Fire alarms all the time.

I spent this afternoon leisurely working on my scrapbooking project, which I’ve neglected since the summer time. While in my crafty mode, I was interrupted by my mom’s call. Her voice is grave, and I can tell she’s completely exhausted. In her words, “I have no juice left” (she likes to think she’s a battery). She’s been taking care of my dad’s every need since Friday when his cold started, and now, his cold has somehow blown into complete body aches and pains, as well as a fever of 101 F. She’s worrying, and of course, she thinks he’s going to die. “I need to share this with you because we’re immediate family, but no one else,” she says. Yeah, because the next thing I was going to do is email our entire family and extended family to let them know my dad has a fever.

Maybe a few years ago, I would have been a bit alarmed by this call, but this time around, I don’t really feel anything. My parents blow every situation out of proportion. It’s exactly like the cliche of “the boy who cried wolf.” If you cry all the time, no one will take you seriously.  My mom makes herself worry so much that she gets sick. But she also does that just by babying my father and making him seem like he’s incapable of even getting a glass of water. “You just don’t understand how weak he is when he’s sick.” Actually, I do. Unless you’re cripple, you’re not too weak to get off the couch and get a glass of water in the kitchen which is just about 30 feet away. He acts like a baby. And she loves to enable it and try to make me feel sorry for her, which I don’t anymore in these situations. You can tell she’s probably going to get sick in the next couple of days in the same way she did back in January when my dad was sick when I came home, and she worried so much that she had to take medication for her ailments and came down with the worst cold. Sure, he might have a fever today, but maybe it could be gone tomorrow. I’m sure I’ve had a fever at some point when I was really ill in September, but I don’t immediately think I’m going to die because of it.

And who knows. Maybe every time I post something like this, I am just waiting for the worst to happen. And then I’d write about that. I’m just so done with listening to all this worry for the sake of worry. And I’m sick of witnessing their vicious cycles of babying and whining.

Warmer house with no brother.

After my work day ended today, I checked out of my hotel and went back to my parents’ house. My mom was clearly disappointed that I’d been in town since Monday night and hadn’t seen her, but that was obviously due to scheduling and the fact that I wasn’t even in the city for three of those days due to our work retreat. Because my dad was feeling under the weather (as I am, unfortunately, too), we ate dinner together at home.

They’re having some construction work done on the house; they had insulation put into the walls of the bedrooms and also had new insulated “green” windows put in, which means that not only do they retain heat and prevent the cold from seeping through the glass, but they also prevent UV light from fading colors on photos, carpets, and such. My bedroom, even when the heat was not on, was noticeably warmer than what I was used to.

I sat on my bed for a while, doing nothing, which is actually extremely hard for me to do. I stared at my brother’s large framed photo, the same photo in the same frame from his funeral (I hate saying “my brother’s funeral” — that sounds like shit). And then I got really angry, wondering why my parents are deciding to do all this construction now so that Ed can’t even enjoy or reap the benefits of all this. Ed wanted to get new windows. He asked for insulation and more warmth in the house, and he never got it. He even offered to pay for it with his own money despite not earning much at all. And they both rejected his offer and said he was being ridiculous, too high maintenance and demanding of fancy things. The criticisms just rolled off their tongues. How can you want so much when you don’t earn so much? they would respond in various ways.

I don’t think they remember this, though. They probably block it out of their heads, try to forget all the ways that they failed their only and now dead son. They probably don’t remember that Ed wanted these things, or they choose to ignore it. When my mom originally told me a few weeks ago that they were having the windows re-done, I immediately blurted out, “Why didn’t you do this when Ed asked to do it?” I couldn’t help it; I was so infuriated. Even simple things that Ed asked for… a warm house… that could not be granted. It’s not like we were ever poor or lacking money to do these things. We were just being cheap.

On the flip side, at least my parents can enjoy it now. I’m happy they’re doing this now… but I’m angry they ignored Ed’s requests. They should be doing things to make their home more comfortable for themselves, as they’re clearly getting older and have a greater need for warmth and comfort. I just can’t help but be angry about how much Ed was ignored for his entire life. It’s like the anger just can’t ever go away.

Away from home for the holidays…again

It’s the first time since I’ve started working and told colleagues I won’t be going home for Thanksgiving when no one has asked me why I’m not going home. I haven’t been home for Thanksgiving since 2003 actually, so that’s quite a long time ago now – 14 years. Maybe my colleagues now just get that I like travel and that I see my family at other times of the year. Or maybe they just don’t care. That’s fine, too. I’d never enjoyed the insinuations that I don’t care about my family just because I don’t see them at Thanksgiving; it’s such an oversimplification of a relationship that is far more complicated than a random U.S. holiday.

Honestly, I like not seeing my family (immediate plus extended) for the major holidays of the year. I remember it always being stressful for Christmas when I’d come home during my school breaks and my early years in New York. My parents would always pick a fight with me and Ed about things like the gifts we were giving our cousins or cousins’ kids, what food I was making and if I served it to my dad first, who refused to eat with us. It was too much drama, and other than the food and seeing my brother, I never really cared about any of it at all. I rather have a Thanksgiving meal with my New York friends. There’s never really any drama other than the occasional disagreement about whether the Civil War was about economics or slavery (I think we realize… it was about BOTH), and I can enjoy the food and the company and not worry about someone yelling at me after.

Stressful

I’ve been a little stressed this week because I had two meetings scheduled today with customers that we were ill prepared for, primarily because a colleague on my end didn’t really do his part in organizing the content, so I went to sleep last night feeling very uneasy.  In the end, both meetings went well, but I woke up this morning from a nightmare that really put me in a worse mood.

I dreamt that I was at my parents’ house, and we were all having a family meal together. Ed came home with a guy… who he announced was actually his boyfriend. I suppose this was his way of “coming out” to us. My parents were shocked and angry, and basically ignored the presence of Ed’s boyfriend. And the little bits of interaction they had with him, they were extremely rude and passive aggressive. It was not a fun meal.

Once he left, the screaming began. My mom screamed louder than I could remember, saying that he was already a screwup, but now he’s gay and bringing home men? My dad’s heard in the background, name-calling Ed. And Ed yelled back until he couldn’t take it anymore and ran into the bedroom and slammed the door. I followed him and comforted him as he sobbed in my chest. “It’s okay,” I soothed him, rubbing his back and holding his head. “We’re going to get you out of here. I won’t let them hurt you anymore. Fuck them. You’re going to survive this. We’re moving you out of here.” We started to pack his bags, and since we locked the door, our mom tried to enter the room but couldn’t. She banged on the door over and over, and we refused to let her in. “I’m not letting you in here to destroy Ed!” I screamed through the door. “I’m getting him out of here, and you can scream all you want! You can’t do anything! LEAVE ED ALONE!”

I think I’m going to have dreams like this until the end of my life. They will never end for me.

Delusional expectations

I was on the phone with my mom, and she asked if Chris had any upcoming work travel given I’ve been traveling this week. I told her that he’s going to be in San Francisco all week next week for his company’s annual conference. Her voice lit up. She said, “Oh, he is? Well if he is, we should get together for dinner at least one night. Tell him.” I told her that he won’t have time to see her because he’ll be consumed with conference events. But what I really wanted to say, which I held back by literally holding my breath a few times, was, “Dinner together? You want to have dinner together with the man whose house you recently threw knives in, and who you said you didn’t have to respect because he’s ‘black’?”

Not all of us have amnesia and just forget stupid shit that she says. Ed never got over the hurtful words she and our dad used to say to him repeatedly over and over, throughout the course of his entire short life. And now he’s dead, and she’s wondering what went wrong. REALLY? YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED????

I don’t want him seeing them.

Psychologist

I got so frustrated with my mother the other day that I actually told her that she should make an appointment to see a psychologist. Maybe this doesn’t seem that outlandish in the average family, but in my family… these are the things that get scoffed at. My parents thought Ed was weak when he was 18 for seeing one, that he merely used it as an outlet to “talk bad” about his parents to “some outside person” who gets paid too much money. Chances are that seeing one will never help her because she lies endlessly to “outsiders” not in her immediate, immediate family about everything and anything, but her constantly telling me that, “you know I am suffering from depression?” is driving me crazy.

Well, you know what? So I suggested this to her, and two days later, she says that miraculously, her “depression” has improved and she feels so much better. She has “God’s word” and her two good (and annoying) JW friends to keep her company and comfort her, and I call her a couple times a week, so that’s enough for now. Wasn’t that just so convenient?

She refuses to be helped. She just seeks attention and abuses terms like “depression” and “anxiety” to get what she wants. She gives a bad name to the people who are truly suffering… like her son once did, and she did nothing but make him feel worse.

Awkward phone conversations

Sometimes, I really don’t know what to say to my mom. She complains endlessly about suffering from depression, picks fights and disputes with people who cares about her who really aren’t trying to harm her, but she insists they harm her, and she expects me to constantly feel sorry for her and is always asking why I don’t come home more often as though home is the most amazing and lovely experience I could possibly have. Today, she was complaining about missing Ed, and said that my dad didn’t want to hear what she felt and what she had to say. “Your dad is useless to talk to,” she mumbled. “He doesn’t care how I feel. No one cares about me other than you. I have no one other than you.” Then, she went on to tell me that my aunt’s good friend just got diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer, but she’s coping well because her husband is so supportive and always comforts her. “She’s so lucky,” my mom comments. “Her husband actually takes care of her and helps her and listens to her. He comforts her with words. I don’t have that.”

I couldn’t say anything. What am I supposed to say to that? Everything she’s saying is true. My dad doesn’t comfort her; he doesn’t know how to. He is so emotionally inept that just the mere thought of him trying to comfort someone makes me want to scratch my nails on a chalk board. And what am I supposed to do — defend him and lie, or agree and risk getting yelled at later for criticizing my dad?

Anger continues

My parents left yesterday, but I still woke up this morning feeling extremely angry. I was angry at my dad for not standing up to my mom, angry at my mother for being so mentally  unstable to not only ask Chris and me to kill her with the knives she was throwing, but also to accuse Chris of wanting to kill her. Sometimes, I think about all these stupid incidents that happen, and I wonder if all of this is just some endless terrible nightmare that just keeps on going for me. She actually said that she was scared Chris was going to kill her. 

I’m at a loss. My dad will never get help for her. She will never get help for herself. And in blue states, you can’t really commit someone unless she has consented (yeah, there really is a negative side of living in a blue state).

I just feel really angry. I’m at a point where I feel like I may just need to cut ties with her.

Decompression

My parents left this morning. The last two times they came, I felt a little empty when they left, even though the last time, my mother picked three different explosive fights with me, with one resulting in my leaving my own apartment overnight. This time, I felt no emptiness at all, no sinking sensation, not one sense of longing; all I felt was relief, as though this massive weight that could kill me was being lifted off me. Now, I can finally stand being in my own apartment again.

And then as though their time here could not have gotten worse, my eyes were irritating me all morning, with my computer usage at work not helping that at all. And it resulted in my leaving work early because of this lingering burning sensation that was especially strong in my left eye. What, is that supposed to be like the grand finale to the end of their trip, that they somehow burned my eyes out and resulted in my needing to lie down the rest of the afternoon to recover?

Week’s finale

The week my parents have been here is coming to an end. It’s quite a painful and awful end, especially considering it’s ended with my mom storming out of the apartment this morning, then realizing she was locked out, then staying locked out for eight hours and not telling us she had no food, water, or money because she stupidly left her wallet OUT of her purse when she stormed out, then deciding once we got back, that she would start throwing knives all over our counter and ask us to kill her. Oh, she shut her phone off for most of the day, so we had no way of contacting her.

As the Aussies say, it was quite “brilliant.”