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Monday, July 11, 2011

Don't send that letter!

They say if you have very strong feelings about something someone has done to you write a letter but do not send it. I wish I had kept that counsel.

I wrote a letter to my brother in law. Could you tell me why my sister Cynthia (pseudonym) treated me in the way she did?

When I was cast in my first show, CAROUSEL (lowest of the low professional-nonunion dinner theater) she promised me she would come. The show ran every weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, for 3 months. The second show, HELLO DOLLY, also ran for 3 months. She never came but repeatedly renewed her promise that she would.

Once I moved to NYC I never heard from her other than to be invited to her house for Christmas. I came but was not received warmly.

The pain had started and I was having all my surgeries, treatments, and procedures. Cynthia was offended by how I looked when I was bald from the first surgery. She insisted I put on my wig before she would come into the room where I was staying.

After the facial paralysis and sewing closed of my left eye she told me "If you take off your sunglasses (which I wore to cover the way I looked when I went outside) in front of my son you will never be able to see him again."

She used to work in a hospital. Often she would see people in terrible distress, broken bones, bleeding, etc. To be offended by the way I looked was offensive but there was nothing I could do. I did show her son how I looked because he was so curious, always talking to me looking only at the hidden left eye. He was fine, Cynthia was livid.

Each year I made a pinata for the kids. The worst year was the one she told me "Take the pinata in the room off the garage. Make sure you clean it all up after they open it. I don't want a mess." She did not come in to watch, willing to not see her kids have a good time if it meant she was able to hurt me.

Ironically the one other time she called (other than the Xmas invites) was to ask me to do a favor for her. She wanted me to talk to her grandmother (we were half siblings, this woman was no relation to me) with whom she had not spoken nor seen since she was a little girl (she was now in her 40's). She wanted me to show this woman pictures of the grandchildren. I am not sure why - either why she wanted her to see the pics or why I agreed to do it, but I did.

It did not go well. "You are the issue of the new husband." she said to me. I showed her the pictures. "I do not know these children and it is too late now." It was sad but I had done what Cynthia asked. I told her what the grandmother said. She did not thank me or call again.

Years passed and I was no longer even being invited for Christmas. I was essentially a non entity to her.

I cannot go into everything that happened related to my mother. Suffice it to say I was asked by the family trustee to find a placement for her. She was in rehab and had to be out in 3 days or the insurance would no longer pay. I found a very good facility for her. Instead of the 3 half siblings being grateful that they did not have to do it and glad that she was in a good setting they told others I did it so I could take her car and wanted her money.

My mother was starting to do better but needed to stay there. Nevertheless they removed her from the facility. I was not told but found out when I went to visit. "Your siblings took her out. The doctors told her it was against medical advice but they did it anyway. They told us not to call you." Sometime later, I believe it was months, she had a stroke. She was in the hospital and dying, but no one called me. The day after she was admitted her home health aide called to tell me.

I went to the hospital. She had a second stroke and was in coma. In one of those strange things that happen: one afternoon she opened her eyes and was awake and aware, even being able to sit in a chair.

The sisters were there. I came into the room and started to talk to her. They and my brother had done their job well. Instead of her being happy to see me she looked at me with abject hatred. They had succeeded in convincing her I was out to steal everything I could from her. I do not think I have ever been so hurt in my life.

At my mother's funeral people who used to know me and like me were outright nasty or ignored me completely. Friends of this one sister were the nastiest.

A few years later I received an email from my brother. "Cynthia has cancer and does not have a long time left."

I knew there would be no point in calling. Instead I went to her house and left the card and gift I had bought for her. I never received any acknowledgement, from anyone, about my having been there or what I left.

I was invited to the funeral. Strangely one person told me "Cynthia liked the gift you gave her." Why would she tell someone else but not let me know? Very odd.

Cynthia's treatment of me gnawed at me. The hurt and anger festered until I decided to sit down and write a letter. I thought let me address it to her husband because if I was to send it, which I won't, I will never get a reply.

John (pseudonym) and I had not talked in ages. He and I had never been close even when his wife and I still were. (I used to babysit the kids, be there for holidays, even stay over at her house at times.)

The letter included the question: can you give me some idea of why Cynthia treated me the way she did? From not coming to the theater to not being there for any of my surgeries?

I looked at it in my 'draft folder'. Day after day. And then one day I said "The heck with it. He will never answer me." and sent it to him through facebook. To my amazement he replied.

He wrote "It was an accumulation of her reactions to you." It was also related to the way I treated our parents, he added. Hmmmm. My father was there for 3 of the first 6 brain surgeries, my mother for only 2 of them. Cynthia was there for none of them.

When I started to have memories of abuse as a child I sent her an email asking about it. She replied, circumstantially verifying that I had been abused as a child. ("You were precious and then suddenly you became very hostile to the both of them.") The way I treated her, and them? How about the way they and she treated me? How about the lies she told about me to her friends and her children (Cynthia's one grown child was outright rude to me, and the other barely acknowledged me, despite the very close relationship we had when they were children.)

The anger remained and festered. Now I had an answer that hurt me even more, because it was not true and put it completely on me. You cannot refute this sort of thing. No one really wants to know the truth.

I think this post is supposed to a cathartic one. I am not sure it is but maybe a start (I hope) on letting the anger and hurt go.

I have written before that I like to have some kind of moral or something to make this blog, and the posts, more than just one of confessional pieces.

Here is the lesson: The folks who say "Don't send it." are right.

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