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Around Here

My mother’s called me several times in the last couple of weeks, usually to talk about things like what Kate wanted for her birthday or to check to make sure the package she sent arrived (she was permanently scarred after the UPS store sent my package with my grandmother’s ring in it across town). After my grandma’s health crisis I convinced her to go in for routine testing and to get her sleep apnea looked at. To my surprise, she actually did it and was happily sharing her excellent test results with me (a first). This afternoon I noticed the little icon that lets me know that I’ve missed a call on my cell phone. She didn’t leave a message but I called back anyway. She’d been calling about something insignificant, like how Kate liked her birthday present, and chatted about that first before breaking the news to me that she wouldn’t be coming up for Christmas with my brother after all because they’ve just confirmed that her husand has prostate cancer. He’s told my mom that his doctor said it hasn’t spread but told his daughter (and some random yahoos down at the bar while he was drunk) that it had spread “to his abdomen.” He’s going in for further tests after Christmas.

Of course this is the alcoholic, verbally abusive, chain-smoking good-for-nothing who has been taking money out of her bank account to gamble and leaving a permanent divot in her couch while the house has been literally falling down around them. He’s the reason I don’t visit more, the reason I’ve stopped sending Kate to spend time there. I can’t count the number of Christmases that have been ruined because he (and all of his similarly drunken, abusive, chain-smoking children) were spending the holidays extra drunk. I asked my mom frankly once if he had to get sober to keep her would he? She scoffed. He wouldn’t. The whole thing makes me very sad.

In a detached kind of way I’m sorry for him. I’m sorry he’s having to face cancer the way I’d be sorry for a stranger I’d heard about on the news or something. I’m sorry for my mom, sorry that she’ll have to carry his burden. But I can’t bring myself to feel broken-hearted or anything. In fact, I’ll admit that I see this as an opportunity for my mom to get out from under this thing she got herself into… and I feel a little ashamed at myself for thinking things like “Well, maybe everyone would be better off…”. If faced with attending a funeral I don’t think I could even appear sad… just be there for my mom (like I was for their wedding in the first place) and support the family who do love and miss him. And, of course, we’re getting way ahead of ourselves here in thinking of death and funerals anyway. Prostate cancer is quite treatable, if the stubborn old fool actually goes through with it (apparently “after he has a few toddies” he starts talking about how he’s not going to let them cut him open, not going to go through treatment).

He’s such a pitiable person, so unable to cope, so hopelessly addicted (and unwilling to change) that in my best moments I can only feel sorry for him, pity him. In my worst moments, I feel hope that he will die so his poisonous influence will just go away and I feel truly ashamed about that. I would love to believe that I’m a better person than that but I have to face up to the fact that the weakest and worst parts of me are, indeed, that bad. Tough stuff.

22 comments to Around Here

  • I’m sorry your family is going through this — ALL of this.

    There’s nothing wrong, when someone is being destructive and harmful to people you love, in hoping that the situation will change. In this case, there’s nothing you can do to change your stepfather, which leads to frustration and dark thoughts, and I think you’re just working through your desire for the best for your mother when these pop up. The important thing is that you don’t express them to her, or to anyone else who’s likely to be hurt by them, and that when she needs you, you’re there for her.

    We aren’t responsible for our stray thoughts. We’re responsible for making sure that the worst of them don’t dominate our minds or spill over into our actions. Thinking’s not a crime.

    Take care of yourself, Chris, and Kate to the best of your ability. With whatever love and support you have left over, take care of others in your life who need it. The rest will take care of itself.

  • I’m sorry your family is going through this — ALL of this.

    There’s nothing wrong, when someone is being destructive and harmful to people you love, in hoping that the situation will change. In this case, there’s nothing you can do to change your stepfather, which leads to frustration and dark thoughts, and I think you’re just working through your desire for the best for your mother when these pop up. The important thing is that you don’t express them to her, or to anyone else who’s likely to be hurt by them, and that when she needs you, you’re there for her.

    We aren’t responsible for our stray thoughts. We’re responsible for making sure that the worst of them don’t dominate our minds or spill over into our actions. Thinking’s not a crime.

    Take care of yourself, Chris, and Kate to the best of your ability. With whatever love and support you have left over, take care of others in your life who need it. The rest will take care of itself.

  • I’m sorry your family is going through this — ALL of this.

    There’s nothing wrong, when someone is being destructive and harmful to people you love, in hoping that the situation will change. In this case, there’s nothing you can do to change your stepfather, which leads to frustration and dark thoughts, and I think you’re just working through your desire for the best for your mother when these pop up. The important thing is that you don’t express them to her, or to anyone else who’s likely to be hurt by them, and that when she needs you, you’re there for her.

    We aren’t responsible for our stray thoughts. We’re responsible for making sure that the worst of them don’t dominate our minds or spill over into our actions. Thinking’s not a crime.

    Take care of yourself, Chris, and Kate to the best of your ability. With whatever love and support you have left over, take care of others in your life who need it. The rest will take care of itself.

  • I’m sorry your family is going through this — ALL of this.

    There’s nothing wrong, when someone is being destructive and harmful to people you love, in hoping that the situation will change. In this case, there’s nothing you can do to change your stepfather, which leads to frustration and dark thoughts, and I think you’re just working through your desire for the best for your mother when these pop up. The important thing is that you don’t express them to her, or to anyone else who’s likely to be hurt by them, and that when she needs you, you’re there for her.

    We aren’t responsible for our stray thoughts. We’re responsible for making sure that the worst of them don’t dominate our minds or spill over into our actions. Thinking’s not a crime.

    Take care of yourself, Chris, and Kate to the best of your ability. With whatever love and support you have left over, take care of others in your life who need it. The rest will take care of itself.

  • Hey, I think I would feel just the same way in that situation, except that I wouldn’t feel ashamed about feeling that way. ;) If that helps.

    Sometimes, frankly, the best you can hope for is that someone like that does die soon, to put himself out of everyone else’s misery. If there is a “better place”, or a chance at rebirth, or any of that stuff — maybe he’ll be better off too. If there isn’t, well, there’s no real way you or anyone else can help him out of the complete screw-up he’s made of the only life he has.

  • Hey, I think I would feel just the same way in that situation, except that I wouldn’t feel ashamed about feeling that way. ;) If that helps.

    Sometimes, frankly, the best you can hope for is that someone like that does die soon, to put himself out of everyone else’s misery. If there is a “better place”, or a chance at rebirth, or any of that stuff — maybe he’ll be better off too. If there isn’t, well, there’s no real way you or anyone else can help him out of the complete screw-up he’s made of the only life he has.

  • I think the same way and I am not ashamed either, FWIW.

  • Nik, I don’t have much to add except that I agree and there’s nothing wrong with feeling both compassion for someone who is suffering and a desire for the situation to change, even drastically. Thoughts are not deeds, and are nothing to feel guilty about.

    Take care of the people in your life you can take care of, and hope for the best for everyone else. That’s pretty much all you can do.

  • Nik, I don’t have much to add except that I agree and there’s nothing wrong with feeling both compassion for someone who is suffering and a desire for the situation to change, even drastically. Thoughts are not deeds, and are nothing to feel guilty about.

    Take care of the people in your life you can take care of, and hope for the best for everyone else. That’s pretty much all you can do.

  • That’s an awful mental position to be in…

    …but alas, not one I am thoroughly unfamiliar with.

    And somehow I doubt we’re the only ones either.

    If that’s any comfort at all.

  • That’s an awful mental position to be in…

    …but alas, not one I am thoroughly unfamiliar with.

    And somehow I doubt we’re the only ones either.

    If that’s any comfort at all.

  • I don’t blame you for any of those feelings. It’s hard to feel good things for someone who hurts someone you love. I am very sad for your mom though. I don’t know if she stays because she loves him or because she’s afraid to leave / afraid of divorce but regardless it is going to be a tough time ahead for her.

  • I don’t blame you for any of those feelings. It’s hard to feel good things for someone who hurts someone you love. I am very sad for your mom though. I don’t know if she stays because she loves him or because she’s afraid to leave / afraid of divorce but regardless it is going to be a tough time ahead for her.