On April 15, 2000, I left Houston, the city I’d lived in for over 20 years, and moved 175 miles away, to Austin. I left because I wanted to escape from my family, as well as the memory of poor relationship choices. The geographical cure.
While I continued to choose the wrong men, for the most part I succeeded in keeping a geographical, as well as emotional, distance from my family. For 12 years, I rarely returned to Houston to visit my family other than for Thanksgiving and Christmas. On Thanksgiving, I’d drive down in the morning and return home in the evening on the same day. On Christmas, I stayed Christmas Eve and returned home late in the afternoon on Christmas Day.
Work has always been my go-to excuse for my inability to spend more time with my family. If nothing else, being a lawyer has advantages when it comes to making excuses for being unable to participate in things which I prefer to avoid.
When my father died in October, my strategy for maintaining my sanity crumbled. Avoidance no longer felt acceptable. I went from talking to my mother on the phone every couple of weeks to at least once a day. I spent more time at Christmas. I find my mother coming to me to help solve her problems–both emotional and financial. My father’s business is failing. My (remaining) brother is drinking himself to death, just as my oldest brother had done in April. I feel compelled to act and fix things. I set up an intervention for my brother. As a result, my brother entered rehab two days ago. After the intervention, I vowed to be more active in the lives of my nieces and nephews, who clearly are quite messed up from growing up in alcoholic families.
After the intervention on Friday, I slept 11 hours, not waking up until 11:00 a.m. I decided I needed a break from family that day and did not answer the phone. My mother called multiple times. I said to the empty room, “leave me the fuck alone.” I have not returned her calls.
I’m getting sucked back into the family dysfunction. I feel responsible for solving my 76-year-old mother’s problems, which include my brother. I’m having trouble setting boundaries with her. How can you set boundaries with your mother when her husband of 58 years has died and left her with a failing business, with no other source of income except social security, and not much in the way of savings? Not to mention an alcoholic son who is supposed to be running the family business, but instead is destroying it.
Perhaps I should move again. But farther this time. I’m thinking Perth or Cape Town.
But seriously, aren’t we supposed to take care of our aging parents? Even if that means getting sucked into a vortex of emotional sickness and dysfunction?
I’ve been having some very dark thoughts. Thoughts about things that could happen to eliminate my predicament. Things that don’t include moving to Australia.
I know exactly what you are running away from. Family Responsibility. This is the time for you to face your mother and TAKE CHARGE, but you have to be certain that is what you want. Take over the alpha-male role of running the family and the business. No half measures. Reading your blog posts show me that you care. Draw up family/business guide lines then everyone will know where they stand. Ralph x
Take over the family business? Oh hell no, Ralph! I have my own career, thank you very much. Admittedly I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, but I shall continue to provide support and advice. Keeping hard-fought boundaries in place.
It’s great to hear that. Have a fantastic New Year. Ralph x
Best wishes for 2013 to you!
I have been thinking China. Best of luck for 2013!
China would work! Happy 2013, Bente!
The new year will bring many things to you! You have been on my mind since I first saw this post, but only now had time to address it. I again held the deck of Reiki cards while I pondered what wisdom there may be in them for you…
The same card…Grounding and Balance…Foundation…
here’s a couple of sentences from the book on this….we need to be able to response to the world around us and not ignore legitimate calls….when our energy is scattered, we don’t accomplish much and we are in a constant state of upheaval…with God as our center, we need not fear!
you will find what is best for you and how to act as you stay grounded and balanced…in YOUR life!
This is perfect, Gert. You have summed up exactly what I’ve been struggling with. Drawing lines. Taking care of me, even when my attention is needed elsewhere. I got a nice long walk/jog in today, and feel much better. Getting outside always calms me.
I hope you enjoyed the first day of the new year!
California is farther away (too far to drive back home), and you wouldn’t have to change citizenship… 😉
The bar exam is really hard, though.