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I'd be willing to bet heavy money that, in my previous life, I was a heavy chain smoker.  I say that because, at times like this, my right hand is in a position like it is holding a cigarette or cigar and I actually feel the urge to take a drag.  And I've never smoked in my life.

On the bright side, my sister isn't doing illegal drugs.  Small comfort THAT is.

You have to keep in mind the odd family dynamics that are in play here.  My sister is younger than me and the baby of the family.  The contrast between the two of us is mind-blowing for people who aren't prepped for it.  For example, I didn't lose my virginity until I was in college.  My sister lost hers before she hit high school.  I'm responsible.  I'm serious.  I'm goal-driven.  I'm constantly active, always doing something (even if I'm just sitting around, my mind is working on something whether computer programming or examining politics or writing a story or whatever).  It's part of the reason I hate making mistakes -- for me, there's no "Oops!"  It's something I have to correct, right now, because someone is at the very least inconvenienced because of my error and/or I'll never hear the end of it.  The two things my dad said to me that hurt me the most was when he called me a liar and called me lazy.  He might as well have just shot me in the head.

My sister has long had everything taken care of for her.  Even when she rooked over her friends (stealing a calculator from one, for example), mom and dad rushed to her defense and made her feel better.  Absolutely anything my sister wanted or asked for, she got, no matter how frivolous it was.  I was expected to go to college and take accounting courses (no art so I could become a political cartoonist like I really wanted, and no programming because "there's no future in video games").  My sister?  If she wanted to go, they'd support whatever she wanted to do, and they'd pay every dime.  Me?  They undertook a major campaign for years to get me to quit trying to be a writer (one I've let everyone think succeeded).

Mom and dad were not the best parents.  In fact, I honestly wonder why they had us in the first place.  I was pretty hands off.  I developed an interest in reading at an extremely young age.  Anytime mom and dad wanted to keep me quiet, they just put a book in my hands.  Things I wanted to talk about or ask questions?  Give him a book, any book, and he won't bother us.  They raised me, but they didn't really get to know me.  They are still shocked by some of my behaviors, ones that formed at an early age and everybody knows about except them.  Meanwhile, they smothered my sister with attention and bailed her out of every situation.

I'm a loner.  It's not that I don't socialize well, although I do have the occasional moment of looking like a dip around people (which, let's face it, everybody has no matter how cool they are).  Put me in a room of strangers, and I can usually strike up and hold a friendly light conversation for however long I need to or feel like.  I just prefer quiet and being myself.  I'm an individualist, and people that try to make me dump certain behaviors and interests just to be accepted by them because they think such things are "weird" usually get a "fuck off" from me and I ignore them.  I was constantly lectured to by my mother about making friends.  Just like my sister.

My sister needs people around her.  She isn't just a social butterfly, she needs a group of people that act as her own personal echo chamber, telling her she's great.  She tended to hang out with the lesser kids, the ones with no ambition and no real skill to get anywhere, the kind that just drift through life, and was even held back a grade.  I look to the future, she looks to the now.

As a result of my parents' willful blindness to my sister's faults and the actions she takes (she's done a LOT of shit I don't talk about to me, both directly and behind the scenes that she doesn't realize I know about.  No, mornblade, you don't know the half of it), not to mention keeping her absolved of making things right, my sister feels entitled.  She has stolen money from my parents.  She has stolen medication from them.  She has given them the guilt trip to pay bills for her (by my rough calculations, she has gotten over $100,000 from them.  In fact, she used up so much of their money, my dad had to go back to work after retiring).  She would visit every weekend, asking for money.  When mom and dad told her no more, she stopped coming over, making mom and dad go to visit her, and yes, she hit them up for money then, too.  She has married a terminal asshole.  She can't hold a job, and every job she's worked has been shadowed by stories of impropriety and money going missing.

And yet, I'm the disappointment of the family.

When I point out to mom and dad how she is playing them like a fiddle, they will yell at me until I'm quiet.  My sister is just a girl who is overwhelmed and everything she does has a perfectly innocent explanation.  She told them what it is, and they believe it, why can't I?  I need to learn to be more forgiving and accept the truth.  Family is supposed to look out for each other.  Sooner or later, mom and dad will be gone, and my sister and I will only have each other for support.  They usually follow that thought with, "You need to take care of your sister."  They probably tell my sister, "Just give your brother a book to read."

My sister has stolen medication from my parents several times, some of it stuff my dad needed for pain after surgery and, thanks to government regulations, he could not get a replacement refill because of concerns of abusing.  Mom and dad would tell her they knew she took it, but then they would pretend they never had the discussion and everything was happy again.  Then, a little over five years ago, mom and dad got a call from her husband.  My sister had been arrested, and was looking at jail time.

The story my sister told my mom and dad was because of a resident at the nursing home she worked at.  The resident told my sister she could have a couple of her Vicodin tablets.  The resident, who is not altogether there to begin with, forgot she gave my sister permission to have the two tablets, and called the police to report them stolen.  My sister was initially left alone because it was two tablets, but a new attorney for the city decided to Get Tough On Drugs and was bringing her to trial.

I can sense a lot of you rolling your eyes.  No one is going to build a case on the word of one mentally questionable woman over possession of two pills.  A search of my sister's usage of her health benefits showed she was making the rounds to just about every health care center and hospital within a two hour radius, each time getting checked out and each time leaving with a supply of vikes.  She might have been using some, but certainly not all of them -- she had enough pills to drop Keith Richards.  She was likely busted for dealing (proof of this came during sentencing.  People who are users are almost always forced to attend a 12 step.  None for her).

I started pointing out how unlikely her story was and what I thought was really going on (I quickly dug up the court record.  Bang on the money).  I was told to shut up, my sister was being railroaded by an overzealous AG.

My sister went to the county lockup.  This was actually a blessing for her, because she wouldn't get a DOC number.  As long as she kept her nose clean (you should pardon the expression) for five years after release, it would be dropped from her record and no one would know the truth.  (Her attorney had to fight REALLY hard to get that, she was looking at five years minimum in state).  She got out, and mom and dad were offering her all kinds of money and help so she could go to college and learn something and start a new career, which she never took them up on.

So she did her time and suddenly noticed how distant and irritated her brother was with her.  I had to grind my teeth at Christmas around her.  And my sister still occasionally sees the person she worked with at the nursing home when she got busted (her husband says he came outside to see my sister standing outside her car talking to her, and on seeing her husband, my sister threw something into the car and the person drove off.  My sister insists she didn't throw anything.  Forgive me if I don't take her word for it).  But the five years eventually passed, and poof!  A little DM magic.

My sister called me and was complaining of being short of breath and not feeling well and she didn't understand why.  I wasn't very gentle with her.  I told her, Let's see...you're fifty pounds overweight and a foot shorter than me, you have asthma, and you smoke three packs a day.  Fuckin' duh.

And then, a couple of weeks ago.  My sister calls my parents.  She's been served with papers for unpaid medical bills and if she doesn't pay up, she's going in the slammer.  It soon comes out that she has been seeing several health clinics, using her real name, using her middle name, using her maiden name, and in two instances, a name that is almost but not quite hers.  In other words, fraud.  My sister is also acting with the narcoleptic behavior that was seen before she first went up the river.  My sister explains this by saying she's not doing anything illegal -- her favorite snack is apparently one or two Benadryl with some vodka to wash it down.

Dad and her husband team up to see what is really going on.  My sister, due to her breathing problems, gets taken to the doctor for a full check up.  Using his legal status, the husband, unbeknownst to my sister, is also calling for a full drug screen on a blood sample.

Well, I found out last night that there's nothing illegal in there, just OTC meds.  My dad has paid the immediate medical bills to keep her out of jail ($5,600 so far and counting), and my sister and her husband are about to file bankruptcy for the third time to make the rest of them go away.

I'm bitter.  I admit it.  If I had half the breaks offered to me than my sister does, I'd probably be the next Jim Butcher or something.  Hell, I'd probably be the next Butcher, Mike Lukovich, and Nolan Bushnell combined.  Instead, I was constantly beaten down, she was constantly built up, and I'm the afterthought of the family while she gets all the pep rallies and offers of help.  The loaves and the fishes, it just goes on forever for her.

I honestly sometimes think of just leaving everything behind.  My oldest friends that I got separated from?  I have enough money I could make it to them.  I would ask first, but I would hope one of them wouldn't mind having a flatmate for a little bit until I got sorted out.  A new life where I'd never have to deal with my family ever again.  Leaving my friends here behind?  It almost seems worth it.

And at the moment, all I can do is get ready for bed, and get ready for whatever the next kick in the balls is going to be.

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