This is what I’ve been thinking a lot about this weekend.  I think that, for a lot of people, it’s having kids that makes them realize that they are the adult generation now, that they’re the ones who are going to have to make decisions and be responsible, even if they feel inadiquate to the task.  For others, it probably happens when a parent dies.

For me, it’s been this experience.  The recalcitrant brother being in jail is not the end of my world.  I love him and he’s a sweetie, but you can only make the choices he’s been making for so long before it catches up to you.

That sucks, but it’s not earth-shattering.

What has just shook me to the core is witnessing the general incompitence and floundering of my parents.  My dad, for instance, spent Thursday and Friday getting the money together to get my brother out of jail, getting the car road-worthy, and discussing the recalcitrant brother’s situation with the recalcitrant brother’s neighbor.

He never thought to call a lawyer or the jail or the courthouse.  He’s getting all his legal advice from my brother’s neighbor.  And he calls me to tell me this stuff and I ask him about calling, you know, folks who would actually know what was going on and it’s completely apparent that he hadn’t thought to do it and that he wouldn’t even know where to start to do it.

So, I did it.

And, just to sidetrack for a second, I can’t tell you how furious it makes me that I spent my whole life hearing him bitch about how bossy I am and yet, clearly, when the chips are down, he wants me to take charge of things.  Gentlemen, remember this, it is fucked up to make your daughter feel like you hate the thing about her you depend most on her for.

But you see how that doesn’t matter?  I mean, don’t get me wrong.  It upsets me and all this stuff gets dragged up whenever it comes to my family.  But it doesn’t matter.

If we’re going to get the recalcitrant brother out of jail, someone’s got to make a plan, make some arrangements, and help everyone else stick to them.

And it doesn’t look like there’s anybody but me to do it.

That kind of scares the shit out of me.

13 thoughts on “Adultish

  1. Everyone has roles in a family. I realized this when my mother got sick. When we got the news in the hospital, I stood there and talked to the doctor, my dad was somewhere else and my sister went running down the hallway of the hospital, Stephanie running like hell to catch up with her. The doctor was telling me my other had terminal cancer. For five minutes, I was completely alone with this knowledge.
    She was 29 years old at that time. I was 32.
    I took care of the “uncomfortable” stuff, giving meds, talking with doctors, knowing the time the doctors had given her (the rest of the family didn’t want to know) running off well-meaning but nosy people who just wanted to see her “sick.” (Grosses me out to this day.)
    BUT, my sis made sure we ate, she dealt with dealing with my father’ denial, she made sure we scheduled some sleep time, especially near the end.
    I did things I knew how to do. She did things she knew how to do.
    I didn’t give her credit, you know. I do now.
    This is all scary, but I do know that we do what we know how to do and our family will pick on us like hell, but they will come to us first.
    And, yeah, I’m the “bossy” one too.
    Do what your comfortable with, my dear B. And damn the rest of the chatter around you. It’s scary, but you’ll do fine.
    Sorry to hijack. Struck a chord.

  2. Perhaps you can find a place where you take some pleasure in knowing that you can indeed be the strong, level-headed one when things get rough. Sometimes, its a great motivator to get beyond our particular comfort levels.

  3. “Gentlemen, remember this, it is fucked up to make your daughter feel like you hate the thing about her you depend most on her for.”
    A-fucking-MEN! God, my Dad was the SAME way….he’s changed his tune since he’s been living in a nursing home. Suddenly, it’s kinda NICE to have a daughter who’s not a PUSSY about getting shit done. Whatevs. I’m with ya, woman.

  4. Or not.

    If this is a recurring problem, there is no requirement that you assist in enabling it.

    Brother in jail is not your fault. Not your problem to fix.

    This is a very hard lesson to learn, though, and it has been my experience and observation that most family members have to go through the process of completely disrupting their lives, emptying their bank accounts and going into debt, while hoping against all evidence that the fucked up relative will straighten up and fly right.

    Then it all hits the fan again and you either rinse and repeat or cut him off.

    I’ve seen both. And I’m aware of two separate family issues that could go either way. I am not the decision-maker in either situation and it is easy to say “cut ’em loose” but all of us who are observing and helping in small ways are waiting for the deciding relatives to figure it out.

    Even if they have said they know this, it is a hard thing to do and sometimes they just can’t let the chips fall.

    So as you agonize over your future finances and your current relationship with your father, etc., caught up in the midst of the drama, you might think about where you will, or won’t be able to, draw the line and let brother fend for himself.


  5. Nance, of course part of being the “go-to” person in the family is knowing when to opt-out. And, sometimes, your counsel is ignored and that makes it not your problem any more as well. But to ignore a loved one’s incarceration, especially over a civil matter is next to impossible. I agree that “emptying one’s bank account” is largely futile and usually inadvisable, but some family member should at least do what is possible to free him, imo.

  6. I’m not arguing what the right thing is to do right now or in this situation. I don’t know or want to know the details. I am saying this is not an unusual situation — having a family member with repeated problems who effects the lives of generations — and getting to the “opt out” point is difficult and also necessary sometimes.


  7. I hear you both. Believe me. And it’s also weighing heavily on my mind, because there’s going to be a point, very quickly, when my parents run out of favors they can call in, and money they can get. And I’m not bailing him out. I can’t afford to.

    I can visit him in jail. I can write letters and send pictures. But I can’t do what my parents are doing.

    Which is something he and I are going to have to talk about when I’m down there. He can do what he wants with his life,of course, but he needs to take into consideration that, though I make a delicious gravy, I am not the next gravy train.

    Also, let’s keep in mind my poor nephew who, just this weekend, saw his dad thrown in jail and had his mom’s grandpa, whose house was a second home to him, die.

  8. My story, fwiw: After 20+ years of agonizing about my brother’s delinquency, and agonizing about my mother overlooking and enabling his delinquency through bailing him out of jail, allowing him to live in her home without a job, paying his bills, buying him a truck…all while she is on social security and he contributes nothing (meanwhile getting bitched out any time I made the suggestion of letting him pay the consequences for his actions), I chose to “opt out.” It became too painful and stressful to deal with and try to help fix. I love my brother and my mother…but I love myself more.

    And you know what? There ain’t a thing wrong with feeling that way.

    (Just sayin’ this in case you ever get to that point.)

  9. …I was the one who handled my father’s last days of being a drunk and told all the police departments that, yes, he was really dead, so he wasn’t going to be able to make it to court…or serve time for that D and D charge…

    “Call the damn coroner yourself officer…He did the autopsy and I’m at work now.”

  10. Hi Aunt B.

    I can identify with a lot people on this thread (almost impossibly immature brother, alcoholic mom). I think that one thing to point out to your parents is that they might not be doing him any favors by bailing him out (literally and figuratively). It usually takes close ones a long, long time before they can grasp that they may be part of the problem, ie enabling.

    I try to help those who can be helped: in your case, your parents and your nephew. And for those who might turn help into yet another reason to stay the course, I try to call them on their shit. I think I helped save my mom’s life by refusing to continue covering up for her, and by forbidding the rest of the family from doing it either (and eventually her shrink from prescribing all the fucking drugs he was putting her on). And yes, I’m a responsible ball-breaker, but fuck that, my mom’s alive. Not that it would’ve happened without her deciding to pick herself up when we stopped doing it.

  11. Right. If it’s going to happen at all, the fuck up has to get themselves straightened out. No amount of work on your part will make that happen.

    But as Cassie said, helping those who can be helped is important. In this case I would lean more toward the nephew as the parents seems to have their own issues.

    But that’s me. Everyone has to go through their own learning curve.

    Off to get 15-month-old dressed. My nephew. :)


  12. “Everyone has to go through their own learning curve.”

    No kidding! We ought to chisel that above every public doorway, instead of the Ten Commandments . . .

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