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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Alone in the storm or Oh brother where art thou?

The wind is getting a little stronger. I keep hearing the TV meteorologists, the governors and mayors, trying to scare me, maybe telling the truth, but it is easier to work at thinking it will be nothing like they are saying. The hurricane and tropical storm, winds and rains they are predicting for my area, will be nothing like their screeches - get inside, tape your windows, find a safe place - but instead just a whisper.

I went through almost all my surgeries alone, being taken down to the OR by orderlies, no one there to take my hand or touch my shoulder and say "It will be allright. I'm here for you now. I will be here when you wake up."

I am feeling the same bereftness now.

The people who are supposed to be my family, the sister and brother with whom I was raised, live 20 and 35 minutes away, respectively. Except for my brother sending me a manila envelope filled with pictures of me as a child, some of my report cards and some other things (I have no idea where they came from or why he had them), no note, just essentially an F--- you, you are not my sister" I have heard nothing from him, or my sister.

I have written before about some of the things they have done to me, yet have made me the bad guy, their children believing them. Except for one brave soul there is no family for me, and he lives a number of states away.

I was reading a novel and came to these lines: "You don't need to protect me anymore Neil." "Yes I do. I'm always your older brother. I want to be there for you." Everytime I read lines like these, 'I am your sister, I am your brother' it is a knife to the heart.

It is times like tonight, especially, when they keep talking about having a safe place to go, let your family know where you are, let them know you are safe, if you have no one go to a shelter, that the sharpness of the betrayal of family, that the turning away, for no reason, of the people that the world tells you to go to when there is trouble (and I know way too many people are in my boat, the 'family' nowhere near what the storybooks say) when it is the most acute.

For much of my days they are not there in my thoughts, they have disappeared, as they have in real life. It would be nice, I sometimes think, if I could call the sister, who once told me, "when I am just with you alone it is enjoyable" but somehow others (one sister) seemed to have made sure she turned away.

The brother and I have much in common. He is creative, an artist (or was at least). His hurting of me has been the worst because he has done it to me publicly.

He invited me, I do not know why, to his son's bar mitzvah. He called me while I was in the hospital. The date would be only a few days after I had major surgery. I told him that I was not sure I could come because of that. I was told that if I did not come it just showed what kind of person I was because he was extending himself to me and I was refusing. What could I do?

I took a train from Pennsylvania to Florida where they were living. He and his wife picked me up from the train station and took me to their home where my other 2 sisters were, having also come down (from Pennsylvania) for the celebration.

Not one person asked "Are you okay?" How are you feeling?" or even "How did the operation go?" I spent the visit pretending I felt well.

The surgery was not at the base of my pain though. It was when I was at the synagogue and the little pamphlets were being given out that told about the Bar Mitzvah boy and the service.

On the front was a thank you "to all our family" on my brother's side. Everyone's name was there. But mine. The hurt was physical. My nephew did call me up, with the rest of the family, to help cut the cake. That helped salve it some. I was not completely publicly cut out.

When my father was dying he hired people that were nurse's aides and not well trained. I saw some of them, one in particular, treat him cruelly. My 2 sisters who were often at the house protected them when I pointed out something horribly mean - like the time one aide sat there as my father, who had ALS and could move only one finger, kept asking for mushroom soup. He asked, then fell asleep for 2 or 3 minutes. Then he would wake "I want some mushroom soup" and fall asleep. The aide just sat there. My father kept repeating this request, maybe 5 times. I realized she was not going to bother so I said I would get it.

I walked into the kitchen. To my surprise there was mushroom soup sitting in a pot on the stove. It made no sense that she would not have said, "It's heating up, I'll go get it for you." The man wanted his soup. She had made it. What kind of game was she playing?

I brought the bowl into the room. "Give that to me, I will feed it to him." she demanded. Then she sat the bowl down on her lap, not feeding him.

Finally she said, "I need (something, I no longer recall what) from the other room. Go get it for me?" she said to me. As soon as I left the room I glanced back towards where he was sitting. Now that I was gone she was feeding him the soup. She would not do it while I was in the room. I had no idea why.

I told my sisters. "Then do not stay in the room." they replied. They did not care that she was doing something hurtful to him. More important that I be hurt and left out.

My brother came up from Florida for a visit. We were standing in my mother's room. I told him what had happened; that the aides were being downright awful to him and that I was also being treated horribly by my sisters. I started crying. I reached out to him. He let me 'hug' him for maybe 2 seconds then pushed me away. "Let them do what they want and you stay away."

His disdain(?) dislike(?) hatred(?) for me trumped his concern for our father and his getting the care he needed.

The third time was the strangest still (at least until the envelope with the pictures).

He had invited me to his daughter's wedding. She barely knew me, he had not talked to me in ages.

Nevertheless I knew I had to go if only so people could not say "See, I told you. What a bitch, she did not even come to her own neice's wedding."

He told me I could only come alone, there was no room at the reception for me to bring someone else. It would cost too much for more another table place for my friend who was driving me, even if she paid for her own meal.

The wedding was over and we were in the reception hall. He came over to me. "There is someone you have to meet." he said, almost pulling me along with him.

He called over to a woman I had never seen before. She walked over, smiling at David, and looking at me.

"Do you know who this is?" he asked me, his face and voice announcing his enjoyment.

"I am sorry but I don't."

The woman looked at him curiously. She shook her head. She did not know who I was. I was embarrassed. I assumed it was someone I should know.

He continued to look at me, almost gleefully. "Are you sure you don't know who this is?"

I was completely stumped.

"I'm sorry. I don't know you, I'm afraid."

"This is my half sister ( )." I was dumbfounded. None of the 3 of my siblings (half siblings) had ever had a relationship with their father or his family. What was she doing here?

It turned out she was the sister they found to take my place. Don't like your sister, for unknown reasons, (or at least ones you never told her) just go out and find another.

He had no room at the table for me to bring someone - I was totally alone - but there was ( ) the half sister, her husband, and her mother, seated at the same table where I had been told to sit and where there was no room. Surprisingly there was plenty of room for them.

Do you ever get over the pain? Do you ever get over the aloneness of having no one?

Is there ever shelter from the storm?

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