Stayed Home Today

I did not go anywhere today. And it was absolutely wonderful.

I’ve been going to my parents’ house on Sundays and having dinner and playing games. But it was emotionally exhausting me, dealing with my dad’s over-powering and obnoxious personality. Sunday was a day of work–without the pay. So not worth it.

Actions have consequences. I have been draining myself every weekend for months. I’m paying the price. Part of my unwillingness to continue is that I need to work for a living and emotional exhaustion has led me in the past to getting sick and taking a long time to recover. I literally cannot afford that.

I have a friend that thinks I am being harsh with my father. Oh well. She suggested that maybe I go to their place every other month to play cards or whatever. The problem is that I don’t know what I want. I’ve been so toasted that all I wanted to do today was nap.

Actions have consequences. I’m not saying that I will never go back, just that I cannot imagine having the desire to do so at this point. This is a consequence of Dad’s behavior. Am I hopeful he will change his ways? Not even slightly. Learning seldom occurs in my family. The hope is not there.

Actions have consequences. I am willing to provide a chunk of my liver to Bob if I am a match and he lives long enough to even get it. I am always willing to support healthy change. He has stopped drinking. But the only reason this is a remote possibility is that I haven’t done the bad things to my body like they all have. I am not suffering the consequences of decades of liver abuse. That is why I have something to offer.

The lesson I have been learning over and over is that the only way I have anything to offer is to take really good care of myself. I did not learn the lesson with Barry. Being a wife is different than being a friend or daughter. It is something you sign up for. The boundaries are pretty close to non-existent. Till death do us part. And boundaries are anathema to my family. I have had to learn them as an adult and they are a definite weak spot for me. I usually do not know what my limits are–until they are crossed.

I just try to do no harm. I’m not saying that I am great at that, but I am learning that the principle starts with myself.

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GettingMy Needs Met

I am emotionally exhausted.I feel like everyone is dying. I know that that perception comes from Barry’s death combined with my brothers’ health going downhill all in the past couple years.

But when I hear people talking about other humans like they just don’t matter, a whole different part of me freaks out. This feels apocalyptic. There is a tropical storm entering Louisiana right now. Name? Barry. The power went off tonight for about 40k New Yorkers tonight. The lights are going out in this country, literally.

I told my mom today that I wouldn’t be coming over anymore and playing cards. I told her that I felt Dad simply lacked compassion and empathy and that when he started defending the Japanese interment camps, my immediate emotional conclusion was, “OMG. Dad has no soul.” I told her that it was just too exhausting to go over there and that it wasn’t enjoyable for me.

Do I feel guilty and ashamed? A little. But I also feel hugely relieved. I am prioritizing my needs. I would rather feel guilty and ashamed and get some emotional rest than to plod along feeling guilty and ashamed and get even further depleted.

I told Ma that she was the person I felt bad for, watching her sons die. It turns out Mike had a stroke, is paralyzed  on his left side, and is now on hospice. His oldest son doesn’t think he has long to live.

I simply cannot feel bad for my father. Narcissists always get their needs met. This is part of how they operate. They push past everyone else’s limits and then when someone has the audacity to set a boundary, they cry foul and say you are hurting their feelings. He can push, push, push,and I am supposed to just suck it up and take it. NOT. I am unwilling to push back. I am just done.

Am I done forever? I don’t know. All I know now is that I am emotionally exhausted and my tolerance for push, push, pushing right now is zero.

Add Up Enough Groups…

I have been watching a disturbing trend. Some of them want to be seen as highly intelligent and are doing complicated mental gymnastics to justify maintaining or reverting back to a status quo that serves the few at the expense of the many. They are asking leading questions that go only to answers that ensure that “undesirables” have no enforceable civil rights.

Here’s the problem: If you add up enough groups, you can end up with a total of close to 100%. People that are scared of everyone not exactly like themselves create problems for themselves and everyone around them.

Let me give an example. I know this lady that went to the Greek Orthodox church with me. One day she told me that she did liked neither the Greeks nor the Work of Christ people. The Work of Christ is a non-denominational community that is self-supporting. These people go to each other’s weddings, open houses, etc. Almost every single non-Greek in the church is a Work of Christ person. I looked her in the eye and said, “Uhhhhhh…. Let me get this straight. You don’t like the Greeks or the Work of Christ people. There really is no third category of people that attend. That pretty much includes everybody. So you’re basically telling me that you don’t like anyone at that church.”

When conservatives don’t like feminists, LGBT’s, Hispanics, Blacks, socialists, Muslims, and poor people, then they pretty much don’t like anyone. Almost everyone I know, outside my family of origin, belongs to at least one of those categories. And some people I know belong to multiple categories because these classifications are not mutually exclusive.

What’s scary to me are the intellectual lengths people will go to just to make sure other people never have rights and to make it sound reasonable. I have heard all the specious arguments. I have been asked the (mis-)leading questions. Questions are important because if you ask the wrong question, the answer is irrelevant. Conservatives are asking a lot of misleading questions, but some of us understand the goals behind the questions. We are not fooled.

Freaked Out

Last weekend, I saw my dad. He was his normal conservative, narcissistic self. Then, he started defending the Japanese interment camps during WW II. OMG. I can’t wrap my head around that. We did not inter Americans of Italian or German descent. At one point, German was actually the state language of Wisconsin. Are you going to arrest Wisconsin? Or all the Italians in New York? Bottom line: Italians and Germans are both white and Christian. This was pure racism. Period. Japanese are neither white nor Christian as a whole. Some are Shinto and others are Buddhist.

Back to current reality. I realized that my parents love me because I am theirs. I belong in their microscopic circle of concern. Everyone outside that circle is not their concern. At all.

It gave me the serious creeps. This feeling has been creeping up on me for a while, but it is nauseatingly in-my-face now. I feel like a Jew in Nazi Germany in 1933 or 1934. The winds of change are blowing and I feel something isn’t right.

I found the poem that came to mind: “First they came for the Jews” by Martin Niemoller.

“First they came for the Jews/and I did not speak out/because I was not a Jew

Then they came for the Communists/and I did not speak out/because i was not a Communist

Then they came for the trade unionists/and I did not speak out/because I was not a trade unionist

Then they came for me/and there was no one left/to speak out for me”

Conservatives are not bad people. I happen to love a few of them. But lacking basic human empathy and compassion is a problem. I don’t have to be supportive of the politics of people lacking basic humanity. The challenge is to not lower myself to their level. I still love them. I just don’t admire them. Or wish to be like them on any level.

My gut-level reaction is “eeeeeuuuwwwww.” It is well-founded. May I never lose compassion for my fellow humans and become like my parents. Ever.

Relating to Compassion-free People

I am not sure what I am going to do. I woke up this morning realizing that I don’t want to hang out with my dad, or anyone that seems to lack basic human compassion and empathy. I have always deeply believed that we become like the people that we hang around. It’s one of the big reasons I stopped being a christian. I did not want to become like them. Their theological and intellectual convolutions are simply a cover for their misogyny and white supremacy. It is oppression using King James-ian language. My yearning for silence, stillness, and spirituality was never fulfilled because church is all about power (who has it, who doesn’t, and who has the right to even so much as ask for it).

There is a big get-together today at Dave and Celeste’s. It is Xavier’s third birthday. Xavier is McKayla’s oldest son and Dave’s little buddy. They are so cute together, Grandpa and his Little Buddy. My parents are the only people I have anything in common with whatsoever and now I don’t really want to be around them. I have ordered presents (from Amazon, of course) so I will show up without a gift in-hand, but I hope he enjoys his surprises coming in the mail. Trucks. He is genuinely juvenile. He has the right to be.

It hurts so bad because I love my parents. But this is a character issue.

I have come to a point in my life where my life is not about what I want to do, but about whom I want to be. I don’t know yet. Maybe I never will. However, I won’t normalize that which is not normal or healthy, such as anti-human attitudes or drinking until one has cirrhosis.  Denial is protection from nothing. There is no them, only us, fellow humans trying to make a way in this world.

I am not trying to judge my family harshly. The consequences of their behavior have branded their choices as less than highly intelligent. Their unwillingness to learn and grow speaks more loudly than Cindy’s opinion ever could. I don’t need to say anything. Reality speaks volumes.

Missing the Point

Conservatives are missing the point. You can get all your facts right and still miss the bigger picture.

I was talking to a co-worker the other day. I mentioned something about diversity and he starts talking about how unfair affirmative action is. He doesn’t get it at all.  Racial diversity is a teeny part of the diversity picture. There is also sexual diversity (attraction and identity) and religious diversity. There may be even more types. The words that flashed before my eyes were “Aggrieved White Male.” He’s pissed and thinks Trump is likely to win again. Good luck with that. Even if his arguments are correct, he is missing the point of diversity: people have different perspectives for very valid reasons.You can argue with someone’s information, but there is no arguing with actual, real, lived personal experiences.

Then there is my dad. He believes Fox “News.” He has no respect for legitimate  news sources. Fine. Even if he gets a few facts correct (which I saw zero evidence of), he is still missing the point of the new reality. What is the new reality? Millenials outnumber Baby Boomers. Whites are becoming a non-majority very quickly. Parents and their children dying while crossing the Rio Grande spark well-deserved outrage. I saw no compassion in my dad. It scares me. Economic injustice matters, There are a gazillion  jobs, but none of them pay anything. Climate change matters. The weather is becoming more extreme every year. My dad is too busy defending the sexual-predator-in-chief. The big picture has escaped his notice.

It all reminds me of being a conservative, evangelical Christian. Back in the nineties, I decided to read some Francis Schaeffer. He was a very important intellectual Christian back in the 1950s and 1960s. I don’t recall what book of his I attempted to read, but I did not finish it because it was too painfully boring. It was obvious that he was bending over backwards and going to great lengths to answer questions I had never heard anyone ask. He was extremely articulate–and totally irrelevant. It was like listening to a family friend go on and on about a subject you never inquired about. You want to be polite, but you cannot make yourself care about some abstract topic that has no impact on your everyday life.

There is this Christian leader that I read the blog of sometimes, Albert Mohler. He is a Southern Baptist. He is very articulate and connects the dots better than any Christian I know. One of his recent blogs went on and on about the philosophical history of “intersectionality”. Intersectionality is the idea that we all belong to different groups that affect our perspectives. For example, I am Midwestern, educated, straight, female, widowed, working-class, white, Buddhist, ex-Christian, etc. My lived experience is going to differ radically from that of a black, Muslim, gay newlywed living on the east or west coast. Duh. Mohler was criticizing the historical roots of intersectionality. Missing the point. His critique of its historical roots is irrelevant from the perspectives of the various groups of people that are simply trying to understand and have some compassion for each other.

Conservatives can live in their bubble. I don’t have that option and neither do most of the people I know.

Compassion is what it’s about. If conservatives cannot comprehend that, they will be left behind very, very quickly. Like so much else in my life, this is really hard to watch. It hurts me to see my Christian friends and my conservative family getting swept aside by historical forces that are bigger than all of us. Denial doesn’t help. It never does.

Distorted Sense of Time

How can something seem abrupt and yet it feels like you are watching it in slow motion?

That is what I am dealing with in regards to my brothers’ health problems.

I think I have figured it out. It is about awareness (opposite of denial), subconscious expectations, and time frames. If everything had occurred to one brother within this two-year period of time, holy crap, that would be abrupt as hell. But these are the health issues of three brothers.

I looked at the problems and saw that they are all long-term issues: heart disease, cirrhosis, and COPD. Mike’s cancer may have been sudden-onset. No one knows. But Dave and Bob’s problems are simply inevitable, given their lifestyle choices. But nobody ever talks about anything. We are going to pretend that Dave is not an alcoholic and that he probably doesn’t have cirrhosis like Bob.

The problem with denial is that reality has a nasty way of intruding and destroying the denial is the ugliest way possible.

My over-sensitivity to all of this comes from Barry’s death last year. I was stunned at the “suddenness” of his death for one reason only: when I asked point-blank about when to call hospice, I had been told by the nurse practitioner that that could be months down the road.” I was misinformed. Period. My expectations were built on bad information. That was the only thing that made Barry’s death seem sudden. In absolutely every other way, Barry’s death was a ridiculously slow downward progression. The nurse practitioner even said, “You know, Mr. Hoag, that not many people with Huntington’s live as long as you.” His response was, “Yeah, I know.” I kept him going for years after he would have died without me. I think he heard that and some part of his spirit may have said, “Yikes! What am I doing? How long do I want to stick around?” His brain wasn’t working real well by that time, but I think his spirit was wide-awake. He was gone nine days later.

One thing I have learned about health problems is that, if you have just one, you can work around it and live for decades with it. However, when there are multiple systems involved (like respiratory and/or lymphatic and/or urinary and/or digestive, etc.) things can go downhill at warp speed. The drugs that help this problem make this other problem much worse. The medicines don’t combine well. And, oh yeah, just about no medications combine well with alcohol. The systems cannot prop each other up and the downhill spiral can be astonishingly quick.

It just never occurred to me that my brothers would all start to have serious health problems at about the same time. I honestly don’t know what I expected. Things got very real very fast. If we just never talk about something, it must not be real, I guess.

Are things happening quickly in my family? Only if you’re in denial.