It’s a trendy phrase and the title of Neil Gaiman’s new collection of short stories. It’s to warn people that their delicate sensibilities might be disturbed by what comes next. [Feel free to skip this entry. It’s just more family bullshit that I am trying to process and writing helps me do that.]
My family needs a trigger warning. Every time the phone rings and it’s my brother I immediately think “who’s dead?” or “what part of the new Mac I gave him is pissing him off now?” If it’s my niece, I assume similar things, but she’s generally quiet now that she has a sickly kid to deal with.
Anyway, my family is a big fat trigger for me. They cause me anxiety and stress me out like nothing else. I’ve tried just not talking to them, but they always end up calling me for something. This latest batch of ill will and name calling came from my brother, who has been calling me to bitch about the new Mac Mini we gave him to replace an old ass eMac that’s over a decade old. Sunday evening, he called to bitch.
“It’s different!” he cries. “This new Mac is a piece of shit” he declares. “The old one was much better” he asserts. To which I say, “YES it is different, NO it is not shit nor inferior, you are just illiterate and you are afraid of change.” He actually agreed with that. Yet, he calls to tell me what a piece of shit it is because “a little icon is missing and I need it to fill out forms”. Of course this is gibberish, so I ask him to explain further so I can determine what it is that he’s looking for. He rants some more and I finally get out of him that he somehow uses photoshop to fill out pdfs. ? I’m shocked he’d be able to figure that out, frankly. And I don’t even know if that’s really what he used or not.
We asked him many times what applications he used regularly. Browser, email, scanner, printer, the usual suspects. NOT ONE TIME did he mention Photoshop, so we did not install Photoshop on this new Mac because he’s so Mac illiterate that we never thought he’d use it.
I apologized for leaving Photoshop off (if that is even what he’s talking about) and he continued to whine and bitch. I snapped. I told him that what he should really be saying to me is THANK YOU FOR GIVING ME A NEW COMPUTER, rather than the constant bitching and whining. I said “You people never appreciate anything I do for you, EVER. All you do is bitch and complain and tell me what an asshole I am for doing things for you!” (Yes I call them YOU PEOPLE.) Then I proceeded to yell at him for being such a fucking asshole and being an unappreciative, self centered asshole at that. My rage button had been pushed, folks and I let him have it. He was yelling back – I’ve no idea what insults he was hurling. Then I hung up with one final “You’re such an ASSHOLE!”
I gathered myself and called him back. I told him to print the forms, fill them in and rescan them until we can do something about the software. He whined about that. I didn’t even bother to try to find out if it was actually READER that he’d been using. I said, “Well, that’s just how it is. Tell you what, I’ll bring that fucking eMac back up there, take back the Mini and you can NOT call me when the eMac dies, because it will. It is not a car, it is way past its lifespan and it could croak any second. Which is why I used MY MONEY to get you a new system that’s less than 12 years old.” He tried to backtrack and say thanks for the new computer, but I was way beyond that happy crappy at this point. I told him to SAVE IT, I know he doesn’t appreciate it at all.
That was all it took to get him started with his usual arsenal of resentment: the parents. It’s ALL MY FAULT that he is stuck there with them. He yells, “Well, if you had to do MY job – you’d NEVER be able to do what I do!” or something to that effect. Which has nothing whatsoever to do with the goddam Mac, but it’s his ultimate reason for calling me. He likes to take out his frustrations on me in an effort to guilt me or something. I was already pissed off, so I let him have it again. It devolved into a screaming match of me calling him a self centered asshole and him accusing me of causing everything that’s wrong with his life and being clueless in general. (They all think I’m the dumbest person on the planet and have told me so repeatedly.)
He likes to insinuate that it is my fault that he literally gave up his life to be at his mama’s beck and call and now he’s got to take care of two sickly old people (and a dumbass daughter who got knocked up and brought a baby into the mix).
That insinuation makes me apoplectic with rage and I blurted out “Well why don’t you sell all that shit up there, put them in a home and MOVE ON with your life?!”
Then he hung up. Of course he did.
I’m not just being mean with that statement. I used it in a mean way, yes, but that statement is truly what needs to happen. All that property, the house, barn and garage with equipment needs to be sold. First it needs to be signed over to my brother (it probably is already, they won’t give me anything when they die, I’m sure), then it needs to be sold. The cash needs to be split with the bulk put into a managed fund of some sort to earn a little interest and some working capital put into an account to pay for the parents’ to live in an assisted living facility. Not a home, but assisted living, with staff to keep them fed, on their meds and exercised. Neither of them gets proper nutrition, medical care or physical therapy. They are literally wasting away up there: my mother weighs about 85# and my 5’10” father weights about 110#. It is serious.
My brother does his best, but he can’t take proper care of them all day while he’s at his shitty county job. They don’t eat all day – and if they do, it’s junk. Both of my parents are underweight and look HORRIBLE. They need more care and my brother simply can’t do it. That is nothing to be ashamed of, either. He is but ONE person! But admitting that you need help is not in my brother’s wheelhouse. No, you just struggle along, wallowing in your misery no matter what. If he would get them handled and get out from under that fucking house and land, he could then build himself a house of his own design somewhere (he can do that!) and bring his dumbass daughter and granddaughter with him and attempt to have a life of his own. But that’s just crazy talk from me, the dumb one who just doesn’t understand. Right.
I’ve brought up getting a maid service because the place is filthy. Nope. I’ve brought up having a day nurse. Nope. They are fine! Just ask them! I asked my mother if she thought that relying on my brother for everything was fair to him and she said, “Well what else can we do?”. PLENTY. But that answer is actually saying: “SURE it’s fair!” They honestly do not see that they’ve ruined my brother’s life. My brother’s daughter is just as bad: having a fucking baby at 17 with nothing to offer it and adding THAT to my brother’s load of SHIT he has to deal with. Awesome.
My brother transfers his anger and resentment for THEM onto ME. I am always to blame and I’m always the asshole. No matter what I do to try to help, it’s never enough. My brother wants me to sacrifice my life like he has sacrificed his. I’ll never, EVER do that. Parents should never, EVER expect that from their children. That is flat out WRONG. My mother is probably the most selfish person I’ve ever met. She is the reason my brother’s life is ruined. And she is not one tiny bit sorry. Not one bit. Ditto for the niece. Selfish, selfish people, all of them.
I’ll tell you something else: if I did, in some alternate reality, move back up there, you can be damned sure I’d have all that shit IN HAND. I’d have power of attorney. Shit would be sold. Parents moved. Brother and niece shoved into the real world to live a real life. This situation would be handled and the trains would run the fuck on time. At least then they’d have a real reason to hate me rather than the bullshit they claim now. If there is one thing in this world I’m good at, it’s making shit happen.
Nick always tells me that he can’t believe I’ve turned out as well as I have. I guess I agree. It took decades to beat back the damage done to me by my family – my mother in particular. But, still I am not a nice person. I have evil thoughts. I wish my family would die in an explosion. That’s the damaged part of me, right there. I try to keep that part buried as deep as I can. I try very, very hard to help others and be a nicer person. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes not. Often my logic and desire to keep the trains on time interferes with the nice. I’m OK with that.
Now I’m rambling. Sorry. I’m sleep deprived. I just had to get that OUT. Done.