I spent the past week in the big city for work. The working part sucked but visiting with friends was great. Even a nice lazy day of movie watching was perfect, knowing I was sitting with people who, for reasons unbeknownst to me, think as highly of me as I do of them. Something I never thought possible, considering I think the world of them.
I didn't have much internet while away. While at my job, I was worked to the bone. I felt a tad out of touch. I missed all of you. And I couldn't help but get the feeling that I was missing out on something. I kept meaning to phone home to check my messages but I always seemed to forget. It's so weird but when I left for this trip I felt like something was going to happen.
And it did.
I returned home to find my sidewalk shoveled, which was a nice surprise (thank you to whomever did that!), and my cat safe, healthy and not even mad that I had been gone for a week. That was a relief. So before I even took my coat off I headed to the answering machine, but not before first checking the call log and seeing that my parents had called. Given our current not-talking situation I had a feeling it would be one of those calls.
And it was.
My uncle died. He was 57. He had Down Syndrome and hadn't been doing well. Couldn't remember anyone, was in a hospice-type home and was having seizures and breathing problems. It can be seen as either ironic, poetic or merely a coincidence that I thought of him many times this past week. Told stories about him to coworkers and friends.
The thing is... all I got was the phone call. One. No email. No Facebook message. No call on my cell. And I get that, I do. I don't know how hard I would try to get a hold of me either if I were them. But really?!? That's it? What if the power had gone out and I hadn't gotten the message? Or what if I had been out of town?
Oh wait... I was.
The thing is, my parents always expect the worst from me. They have never, in my entire lifetime, given me the benefit of the doubt. That maybe I was genuinely busy or indisposed or unavailable. Never. I have spent my entire life defending myself against the way they see me and the way I actually am. I have always felt like I have had to overtell the truth because they always think I'm lying.
I have always felt like I'm 8 years old.
And after phoning my mom back part of me is, yet again, so confused. In one breath she would say that she didn't mean to lay blame and then in the next she would. One sentence would state that she didn't want me to feel bad and the next would make me feel awful. She would say she didn't want to make me feel guilty and I immediately did. It's a cat and mouse game that's been going on for years. I want to believe she doesn't know she's doing it but considering I learned from the best, I kind of think she knows exactly what she's doing.
I'm tired of the games.
I didn't get to say goodbye. But what bothers me even more is the fact I didn't get to see my family. There is no other way for this to sound other then horrible but please believe me when I say that this is not the way I mean for this to sound... but we all knew it was coming and I didn't look forward to his death, nor did I want it to happen, but I was looking forward to seeing my family. Funerals are the only time when I see the family on my dad's side. It's been a long time. And I miss them. I was looking forward to seeing them. I was looking forward to them seeing me as maybe an adult and perhaps starting up the lines of communication to some sort of relationship with them independent of my parents.
It kind of feels like they took even this away from me. And it kind of feels that they maybe did it on purpose.
And as much as I want to give my parents the benefit of the doubt and as much as I want to believe they wouldn't do it... I kind of think it was intentional. A punishment. I got the guilt of "your dad wanted you to be pallbearer". Well then why didn't my dad at least email? Yes... I could have let them know I was going out of town for the week but that was the whole problem I had before, what with the stalking and such where I couldn't be gone for more then 4 hours and having them phone 6 times, each phone call getting more accusing as to my whereabouts and loyalty. If I set that expectation where does the line get drawn? And when we're not on speaking terms... why would I? Isn't the whole key to not speaking... not speaking?!? My mom is very good at turning situations around. Making herself look good and me feel bad. She said they wanted to respect my decision to take a break from family by not emailing, Facebooking, calling my cell, etc... so it makes them seem good... and me feel horrible. Yet every time there's a symphony performance (to which my dad and I have season tickets) I get phone call after phone call and email after email.
So I'm having a hard time believing that, much like my cousin's wedding 2 summers ago (which ended up being my last, lost opportunity to see my aunt before she unexpectedly died), there wasn't more to my parents' plan then to respect my need for space and distance.
I wonder what the rest of my family thinks of me? The aunts and uncles and cousins? I wonder what they were told? I wonder if everyone sees me as the black sheep. The difficult one. The lost cause.
Or I wonder if they know I was blissfully unaware, half a country away, spending time with friends who make me feel a hundred times better about myself then my parents do.
And that I would have been here if I had only known.
It's beginning to feel like it's too late. That if I'm waiting for funerals to reconnect with family then it's a lost cause. That I shouldn't have to think of all the people and wonder who and when the next funeral might be, for the off chance I'll have the family I always wanted. What kind of person thinks like that? And what do I do about my dad? Do I phone, knowing that it's the right thing to do but I will undoubtedly end up being made to feel like the world's worst daughter (yet again) and be guilted into starting up another parent-child relationship that is equally as toxic as the last? Or do I do nothing? Because I've been doing so much 'nothing' that it's starting to feel like I'm crossing the line to the point of no return. And if that's the case... do I try to turn back? Or do I keep on crossing?
And why, oh why, does it have to be so difficult?
I'll give my mom the benefit of the doubt. She mentioned family counseling. But I'm not interested. At. All. I've gone to counseling. I've been to therapy. I'm okay with who I am and where I came from and who my parents are (to a certain extent, of course). I've dealt with all that. We've been in this exact same place, 17 years ago. When I was, much like now, the 'problem child' they didn't know how to deal with. Nothing ever changes. They think it's all me. They don't want 'us' to change. They want 'me' to change. They don't want to go to counseling to fix 'us', they want to fix 'me'. But for the first time in my life I feel like I don't need fixing. And the only change I want to make is towards a better me... full of the self-confidence, pride and love that I'm beginning to doubt they can ever give me.
I'm tired of feeling like a horrible, horrible person for thinking such things. For being more upset for missing the living then the dead. For questioning my parents' motives. For questioning my own.
I'm just tired.