The Shame of a Do-Nothing Sibling


The Shame of a Do-Nothing Sibling

phone-499991_640I've been thinking for a while now, I really need to call my brother, bring him up to date on what all has been going on. And I keep putting it off, something I don't usually do. I thought back on our most recent phone conversations, how they'd go, how they'd end. With me (as calmly as I was able) explaining about Mom's latest hospital stay, or Grandma's diagnosis. About how they'd dearly love to hear from him. He'd say something like, I'm glad you're there for them, thanks for the update, yes I'll try to call them soon...

His voice would gradually lose energy, and an uncomfortable silence take over. Which I habitually filled in with all sorts of "it's okay, we know you care, don't feel bad about it" b&//$#!+.

Which, for some odd reason, I'm no longer willing to do.

And it occurs to me, that one reason we -- the caregivers -- feel isolated and ignored by siblings and others of the do-nothing persuasion is because without our even trying to do so WE SHAME THEM.

They know quite well that they are being lazy, selfish, ungrateful and unloving. Oh my yes do they ever know it, even though they would sooner lose the Powerball jackpot winning ticket down the truck-stop toilet than admit it!!! That is why they don't call, can hardly wait to hang up when we call them, and get angry and resentful if we so much as suggest, ever-so-tactfully, that they might want risk breaking a fingerbone, or a sweat, by calling their frail, sickly loved one.

And I for once am no longer going to play along.

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I considered the possibility that by ending this stupid game- for my own sake, to lessen my own stress level a wee bit- I am in fact probably doing precisely what he himself would prefer.\r\nI know from experience that there is unearned and undeserved shame. The kind suffered by a child who wets their bed, the teenager with bad acne who is the butt of everyone's cruel jokes, the battered spouse who believes they brought it on themselves. \r\nAnd then there is that shame which is the often-ignored voice of our own conscience. That shame can become a form of grace (IMO) when it leads us to change our ways.\r\nOr so I hope.