WARNING - READ WITH CAUTION - VERY GLUM, SAD WORDS AHEAD
I have been struggling with the following topic and have debated whether to post on it at all. But after much soul searching I am going to release it from my heart and out to the Universe, where I hope it will somehow come back to me in the form of wisdom and relief. The issue that follows has wounded my heart far more than the death of my husband and the divorce of the second. After all the grief work I have done on my own and with my counselor, what I have finally come to is that I never even had to have these grief experiences to feel the worst pain I could feel - it was already there, buried under all the grief of the past years - waiting to be finally uncovered.
I speak about my family of origin issues. Suffice it to say, my three siblings and I grew up in an abusive, neglectful home and today I am sure we would most likely have been removed and raised by the state. Soon after my husband's death, my parent's health greatly declined (mental and physical) and my local sister, brother and I became involved with their caregiving. I had always been extremely close to my mother and concentrated my care on her. My sister and brother concentrated on my father's needs. When my mom died in August, 2007, the fragile family bonds we had maintained over the years fell apart. I also did not want to pretend anymore that we were close siblings, when we were not.
But all of this greatly breaks my heart because somewhere, somehow while growing up, I developed the strong ideal that a family always watches out, cares for, and defends its own. What my reality was, however, is that is not the case within my family unit. For years I harbored strong grudges against both of my brothers for failing to send a card or flowers when my husband died. I felt it was the very least they could do, having known him for 13 years. After his death, there were no casseroles, offers of help with the house maintenance or playdate suggestions for my two young sons, ages 9 and 10. It would have been nice to have had them over for a weekend to interact with their cousins and give their poor, overwrought mom a break/rest.
As the drama of my divorce and subsequent foreclosure took root, there were again no offers of support. And I guess all I really ever wanted was some measure of emotional caring/compassion. But my brother and sister seemed to side with my ex-husband and defend his position ("He thought he did enough" from my sister, while my brother went on about how difficult it must have been for my ex to take on a readymade family made up of two teen boys).
What has hurt the most is the lack of any minimal emotional support since both sibs have known of the foreclosure. I have never asked for financial help nor do I expect it. But what I do crave is a small amount of emotional kindness and acknowledgment. The last time I saw either of my sibs (the third lives in Hawaii) was at Easter and we discussed the foreclosure. My brother has had no contact with me and my sister briefly talked to me after I initiated her advice before accepting my retail job (and that conversation was stilted and uncomfortable).
About a week ago, I received the following phone message from my brother:
"Hi, Widow in the Middle, it's B. Just giving you a call that dad has another care meeting scheduled for August fourth at 2:30, so it looks like it's a week from tomorrow, 2:30 at [his assisted living facility]. So give me a call if you want me to try to schedule that or something or let them know. The person is _______ at #____________. Thank you. Bye."
No real hello how are you doing. No concern about me or the boys. Just a businesslike message informing me of my duty to attend my father's care plan meeting. I think that what especially bothers me is the lack of care or concern toward my sons. I know if the situations were reversed, I would have made a substantial effort to have remain connected with my nieces/nephews and would have exhibited a strong amount of concern toward their well being after the death of one of their parents.
I have been haunted by this message since it occurred and was unable to talk directly to my brother so emailed him a short, impersonal reply. I am still trying to come to terms with my familial relationships (or more descriptively, the lack of any kind of real relationships). It is especially hard now as I gear down for the house selling and our move into an apartment. My heart is breaking and I feel I do not have the support of anyone (save a handful of friends and my therapist) to rely on. This is where family is supposed to step in and be there as an emotional rock. To have to face the demons in my soul as I clear up my house, lose my status as a homeowner and move to a less desirable area of town to keep my boys at the same school is devastating. I need and want someone to rely on during this stressful crisis (and I can't say I'm even finished grieving my divorce yet either).
The single worst aspect of widowhood for me has been the lack of a partner standing by my side to face the worst that life has had to offer me (the diagnosis of my youngest with a potentially fatal medical condition; the death of my Mom and now this financial nightmare, foreclosure and loss of my home). To go this all alone while parenting and working is a feat deserving of a gold medal in stamina, endurance and strength.
And the most painful aspect of my life thus far has not been the passing of my first husband or the end of my second marriage, but the death of my beliefs and illusions in what I had always hoped to count on when the shit really hit the fan. I am supposing that these current feelings go back to my very young childhood and the painful reality of not being accepted, of being abandoned and neglected. I know it is part of the reason that marriage is such a strong desire of mine - I have a huge need to feel secure and protected.
My heart now seems less burdened having related these feelings. My recovery work is not yet completed. My girlfriend has suggested that I put my family issues on hold and concentrate on my move. That is the plan - I don't think the conflict existing between my sibs is going to go anywhere, anytime soon.
Today I am grateful:
For the good aspects of my current home that I have enjoyed over the years -
1. The way that I can always see the moon from my bedroom windows.
2. That I can hear the church bells from town chime all day.
3. That we lived in a very safe neighborhood.
4. That the boys attended excellent schools.
5. That we had a large, private double lot with lots of trees that was also a curse when it came to mowing and weeding.