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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Emotional murder

I wrote about having the sort of family who do not spend time fighting with each other. They don't. What they dislike about another family member is put to the side - feelings are made known and then put aside. I don't look to my family for emotional security or support. They are kind people and all but do not and never have understood anything of what I'm about. It's not that they won't: they just can't wrap their hands around it. And I made peace with that fact years ago. There is a certain freedom in not looking to family members for approval. It's never been there and not likely to suddenly emerge. If you aren't true to yourself you will never make yourself happy or anyone else for that matter. That's my piece of profound wisdom for the day.

I don't think I'm particularly odd but my ambitions and interests have always been different than those in my immediate environment. It was a very painful existence for the longest time mainly because I believed I was mildly retarded . . . a belief I carried with me for forty years. If you have read this blog from the beginning, you know that long before it became a catch all name for any lack of attention or focus as being ADHD. Far from being a convenient catch all phrase for a batch of inconvenient symptoms, it has been my reality. The simplest organizational things and functions elude me in critical places. I've lost jobs because of it and embarrassed to the point of tears and dehibilitating depression. It was until recent years that anyone talked about the fact ADHD doesn't disappear when you become an adult. By and large I'm thought to be (in my family) to be a somewhat scattered individual who goes here and there and does not commitment to anything or anyone. That all sounds rather negative. Learning to work with one's affiliction can work wonders. I've learned to embrace it and since learning to create an environment that works for me rather than try to adapt to an environment that doesn't life gets better. But it's not something that is understood or really much sympathized with at least in my environment.

But I am not bitter about it anymore. It used to make me angry that no one I loved or who loved me really understood how the intense humiliation of not being ablle to do or function in ways most people do easily. That sort of embarrassment causes pyschic pain that cannot be articulated. Years of ravaging my self esteem still leaves me standing. The confidence gets shaken and kicked in the gut but somehow I manage to press on. What else is there?

I'll give you an example of a family member who is a little slow mentally but able to function. She chooses not to. One of my aunts is mentally retarded. When her mother was giving birth, my aunt did not get enough oxygen during the birth process and wound up with some brain damage. It was said at the time - this was backed in 1930 - she would not live the night. Well, 75 years later she is alive though lately spending a lot of time in the hospital with a spleen ailment. She married and gave birth to three children - the two sons who made good lives for themselves and the daughter who is a little slow but able to get around fine (she has a license) and graduated from high school at 20. She chose to live with her parents. When her father died in 1996, Peg stopped working full time jobs. She had been working full time jobs in the cleaning industry - worked a decade for a hotel and then another decade for the maintenance staff at a local shopping mall. When her father died, that was the end of that.

Peg's mother collects a pension (she worked in the cleaning industry too) and money from her dead husband's pension). Her mother, my aunt, is really getting sicker and sicker now and with some of the problems she has, the writing is on the wall that she is running out of time and luck. We have attempted to get my aunt into an assisted living facility but behind our backs we know Peg is fighting it.

Why would she fight against something that would help her mother? Because it would mean she would have to get a full time job and support herself, that's why. She doesn't want to do that. I have gotten her in the door of places with people who would hire her that day and she made an excuse suddenly as to why she couldn't work. She loses jobs because if it snows a flake, she won't drive to work. If it rains, she won't go to to work. If she wakes up with a headache, she won't go to work. See why employers have an issue with her? If you think I am exaggerating, you're mistaken.

But the time is coming that Peg's craftiness won't change the reality that once her mother is dead, no more money will be available to her. My uncle Herb's son, Tom, gave money out of his father's estate to get Peg and her mother a car. Theirs had died some time before. It is a very nice, used car and Peg keeps it immaculate. She's a very good housekeeper.

In a fit of pique while in the car, I admired how nicely it was kept and told Peg she needs to keep it that way as she will eventually be living in it.

No response. But when that day comes, she will receive no help from any family member because she doesn't even try. Many of the older members of the family remember themselves taking (or their parents) on three jobs to make ends meet if that's what it took.

Peg expects to be taken care of.

Big surprise looming on the horizon. You don't try - you get nothing. My instinct is to help anyone who needs it - friend or stranger - but I won't budge on this. I have struggled to make my life work with my affliction, so can she.


NosyNeighbor said...

How old is Peg? You mentioned she is mentally slow but "able to function." She may be able to function but can she sustain life and prosper without the help of someone?

From an outside perspective your post says that because you don't receive help or emotional support from your immediate family then Peg shouldn't expect it either. Not so. You shouldn't condem her because she's getting what you don't/never did. What about her siblings? Do they feel the same way?

I have an aunt (my mother's sister) who became addicted to pain medication after a bout of Lime's Disease. This was right before the disease became so public -- it was new and doctors weren't diagnosing it. They just kept giving her medication for the pain. She ended up on herion after years of abusing presecription drugs and running out of doctors who would perscribe them to her.

She's 38 years old now and has been in and out of rehab for years. She has an 18 year old who my mother and 3 other sisters took turns raising. They still continue to help her even though it was obvious many times that she wasn't capable of helping herself. They never gave up and I believe they never will. That's their sister -- their blood. That's what a family is supposed to be -- a support unit.

I'm glad that I have mine! I don't know where I would be or how I would have turned out without my family by my side.

Nancy Kersey said...

I wasn't clear if I gave the impression that Peg and those less fortunate than myself should do for themselves because I have to. I see why you think I meant this in re-reading my post. I didn't dovetail the piece very well.

What I believe is that the rest of us TRY. This woman doesn't even try. I can't even count the number of times that I have had a job lined up for her and at the last minute she backed out because it meant getting on a bus (she feels she is above that and has said so) and working for a black supervisor (she has told me as much in the past). I have no patience with either "reason" for not accepting work. She wants to take what suits her. At 54 years old now and having spent all of her adult life prior to her father's death working full time because he made her)I see no reason why she cannot now. Her health is fine. We (family members) did research and gave her all the information about job training from various resources and she never made an appointment. Her siblings will not do anything for her because they have experienced the same thing even to the point where Peg told one of her brothers that she only wanted a part time job. Thing is, if it rains out or there is a flake of snow, she will call in sick so the part time jobs disappear too.

When her mother dies, the income will be gone and Peggy is now too old to qualify for several of the training services we have been trying to get her to take advantage of since she was 25 years old. The cut off age is 50.

It will be her problem in the end. I don't like to see anyone go hunger or live out of a car but if you don't even try, I can't give much sympathy.