For nearly sixteen years I have managed to convince myself that it didn’t matter. That I was okay with having a blind eye turned to my “indiscretions” – that I understood, even, that I was a disappointment and she was not and it was probably better that they didn’t have to see all of that disappointment all the time. I managed to convince myself that it didn’t matter if they never visited me, if they never actually called me, if they never set foot in my house. At least then I didn’t have to hide all the liquor, or the paganism, or the evidence of the boy who’d slept over last week. I managed to convince myself that I was really better off on my own, that everything I’d been through, on my own, prepared me for now, for getting through every day. I managed to convince myself that I was okay with one or two self-instigated phone calls per week.
But then one day I woke up and I realized that I wasn’t. Oh, the reality of it was still there… the reality that whatever I’d done, whoever I became, I wasn’t what they’d hoped for. The reality that if given the choice they’d go visit my sister in a different town rather than come to mine; the reality that if I moved one thousand miles away they’d buy a second house to live closer to my sister before they’d ever even think of spending the time or the money to come visit me; the reality that high school cheerleading games taking precedence over drama club theatre performances would morph into church board meetings taking precedence over my runway shows; and the reality that visiting my sister’s dog’s puppies takes precedence over coming to my surprise birthday dinner that my boyfriend threw for me (the one time anyone has actually managed to surprise me – and it was a surprise because, well, no one comes to visit… ever… even when invited, begged, to come).
They say that sibling rivalry diminishes when you get older – I guess to some extent, it does. My sister is my best friend now… I don’t hate her. I don’t even hold any of this against her – she didn’t ask for it to be this way (though she does directly benefit from it). And maybe, to some degree, she needs them more than I do. It is true that she is not as strong as I am. She hasn’t gone through as much. And I understand that she is now a new mother for the second time. Her children are adorable – I love them to death, and the oldest one is more like me than I would have imagined she could be.
I get that she gave them what they wanted – conservative, religious, married, house, close to mom and dad, grandchildren… I think there was a time when I wanted those things too, but as I got older, life took me in a different direction. I always wanted more. But, then, I was the overachiever of the two of us… enough college time under my belt for two degrees (and sufficient to make me one of those overthinking, liberal-leaning folk who regularly questions the grand order of things), a scholar of metaphysics and spiritualism (instead of strict, by the book Christianity), a job that pays more than any of them ever made at the height of their careers, multiple promotions, a semi-decent skill at theatre and modeling, a creative spark to balance out the analytical requirements of my normal work. And let’s not forget that I’ve traveled quite a bit, moved halfway across the country on my own (though it left me saddled with a lot of debt I am now, stubbornly, determined to pay off). She gave them what they wanted, I think sometimes I scare the hell out of them. Not because I try to scare them, but because I’m me and I don’t know how to be anyone else.
Still though, sometimes you just want your mom. You want the assurance that if something bad happened they’d fly down to take care of you the way they are at your sister’s beck and call at the drop of a hat. (Yes I realize that a c-section is not the drop of a hat, but I was once told I might have a brain tumor and no one bothered to come down here… so there’s that.) At the very least, you want someone to reply to your text message instead of telling you they’re too busy with your sister’s side of the family to even bother to look at their phone when you send them a photo of the computer you bought with all of the gift money they’d given you over the last couple of years.
It hurts. It… it just hurts. And it surprises me that, after all this time, I’m hurt by it. I was pretty sure I was incapable of feeling hurt by it because it was just the way things were. The standard. The… it was just what I had come to expect because there hasn’t been anything else since 2002. Think about that. 2002. It’s 2018 now. They’ve seen the inside of one of my dwellings only a couple of times after I’d gotten married and they came to Thanksgiving dinner.
Don’t get me wrong… it’s not really like this all the time. I mean they don’t visit. Ever. They don’t really call on their own. Ever. But they do send me orange soda when I need it (the Kroger brand, there are no Krogers in Florida). They do still send me cards for my birthday and they’ll call then. And I do appreciate all of that… I really do. It’s just that sometimes (especially when I am up to my eyeballs in debt) I don’t want to the be the one spending $600 on plane tickets and a rental car because it’s the only way, and the only time, I will see my family – they won’t pay for me, they won’t pay for themselves. I think it’s their passive-aggressive way of punishing me for living so far away.
Do I think they care? Sure. Parents do. Do I think they’re actively, intentionally trying to hurt me? No. In fact, I’d be surprised if they even know that’s what they’re doing because, as I’ve said, I’m a pretty decent actress, and I am really good at hiding how I really feel.
It’s just that I feel, maybe, more slighted than I ever have before – I can’t give them what she has. Or I guess I could, but I don’t want to. I asked my father what he wanted for his birthday, he told me he’d like another baby. I think he meant that to tease my sister, but you know… it was just a reminder that I didn’t have to give him anything because I couldn’t do anything for him that would live up to what she’s done (twice now). Like I said, I don’t think he meant it the way that I took it, but it was still hurtful. It hasn’t made me change my mind… even at all… but it did make me drown myself a little more in a video game so that I didn’t have to think about it anymore.
I’ve rambled on a lot here. I don’t know if I’ll even post this one – I want to, but it’s not coereht. It’s just garbage without a plot, without a story, and it’s not even a little bit funny, but I’m not in a sarcastic, funny mood today. I’ve spent a lot of money on Thanksgiving tickets and I’ve just volunteered to cook the whole goddamn meal because I’m starting to realize that my mother is too damn busy with babies and formerly-pregnant women to even get excited that I’m coming. She didn’t even realize that Thanksgiving fell on the dates that I’d decided to come.
That’s my life.
I need a drink.