Posted by: Marie | August 6, 2010

(373) Truth keeps flowing – Part 5 of 5

Post #373
[Email to my therapist written on Saturday, February 27, 2010 – continued from previous post]

Complaint #5

As you know, I am planning a piano recital in early May at my new studio with all of my students. This week, I sent out emails to my friends and family, inviting them to attend. I really want for my family and close friends to attend . . . this is a really big deal to me.

I know my mom will come – she is one of my biggest supporters. I also invited my brother, Dale, and his girlfriend, Janice, who live about 45 minutes south of here. But I am quite sure they won’t attend.

The Rise by Martin Chen

My brother has made it very clear to me that my preferences and wishes are not important to him. Whenever I have asked him to attend performances or social events that were important to me, he has always declined because he is just too busy with everything else he has going in his life. When I have asked if I could bring friends with me to holiday dinners, he has always said no because it would make the table too crowded and they only have so many matching dishes and a mismatched table would look bad. But, he will set up a second table for his friends. If I ask to stop by his house or his work just to catch up, he is always too busy to find time for me. When I want to share some news with him, he is too busy talking about his own news to hear mine.

Now, if something is centered around my mom, he will go out of his way to make time for her because of her position and her age. I get that . . . I feel the same way towards her. However, it would be nice if he also would make me somewhat of a priority as well – I’d like to rank in his priority system as more than just transportation for my mom. I faithfully drive my mom to the holiday dinners, but I sit on the couch in silence because I don’t feel welcome to participate in the conversations – I just get interrupted and talked over. Sometimes, Janice’s family will talk to me, which is nice.

So, as a result, I feel unimportant to and disconnected from my brother and his family. I almost didn’t invite him to the recital because I hate being turned down by him. I’d almost rather just not invite him so I don’t have to listen to the excuses that remind me how little I mean to him.

But, I did invite him – you never know, he might surprise me.

Then, an hour or two after I sent the email, I asked myself . . . what if I told him the whole truth . . . what if I told him it would really mean so much to me if he and Janice did come? My immediate thought was that I couldn’t do that – it would either make him feel aggravated for me making so many unreasonable demands on his time, or it would make him feel guilty for not doing what I would like for him to do – for not being a “good” big brother.

Then, I thought . . . so what? Is that my problem? Is it really because I don’t want to be rejected (or told I’m not important) yet again? Or, is it because I feel guilty for asking him to spend time on me – that I think I don’t deserve his time?

What about the possibility that he might be glad to know he is that important to me – maybe he doesn’t know that. Maybe he thinks I don’t want to have him around. I find that hard to believe, but it is possible.

This same pattern carries over somewhat into my relationships with my two sisters and their families. They are somewhat more supportive, but when I am visiting their homes, I spend a lot of time by myself because it is so hard to have space to talk with them – I get interrupted and talked over with them, also.

I suppose it doesn’t help that my lifestyle and religious beliefs are quite different from the rest of my family’s. They disapprove of the vast majority of my life choices. When they converse among themselves, they talk about family and friends and church and religion – and I don’t have anything to contribute to the conversation. We really don’t have much in common.

My sisters don’t support how I am handling the psychological issues around my childhood – they don’t think anything good can come from stirring up hurtful history. My brother hasn’t given me an opportunity to share my story with him – I doubt he would want to hear it, anyway. And, I’m not willing to share the whole story about the trauma with my mom because I believe it would cause her tremendous and unnecessary pain.

So, I say nothing about what is happening in my life – it is easier to keep quiet. I don’t want to stir up conflict.

I suspect my siblings don’t ask questions about anything in my life because they are afraid it will bring up uncomfortable issues. In my family, lifestyle choices that are not in alignment with Christian teachings are not discussed – because, if we did discuss them, my family would feel obligated to express their disapproval. Unexpressed disapproval would indicate passive approval – which would border on sinfulness through apathy.

So, by not allowing the discussion and keeping their disapproval to themselves, they are being polite towards me. The net result is that I am not allowed to share what is happening in my life – the good or the bad, which breeds a sense of disconnectedness. As the black sheep of the family, I am required to not flaunt my life choices to the rest of the family – I can continue being part of the family, but I must be respectful of the family by being discreet about my lifestyle.

My family continues to pray that I will someday get my life straightened out . . . I guess, if I got “straightened out”, I might be able to be a full fledged member of the family . . . ?? Somehow, I doubt it – I’ve been the black sheep for too many years – that would be a tough identity to shed.

I have pretty much given up being seen and heard by my siblings . . . I have become more and more cynical about it as I’m getting older. I am seen and heard by my mom, though, at least to the extent I can honestly share with her what is going on in my life. That level of connection with my mom is comforting – it is really the only real connection I have with my family.

———-

So . . . those are my thoughts. I’ll see you next week.

– Marie


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