Monday, April 09, 2012

Bing as psychoanalyst

Yesterday was kind of hard. It was a not so fun Easter. First, the washing machine broke down on Friday night.

Did I mention that I HATE it when appliances break down? This is mostly because Bing flat out refuses to buy anything new when something breaks. She attempts to fix it. And she is not as handy as she thinks. This usually involves inviting our fix it man neighbor to come help her and while he is a nice guy, you can see it on his face that he tires of being the one we call ALL THE TIME. So...she calls a friend or some brother in law of a co-worker who once watched someone do something and thinks he can do it.

The results are less than stellar. When our dishwasher broke down two years ago, she called her uncle who was actually a good choice. He used to flip houses and is pretty good at fixing things. Trouble is...he is in his late seventies now. So..he came and told her that it was unfixable and that she needed to buy a new dishwasher. I was starting to like the guy. He offered to put in a new dishwasher if we got it home. So...thinking that we would save money by not having to pay to have it installed...we did just that. And he ended up somehow breaking the alarm system on our home. Don't ask me how, I don't know.

Then, the shower was leaking that one time and Bing went into the basement and into the crawlspace and tried to fix it from there. Sad ending.

So..whenever something breaks, I am concerned. was tense around the house this weekend, but the good news is that I think she may have fixed it...under the tutelage of our fix it guy neighbor.

But, it played havoc on her back. And then I woke up Saturday with a rheumatoid arthritis flare up in my left elbow, shoulder and wrist. By Sunday, it wasn't pretty and her back was still killing her.

But, she had an Easter gig, so bit the bullet. I went to the gig, made it half way through and decided to just give in and go home. I called my sister, Patrice, on the phone to tell her that we wouldn't be coming for Easter dinner.

She was clipped and snippy, but oh well.

Patrice hates it when something happens to upset her well laid plans.

So, we laid around for Easter. Later in the afternoon, I roused myself to take some flowers out to the graves of the people who owned our home before we did. I feel obligated to do this a few times a year, they were the ones who planted our gorgeous flowers in the first place.

I texted Patrice when I got back home. Still snippy. Sigh.

I put the phone down and told Bing that Patrice was still mad about us skipping Easter dinner. Bing was less than interested. She was actually thrilled when I texted her at her gig and told her that we'd be skipping it.

But, then, because Bing is Bing, she came and sat next to me on the sofa. Took my hand.

"You can't feel guilty about this," she said. I nodded.

"Honey, we are both out of sorts physically."

I said I knew that.

Finally, she put her shrink hat on.

"You know what Patrice's problem is?" she asked. I shrugged.

"She is a spoiled brat posing as an angel."

I looked up, interested.

"She LOVES being the family matriarch and HATES being bested. You and your other sisters talk about it. You know how Patrice gets all mad if one of you sisters doesn't tell her news first. You, Jessie and Celia joke about it all the time. ("God, pretend like you're surprised when Patrice tells you this. She'll get all snippy if she isn't told first....") Well, isn't that kind of babyish? And if you ask her why she's acting all cold and snippy, she'll deny it to her death that she's mad that she wasn't the first one to know something."

I nodded slowly. She is correct. No denying that. Patrice likes to be FIRST in the loop.

"And after your mom died, Celia (who never really left me to begin with) called RIGHT AWAY and you two were meeting for cake and coffee, etc. And then a few months later, Jessie called you, apologized for acting like a timid jackass by going along with the rule about disowning you as a family. And then...what? At least a year later, Patrice saw that Jessie and Celia were taking you in and she didn't want to be left out, so all of a sudden, there she was. We lived in the same city with her for years and she didn't bother looking you up and then...snap...all of a sudden, she is not only calling you, but wanting to go with you to your doctor's visits to learn more about your RA. Do you really think she would have contacted you again if Celia and especially, Jessie, hadn't?"

I thought about that. Don't know. And it is one of those things that I will never know. I forgave my sisters a long time ago for those silent years because carrying that kind of pain inside of me was not healthy. Best to just try and forgive. And, God...I missed them all so much.

Bing went on. "And then a few years ago, at some family gathering, everyone was going on and on about how they love all the cards you send for birthdays, etc. because they are so beautiful, so sly, so perfect...and what happens next? PATRICE starts making homemade cards for everyone."

I hold my hand up. Counter. "She said that it was because she hated spending money on cards," I said.

Bing rolled her eyes. "Maria, she is richer than GOD. She has that huge inheritance from your mother that she never offered to give you one thin dime of."

"I don't want her money!" I shrieked. I was feeling defensive. And I always feel as if I have to stand up for my family. I was raised that way. Someone goes against a sister, they go against you.

Bing smiled, hugged me. "Ok...uncle. I'll shut up."

I cuddled close. "I guess...I just feel so guilty. She worked hard to make that dinner and then we didn't show up."

Bing had reached her patience limit. "MARIA! We were ILL. And we weren't the only ones invited. At least 10 other people were coming. Minus two was nothing! For godsakes...and you are making yourself feel guilty. No one else can make you feel guilty. That is something you do to yourself."

I kissed her chin.

"When did you get so wise, missy? Maybe you should have gone into psychiatry instead of teaching music."

"Naw," she said. "I wanted to get rich and shit so I became a teacher..."

She went off to do her own thing then but she left me with lots of food for thought. My sisters don't read my blog no worries about hurting her feelings. But...I'm curious. What do you think? And tell me about the dynamics of your relationship with your siblings. Is it possible to love them with all of your heart and want to smack them too?

What do YOU think?


sybil law said...

I think Bing needs to face her own realities - for example, not always trying to fix something first. Or at least recognizing when it might be smarter to let that one go. :)
Otherwise, I agree with her on guilt, although I struggle with guilting myself over a lot of things, too. I've gotten better about it, though.

kristi said...

I have a sister who is 10 months older than me. We talk on the phone but we raise our kids sooo differently, we butt heads a lot over that. We see each other occasionally and we live in the same town. But things are tight for hubs and I financially and she lives in her hubby's grandfathers house so her rent is like $425 a month, my house note is 3 times that..she has a lot of extra and I don't! She loves to shop, I hate it, thank God for the internet because that is where I buy everything except! I love her but we are just VERY different. I pretend to be a hard ass but I am the first to text my mom everyday...tell her to have a good day and that I love her. My sister never reaches out and it is sometimes a one-sided relationship. And as for my brothers, I have 3 but am not close to two of them. Sad but true.

Anonymous said...

Well, first and foremost, it was wrong of your mother and then of your siblings to refuse to split your mother's inheritance. Just plain shameful.

All the other stuff you mention pales in comparison to the first error of judgement on your family's part.

- Rae

Zebsmom said...

I am the youngest of three and the only girl.

My closest brother in age is 4.5 yrs older than me, and the other is 5.5 yrs older.

When we were kids my oldest brother beat me on a regular basis, and then when I turned 12 it became sexual. (my mother defends him to this day)

My middle brother sort of just bailed out of the family for the most part, until recently, as he got married. Now he is interested in being with us and talking like normal people.

I understand getting excited about having people come, that you want there, and then being dissapointed when they are unable to come. I think that you sister Patrice might feel like she is left out of things, and has to insist on being involved. Sometimes that can look like control when it is actually a way to be included when you think you won't be. I think she wants you in her life, and when things like this happens she just might feel like she is not important enough for you.

I don't know, maybe I am right off. All I know is I wish you had faught for your share of that money from your mom, and I sure wish they had been brave, and didn't stop talking to you.

You Maria are a better person than me, I am not sure I would have allowed them back into my life.

You don't need to feel guilty!

Josie Two Shoes said...

Ahhh sisters! I have two of them... for sale... cheap! Just kidding, sort of. :-) The one who is two years older than me has some issues that seem to prevent her from keeping stories straight and owning up to things she says and does. She stirs up controversy in the family. For that reason our relationship has now been restricted to exchanging cards and birthday/holiday texts. Even phone calls soon start another round of chaos, and I don't need it in my life.

My other sister is three years young that me, we get along ok, and pretty much always have, as long as you buy into her very middle class values and understand that all conversations must eventually focus on her. She's still waiting for our family to be like the Cleavers, which sadly it never was and never will be. We talk and visit but I can't share the real issues in my life with her, if I do it comes back to haunt me.

I have learned over years that family are the people who love you, care about you, and accept you as you are, blood relation does not necessarily fall into that category. My blog buddies know me better than my sisters, though I wish it didn't have to be that way.

I think Bing's perspective was right on, why should you feel guilty because you didn't feel well enough to go? A caring sister would worry more about your discomfort than about your absence at her family event.

LizC said...

I'm the younger of two sisters. My sister is an expert at the guilt trip thing. Like Patrice, she'd be totally pissed if she were the last to know anything. Even so, like you, I'd defend her to anyone who dared criticize her - other members of the family excepted!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I think Bing's assessment is perfect, from what you've shared here. Missy is pretty wise and observant.

As for my own sibling relationship, I'm not sure the rare interactions between my brother and me qualify. I have always been the family black sheep and he has enjoyed being the family Christ Child. Perhaps it's an unbridgeable gap, although I wish it were otherwise.

Kimberly said...

As soon as I read about the washing machine breaking I chuckled. Because I've been reading your blog long enough to know how Bing (and you) would react. Glad it seems to be fixed!

The whole defensive thing when it comes to people talking about your family... I struggle with that, too. Especially frustrating when I don't agree with something a family member has done. Gah.

My relationship with my siblings is interesting. Since I was adopted in an open adoption, I have two adoptive, non-biological siblings, of whom I'm the oldest. My brother (two years younger) and I are not speaking. He has a whole slew of issues, and most likely was never diagnosed with RAD. He made life hell for my entire family growing up, and I still carry psychological and physical scars from him. Josh encouraged me to try to rebuild a relationship with him, but after several years of trying, he's realized it's a bad idea for everyone.

My younger sister (six years younger) and I get along great 90% of the time. Typical sister relationship. I'm loving the fact that we're becoming closer as she approaches adulthood. And being completely fashion-unconscious, I appreciate the fact that I can borrow clothes from her on occasion.

My biological half-sisters live several states away, but we've managed to build good relationships over the years. We've discovered that because of the distance, it's easier to confide in each other than in someone right nearby. I wouldn't trade my relationships with them for anything.

And that's my can't-sleep, even-though-I-know-I-should-because-the-baby-will-be-up-to-nurse-50-times-tonight ramble. ;)

Jean said...

Bwahahahahah! Yes, you can love them and want to hurt them, sometimes simultaneously. It's a weird law of the universe or something. You're a generous soul to forgive - I tend to nurse a wound for a loooooong time, especially when the offending party doesn't go out of their way to apologize for their stupidity. Stupid makes me mad and keeps me mad longer than anything else.

Now - with the sharing of the estate with you - it's a lovely thought to have hoped that at least one of your siblings would have at LEAST made noises about doing just that, but realize that the tax implications for them and you would have been crazy - gift tax, etc. I'm curious - if you'll share - what kind of money each are we talking about it? I'm looking at a similar situation with my dad's estate - one brother has a $30k inheritance coming (out of over $1m) instead of a full share. Dad has never respected him - not for his lifestyle (party til you puke, then go back for more; lousy father, teller of tales) but for his absolute lack of work ethic. He told me, and I quote, "No amount of money will make him a better man. He'll have enough to buy a new car and that's more than he's worked to earn." So yes, there is a shit storm in my future.

There are a million Patrice's in the world, sadly. She's the one with the ASSHOLE husband, right? Pyschology 101 - she overcompensates in her world with the things she feels she can control to make up for the glaring, in-your-face mistake she made in choosing Mr. Deliverance and blocking you out of her world for money.

Some people have to dig a trench around themselves and hope that everyone steps into it so they appear to be on a higher plane. The suck.

rainy5982 said...

I have one brother, we were close growing up. It was a typical relationship, I wanted to be everywhere he was and he hated his little sister tagging along everywhere with him. He picked on me and tormented me as only a brother can do. But anyone else that looked at me funny he took them out. Now as grown adults we talk a little and when we live near each other we spend time together. He's very involved with his in-laws and not so much with us. It bothers me. A couple of years ago he barely spoke to us. I got really uspet and told my dad I was done. My dad got upset with him and he's better now. He's working at it and I am too. It's hard to do when you live on the opposite sides of the country.

Anonymous said...

Two things:

Bing appears to have been smack on with her assessment of your relationship with your sibs, but because folks aren't boxes, and family is messy, figuring out the "sides" isn't easy.
Get Bing the Reader's Digest Complete Do-it-Yourself Manual and a subscription to Angie's List for when the manual fails and she needs to go the next step and hire someone. Nothing like a do it yourself butch who lacks the do it yourself skillset-- I'm that gal.

Mitchell is Moving said...

I think it's possible to love them with all your heart and want to smack them, too. But, I think it's also possible to NOT love them. (But then there's that guilt.) Bing gave you great advice. A brilliant musichiatrist.

Destingirls said...

I've always wondered how you've been able to mend things with them. Do they talk about it? Have they every apologized or tried to explain what was going through their heads when they did that? I can't think of any excuse that would be good enough...I can honestly say that I would NEVER do that to someone. And I know you wouldn't either. I know you feel like it's just money and it seems selfish to think about it but I do think they owe you a portion...I don't understand how they justify it to themselves.

the only daughter said...

I don't like my brothers. I might love them, but I don't admit to that, usually. They think I' be honest, I don't really know what they think of me and don't much care. Well, maybe a wee part of me does.

That said, we try to get along (mostly) for our mother's sake and we accomplish that best by staying out of one another's lives--since we all live good to great distance--that's not that tough.

I love that Bing tries to fix things but wold annoy the buggers out of me that she's so dang burn stubborn about her lack of prowess in certain areas of fix-it expertise.

She's got your sister pegged. And it was likely best that ya'll stayed home.

teeveezed said...

My sister fucked up our relationship as siblings, all 4 of us, I'm only now just talking to one brother and texting the other. She stopped talking to me and I love it, LOVE it.
Both of my brothers wives divorced them because of problems she created and they had to live with!
Families are too complicated and quite frankly, suck.

Earth Muffin said...

Without knowing Patrice personally, just from what I've read about her on your blog, it sounds like Bing hit the nail on the head. You should not feel guilty for skipping a family function when you are unwell.

I have one younger brother. We couldn't stand each other until I went away to college. Once we each had our own space and could become our own people, we got along much better. Now we are pretty close, even though we are very different. I will always believe that he's my parents' favorite though. It's just a "feeling" I have, you know? And, yes, sometimes that leads me to resent him just a little bit. But then I'll see him devoting a full day to being silly with my kids, the love he feels for them is palpable, and I get over it. He's an idiot, he's my brother, I love him.