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tiredofvampires last won the day on October 22 2013

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  • Birthday 05/20/1968

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  1. Hey, Quirky. It's been such a long time since I've posted here on ENA, swept up as I have been in a force-gathering tornado of my own heartbreaks and life transitions. Not been here nearly as much as I've wanted to be. I've wondered and worried about my friends here, in the meanwhile. And, consequently, I have just come in for a spell now and found your most recent posts on this break-up. I feel woefully out of touch with the nuances of this relationship (having just gone back a few pages) and what may have been the "red flags" along the way, so I don't want to say anything presumptuous. But I do feel compelled to say something. It's probably awfully general, but nonetheless, I feel strongly about what I'm about to say. I am still single, myself, and like you, fatally romantic in my desires to meet "that forever person" once and for all. Due to my very difficult life circumstances now, which present a lot of challenges to dating, I've been somewhat sporadic with the intensity of looking for this person, and it's been almost entirely based on various correspondences with people living very far away, as I live in such a remote and isolated location, where locals are just on a different wavelength from me. But I've stayed in the game, to different degrees, and I can safely say that I've learned some essential things that all the disappointments, the "ghostings", the rejections, and the hurt from all the discarded relationships have made worth going through. First, I have re-written my dating profile(s) many times, often just for me, when these things happen -- it's almost like a public reflection of what matters to me. And here is one thing that I have put front and center, and repeated in various ways in my write-up (and, it wouldn't be any different if I met someone the traditional way, in person): I AM NOT IMPRESSED, NOR LOOKING TO START WITH "SPARKS" AND "CHEMISTRY." Not leading with those, no. The ever-dazzling, hypnotic allure of "sparks and chemistry" that everyone seeks. I in fact have become a total rebel about that way of approaching attraction and bonding. NO THANK YOU, I PASS. And rather than cultivating mistrust, or trying to kill off that very, VERY precious thing called "able to be vulnerable", which you have and should never compromise just because others are terrified of it in all the ways that shows up -- instead of becoming fearful, guarded, and bitter, I rather think of it as a vetting process where I am not being lead by infatuation of any brand. I am not saying, seek out people that you are decidedly not feeling those feelings for, but I AM saying: the stronger those feelings, those butterflies, and the sooner they start, the brighter the flashing red light is to me, and should be to you. People tell tales about how they "just felt this one was THE ONE" and it started with all those starry-eyed passions, and hey, it does happen. It happens and it lasts for some people. And guess what? For every ONE couple that can boast this kind of magical luck...and prove that it's not just a fairy tale, a Hollywood movie, or a myth...there are 98,000 couples who feel that way and this is the result. This sort of outcome. So what to do...there are some things, while not foolproof, that can be done preventatively, and I am all about this: 1. Move very slowly 2. Move very slowly 3. Move very slowly, and 4 (Did I say?) Move very slowly There is nothing wrong with throwing yourself completely into someone and seeing if they will catch you. But that has to come very gradually, with many little proofs along the way. And these proofs do NOT come in these forms: 1. Effusive compliments 2. Putting me on a pedestal (comparing me to all the other girls that pale compared to me is a HUGE warning sign that I now run from; a healthy man looks fondly upon his last relationships, even if they are bittersweet and just sees you as the new person in his life, not some pinnacle of girlfriend achievement) 3. "Promising" me a future -- let's BUILD a future as we go along, shaping it like clay, instead of painting beautiful fantasy pictures on the wall 4. Not letting me into major parts of his life 5. Overly romantic expressions, like "I want to live the rest of my life with you", "I can't live without you", "I would be destroyed if you left", "I'll never find anyone like you again," "All the mistakes I made just were leading me to you" (that was actually said to me), "I want to give you everything"....you get the idea Anything in this whole category of expressions is just designed -- often without a desire to deceive, and unconsciously -- to flesh out an archetypal desire and need, one that resonates with anyone who speaks the language of romance. There's a lot of projection there. On both sides, often, and in a mirroring way. It might be very genuinely felt, but it may be completely divorced from one's capability to deliver anything close, or to really want to do the work of making any of that real, and investing in it in stable ways. So it's GOOD not to trust certain things. I don't believe in wholesale mistrust, but I choose to not trust CERTAIN types of courtship behavior and the feelings they arouse in me. In a way, I'm saying, you have to...not mistrust yourself...but be able to witness yourself being seduced by lots of fluff and glitter, seeing it for what it is, and sticking to a plan of letting a person prove themselves again and again before you start spinning plans for "forever." Remember...one in 98,000. We don't -- we CAN'T -- count on that lottery ticket, hon. So nowadays, I present myself this way -- I want to become your friend, first. And anyone who starts on about "getting caught in the friendzone" is speaking an alien language to me. Not interested, bye. No one gets caught in the "friendzone" when there is undeniable soul and heart connection that can't be stopped. So I say, "sparks and chemistry" should grow out of that connection and bonding, not vice versa. No more, "It just went so fast"...we know where that leads and "just feeling right" could apply to anyone who we like, really. It ALL "feels right"...until it doesn't anymore. Not a good barometer. I have no clue how people can be so cold and cruel, either. It's depraved, really. And you have a right to feel angry, and I understand the feeling of being angry at yourself. But, you can work on turning that into gratitude -- gratitude that you learned something. No, this is NOT just devastation. You've learned how better to go about knowing someone, and how to do reality checks along the way, whatever your freespirit side is telling you. You know yourself just a little better today than you did the day before he broke up with you. You know you have a "weakness" for certain things, and now you're going to protect your heart just a little more carefully. Learning how to keep your visions intact while also being more discerning and cautious (not just in thought bubbles you think, but actions you TAKE as you move through the evolution of a relationship, and the escalation) is a precious reward here. Even though it doesn't feel like it. And you'll get there. I'm so sorry you're going through this pain, I know it's so eviscerating. But you are intact, you are still you, you have all this good stuff...you just have to guard it like the treasure that it is. And don't give it away for cheap. The test of a good man, the one who might be the "one", is that he will walk this path carefully, slowly, gradually, thoughtfully, and without turning it into a grand fireworks show at the beginning; but he can hold the budding part in a safe and unhurried container. And he will invest in caring about all that's in your life, which is called FRIENDSHIP, before all else. When someone values being part of your life and knowing about it....it is the mark of someone who doesn't leave at the slightest triggers. Chin up, Quirks.
  2. Thank you so much for this post, IAG. I was hoping you would show up, and you did, and I'm grateful for it, because I know you wouldn't blow smoke up my or anyone's butt just to make them feel better. And everything you said feels so dead on, I was going to bold a few portions that seem particularly incisive, but it all is. Ha, yeah, I get DancingFool and Capricorn mixed up, too, sometimes, with the avatars. But both she and you said things that I believe are true about my sister, and although our years together, relying on eachother, have been speckled with little spikes of discord, we were able to diffuse situations over days or weeks and return to a baseline of warm, fuzzy sisterly BFF love...but this is different. As you said. It runs against everything I stand for and believe in, it's so fundamental. And I now see the pieces of the other instances coming together to create a more crystallized picture of my sister's personality, and mine, and how the differences were more or less non-determining until now -- even though the writing was on the wall. I am not sure how much is inborn, and how much is "made" by a lifetime of not having to support herself with her own means (and therefore naturally having no lived experience of fending for herself, and that hustle), but I don't feel she can even start to comprehend the nightmare that I am facing, that she WOULD be facing, were she not sitting on the high and mighty throne of disconnection she's sitting on now, drawing a line in the sand between, "me and my family" and "you, mom, other sister, and our shared past." I do understand, and have compassion and empathy, for her wanting to protect herself and in a sense, "create a new life". Even wanting to run. But I also think that her maker didn't infuse her with the same sense of interdependence that I have, and that my self-preservation is not worth much if it's not balanced with solidarity. This runs deep in my bones regardless of my status, or even familial duty. It is true, and I rarely feel like saying such things because they sound boastful, but when crap hits the fan, that is when I am MOST likely to be there, because that is when I feel I am most needed. She is the exact opposite. And I think this is the part that is inborn: that she feels anyone's dependency upon her is a burden. Why else would her face have become ashen when she found out she was pregnant? It's not like she was a teen with a whole life ahead to have ruined. It's not like they couldn't support a child. And it's not like she and they didn't plan on one! She said she knew that because they took no precautions, they expected it would happen at one point or another, so it's something she did want. Eventually. In the abstract, because that was just part of the grown-up, now-married, tenure-track Life Plan. But then when the prospect of all the things she would have to give up for another human being, how she would have to sacrifice herself and her own self-directed time in many ways (as that is the nature of parenting) was staring her in the face, all this fear and aversion arose. Her pregnancy was miserable all the way through, her labor difficult and long, and then the launch into an infancy that went above and beyond normal weariness, sleep loss, and tedium. It was a crisis for her, a trial by fire. And I do have to wonder how much these deep roots of feeling, bonding, and emotion were transferred to her baby, now on the cusp of coming of age rites in our culture, and the fact that she says her husband is by far the preferred parent. This is a digression, of course...but not really, in the sense that I don't feel she was a "born mother", born to "take care" of anyone, and yet it has been fairly easy for her to accept that she has profited from being taken care of, including by me, when things were unbearable emotionally. I am by no means suggesting that she is not grateful for what her husband has brought to her life, and now, she cherishes her son more than her own life. And I don't wish to paint a picture that she has been sitting around the house, being waited on. She has been active, aspiring, and devoted to the projects she's taken on, including motherhood. She has pulled her own weight in their marriage, in her own role. But it is interesting to me that I got a few things so wrong. When she was pregnant and in my nephew's infancy, during that very rough period, through which I was present and 2 feet in, whether long-distance or in person...I thought to myself that the self-preserving, self-centered inclinations that had shown up over the years would now be shed. I thought, "As a mother, she will learn more about how to extend herself without feeling depleted, to widen her circle of what she thinks of as 'myself'". I felt that it would change her in good ways, to be more nurturing in general. In fact, the opposite occurred. As it turns out, it was more like, what amount she had to give and offer to anyone else was reduced by that much that mothering took out of her. The circle of what she considered, "part of me" got even smaller, consolidated down to this child, her now sole focus and energy expenditure. Pouring everything into him, something else had to give, and that was me. And now MOM and the rest. I know some will be saying, but it's normal for parents and families to have to focus their energies on their own children, and put that nuclear family first. I get it, got it. And sure. I accept that as normal in this culture. On the other hand, I live in a place where children are still raised in a more tribal manner, even in modern settings. Your aunties, your grandma, your siblings, everyone in the family matters in the raising of that child, and equally, all of those members when they are faltering are counted into the equation of where the collective energy and care goes. What hurts the most is feeling that I have carried that spirit with me for these last 12 years with her son, and before that, as I could, from a long distance, as her trusted ally, but with her world having shrunken into this currently small bandwidth, I am incidental in her life. She has been writing to me that she feels I am punishing her for trying to draw "healthy boundaries", and saying our family had none. True, our family didn't have healthy boundaries. But I don't think this is a matter of my having unhealthy boundaries. This is a matter of her seeing my fate as unrelated to hers, and that my saying "I need you" is an affront to the separation that should be there -- and that separation isn't so much a healthy boundary as a mindstate of scarcity and territoriality. It is so, so hard to say, "I need you". The most laughable irony about all this is that I was the first one to seek my independence, financially and otherwise, of us 3 kids. Because of that cultish upbringing, and the abuse that took place in it, it became my laser focus to imagine myself free of it, liberated to go about the world as I pleased, with my own resources, inner and outer. I stayed alive for this. I worked, worked many jobs, foregoing college for 2 years, for this (and then IN college) -- against the dictates of my upbringing that I would naturally just fall in line by going to college, which I was so groomed for. After my senior year in high school, the only thing that pulled me out of a suicidal depression was believing I could do this, save myself. And so it is the wickedest of turns that now, decades later, I am depending on forces outside myself and their generosity, having to say, "I need you", which is so terribly abhorrent to me; I never imagined the sister who pledged a lifelong commitment to our solidarity saying, "I'm not your savior", content for me to feel a beggar, as if I ever asked or wanted one, much less from her. I even am having trouble putting this out there, on this forum, to have to be this vulnerable. I keep wondering, what if the roles were reversed. What if. I know. I know. I know, and I know, it would be different. Then again, I wouldn't have married a man who couldn't hug her and call her "sister", because now there is an inextricable linkage. You are so right, here: I have thought those exact words so many times, "You can't get blood from a stone." My sister has suggested we go to therapy to hash this out. What she really wants to do is set me straight about how unrealistic my expectations are, and how unfair I am to her, and how I have burdened her, and can't I see that at last? And my inclination is to just leave it alone. I know that people who care about their in-laws, do such things in this world. I have seen with my own eyes what I admire in families and this isn't it. And what good is it to try to impress values upon people who don't hold them? I might as well argue with people who don't hold my political views, trying to change them. I believe you're right on that the work ahead of me is to be seeing this as a lack and a limit in her that is just there. And that maybe just seeing that as starkly as possible is the only way to move forward, and on. Maybe she can't help being who she is and I will just have to forgive her. Which is going to be hard with her knocking on my door asking for our friendship to be restored, as my life as I know it goes up in flames.
  3. This is a really great post, DF, and I think you've gotten really close to the truth of the matter, especially the part about her being in survival mode. I have literally had nightmares where a life raft were are in was being weighted down, and she wrapped me up in towels and quietly pushed me over the side, and I've woken up gasping for air. A friend said to me, adding a more humorous twist to this theme, "Yeah, it's like, if the zombies were after you both, she'd trip you." But, I would be interested to know -- if you are still following the thread? -- if my most recent posts above, regarding the dynamics within her family, about who makes the financial decisions, her role in them, and the relationship between her and her husband as I've described it, changes your view here in any way? My sister's husband is such a bland person, and I know he feels immensely responsible for (and proud of) his role as "provider", that I don't think he is in private lording things over her where she has no say. If anything, in their day-to-day lives, I've seen her be bossy enough that some would think she "wears the pants." This certainly doesn't amount to her being able to make her own decisions, money-wise, independently; and I do think if she pressed him hard for large expenditures that he has no stake in (like, my mom's life), she may run into trouble, but I don't know about that. If she loved my mom enough to tell him this was really vital to her, I think he would listen. But we won't ever know that, will we? Since she's taken that off the table. She evidently feels estranged enough from my mom that she hasn't sent any signal to him that they should prioritize this. It seems she really believes this to be the correct set of priorities, given how many times she has told me I am "unreasonable." To what extent she really believes that in her heart, vs. how much she's made herself believe it in order to be able to find peace/justification with the dilemma, I don't know. You are right though, about successfully landing a man who could take care of her the way she needs. I do give her credit for the hard work she has put into her field and career, and for her devotional care as a mother. If you were to ask her, she's had a hard and thankless job since they were married, especially the years they've been raising a child. (She cites the book title, "All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood" by Jennifer Senior as emblematic of her life.) She's worked hard, I give her that. But he has paid for her ascent and the opportunities she has. I can't imagine what life would have looked like had she been like so many luckless people on this forum who marry, find out they are with the wrong person, divorce, and then find themselves out on the brutal and unforgiving dating market. With a degree in the performing arts, at best she'd have an low-level office job, no time to spend on her passions and creativity, and likely, no child. So, a lot more like me, but without the health issue. I don't resent her for being lucky, but it was largely luck. And privilege (how many kids have their parents pay their student loan debt off outright?)
  4. And you know...I asked her years later, what she remembers of that child-care intensive we went through together, that month. She said, "Hmm. Um...I remember you cooking dinner." She said that was all she could come up with. I think it's easier to imply that someone is unreasonably a "taker" if you have amnesia about all the times you were given to. There is nothing I did for my sister with an ulterior motive, or out of quid pro quo, though. I want to make that clear. It's just that in the stark light of the situation as it is now, it's clear to me that we do not think alike in central ways. And I fear there will be no fixing that.
  5. I am still catching up on previous posts, but I want to address this before too many other similar inferences are drawn: As I said, none of the things I'm saying are based on assumption, it's what I KNOW about her through direct observation, frank facts, and her telling me. This is a longer story, and involves me as well, because I was there to bear witness to it, but 3 months after the birth of her son, who was constantly crying and colicky, I came to visit for an entire month to help her. My BIL happened to have a sabbatical overseas starting then, so he got a head start and the plan was I would help her for that month and then she would take the baby to join him. During the time I was there, I ignored every pain in my body, every ounce of fatigue, to be the best "surrogate helpmate" I could be. I lifted the baby hundreds of times when I thought my arms would break off (I have a muscular disorder as part of my diagnosis), I stayed up after she had gone to bead reading about colic and looking for remedies, researching caffeine in breastmilk, because she insisted that she would not give it up if she were to function, so I argued with her over that based on the literature, I cooked dinners for her/us, I took the baby in the afternoon as long as she needed to nap, and she was not just tired during this time, she was practically out of her mind with sleep loss, anxiety, panic, and frustration. At one point, she said she felt like breaking everything, and I told her to go out to the shed outside and find rocks and throw them. She was gone an hour doing that. I pushed past all the cues my body was giving me that I was way overextending my abilities, but I was undaunted in my mission to be at the helm, to keep her standing, and to relieve her. Near the end of this stay, a male friend of hers was due to come for a few days and drive her to the airport for the trip oversees. And because he has a special touch with children and early childhood care, she couldn't stop talking about how she couldn't wait for him to come, to "have a male presence." I will add, though it's only a footnote, that while I didn't need a "thank you", one was not given. She was in quite a bad state where I needed to comfort her a lot during that month, but the problem escalated when she reached her destination in a country that was a culture shock, and she was alone all day with a continually crying baby. I was flown over, and when I got there, she had lost tremendous amounts of weight, looking like a stick figure, as she was already a thin woman. She gripped my arm and looked into my eyes in terror, saying she was losing it, that she couldn't sleep. She had developed a severe sleep disorder preventing her brain from shutting down. It was so bad she couldn't eat or do anything. I lay next to her in bed to be a comforting presence, I read her stories to distract her, hoping she would be put to sleep. She was like a child herself. But nothing worked and finally, we had to take a train as an emergency to a psychiatrist because none of the doctors we saw could help her, they were GP's. She was put on a medication, an anti-depressant with this diagnosis: Post-partum depression. And as her child grew into a toddler, and she was with him constantly, she was perpetually telling me about how the tedium, especially in the winter, was brutal, how her life was "nothing" and when I said, "You have a child! You have one, beautiful child, something I have always wanted as you know, and these years won't last forever -- " to which she said, "You have no idea what it's like to have to spend 24/7 with an infant who is utterly dependent upon you, and you can't do anything on your own, and you're stuck in a house all day!" She attributed her post-partum depression to all these events -- the infancy period, the breakdown that she said was her losing her sanity very literally, her dire medical need for medication, and the time she had to spend on this thing called motherhood. So she is not you, or me. Maybe in your case, 24/7 childcare and exhaustion didn't cause depression, and I don't believe that would have happened to me, either. I also would have rejoiced upon finding out I was pregnant, as anyone who has followed my posts over the years would know. She was not, in fact she was mortified with the reality of it, even though kids were in their plans (but she was in her late 30's). So clearly, post-partum depression could be caused by what happened there, because it DID, and it has nothing to do with my assumptions and judgments. The pill bottle still on her night-stand and the medical notes tell the whole story. What's cringeworthy to me is that she wanted a child in a conceptual way, but wasn't fully prepared for what it would involve, and though she is as devoted as a mother can be, the misery she's had where I would have found gratitude and joy, is huge. I can't over-emphasize how close I am to this situation to know of what I speak.
  6. So, just to finish on the thoughts in my Post #24, about how my sister is beholden to my BIL, since it's really his money. If my sister came to me and said, "You know, I really would want for us to be able to help out financially. But I know that hubby will deeply resent me for this. Even if he agreed, I think that deep down, he would feel taken advantage of, and he is not close to our mom, and honestly, she's just something on his radar that he feels he is obliged to contribute to. I feel deeply sorry about this and I don't agree, but in the end, I could ask him for this and it would eventually break us. As you know, sometimes I think my depression and anxiety get to him, and we have lost the spark. So I'm worried a demand on him like that, where his heart isn't in it, would be the last straw and I can't take that risk".... ...if she said that, I would say, "I understand. Say no more. Do what you have to do." And she would be totally off the hook -- that would have been her out, if sincerely said. I understand the power of the pursestrings. And I know that losing this marriage and everything she has is something she couldn't live through. But that's not what she's saying. She has blamed me and criticized me for my very modest expenditures for things that give me a semblance of normalcy, or pleasure, or anything not purely subsistence -- which are few and far in between, and things she could not fathom giving up herself. She has tried to present this as me having a "fear mindset" when in fact, destitution and slow, painful decline would make anyone fearful. She had defended him 100%, told me that I am unreasonable in my "expectations", and demanding, and so she has not presented this as a plight she is stuck in, but an initiative and choice she herself has firmly made. These are HER priorities every bit as much as his, and that's what is horrifying to me. She is as "removed" and "separate" from her family of origin as he is from us.
  7. And that is the part I am really struggling with at this moment. Because I am 50, and she is 48, and I have spent my whole life trying to protect and guide/console her in some viscerally instinctual big sisterly/mother-hen role. It's just how I am built. And I have pulled back because I feel so crushed and alienated, and this is her response: "I feel like I am being punished for setting my limits. You are passive aggressively taking your fear mentality out on me, for drawing my boundaries. I feel like I am losing my best friend, because you are too bitter to see that I have needs and a family I have to put first." And then she of course conveys this to her husband, who has even more reason to think I'm not worthy a character in his reckoning. I'm in a bind. I truly can't shut her out of my heart if I wanted to because I love her unconditionally, but when I have withdrawn (not just now, but in our conflicts in the past) to protect my heart and soul, she accuses me of "punishing" her and being passive aggressive, and that it's "my way or the highway." She talks to me in parental tones, saying things like, "You may not like my limits, but nonetheless, this is what I'm going to have to do" as if I am some bratty, entitled child having a tantrum. I can't escape looking like the bad guy unless I completely acquiesced to her position. I'm supposed to do it all: stay her best friend just like before, AND be okay with dying in slow motion (that is not an over-statement, because my health and sustainance depends on things I am imminently about to lose) because I don't have the resources to keep afloat. And "that's just the way it has to be". While listening to her vent about her needs in her life that aren't being met, such as not being paid exactly what she's worth, and so forth.
  8. I just wanted to pick out this one point for now, though -- that as I mentioned in my OP (I know, there was a lot there to wade through, so maybe this got lost in the shuffle), my BIL's own father and mother are millionaires. They buy a new car every few months. The father is in the most lucrative and prestigious job you could have in this country, and his wife has never had to work (when I say work, I mean, go to a job that pays -- I don't consider full-time mothering less work than a paying job, but you do get to be your own boss more.) And, not parenthetically, it is still harder to have to go to work for a paycheck, full or part-time AND parent -- especially if you're a single parent. Not so incidentally, my BIL would be perfectly happy for my sister to be a complete stay-at-home wife/mother, with no career, if she wanted that. Because that's how he was raised, with a 1950's styled household (and he doesn't lift a finger to cook unless she's out of town). So, my BIL's parents will age in the greatest of comforts. No financial black hole there. This would look a lot different to me if that were the case. They are in their golden years and it's truly golden. And, my BIL stands to get an equally golden inheritance, even split between 4 children. So in addition to my BIL's own financial security, he stands to get heaps more through inheritance. By the time it's all said and done, my sister will be a millionaire. My mother will be gone by then...but that is the track they are on. And this brings up another part of my anger, and it's big: I don't believe that my BIL would for ONE SECOND withhold financial support to his parents if he saw even the slightest quiver of a need. No, he would not put his own mother in what is basically an institution. He would see to it that she got the very best of care, and I'm sure that if his siblings fell on hard times, that would also be considered. So he is not treating his wife's family as he would treat his own, and that makes me feel sick to my stomach, especially when I am his son's favorite Aunt (sister has told me so), and I have invested myself deeply as her best friend, consultant, sounding board. Side note: as I live many thousands of miles away from her (and my mom), physically being present to care for my mom is not an option. It is many hours by plane from where I live, and hundreds of dollars just to visit family.
  9. Thank you, everyone, for your sympathies and empathy, taking time to consider and respond thoughtfully to my situation -- and a special, deep expression of gratitude for those who have been able to validate the pain and feelings of abandonment that I dealing with. I intend to respond to each post individually, with the points raised. I just have to take it in small bites, post by post, because I'm overwhelmed by this situation and current affairs around it happening as we speak. I want to elucidate some things, though, based on themes that several of you have brought up. One of the big issues being brought up, and rightly so, is that this money is not hers to offer. It is her husband's. And that that changes many things about what she feels she can and can't do. TRUE -- with some major "but's". A bit about their relationship -- and because I have served as her closest confidente, none of what I'm about to say is guesswork or assumptions: My brother-in-law (BIL) would give my sister anything she truly wanted. These are in her own words. And I have seen it in action. To give you a couple of examples, two-ish years ago I arrived there after a long plane flight late at night. It was my first time in their new house they bought. I was looking around saying how lovely it was, and then he pointed out in an obscure high corner of the kitchen near the ceiling a pipe that was showing. I never would have noticed it had he not pointed it out, and I'm pretty visually observant. He said my sister didn't like that pipe, that she said it grated on her nerves and wanted to have it replaced. He said he didn't think it was a big enough deal, and that it would cost several thousand dollars. But, he said, in a resigned tone, if she wanted it, he'd go along with it (he sounded reluctant, but not upset). Then there was the time she wanted them to buy a new mattress, and organic cotton mattress. A mattress costing in the 4 digits. When they got it, she started to feel that it was too hot and made her uncomfortable, and it seems a money-back policy was not in place, so they were considering a whole new one, even though my BIL would be okay sleeping on a busted spring-coiled bed. She told me he was "not happy about it," but if she truly wanted it, he would give it to her. They also have paid out thousands of dollars in vet bills for their cat to keep up its care, at times for expensive procedures (it was a stray they got from a shelter), and of course, that was both their decisions, because it's a beloved family member to them, and I of course understand why that would be important and fortunate to have the money to upkeep. But that is a luxury, to pay for feline surgeries that are a small fortune in themselves. My point is that they maintain a very high standard of living, and that is thanks all to my BIL -- but he counts my sister's wants and needs in a way that she has quite a bit of say. In fact, she is more or less the one who decides how their money is spent. And the truth is, if he had his druthers, he would spend it in such a frugal (the euphemistic word) way -- as saving and not spending almost seem an obsession with him -- their house and lives would look a lot different. He was supposed to pick me up at the airport and meet me at baggage claim, but instead he drove to the curbside and I was frantic about where he was (his phone was turned off) for a while, wondering where he was. Turns out he was trying to save the $2.00 parking fee. On a side note, it's worth noting that during this whole uproar, she's told me time and again that she respects and defers to my BIL's savvy with money/investment and how wisely he treats it, saying, "The reason well-off people are well-off is because they know how to save", and indignantly defended him to me, saying, "He's a GENEROUS man, ToV!" Yet funny enough, when I had that one Skype talk with both of them, he said to me, "My wife and son call me cheap. But I know I have to be that way, to keep things on track." OH, REALLY? Your son and wife get EVERYTHING THEY WANT, and still call you "cheap"? Hm. And all the while, your wife told ME that you are a generous, not-tight-fisted man with your money, and has defended your frugality? (I wonder how my sister felt that he blurted that out.) So the money is not just "there" as I see it, but my sister has a lot of power in that relationship to direct the money. Her choices and "asks" are central to their dynamic. Having said all that, I believe a couple of you have astutely assessed that despite the power she holds, she is still beholden to him. And they have a division of labor, which legitimizes her demands: while she is not the primary breadwinner, she performs the vital function of quasi stay-at-home mom (quasi because she has activities and paid work she does in her field that count as "work", even though what it brings in is negligible, and is more for her personal enrichment than income.) When she was a new mother, she was with her son almost 24/7 (which caused her post-partum depression and a nervous breakdown from which I don't believe she's fully recovered, but that's another whole issue.) So it is true that their marriage is an exchange: he holds up the roof and gives her what she wants and feels she needs (whether small or large), in exchange for her toiling as a mother to his son, who is his pride and joy and, as he told me, "The only thing I TRULY have a passion for -- being a dad." Their marriage itself pivots on this tacit agreement and modus operandi. It is not a passionate marriage, and I wouldn't even call them "happily married", as my sister is chronically unhappy over things money can't fix and my BIL is not an emotionally demonstrative man. But they have an "arrangement", and this is working for their son's sake, which is their common most important investment. Despite their lack of intimacy and passion, they never argue, my sister says, and I have never seen it myself. They may disagree at times and have a heated moment or two, but on all matters of consequence, they are a united front. The question, then, is -- even though the money isn't hers to spend, but their arrangement is that she is de facto the one to spend it and to make her own wishes paramount, why wouldn't she say, "As my mom starts to need more supervised caregiving at home, I want us to contribute something. Let's work out some amount we can contribute, since we can't be there to help out." It is a secret to no one that in so doing, they are sparing money so that I (and my older sister) can continue to enjoy the tiniest fraction of quality of life that she has in multiples, and that my medical expenses can continue to be paid, which my mom has contributed to. But even if I weren't even alive, that wouldn't change how I see this. Does anyone think that if you added up all the expenses she "needs" over time that he has allowed, that asking for help with her mother's caregiver bills would be so unreasonable? Even if I were totally independently wealthy, but certainly because I am in the fix I'm in? These are real questions, but to me it seems rhetorical. And I will conclude these thoughts in the next post.
  10. Thanks for weighing in, East4. I of course expected at least one person to express the views that you do, and that was part of the hopes of this thread. That I would get an idea of the split of opinions on this matter. (Even though I suspect this thread will not get enough hits/responses to collect a lot of data points.) There is a lot of stigma that comes with my situation, and the people who stigmatize it are the ones who respond exactly as you do. The shaming element is quite transparent. This could easily be seen by anyone with your orientation as an open-and-shut case of parasitism. I can see where you'd think what you do -- assessing it as envy, jealousy, and resentment would be the low-hanging fruit. I do know that you are quite wrong, about my feelings being driven by envy and resentment of her "successful" life. I specifically said in my OP that I have begrudged her none of her fortune, luck, and wealth, hoping to pre-empt the notions you've expressed along those lines. So either you take me at my word on that or you believe I'm lying to myself. "Looking inside for answers" is something that comes naturally to me, so I have no problem applying that and seeing this: that I am grateful for my sister's blessings, and happy for her that she managed to escape the circumstances that have befallen me. What would another downtrodden sister, and one whom I have emotionally supported all her life (yes, I have supported her in her pursuits!), and felt protective of as her big sister, have done to benefit me? NOTHING. The fact of the matter is that our relationship would have crumbled into alienation years ago, rotted from "envy and resentment", had that been inside me. That hasn't happened, because that's not how I feel. Her better socioeconomic status has been a facet in our lives for 30 years, and only now, I'm dealing with this breakdown. Furthermore, I don't perceive her life as a more worthy life, and I don't feel like a failure. It's taken a long time to beat back those voices, to find my own, to find value and integrity and ways I can be of service. I feel I'm living a life that has its own merits, and some of the things I have, she does not, ironically because I am not of means and so I've had to become creative. Certainly, I would not want to marry a man like her husband (for many reasons), even if he were rich. Bear in mind, too, that the majority of people I call friends and know well, are better off than I am financially and in many cases, are in extraordinarily high places. My life would fast become a sewer of inner poison if I had it in my heart to resent each one. I'm glad to say that is not a governing force within me -- even if and when I have a pang of wishfulness. It is one thing to grieve one's losses, looking around at what others have. It's another thing to feel that no one should have those good things if I don't, and to harbor ill will towards someone for having them. Those are 2 different mindsets, East4. And I do not harbor such ill will. I do not wish my sister had it as rough as I do, I do not wish her to have less than she has. I just wish all three of us children had had an equal opportunity to thrive in all ways, but we didn't. I'll tell you what I resent. What I resent is that she has all her life has depended on someone else to give her not only what she needs for bare survival, and in addition, all the things she thinks she NEEDS for the comforts and joys of life, yet she feels I have no right to hope for any such graces, given my circumstances. It feels hypocritical. And that certainly doesn't feel like friendship -- this is the clincher -- if the shoe were on the other foot, what would she want done for her, in the name of love and sisterhood? Love + passive means have bestowed upon her all that she clings to in her own life, but how dare I imagine anyone would count me that way? THAT is what feels wrong. And it's not like I haven't done other things for HER that she needed, non-materially, to reciprocate in this friendship! And this is not just about me. I am also asking what duty a grown child has to their ailing/aging parent, and in a marriage. Like I said, this is HER MOTHER, too. The mother who sang to her, read her stories, made her lunch every day for school, taught her what she is now teaching her own child. As far as "quid pro quo", I'm not sure what you're saying, except that it seems you feel I owe my mother money back for paying for medical care I couldn't afford. I'm not sure what your concept is of people who are on disability BECAUSE THEY CAN'T AFFORD what abled people CAN afford, but that isn't a situation where a quid pro quo applies. It's N/A.
  11. The short answer is yes, to having the estate in order. It's a living trust fund in her name, and soon will be converted to two separate "Special Needs Trusts" for her two children who have disabilities, which legally transfers the money out of her name. This helps her qualify for state-subsidized nursing homes down the roads, because she will have no money to live on. (This is what estate-planning lawyers advise, by the way.) However, even if I draw on that trust money, in order to keep it solvent, the amount I could withdraw would still have me well below the poverty line, so it's not like I'm suddenly flush with trust fund money, and these SNTs would have Trustees (executors) -- so, it's not considered "my money" under the law. Me and my sister are the beneficiaries, technically, but there is only so much that can be withdrawn without cutting into the principle. We'd still be dirt poor, especially in my case because of the cost of living where I am. All her income would still go to her, but she would no longer be able to help pay for medical bills for me, and other quality-of-life things she's contributed to. It would all go towards chorework providers, in-home health aides, and the like for herself now. And as I said, that would mean utter destitution for us. So that is what I'm saying, in my sister's place, I would not be okay with. If I was doing well enough, I would be asking my husband to put our heads together to figure out some amount we could do without, without it breaking the bank. You are right, Wisemen -- there is nothing I can do to change their minds or convince them. I am clear on that. It's more that I'm grappling with the meaning of that to me. She hasn't "severed ties", she just is not willing to help in materially significant ways. They said that "once in a while" for unusual expenses, they could chip in, but nothing regularly. This illness is a pretty regular drain in expenses, though.
  12. Thank you, S. I'm sorry to hear you are dealing with this, too, but in a kind of "ripple effect" way. I wonder why your father-in-law does not want your husband's help? Would you wish to help him/them? How do you feel about them not wanting your help? Having enough money to take care of themselves easily without their daughter's help but preying on her is unconscienable. It seems that from the counselors, hotlines, and and helping professionals I've talked to, as well as caregiver support group leaders, there is usually an imbalance of who bears this burden with parents. And I think the question arises here..."enough money". What is "enough"? When does someone have "enough money" to pay for what they need? And what is "need"? These questions have arisen from this. It seems kind of arbitrary. My brother-in-law and sister say they don't have "enough" money to help. How much WOULD be "enough" in their mind, or is there any amount that would be "enough" in their minds, short of being multi-millionaires? And in your case, do your parents believe they DON'T have enough, even though you do think so? Are there any objective answers here we can point to, hard numbers? Sticky questions. I have based my assessments on what I see others doing (and I saw a lot, volunteering with hospice) and what I see as the cost of living, and the kind of life someone is able to afford, and what I see with them is a lot of luxuries that anyone should be able to enjoy if they have the money, but would not be considered "necessities" if one wanted to put that instead towards a sick close relative. Which is a choice and a set of priorities, not a survival issue. As I was researching this topic online (what family does in situations like this), so I could get a sense of what reasonably happens "out there", I saw article after article talking about how the Millennial generation is now hard-hit by such situations, and many are leaving work situations to geographically relocate to stay with an ailing parent, and often it falls to one person living closer, but that it's a common issue now that children give up work positions to do this for their parents, to take care of them and they get cuts in pay, retirement savings, and make huge sacrifices like that, especially if they are only children. I'm really very touched by these stories, because that's a LOT to give up and seems too much. As a parent, I wouldn't want my child to jeopardize their life savings to that extent, but it happens.
  13. Oh, just to be clear, where I said this: "She told me, 'This isn't my problem, it's yours. It's Mom's. I have nothing to gain by putting my time, money and energy into this.'" -- I should add, she HAS put a lot of time and energy into some of the planning process with financial and legal matters. But she is a transitional party in those activities, soon to be liberated from them. And what she said more specifically is that, while she cares and wants to help, "I get nothing out of this except that I care for my family." As if it's all a big favor, and an act of great altruism. If I could only find a way to wave away the stain of feeling the need to ask. This is a consummate slap in the face to the pride and dignity I sought, coming into my own, when I planned to leave the family and proclaim my independence. Even all dastardly money matters aside, I would never let her believe that the care I bestow is a gratuity.
  14. Dear, long-lost ENA'ers! (Or am I the one long-lost?) It's been many, many ages since I posted a question on this forum, and I have missed this community greatly over the last few months (and years), as I've had to leap-frog from personal trial to personal trial. Knowing you are here to return to is a blessing. This is truly one of the best url's on the internet. I'm going to try to sum up a very complex situation, but there is some backstory. Yes, THIS IS A LONG POST -- MY APOLOGIES! I hope some will read it. My mother, now 81, has been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I have cared for, as a respire caregiver, and seen up close and personal, a number of Alzheimer's patients. I know the statistics, that it is THE most expensive and exhausting (to everyone in a family) degenerative disease to die of. I know the stages and how it manifests at those stages. But no amount of knowing prepares you for your own parent facing this prognosis of slow self-dissolution. My grieving has only begun because of the whirlwind of legal and financial tasks that are now upon me, including assuming time-consuming roles (such as Power of Attorney). The learning curve has been steep. So far, nothing terribly original, but here's where it gets unusual: I worked and studied ferociously hard in my 20's to get ahead, had a shining academic and professional future -- but was felled by a chronic, painful, complex illness that has no cure. I've been on disability and receiving federal and state benefits ever since. Not many years after that, my older sister encountered the same situation, and likewise had to file for disability. Since these turns of fate, we have both been living many times below the poverty line and trying to make something of our lives despite the fact that trying to get out of this system would mean jeopardizing the very key medical benefits that we rely upon. The broken system is just one outrageous indignity of many, but it's worth mentioning, since it points up the fact that ambition, enterprising spirit, and willpower have never stood in the way of my progress towards a more secure material life; the culprit is the way the bureaucracy is structured. The tiny sum is not enough for any human being to live on, and to top it off, I live in the most costly state in the country. In addition, I have a lot of out-of-pocket medical expenses which have only been covered because my mother paid for them out of her very modest, fixed retirement income. I would probably have perished long ago had she not been able to help in this way. There were a number of triggers for the illness in both our cases, and genes may have pre-loaded the gun, but safe to say, I believe the start of it was extreme PTSD in childhood, as the result of parental abuse, specifically by my father. Emotional, physical, verbal, psychological (and perhaps even sexual, that's debatable) abuse. And not garden variety abuse, either. Possibly the best way of describing it was like living in a cult, under a totalitarian cult leader -- my dad. My younger sister (the baby) managed to break free of the dysfunction fairly unscathed for the most part, at least at the face of it. We all agree that my older sister and I bore the brunt of it all (I, being the most hard-hit). So, in her 20's, my younger sister went on the way is normally expected: she got through graduate school, met her life mate, they moved to where he could get a good job, and married. Some years after that, in her 30's, she had an only child, a son who is now almost 12 years old. Now well-established in the STEM field, at the very top of his game in an academic elite position, my brother-in-law is earning well into the 6 figures. My sister's degree was in an artistic performance field, so the tiny bit of income she brings to the family is entirely eclipsed by his contribution. In fact, she owes her entire career to him, since without his resources, she never could have risen to the point she's at now, where she commands respect and admiration in her field, even though if she had to rely on it to live, her need for a "day job" would preclude her having the career she has in the first place. She has literally not had to work a day in her life, thanks to him (and my dad, who paid off all her college debt). Needless to say, they have every comfort of the typical white, suburban family, living in one of the wealthiest districts in their state, and providing everything for their child any privileged kid could need or want, and then some. I have not begrudged her any of these things, and in fact we have been best, dear friends all of our lives. Until now. And it feels like we are coming undone. Because now, we are encountering the question of how my mom will be supported as she declines and we are fast becoming "that family" -- "that family" that is broken apart by How to Take Care of Mom or Dad in Their Later Years. My mom's income wouldn't be enough on its own to pay for long-term facility care, by several thousand dollars a month. She does have some assets that are worth something, but not enough to lift anyone out of poverty. And these, she intends to divest herself of, leaving them to my older sister and me in a special type of trust fund. When she does that, she will be poor enough to be eligible for a state-subsidized long-term care home. And these homes are "you get what you pay for": lonely, malnourishing, fetid pre-death warehouses where people are often neglected by underpaid staff. So this is the picture: two adult children, among the "have-nots", through no fault of their own, dealing with a lifetime of recovery; their mother, who is going down with the most expensive disease that exists. And one child who is set for life with a husband who has money saved up to last his son's lifetime, his own lifetime, their retirement, and they will probably even have a lot more than that after his inheritance from a father whose profession is the most lucrative in the country. And this sister said that they do not have the money to regularly contribute anything to the mother's care (which is to say, to defray costs for all of us). This sister and brother-in-law have drawn a line in the sand, saying that "the money just isn't there". In a frank and demoralizing conversation with them, he told me he just doesn't have the money because it's all going to things they need, there's none to spare or left over for what will be increasing care needs of my mother, to keep her out of a home for as long as possible. It probably wouldn't feel as wrenching if she weren't in total agreement with him. She has told me all our lives that she's my friend no matter what, and that she would be there for me. We swore an oath when we were very young, and it was renewed often, that we would always be there if the other needed it. Well I am going to be destitute, and our MOTHER is, too. But as this situation has evolved, she's said to me, "I'm not here to save you. I have a family that comes first. I'm sorry that you have had the troubles that you have, and I'll help in any other way I can, but I'm not responsible for this family's past, or troubles." She even said her therapist backed her up, supporting these choices as "healthy boundaries." She told me, "This isn't my problem, it's yours. It's Mom's. I have nothing to gain by putting my time, money and energy into this." She even said that she feels she is being "punished" for things that she did not have anything to do with, by being "put in this position". I have long felt deep down, despite our lifelong bond, she has a strong need to flee our past, to keep running from it. And although I've been a loyal big sister all her life, "providing" for her in uncountable non-material ways, she sees my need as a reminder of what she is fleeing, and a threat to her own comfort and security. I can't imagine telling her that her problems aren't mine. This is not my vision of "family". These aren't my values. This is not a person I recognize as my kin anymore. It's amazing how this thing we call money can change priorities. I have never believed that money is a measure of love. What a crass idea. And yet. Sometimes, it's the thing that is most needed. You know, I am not privy to their income...and so how am I to judge? On the other hand, if a family with their status "can't afford" to pay for a mother-in-law's illness, WHO CAN? And what person tells their spouse that her mother should fend for herself, along with her disabled sisters? I have seen folks FAR below their means find ways. She keeps saying that helping us would jeopardize their own lives and her sanity, and I just don't see that in the reality I know and understand. What happened to us being there for eachother? What happened to coming together during adversity? What about the aunt that I have been to their child, through some harrowing experiences, and as a person for this child to turn to in the future? What about loyalty to "blood"? Even just to "duty"? I know she has never been close to our mother, and I have had much to forgive my mother for. But she is my MOTHER. OUR mother. I have never believed that I am entitled to something that isn't mine, but on the other hand, I would give the very shirt off my back for her or hers. Enough for now -- it's already a crazy long post. I want to know what people believe, as their "responsibility" to family goes -- not just your own immediate family, and not just to the ones you adore, but the in-laws you married into, and extended family. I feel betrayed.
  15. Why does this keep happening? I don't go around in the world with this mindset guiding me, like a background, white noise unconscious self-fulfilling mantra. But there it is, anyway. Everyone leaves. Everyone leaves eventually.
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