Sibling Stew


Sibling Stew

paprika-445024_640So, I last left off on my story of Sibling about three weeks ago, after her visit and her scene at the nursing home. The next day, Sibling left for a 10-day vacation, her second in as many months.

Last week was another tough week. (Read, "Hello Ladies, I'm Checking In.") On Friday, our sewer started backing up into our finished family room which, thankfully, is tiled and not carpeted. I found a local plumber who fixed the problem on Saturday.

I'm trying to carve out some rest while my dad remains in the nursing home. But you know how hard that is to do. I'm monitoring my mom's health because there's concern she may have another internal bleed. I'm also managing my mom's Medicare coverage, filing an appeal and a reconsideration hoping to have Medicare continue to cover her time at the nursing home. I'm taking phone calls from the nursing home staff, who have an endless supply of paperwork for me to complete. I've organized longer stays for my parents. Although my mom's Medicare coverage has ended, she will remain another two weeks to work on "getting out of" the wheelchair, as she says, and into using a walker. My dad will remain for another two weeks, too, and move into a small apartment in the assisted living section. I'm bringing them clothes, bills, supplies. I'm listening to each parent complain about the other; my dad calls my mom crabby while my mom is appalled by my dad's self-involvement. I'm visiting as much and as often as I can because I feel better knowing how they're doing.

I'm also sending out regular updates to all the siblings, including Sibling. I've continued to ignore her upsetting behavior, trying not to add fuel to the fire. I've tried to remain focused on what's most important to me: My parents, my three other siblings, my work, my down time. I decided Sibling doesn't deserve my energy or attention, which has helped me remain silent when I want to scream at how she acts out. But my other three siblings and my father have had it with Sibling. She's no longer someone I consider to be a member of my family.

Last night, I had a chance to relax. I poured a glass of cheap red wine and turned on a reality television show. And, then Sibling's spouse (my brother-in-law of 35 years) sent me this text at 9:36 p.m.:

Saw your parents today. It reminded me how important it is to stay together during challenging times. I'm saddened by the treatment Marianne has received, how she has been hurt and how it's impacting the family.

He sent the same note to my younger sister, who immediately replied that Sibling is the problem.

I decided to take time to think about my response. I last stood up for myself to Sibling 15 years ago. "Take off the martyr suit," I said. "It doesn't fit anymore." Sibling responded by making it next to impossible for us to see my nieces. I wanted to take my time with my reply. But, reply I would.

Before going to bed, I jotted down a draft to my brother-in-law. But, I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned, getting madder and madder and adding more content to my note, which feels more like a manifesto.

Just a few moments ago, I sent this message to my brother-in-law, calling out my Sibling for who she is:

This is a message best sent to Sibling. We've asked for her help--she's either declined or simply bailed on us. And when she's been a no show, she's never offered an apology. We're all appalled at how she treats Mom, at the scene she created at the nursing home and her bold-faced lies. God knows what imaginary thing Dad did to her that makes it okay to neither call him on his birthday or send him a card. (My dad's birthday was August 17.) Sibling has berated me, undermined me and bullied me. She doesn't participate in discussions--she just barks out directives. She hung up on Dad because he wouldn't do what she told him to do, even when what she told him to do was wrong. I think our treatment toward her has been very generous. I'd be happy to forward you all the text and email messages we've sent her. And, when was the last time you went to see Mom and Dad? A month ago? Given all that we've been through while Sibling has been gone for 20 vacation days in 2 months, you have a lot of gall sending anything other than "Thank you." I went through hell last week and just starting sleeping. I don't appreciate a text like this at that time of night. I'm up to my eye balls helping our parents. I did ask Sibling for help last week--a 20-minute errand. She declined. But she's such a coward, she texted our brother she wouldn't help, leaving Dad just hanging. Nice way to pull together, huh? So, honestly, I don't have time for Sibling's narcissism, her drama and her pettiness. I say a prayer of thanks every day for my other three siblings. They are amazing with their incredible love and support. They take time off from work, they regularly call and visit Mom and Dad. And when a crisis hits, they are right there doing everything they can to make it better. They're not like Sibling, crying that someone looked at her the wrong way or that no one checked in to see how she's doing. I pray Sibling gets the help she needs. She is sick. She is this family's cancer. Bottom line: Help me or leave me alone. Anything else is just bullshit.

So, our fracture seems more like a break that can't be repaired. I'm okay with that. I need a break from all this nonsense.

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