Monday, September 20, 2010

"Every Family Has It's Dysfunction..."

Yeah, but the mentality of my mom's family is back in the turn-of-the last century. Seriously.

I don't live life relying on horoscopes, but one in particular (which always seems to have an antecdote to think about) said that with regards to my family, something may have to be torn down in order to be re-built properly. That's basic spiritual thought; most of us have constructed our lives based on false assumptions, and sometimes outright lies. It may not be totally our fault, but if you find that life is not working out the way you would like, and you yearn for better, you might actually have to tear down some constructs in order to create better ones.

That is happening in my family right now.

My generation has known for years that my mom's generation has some issues. The women all despise my grandmother for some reason, I thought for a moment that they were going to actually examine this, but in light of recent events, I see that is not going to happen. It has gotten so bad that they are abusing my elderly grandmother. They do really well with getting her to her doctor's appointments, but when it comes to the emotional quality of her life, they suck.

They refuse to let her go to church, or even to Wal-mart. My aunt, whom my grandmother lives with refuses to put a chair lift in so my grandmother can get up and down the stairs, because she doesn't want to "ruin her decor". So my grandmother crawls backwards down about 30 steps each day to get to the main level. There are no full baths on the main level, so she would either have to sleep in the basement or on the top floor, but all in all that 8,000 square foot house is not handicap accessible. And that's going to have to change, because it was this particular aunt who swore that my grandmother (and her baby sister who has her own set of insecurities and issues) belonged with her. Well, fast forward 6 years or so, and everyone is burned out and my grandmother is a "problem". They don't even have a legitimate home health aide in there who can assist my grandmother properly, it's my rich aunt's personal assistant. I tell you, all of this is going to change.

The real problem is that no one is listening to my grandmother. They're all so angry about their childhoods...which took place 50 years ago! They talk to Grandma like she's a child...or worse, they call her outside her name. They tell her to her face that they don't care what she wants or wishes, and accuse each other of taking Grandma's money while they do it themselves. All the while insisting that the nieces and nephews respect and revere them...and ignore the pasts of child abuse, deliberate lack of education (and insistence on lack of education for their kids), and drug use. It's time for the madness to stop, I say!

Well it's all definitly coming to a stop, because I called the authorities on them. My cousin and I have each filed separate complaints with the county Adult Protective Services division. And we'll be going to get my grandmother on Thursday so she can spend the week away from that gilded prison (and go to church, the one thing that brings her joy)...and unfortunately we'll have to go with police escort. My wealthy and snobbish aunt complains that no one comes to see her mother, but she doesn't realize that we're all tired of being treated like puppies on a white carpet. Don't touch this, don't chip that. I tell her every chance I can that her material things do not impress me.

I wrote a plea to my mother and the two aunts who can actually turn on a computer and asked them to seek counseling or mediation as sisters, so they could address the emotional issues they have with my grandmother, and ultimately treat her better than they have been. Typical behavior continues, blaming everyone but onesself, refusing to seek help. My wealthy aunt and the youngest aunt decided to insult my intelligence by telling me that I'm lying about things people have born witness to. So I let them both have it. The family is shocked, once again I'm crazy (sometimes I wish I had never said I was in therapy, if they hadn't have heard that, they probably wouldn't be calling me that). But I'm not the one abusing my elderly mother.

When I was a child, before I could even read, I asked my mother for my birth certificate. I swore up and down I was adopted. I still feel that way, honestly. These people do not act the way I feel a family should act. And I'm ultimately tired of it. I'm tired of being seen as wrong because I want to do what's right. I'm tired of the fickle behavior, you agree with me to my face and then you go back and agree with someone else to their face.

This is going to get ugly, but I hope that out of all of this, some healing can come. My grandmother may have made some mistakes, but she's an old woman now. None of the women in my mom's family who have kids want their children to abandon or abuse them, so they need to think about that when they do things that hurt and dismay their mother.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Prison Break...Or Not

Life is a daily lesson. I feel like each day that I get out of bed, I'm learning one hard lesson or another. For a minute, life kind of calmed down. New lesson learned: it can't always be that way.

Steven is growing like a weed. He climbs things like he's a little primate. Every door he closes, he reaches for the little lock on the knob. I've sat in rooms where he's reached up for the door handle and let himself out, only to run down the hall and away from me. Note to self: do not take him to the OB/GYN (he usually goes with me to my doctor's visits). It would be very hard to get off that table to get my son. Ha!

I cut his hair on Saturday. His fro has been getting out of control. It used to look like this:

Now it looks like this:

It's a lot easier to comb now, but I do miss his Kramer fro. It was unique...even if it couldn't be styled. Oh well, when his hair grows out, it'll grow out evenly this time. That is, if he doesn't try to mop the floor with his forehead again.

Labor Day weekend we went down to Ladysmith to my parents' "summer house". Man, it's peaceful down there. And we needed the vacation. Hopefully one day we'll actually be able to go out of state on vacation. I have a feeling we will. Steve and I have plans, it's just implementing them that can be hard sometimes.

We enjoyed a nice, quiet, long weekend just outside of Richmond. Traffic going south on 95 wasn't that bad, and we got to chill out and have fun. Little Man ran through the whole house, Steve got to relax, and I got to read and scrapbook. We even took Little Man swimming down at the lake. They have a nice beach there, and he liked it so much we took him twice. It felt so good, watching him run up and down the beach, screaming with joy. He even stopped to "talk" to people. Well, he would just pick out a cute woman and go sit in her lap. Folks were totally enamored of him.

Daddy and Little Man waiting for Mommy and Grandparents to get back from the store in Ladysmith.

My little Beach Baby!

We all had so much fun...

We came back Monday afternoon, and it wasn't too much longer before reality set in. By Wednesday my landlord was trying to evict us over $53 dollars, an amount we didn't dispute, but an amount that should have been paid back in July. All I wanted to know was, firstly what the fee was, and when they finally told me, why it wasn't charged back in July. Their bookkeeper made a mistake, and rather than admit that, she and her managers chose to be degrading.

They've been a bit upset with me, because I keep pointing out that they use "the increasing cost of goods and services" as their excuse to raise the rent, but if you are an old tenant, your apartment just gets shabbier and shabbier. Because the problems are not ones that endanger health and saftey (by their son can get into the hall closet, climb the shelves, and get to the medicine if he doesn't fall first because the door is broken!), they do not get addressed. It is at the point now where it would be cheaper to pay a mortgage and the bills that come with it than to pay rent. I've actually found houses that are twice as large as our apartment for half the price. Now if only we could get a home loan. It'll happen. God is preparing the perfect house for us. I feel that within myself.

This past week has been extremely stressful for me. I'm beginning to understand just what type of caste system really exists in this country. Many of those who have money choose to look down on those who don't. The poor are "lazy", "ignorant", or just looking for a handout. We're all uneducated, we all choose not to better ourselves. I fully understand that poverty in the United States is nothing like poverty in other countries. For that I am truly grateful. But that doesn't mean that it's not hard.

Obviously I can get in contact with others via the internet. We pay our bills, we used part of our school refund check to get a better computer, as both Steve and I study online (and I've finally narrowed down the concentration within my major, more on that later). We pay the rent. We manage to feed ourselves and clothe little man. Clothing for the big people only comes when something has completely worn out, or the money fairy pays us a visit (perhaps once a year). Wal-mart is my best friend. I'm so psyched that they're building a Super Wal-Mart down the street, I LOOOOVE their grocery store. I doubt I'll shop anywhere else. I'm all about saving what pennies we have. :-) hits home at least once a day what we can't do, especially for Little Man because we are considered "under the poverty level". We do our best to be resourceful, I give thanks for our blessings, but it is still hard. I sometimes feel like we just can't stretch our resources any further, and wonder just what we did wrong in this situation. Maybe we did nothing wrong.

But I see more clearly how the poor are viewed, now that we are considered that. At the same time, I realize the blessing of being considered "poor" in America. That's rich somewhere else. I remind myself of that when my friends are travelling the globe and wearing nice things. My son is happy. He has no idea what his parents are going through. He has his needs met. Heck, he dresses better than we do, and I see nothing wrong with that. Those $4 tops and bottoms at Target are cute! We find ways to go and do things as a family that don't break the bank. We eat well, even if it's the same thing every month. At least we can afford to get fat. The boy never runs out of his whole milk, and there are plenty of diapers for him to pee through (and boy does he). Whenever we can get away and the Green Goblin (our car) can get us going South, there's always Mom's place. Scrapbooking isn't that expensive. We've learned to want less.

Still, we look forward to the day when we can own our own home. Steve qualifies for a VA home loan. We're looking but we can't buy yet. day, my son will have a backyard to play in, and any sisters or brothers he might have coming after him will have a room of their own. If something breaks, we'll be able to fix it.

I'm dreaming of that white picket (or chain link) fence.