Every time I’m back East, I end up spending a ton of time reflecting and overthinking. John and I often split up to spend time with our respective families, so with all that alone travel, I just climb around inside my own head.
The latest realization I had occurred on Christmas Day. In the morning, the subject of my brother came up. He had emailed my parents with some investment advice. Since he teaches college students, he reads a lot of newspapers to tie current events into his lessons. He seems to have a better grasp of world news these days, but the thing is, he is also very susceptible to cult thinking. I don’t want to go into all of it now, but in the past he had me attend some “investment club” program. John and I attended the seminar and to us, it reeked of pyramid scheme scam. Full-on propaganda about “deserving the good life” with lots of images of ridiculous wealth. Long story short, his latest email encouraged my father to consider some kind of investment in silver. Dad was not interested and drafted a whole lengthy explanation that I then was asked to edit and type. I started getting so angry about it: of course, this came on the heels of multiple annoying emails I received from J in the past several months, urging me to join his Buddhist cult and meet with his “master” who would solve all my woes. Really? How’s he gonna solve my problem of YOU?? Anyway, my mom said something about how her relationship with my brother is like my relationship with Remy. Uh, no. So I shot back that Remy is nothing like J. Nothing. I could feel my blood boiling, because immediately I thought of all his bullshit and selfish actions and the decades of pain. Who does he think he is? He’s the biggest money pit, and he has investment suggestions??? Um maybe if my parents stopped supporting his sorry ass, they would save more money than what they’d supposedly earn on his recommended investment. Anyway, just as my mind raced off ready to shoot off a cascade of arguments, my dad said “Don’t say mean things to your mother. Your words are hurtful.” So I paused. What the hell? I was only saying the truth. Why should that be censored? Plus, why is it ok for her to make her statements, but I’m supposed to stay silent when I disagree? Bullshit. I didn’t see anything wrong with how I was about to respond and what I was about to say… But I stopped.
You see, the day before, my parents had bickered in the car about their financial success and where credit was due. My mother said she was tired of everyone crediting my dad for everything, and all that she was credited with was her failure in parenting. That car ride I had a separate realization about a woman’s worth, but I’ll discuss that later. For whatever reason, I just kept quiet as they argued back and forth. The thing is, I do think my mother (and father) failed in how she parents my brother. I do think she lacks independence, resourcefulness, and gumption. I do think she’s not as ambitious… to me, these are facts. So why can this not be stated? Are we now in that era where no kids are losers and everyone’s a winner? Where no one has “failed” a class and everyone is passing with flying colors? Come on.
Whatever. Later that night, we went to John’s sister’s house. My mom-in-law received a box of chocolates and proceeded to keep asking people if they wanted some. Had my parents nagged at all about something similar, I would have told them to stop in a very angry and impatient manner. Like Jesus, stop nagging. You asked once, and everyone said no. Leave it alone. But John’s brother just said, “Mom, everyone is very full now from dinner. Maybe when we are ready for dessert, you can set the chocolates out with the cakes and pies.” Done. And handled with so much more grace and tact. When we got home that night, I felt so sad for my parents. To have to deal with a daughter who gets so frustrated and impatient and angry with them so often. Why do I unleash such attitude with them? I felt so ashamed and disappointed. I am a mean person. What is wrong with me? So you see? I have these internal conflicts where sometimes I stand by my behavior and my thoughts. Other times, I see how they are so very flawed.
Yes, I blame my parents for my brother’s behavior. He is to blame also, but they exacerbate what he gets away with. Maybe the focus shouldn’t even be on who’s to blame. I guess, I just like to know WHY things are the way they are. The bottom line is that I disagree with the way they parent. But it’s their choice, so why do I need to yell or criticize? I don’t know. It’s a compulsion. It’s like watching someone doing something super self destructive. How do you calmly stand by and let them continue?? And the words I have for my brother… I am just waiting for him to talk to me in person, and then I seriously have an entire arsenal of acid.
I dunno. I feel like I have been coining arguments and crafting debates my entire life. It’s part of my overthinking mind. Stuff has to make sense and has to be consistent. Why is it mean or wrong to point these observations out, especially when someone is manipulating my parents? And yet I think of John’s brother. He kept his cool, made a statement, and got the job done without belittling. Sure, different situations, different intensities, but maybe I should work on this softer style for my parents. Maybe.
As for my brother. I don’t trust him. I may never let my guard down there.