Is it sad that both of my parents are sick on Mother’s Day weekend and when I reviewed my “notes” about what I’d been wanting to
process write about this weekend, both topics involved non-Mother’s Day friendly topics?
It’s true, though. One potential entry was the simple lessons we learn growing up – that are usually, let’s face it, imparted by our moms – that we fail to reach back to and just check in with to ensure we aren’t pieces of shit humans. Denial, am I right?
The other topic – this one – is literally closer to home.
It’s about Black Sheep Bro. More to the point, the collateral relationship damaged his sudden reemergence and desire to wreckoncile with the family is having.
At least as it appears from where I’m sitting. Which, strangely, is relatively on the sidelines.
Also, the last time any of us didn’t see him was when he ghosted us at mom’s house on Mother’s Day in the very early aughts. So his residency in my subconscious this week is timely.
I know I’ve mentioned BSB a few times over the years. Even recently, since his desire to repair his familial relations seem to have not surprisingly coincided with his divorce.
But here’s the deal, no one knows why he left. And when I say no one, I’m including him. I think he’s tossed out so many
lies false flags over the 20 years he was MIA in his marriage to explain his estrangement, that he (conveniently) doesn’t even remember the truth. The reality of the situation – again, just from my personal interventions interactions with him during his estrangement – seems to be that when backed into a corner, he’d make something up. Probably something he presumed the listener would want to hear and just take at face value.
That certainly happened with me when I pushed him. My favorite story of his was blaming mom for his decision to leave. “She wasn’t supportive of me when I got my DUI” – and you just know he’s already on thin ice with me here for using someone else’s alleged poor behavior to deflect from his own law enforcement sourced actual bad behavior.
“How so? How was she unsupportive?”
“Well, when she brought me home, she sat me down and said to me, ‘I’m really disappointed in you’. That just was really hurtful at that moment and not what I needed to hear.”
Ok, well A) I think disappointed is the appropriate parental response after picking one’s progeny up from the drunk tank; but, B) that’s not what I remembered happening. I remember her running point on the collateral insurance damage, getting legal advice on BSB’s options and that type of supportive parenting.
And you know I told him exactly that,
“No, no. That was the first time.”
And…C) of course you have a second and secret DUI. But of course this is also none of your own fault. You are the victim. Yeeeeessssss.
And here’s a D) for ya –
I’ll take “Things to never say out loud” for $500, Alex!
– it doesn’t matter, because I don’t think any of it is true!
I mentioned he was a no-show at a family Mother’s Day gathering. Well, you can damn well bet I called him on the way home to low-grade chew him out over that decision. I knew he’d been thinking about “taking a break” as he had put it. Needing some time away to figure some things out he said.
This conversational thread came up several times during our weekend hang outs during the early part of that year. His former live-in girlfriend was my employee and they’d met through me. She was also great friends with my very own psychic herpes, Sacha.
He never really provided any detail, but I had a feeling his desire for distance stemmed from his breakup with his girlfriend sometime around the prior Thanksgiving. That was a shitty situation in and of itself, given the years-long relationship they’d had.
In true men-are-shit form, not long after that breakup, he’d taken up with his ex. We didn’t put any stock in the causal nature of her sudden reappearance on the scene. I actually knew it was the reality of the shituation. Everyone else in the family didn’t waste much energy on the chicken or the egg scenario BSB was trying to exist in.
But there we were, at mom’s for Thanksgiving and trying to plan Christmas. My sister started out trying to pin down headcount with my bro by asking him directly if the former-ex was coming. He replied cryptically, “She won’t be an issue” and then continued to stick to some variant of that vague BS every time the question came back around.
You see, we’re big White Elephant people.
Ok, that didn’t come out right.
We don’t try and play “hide the tree” with our gifts. We just try to have fun. We’ll draw names and do a gift exchange or pick a theme and then buy one gift that can be stolen…that type of thing. You can see where an accurate headcount being important comes into play.
“Don’t worry about her, I’ll deal with her”, honestly, I couldn’t tell if he was breaking up with her or disappearing her.
Suffice to say, no one present – haha – present thought there was a third option. Imagine our surprise when he showed up Christmas morning with the former-ex…and we’d followed his directions and not worried about her.
We were all pretty irked by his lack of follow-through. None more than my sister, who felt extra blindsided as the host.
However, flash forward to that last Mother’s Day and he’s not thinking back to that at all. He’s just laying it all – again, vaguely – at mom’s feet. “She knows what she did.”
Well, she didn’t.
She did know, as did we all since it was oozing out of every cell of her being, how hurt she was to hear that. Well, to hear it and have no idea what egregious wrong she’s committed that would earn her this retaliation.
That’s what she lived with for two decades, though. The pain working it’s way to the surface every family dinner or holiday, right there behind her eyes. Sometimes spilling out of them.
It got better over time.
Then it would get worse again because she’d somehow hear that he’d gotten married or that they started and then expanded a family.
But once they moved to Texas to be near the wealthy grandparents-in-law, I think we all expected that was the last of it.
I’d been the one closest to the situation when he left. I was the point of contact after he started a family – since my job forced me to relocate to the city he was allegedly calling home at the time. That was a failed attempt.
Then when his kids started asking about his family, I was the one he and his former-ex-turned-wife reached out to.
You don’t have to know me too well to know that wouldn’t fly. And then there was the added murkiness of new but unimproved blame and excuses for why he left.
He and his wife were always drunk when they called me. And they were in Texas, so a couple drinking hours ahead and very late hour combined for some pretty abrupt ends to our conversations when I did what I did best: pulled at the logic threads until they – the arguments, BSB and/or his wife – unraveled.
Now, though, I feel like his resurfacing is starting to fray the fabric of my family.
Just who would have thought I’d be the one to take his BS best? I’m usually the least forgiving son of a bitch around.
Seriously, I can provide references.
I’m perfectly happy to point to the bed someone’s made themselves and tell them to get comfortable. At the same time, I’m able to treat this guy as a non-threat because he’s half a continent away and in a state I’m only ever setting foot in again if my plane goes down while flying over it. Then, of course, my feet are equally likely to be separated from my body, so…
Mom and dad, of course, are doing what amazing parents do. Parenting. I think they kept themselves fairly well insulated initially, which I respected – but still worried about.
A year-plus (maybe two-plus?) in, I know their defenses are down, I’m not surprised. I don’t know what it’s like to be a parent – let alone in a situation as painful as the one my mom has endured with BSB.
What’s caught me off guard is how tightly my sibs are holding on to this, though.
Then again, they also held on to the pain dad caused when he divorced mom. When he came back around – at the arrival of his first grand – it didn’t look good for him and his hopes to reconnect with his family.
In that case, though, I felt I had an emotional leg up over the sibs. While they’d moved back to Oregon with mom after the divorce, I’d stayed in California – because: baby gay – and eventually ended up living in the same city as dad. We had a huge lead over his relationship with his other kids. It was kind of symbiotic: I had to accept his tearing apart of the family and he had to accept my sexuality when it wasn’t a popular thing.
With BSB, though? I don’t fucking care. Honestly, I’m surprised he’s still alive. Not just because his ex-wife is a redhead, either.
If he wants to try to make brotherly with me, let him. If I respect his approach – and it rings true, which is a high bar for a man with his gravitational pull to pull off – fine. If his approach doesn’t pass my sniff test?
Well, just picture me as King Kong atop the Empire State Building swatting down his biplane overtures at reconciling.
But my brother and sister care. They are bothered. My working assumption up til this very week has been that they’ll eventually meet me where I’m at emotionally with BSB – however that looks for them.
Maybe they start texting or messaging him back when he reaches out. Maybe it wouldn’t be until they see him at the vacation mom and dad planned for him and his boys. They’re coming to Oregon to visit their other grandparents who live in a remote southern coastal town. They visit for two weeks every year, but their personalities are stricter than the ideal grandparent. That has manifested as shorter trips or, like last year, a week with my parents after a week with the in-law grandparents.
This year, it’s a week in Sunriver. I’m planning to go. My sister lives nearby but isn’t staying in the Sunriver house like she usually does. No telling what my youngest bro will do. So far, I think getting him to my sister’s house would be a good level of participation.
This, though…this is where the fray really began to show.
My parents were very transparent about their desire for their kids to all get along. They also admitted that they knew our relationships with BSB would heal differently than theirs.
I was comfortable with that being where things were with us.
But this vacation? It overlaps with the two weeks my youngest brother takes his solo-vacation around his birthday each year. The
expectation hope was he’d join us for a week.
Then BSB re-injured his back and was looking at surgery in the next week or two. He was supposed to get confirmation of that yesterday, so I don’t know where things stand there.
What I do know is that my parents canceled a trip to see my sister so they could be ready to fly out to help BSB with the kids while he recovered.
That’s where we’re at on Mother’s Day eve. And I do not like it one bit.
Best part? BSB has sent me a couple of IMs while I typed this out…and one of the pushes I saw included an emotionally charged phrase that makes me…afrayed of what the full message will say.
Makes me wish the dead-to-me would cooperate by accepting their dead-to-me status.
7 thoughts on “Frayed”
Sounds very familiar. The BSB bro part. Late, ghosting. My parents took the brunt of it until they died, because I was elsewhere. About the “support” issue. My dad was chewing my ass for some teenage nonsense and I played the non- delinquent card by saying “At least I’m not in jail.” He looked shocked for an instant, like I’d just shit on the carpet. He took the surprised look to knitted brows and said “WTF does THAT mean? You’re not SUPPOSED to be in jail.” Oh… so stop fucking up because the acceptable stop fucking up bar isn’t on a gradient curve that stops short of jail?
LikeLiked by 1 person
See, I think the “at least I’m not in jail card” should only be played when you’ve done something you *should* be in jail for. Otherwise, I think you’re pointing out that you really couldn’t commit to your poor behavior. 😉
I bet that synaptic misfire would have been prevented by a lobotomy…
LikeLiked by 1 person
I think owning it, which I did know how to do, would have been better, but I think was trying to turn the sermon into a sermonette with some response other than yeah well is late to dinner really that big a deal.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I said something, but my iPad might have eaten it. Happy Mothers’ day. Put a picture of mom on the coffee table and feel free to get takeout from your local family friendly franchise.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Don’t worry…your day is right around the corner, pops!
Spoil your wife extra today.
LikeLiked by 1 person
She’s grading papers that are a lot like what we see on the internet. Freshmen and sophomores in college that never made it past third grade but want to work in the medical support field(s). God knows literacy isn’t a requirement to squirt cold goo on an electronic pestle and rub it over your knee, or nutsack and email the pictures.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Oddly comforting. I have rotated through various versions of roles played by you and your siblings and your parents. As I aged and characters began dying, I finally mellowed out but damn, emerging issues from survivors and new generations are worse than ever. Humans could so easily make each other happy but we would rather spend stressful effort making each other miserable! At least your writing is a creative outlet!
LikeLiked by 1 person