Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tangled up with mine...

Today did not go as planned. It still might not.

Once more, I woke up to the sound of OverLoudChild. I know I am not here often, but you think that they'd notice when I am. At this rate, my Friday nights will have to be kept at a minimum to make sure I get enough sleep for my Saturday nights.

I get up, I wander around the upstairs until the child is transferred to his mother- a little piece of Temecula glory. Before the transfer, he was curled up on the bathroom floor, fragile skin pressing against the carpet, the blond hair found only on young children a sharp contrast to the deep red he laid on.

After he leaves, his father, my little sister's boyfriend, proceeds into my sister's room where he spreads himself on her bed and entertains himself by playing games on his iPhone.

He's there when I step into the shower, and there when I step out.

I toss on my Pandora station and get dressed, casual comfortable clothes that will carry me into the club tonight as my need to present myself well at a nightclub full of people I really don't wish to talk to or even know their names is at a decent low.

Downstairs, I pour myself a bowl of applesauce and pace the hardwood floors of the family room while I eat. My father is sleeping in the bedroom, my mother is working in the office.

Upstairs again, I grab my purse and go to leave, walking by the open door of my sister's room and see him still playing on his iPhone. It has been almost an hour. His life is in total disarray. He has a four year old autistic child, an ex-wife who lives solely off of his child support payments that are much too high, an ex-wife who is trying to train their autistic son to hate his father, an ex-wife who set three court dates without telling him in order to accuse him of beating her and get a restraining order.

He had what was, essentially, a job offer from my father, to learn the business and make extra money in order to save up to move out to his own place. He had a list of therapists that he could choose from to help battle his depression. He met with a family friend, a lawyer, who looked over his childsupport payments and shook his head, declaring that he was paying way too much and that he could knock it down easy. He had my sister, helping him organize himself to go to a local community college. He was given a room in my parent's house that was so large, it fit beds for both him and his son, as well as several sets of dressers, and was charged minimal rent.

He let the job offer slide, even after my father paid for his licensing fees. He set the list of therapists on some piece of furniture in his room where it was quickly lost. The paper the lawyer told him to fill out that would cause his childsupport payments to be reduced has be consigned to the top of a dresser, untouched, dated May 14th, 2009. He did not sign up for fall semester. The room he was given is in shambles, his designer clothes decorating the floor like the Bermuda Triangle swept through a Nordstrom and tossed the contents through his room. Trash, unopened mail, antique furniture of my grandmother's piled with ignored notices. My mother has asked him repeatedly to respect her property and pick up his room so he does not cause damage to the furniture and carpet. He has not.

He sits on my sister's bed and plays mini-games.

He turns 25 in November.

As I went to go, as I walked by him, I was filled with such disgust and loathing that I turned around and went back into my room.

I cannot stomach these people who do not want better for themselves. I cannot stomach people who let their depression get them so down that they cease to function. I've been there. I've been fighting depression my entire life. I've cut to the point that even though it has been almost a decade since I last took up a razor blade, I still have scars, I've drank, I've popped the occasional pill or four, I've smoked with chimney-like accuity, I've fallen into bed with men just to have a distraction from the mess of my head. I've procrastinated, cut classes, been kicked out of college, allowed opportunities to slide by me.

But I was younger, inexperienced, immature.

He's almost my age.

And he's a loser.

He has a son and, half the time, when he has that kid, he pops in a movie for him and they sit up in his room all day, my sister's boyfriend playing iPhone games or staring into space.

You get up and you go. You're depressed now. Great. But you won't always be depressed, so when you come out of whatever funk you're in, you want to be at a point where you're not boned. So you do the work, you fill out the forms, you pay your bills, you show up to class, and if you need to go cry in a bathroom stall somewhere, you take five minutes to collect yourself and then you come back out.

Just because you feel bad does not mean you get to cease to function, especially when you toss a child in the works.

Time will continue to move, whether or not you do.

I cleaned, I organized, I cleared out trash, finally RSVP'd to my ex's wedding, laundry was put away, dirty clothes were cleaned, my duffel bag was packed for the coming week, documents were sorted and addressed. I had to catch up to where I needed to be. I was not going to be him, was not going to be anything like him.

My mother came upstairs, at the tail end of this twenty-minute cleaning spree, and asked if I would vacuum my room. I told her I would, watched with surprise as her eyes lit up, and she brought the vacuum up to me, also asked me to get the hallway as well.

My room was vacuumed, the hallway was vacuumed, and as I entered the tip of the vacuum into his room, I decided to get what open floor there was in there as well. Then transferred to my sister's room, as much a clothing landfill as his.

My parents redid her room a few years ago. She wanted it to be cute and trendy, designery. She loves redecorating.

So they did. New carpet, new paint, wall hangings, new furniture. She promised to take care of it.

As I slid the vacuum around, I was shoving piles of clothes, loose CDs, trash (really, just trash, gum wrappers, notes, ripped up paper, plastic bags, clothing tags, a freaking poptart), shoes, purses, scarves, mittens, ugly underwear, hairthings, make-up, perfume, grooming "appliances", etc etc etc.

My sister, she's one of those girls.

One of those girls you'll hear Roissy talking about. The ones that bore you to tears. The ones that when you overhear their conversations, you want to smack them for being so vapid. The ones that think shopping is a fun bonding experience, and nothing is more important the applying your make-up right. She reads Cosmo and US Weekly. She cracks open the pages of a book when school requires her to do so. She spends more money on clothing, shoes, and make-up than most anything else. Her redeeming factors: she's hysterically funny. Truly. She's very, very pretty. And she's not stupid. She's not supersmart, either, but she's not stupid. She dresses very well, presents herself wonderfully, and is great with people.

On the downside, the rest of her personality is what you would expect it to be: incredibly self-centered, defensive, bitchy, horrible with money, irresponsible, and prone to tears when she doesn't get her way.

I love her, I do, but it's like living with an alien.

So I vacuumed her room. The filth on the carpet, due to build up of hair, trash, and make-up, made this little undertaking turn into a forty minute event.

During this, I found a note that her boyfriend had written to her.

Now before you all go into shock that I would read this note, her boyfriend wants to be a writer (or so I'm told), so I thought it might be one of his stories (that I've never read or seen glimpse of) and I'm a junkie for the written word, so I started reading it.

Two sentences in, I realized it was a personal letter declaring that things weren't working out, that something needed to change in their relationship.

And then I put it down.

I was glad to find this, because I was seriously considering begging/bribing/paying a pick-up artist to seduce her away from this guy. Now I get to save my money for better things, like books.

So I went downstairs and told my parents that, as I had suspected, they were on rocky territory and to stop panicking that they were going to get married (they had been looking at engagement rings a few weeks ago and my mother was freaking out). My mother wanted to see this letter, followed me upstairs, I pointed it out to her.

She went to read it, and I stopped her. She glanced at the first two lines, glanced at the ending lines, and then I was able to convince her to not invade her daughter's privacy.

The letter was returned to the pile of trash sitting in front of my sister's bed.'s weird.

I say that a lot.

But it's true.

I look at my family, and I think, "How odd."

Human motions.

My parents allowed this man to move into the house with the agreement he would be out of it in six months.

It has been six months, and he shows no signs of movement.

No signs of life or awareness, if we're being nitpicky.

My mother is pissed, hurt, and frightened that this man is going to have a greater impact on her daughter's life than he already has. She's worried they will get married, or that they will move out and thus rob my sister of her health insurance.

She wanted another child so badly, after she had me. Dealing with her near infertility was a nightmare for my parents, causing my sister to be what we affectionately refer to as a "baster baby".

And once she was born, my mother found her resenting this small person for coming between her and me. How dare this baby interrupt our relationship?

But she got over it within a few weeks.

As we grew, the differences were marked.

Not only in personality, in temperament, but in the physical as well.

We do not have the same eyes, the same hair, the same skin, the same nose, the same teeth, the same cheekbones.

But we look alike. Somehow people know we are related. It might be the smile, our mouths.

When I hit my teenage years, I nosedived. Depression mingled with sociopathic behavior, out to hurt others in any way I could, out to hurt my family by hurting myself. I did my best.

My worst.

Five years behind me, my sister hit her teens and soared, launching into that space known as "popularity". Successful in every way. The hot rocker boyfriend a year ahead of her in school, straight As, making the dance team as a freshman, choir president, cheerleader, loads of friends.

Now we're both in our twenties.

My mother watched me attempt to burn myself out, her and my father worried and hurt over my behavior as I purposefully dove into troubled waters. Her first child, caught in a storm of her own chosing. But I learned and I swam to shore before I drowned.

Now my mother watches my sister, watches her make poor choices based around a man who will probably never go anywhere in life. She worries. She wonders what will happen, if she'll be able to handle it correctly, if, by giving my sister the spoiled, protected life that she did, she did not properly prepare her for reality, and if this goes poorly, it will be her fault for not protecting and preparing her offspring for living.

My mother comes to me, when I'm home.

It makes me glad that I'm here, that I'm able to rejoin them after living away for the last four years. That I can lend my ear to her.

She comes to me and closes the door to my room, sits on my bed or leans against the wall, and she talks.

She tells me her fears, her frustrations, she asks me for advice and input. She struggles with her need to lecture my sister, to somehow take control, to steer this little ship. To help, to fight off this potentially disasterous future.

Last weekend, I went upstairs to find her lecturing my sister while she got ready for work.

As soon as I opened my room door, I snagged my fingers under the right sleeve of her shirt and dragged her into my room, making slicing handgestures across my throat.

Vaudevillian, no? Just hand me an oversized cane and watch me work.

I tell her that this will pass.

Well, in more words than that.

I tell her that if my sister moves out, she will have to learn how to make it, or she will learn that she can't, not yet. That there will always be space for her in the house, that she will always be able to come back if things go down in flames, as I suspect they will.

I tell her that if she moves out and loses her health insurance through my parents, she will cease to take birthcontrol rather than pay full price.

I tell her that they will break up soon, especially once they're out of the house. That the only reason why her boyfriend has put up with her domineering and bitchy behavior is because he feels he needs to be in a relationship with her in order to have a place to stay, and this probably makes him incredibly resentful.

I tell her to engineer it so that he is given an option to take care of his business or leave the house, so that my sister will not blame my parents overmuch for his failture to comply. And he will not comply. If his son cannot get him to think for the future, nothing will.

I tell her that if they get married, they will divorce. Marriage is such a short thing.

I tell her that if this man does move out of the house, my sister will go with him because she knows that he cannot afford a place on his own, that he has no friends to move in with, and his son needs a place to stay when he has him.

I do not tell her that I worry my sister might become pregnant.

My father, he has been unable to sleep. Between his growing business, his dayjob, his suicidal older sister, and his wayward younger daughter, he has nearly cracked. Not mentally, necessarily, but his body is showing the strain.

Alcohol consumption has raised.

Laying in bed at night, flat on his back, my mother on his right, cats at their feet, ceiling fan slowly circling as he stares upwards, his vision blank except for the occasional shining fanblade illuminated by the swaying blinds allowing in outside light.

He stares at the ceiling, through the floor of the room resting on top of theirs, my room, and he worries.

I'm left wondering if he fears that he's done something wrong, that he's taken a misstep, that he's too like his own father, that he's left helpless and impotent as he ages and his daughters age and his control over them slips as they wander into their own lives and, oh god, how hard that must be.

The success he has dreamed of is quickly slipping away and as he enters the realm of retirement, the future he imagined for himself, the future that was so close until it was bought out from under his feet and he was tossed into a economy during upheaval, and he struggles to find a job for his level of experience, jobs that are hard to come by, that pay so much but he can't slide into one because no one can afford him now, not now.

So he takes the lesser job.

And stares at the ceiling and does not sleep.

While one of his children stumbles into life, unprepared, and the other, the other comes in after losing a battle and attempts to lick her wounds.


  1. One basic question: why can't you sit down and talk to your sister yourself? and tell her straight-up to kick this dude out of her life? even if she's somewhat "alien" to you. I don't buy that - since you grew up in the same house, you have more than enough common experience to have a common language. Instead of advising your mom or hiring a PUA. direct family game - why not? the stakes are high.

  2. I really wish I could.

    Well, I can.

    I wish it would have positive effects if I did so. It hurts me to know that we don't have the relationship that we "should". It hurts so much to know that she would put faith in her boyfriend over faith in her family, over shared experience of the last two decades with her older sister.

    But that's love.

    And I wish that I could be straightforward with her, the way I would like to be. It's the way I communicate, the way I present myself.

    But she won't have it. When I described her as defensive, that was putting it mildly. She cannot take criticism. She cannot take someone questioning her choices. And, when it comes to her boyfriend, it's even worse. She freaks, she cries, she almost shouts. We cannot say anything bad about him to her, we cannot suggest that he might be trying less than his best because she immediately tears up and starts defending him. Her brain closes off and she shuts down to anything other than the activity of proving herself.

    I don't like doing this. I don't like how her behavior makes this seem so impossible. I don't like how I feel like I'm just making excuses, because maybe I'm afraid that if I talk to her, she'll ignore me, she'll reject what I'm saying, in her usual defensive ways, close me out when I can barely reach her as is.

    There's also the other thoughts. She's grown up her entire life spoiled and protected. And she is the typical spoiled child, though not to the extreme satire you'll catch on TV. She's truly never had to go through anything difficult in her life because someone has protected her. She needs to learn her own lessons for once, and I need to be there and support her choices no matter what decisions she makes, no matter if I agree with them or not, because she is an adult and I need to respect her as such, as long as no physical harm will come to her, that's what I should do.