Saturday, January 30, 2010

A promised cleaning takes place! Family patterns conducive to quarreling

I surprised Doc by cleaning up his kitchen. I had not done that for months, but he inspired me by starting with his stove. He did such a good job I decided I could do the rest. It needed to be cleaned for pest control on Monday. I had not felt good enough to do any cleaning for him for months. Jack was a major enough character around this complex that his meltdown which started nearly a year ago was very affecting for a lot of people. It is amazing how important the stability of others can be in you maintaining yours. We can never underestimate how important the effort to control substance abuse is. I have tried to understand what undermined Jack's considerable efforts to remain sober. But have failed to pinpoint many significant causes so will just move on. We don't always know all the reasons why a person's strength fails, because we have not known them for a life time.

My recent conflict with my sister was more serious than I have indicated. I do not anticipate this relationship being fixed in my lifetime because the battles were such a big part of our relationship from the beginning. We always quarreled. Most of the time parents will see a pattern developing and will work with the children to try to get them beyond such conflicts, but my parents' marriage was so troubled and my mother was so bitterly unhappy she would lash out even at her own children in her frustration. She and I my father quarreled far more than my sister and I did. We enjoyed each other and had fun, and I rarely saw my parents talk pleasantly to one another.
Since I thought Mother had justification for being so unhappy I was able to forgive her for the most part, but our relationship was not fixed either in our life time. She had spanked me unmercifully up until I was about 5 years old and managed to grow up enough to do what would make her leave me alone. But my relationship with my sister just younger had been set in a quarreling pattern that would never change. She became another instrument of punishment that I don't think my mother realized she was fostering.
None of us ever dared disagree with our mother in any way, but since I was always set to look after my younger sister, I was like the surrogate mother she could fight with, who would not punish her with a hard spanking for sassing her. I grew up feeling half mother to all my younger sisters, as I was very alarmed at how much Mother contrived to be away from home paying no attention to her children. I feared they would get in serious trouble.
Mother was finally able to divorce my father which to my mind he had deserved for a long time, but when she did we hardly saw her for twenty years. She went to Hawaii and stayed so far out of reach we could not visit her or call her either. I would write her long letters describing family problems and when she wrote back, it was as though she had never even received those letters! She simply did not answer them. She never commented on anything I wrote to her. It was quite amazing. It was as though she had made up her mind never to deal with her family stateside again and she didn't. Her hated husband's children.
Of course it did not help for her to have divorced him, settling for little of property and assets, and then have him die only two years later! She was so bitter she used to tell people for years that I had caused her to sign away a million dollars, all her rights to the money. This story was not true. At one time before their divorce he wanted to set up a trust of $20,000 for each daughter they would received outright on his death. He also agreed to give her $20,000 in the trust, too. He reasoned that it might be possible for her to spend all the money, so at least we would get that. I had always thought my dad would die long before my mother and she often talked about what she would do with the property and assets when he was gone. So I urged her to sign this paper because my father had gone insane with anger because she wouldn't. I came into the fight with her hitting him with a broom and him picking up a chair. I remember saying, act like a mother instead of instigating a fight like this, a fight that had kept me awake so many days I collapsed at work and lost my job. They lived right next door. Once in the middle of the night I screamed at them from my bedroom and pounded on the wall for them to shut their mouths. So she grabbed the paper and signed which now became a million dollars she had signed away, a story she maintained was true for many years. I thought she was a trifle insane for exaggerating the facts so much to better incriminate her own daughter, which I am sure you will excuse me for thinking.
They were married 35 years so we daughters did not give much thought to inheritance since my mother often stated she would not divorce without at least a $200,000 settlement.
But she fell in love, and to my dad's surprise and ours she suddenly decided to divorce, and seemed to think she might lose her chance to marry this man, so they both apparently agreed she would take a small settlement. And they married a week after the divorce was granted!
Things just before the divorce got extremely critical with my dad. Mother thought he was plotting to kill her so the guns had been taken out of the house. There had been such scenes of violence between them that we thought only separation might insure her safety. He had held the rifle on her now removed for 30 minutes once threatening her death.
We did not think of her as necessarily losing her settlement by leaving. She was going to need to leave and stay away if she was to get through a divorce. She might even need to hide out if she went for a $200,000 settlement. How could she get a divorce while still living with him?
I thought neither one of them ever acted too sane. So it is no wonder that the aftermath of such a troubled marriage was troubled relationships among the sisters. Just from not having the best examples before us of how to get along.
So it has always been a struggle for sisters to rise above the quarreling pattern of our parents and resolve not to quarrel and to talk to each other more gently. That would be an ideal, but not always possible to realize. I thought my sisters who were around my parents' quarrels more took the fights into their very blood stream. I left home at 13. I would escape into books. I would do everything possible to escape listening to their endless quarrels.
I thought we did the best we could. We will probably be struggling to leave behind our parents' behavior patterns until we die. For the most part I think the sisters have done well in getting along with each other. Perfection is not going to happen. We do have flawed relationships, and they will continue to give us trouble and pain, at times, as long as we live, I am sure.


salemslot9 said...

you can't blame yourself
for your parents, Gerry
especially, since she married again soon after
my parents divorced
I was too
young to remember
them being married

Connie said...

True- we all live with the haunts of the past.
They trail us wherever we go-- no matter how hard we try to shake them..

Anonymous said...

I wrote after our conversation, but it didn't post which may have been just as well. I addresssed sisters, asking how they felt about our relationship as sisters, I don't exactly know what you were talking about other than you have written enough to have your friends getting involved and probably trying to understand what is so serious in this sisterly relationship. I expect little from you, Gerry, and you seem to resent that you can't expect more from me. I think we all should be talking about what we need and want from each other. I feel a sense of freedom in that I think its time for us to accept however each of us see and understand our lives, our responsibility to each other, our families, etc.
I was totally exhausted after our conversation. I dragged myself off to the ball game and lightened up. I do not go into analysis about my thinking, if I did I would probably cause more anger and fighting, you can vent on and on and think nothing of it. I am willing to back off from your point of view of parents, early events, on and on, and will start to put my own history together, in fact for some reason I have been blocked in doing that, but if we can declare a truce, live and let live, life can be more pleasurable. If Ann and Linda have any thoughts about sister relationships jump in , volumnes have been written, I have tons of written material, we are wasting our time and energy if we are going to fight instead of get our stories told. I will see if this prints,


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