exchange.  Once I got sick those stopped all together.  I still hosted the Christmas get togethers even though I was sick.  I cooked.  My husband, son and housecleaner cleaned.  My family showed up with booze, more gift certificates and the occasional exchange student.

Last year my sister changed the holiday dynamic by inviting herself and my mom over to my brother's house for Christmas.  No one invited me so I invited myself.  This didn't go well since we could only agree on Christmas eve after dinner for our get together.  This turned into a three hour car trip in heavy traffic which messed me up to complete head bobbing stage.  Luckily I had my walker with me because I couldn't stand up on my own by the time we got to his house.  Of course I also couldn't talk, track conversations or take social cues at all.  My son told me stories later of all the uncomfortable stuff I missed: sis being drunk, SIL's banter about divorcing my brother, etc.  My mom was so uncomfortable that she wanted to leave and come to my house for Christmas which she did.  We had a wonderful time.

Then this past summer there was a huge family get together that no one even bothered to tell me about, let alone invite me to.  I found out because my mom had been so excited to meet up with her old friend that my sister had invited.  The whole thing was a  huge surprise party for the two of them.
This prompted my letter to sister dearest and our subsequent falling out.

Now Christmas is at my brothers again and again I didn't get invited.  My mom has refused to go.  She is coming here instead.  She also decided to call him to find out what the heck is going on.  I know  she filtered the conversation heavily and since it is pretty much open season on hubs the version I got puts the blame squarely on hub's shoulders.  Now I could understand this if he was actually mean to anyone.  Granted he can be very socially awkward sometimes but he has never gone out of his way to be nasty to any of these people.  As he put it, "I see these people three hours a year and even then I don't talk most of the time so where are they getting this stuff from?"  The only time he saw my brother on his own ever was at a job site a couple of years ago and they had a very pleasant lunch together and chatted for three hours about work stuff.  So what gives???  We've puzzled over this at length and are at a loss.  Even if they did hate hubs that much why not see me individually.  This is what hubs and his brother do.  He sees all of his siblings sans spouses.  I have never seen my brother without his entourage in tow.  It is weird.

So now what?  I'm pretty much done.  Can't get blood from a stone.  I've tried for many years to maintain a relationship with him but he just isn't interested.  I think if we weren't related by blood we would have stopped talking once he got married.  I often wonder if I'm not SIL approved and that is what is driving this entire thing. We got along fine prior to him getting married and we are almost identical personality wise.  I wonder if he is that much of a milquetoast?

Either way, I'm done.  I'm too sick to pursue this any further.  I don't want to contact him directly because my ego can't take another rejection after that last one from my sister.  I would like to at least maintain the illusion that the relationship can be saved at some point.  Hope springs eternal.  This will get interesting if SIL goes through with her threat of divorce....

I want to say that holidays bring out the worst in some people but really it is that you can very easily hide the family dirt under the rug the rest of the year.  However, when you pick the rug up for the obligatory annual holiday get together that pile of dirt is right there staring you in the face.  It hasn't gone away just because you ignored it all year.  Someone inevitably steps in the pile and the dirt flies everywhere spraying everyone in the room.  It would be best to deal with this prior to the holidays but some people hide very well.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

It is NOT about the knife!

Why do arguments with your spouse get so weird?  It is almost like you are talking in two different languages.  You're using the same words but they have completely different meanings.

For instance....

Hubs put my good knives in the dishwasher.  I paid over $100 for each of them since they are my tools that I use daily.  One of them had a really nice wooden handle and was a Christmas present from my son.  This isn't the first time I've asked him not to do this.  In fact, I've lost count on how many times I've asked him.  This time though was different.  I lost my cool.  I started slamming doors.

Of course he came to find out what was wrong.  He couldn't fathom why I was angry.  "What did I do?  At least tell me what I did wrong?"
"You put my knives in the dishwasher."
"I know."
"You can't even say sorry can you?"
"I'm sorry I made you mad."  Luckily it was dark so he didn't see me roll my eyes.

"It is a knife.  So what?  You shouldn't be this angry over a stupid knife."
"It isn't about the knife.  It is about the fact that I ask you something, repeatedly ask you something, and you ignore my words and do it anyway."
"I don't care.  It is just a knife."
"That.  Right there.  That.  'I don't care.'  That is the problem.  You don't care.  You don't care what I say.  You don't care about my stuff.   These are my tools; my very expensive tools that I use everyday and you don't care.  More importantly you choose to ignore me, ignore my words."
"I don't understand."
"Then I can't help you.  I can't explain this any more clearly than that."
"It is just a stupid knife."