Saturday, January 12, 2008

I, Elizabeth McClung, am advertising for a family: here's why

I am advertising for a family: Mildly dysfunctional is no limitation.

Xmas time up to and including this last week have been difficult for me because of series of events which I will narrate in short form. 1) My brother, who sexually abused me as a prepubescent over an extended period of time (a year?) found out after several years of my hiding my location of residence where I now lived (information given to him second hand by my mother). 2) I had to tell my mother about the sexual abuse, which caused some distancing; at the same time my brother became increasingly insistent to meet with me, sending emails which culminated with one which asked what or had I thought of him while being raped by four men later in life and that he was coming to this city to “meet me.” 3) My parent's solution to this was to “protect me” by inviting him and his family to stay with them during Xmas and have no contact with us for the week before and the week or so he was here. 4) This included going to extended family Xmas brunch to which I was invited (by an aunt and uncle who had previously said any room I entered with Linda, they would leave – they are evangelical); I asked for a moderator at the brunch, and my parents were sent an email saying that their daughter just “wasn’t worth the bother.” So I was never told the location of the meal; my parents and brother attended. 5) The day before my brother’s arrival, my mother, who had repeated said, “I don’t need…NO, I don’t want to ever know what happened.” Suddenly demanded to know, in explicit detail how my brother abused me (and for how long and often). With my brother arriving in hours and with no idea of how the info would be used and honestly, freaking out that my brother was going to be only blocks from where I live, I said it was not an appropriate time. My mother then contacted me again DURING the stay to demand that I immediately give the details, a thrust by thrust account. I said that only in a “safe space” and no, not during his visit, would that occur. 6) This week a date was sent because my mother in particular “needed” to know what had gone on. Before starting I asked her, “Do you believe I was sexually abused by xxxxxxx (my brother)” and she said yes.

The meeting ended up lasting three hours and the basic position of my parents was: The reason we didn’t talk to you for two months, didn’t see you at all, excluded you from family dinners and didn’t talk to you during the Xmas break was all for your own good. I made an analogy about being in elementary school and a bully knocks you down, and instead of helping you up, your best friend goes over and hangs with the bully, talking to them. I said, that is how I feel right now. My father said that I should know, that surely the ‘best friend’ would be mediating for my best long term interest. I should? Even though I am still on the ground and they are way over there? Yes. Oh.

They did not seem to understand that going through in detail the emotional and well as physical actions and costs of what my brother did to me had an effect. I stated at one point that “talking in detail about this is putting xxxxxxx (my brother) in this room, I FEEL him, behind me.” My father (in logical mode) was, “No, he isn’t in this room at all.” I repeated, “Just telling you these things makes him, for me, a physical presence and terrifying in THIS room.” I don’t think Poppycock! Or Balderdash! were used but it worked out the same. They would not verbally allow for the effect talking about the sexual abuse was having on me.

I told them that I did not blame them for not catching my brother in the act, however, the terror and control he held over me for years, the constant crossing of personal boundaries in everything from money to touch is something that occurred in the open and might be something we could talk about as a parenting issue……..? Silence. I moved on. My brother had admitted to my mother to “normal sexual experimentation as occurs between siblings” Which blew me away since how when one sibling is in full sexual adolescence and the other hasn’t reached puberty any ‘experimentation’ could be consensual or ‘normal?’ Also......he admitted it. My parents weren’t going to change significantly thier interaction with him, though they would not host his family because they found it “very crowded” and “intrusive.” My father felt the whole thing was working well because he had “several long talks with xxxxxx (my brother).” My Father confirmed that in the last six years my brother has moved in position from being sure that Linda and I are going to hell to now, to no longer being absolutely sure if we are automatically going to hell or not. This made the week my Father stopped talking to us and hosting them 'a success.' Even after knowing that my brother had escalated a series of emails about how much “I was hurting him” by not seeing him, including emails sent by my brother to me on my parent's computer during his visit. Still, from my father's viewpoint, deep talks, admiting that 'maybe not going to hell', ergo, "Success."

At the end, I do not know what they wanted the details for. I said, “This has cost me a great deal emotionally and I hope you got what you wanted and that it was worth it.” There was a sort of stone stare from both, not even a “we wish it had not happened” or “We love you.” So I said, “If you are going to continue to go to extended family events, please make it clear, whether invited or not, that I prefer not to eat with pedophiles.”

My mother’s face turned into one of panic and she said, “Who has he hurt? Who has he sexually abused?”

I stared and pointed to my chest. “Me!”

Relief swept across her face as she said, “At least no one was hurt.” And another statement to the same effect.

Linda helped me back to the study and they left and we went over what to us was a surprise. That my mother would so blatantly state that since my brother “only” sexually abused me, “at least no one was hurt.” Linda confirmed that after seeing my parents, that she did not believe that my parents would, even now, ensure my physical safety from my brother much less my emotional safety needs or boundaries. That, indeed, much of the meeting was simply because they had no control over him and could not make him tell them what they wanted to know, but they could with me. And that they believed in a way that this is the way I am; that abuse is just something that happens to me. A couple of different friends from people who have experienced abuse to abuse counselors explained that the statements were not so much “It is impossible to rape Elizabeth, in the way it is impossible to rape a whore” but more about their own life and self viewpoint; that as long as it stays ‘in the family’ then ‘no one need know’ or is hurt. The relief was that my brother had not done anything which could damage the family image (indeed, I am the one doing that by being lesbian and crippled).

But for a few days, I was in a bit of a state similar to needing cutting but I wanted to be raped, because, the people who I had expected to support or protect me had told me that effectively, that kind of stuff happening to me didn’t matter; that being raped or abused was who I was.

I know…now…that isn’t true, and though my parents both come from extremely dysfunctional backgrounds I simply cannot entrust my emotional support to them. During the meeting they were not acting as adults to adults or even parents to their children but more like children themselves. My father reacted by emotionally locking down and turning everything into a semantically debate; that since I had not said the exact correct words then I should not have expected his help, etc. My mother, in various different ways tried to become the ‘victim’, the person this had happened to, a year of sexual abuse was compared to my brother demanding she make him breakfast before she started crying, etc. Now, I love my biological parents and I always will. I appreciate the opportunities they gave me and how they fed me and did things which they believed were for my best interest. I will always appreciate that. My upbringing was however what many would consider beyond extreme. I was punished usually daily, not just for actions, but the words I used (not swearing but the tone of the sentence; was it in any way negative?), as well as facial expression and perceived thoughts I might be having. I have a host of medical conditions, none of which where found until after I left home because I was not taken to doctors; this includes the time we lived in Canada where medical treatment was free. Indeed, some of the things I was punished for, from physical corporal punishment to other more unusual methods, were actually medical conditions (things beyond my control). But that was then. My parents are trying, as best as they can, to accept that I am not deliberately being ill and that I am not faking nor doing this simply to draw attention to myself.

What happened when I was a child is one thing, the relationship I have with my parents today is another. And I will always be open to some sort of relationship with them. However, the simple fact is that I need emotional support. I am a person who works and continues to work to be free of the anchors within my mind I may have picked up. I am trying constantly to change and confront my demons, until they no longer exist. However, there are times I need support and times I need the reassurance of being part of a larger unit, a group that cares about my existence; from the day to day struggles to the larger picture of dreams and dangers. I need a family. In the same way Linda at times needs to lean on HER family. Linda and I have talked together and decided to begin to ask and advertise if there is anyone who would like to get to know me, or us in a way which would move toward becoming a family. This can range from simple email’s and phone calls to dinners, annual events, gift giving, I don’t know.

My brother is the alpha: he is male, he has created a grandchild, he is successful and he is externally what one expects: heterosexual and an associate minister as well as a career with a six figure income and a large house in the “right” kind of suburb. I can in some way understand how my parents need to keep that connection. But I also cannot imagine sitting down to a turkey dinner and staring in the face the child who sexually used and controlled your other child, has hurt them and refused to acknowledge their relationship and may never accept it, nor has any remorse for any of those actions. So, truth be told, I don’t know what it means to “have a family” or be with a family. The tradition in my extended family is to mock those who are ill or being sexually or physically abused (a sort of, what an idiot for getting in that situation).

So if you know someone who wants to take a risk on me (or us – with Linda), I don’t really know what a family means in a lot of ways; you might need to explain that to me, and the ground rules and the boundaries. You might need to understand that I have a SMALL issue with trust and that I may believe for some time that this is a set-up, that eventually you will judge me, hurt me and reject me (forever). Having said that, yes, I have a bit of baggage, but no more than most; I am witty and kind and I like people to be happy. I want people to find what makes them happy and I want to support them in that. So that’s it. I am not accepting that because it was successfully contained in “the family” that “nothing happened to me.” I am not accepting that it is “impossible to abuse Elizabeth because that is just her nature (to receive abuse).” And I am not accepting that if I keep chasing and trying to be what someone tells me I should be, that I will eventually get the support and love that humans need.

Linda, in reading this has reminded me that maybe there is someone/are people out there who themselves have a need, a void and WANT of a family to fill it, want a person who they can say to people; “That’s my daughter” (Or “adopted daughter”). Maybe we can fill each other’s need.

I am most likely dying, and if I live, I will have a shortened life span. I am in pain and I struggle with the implications of my disability. But that is what Linda is here for. Maybe you can see this as a way for a short term commitment; I could be like a pet, one you don’t have to keep for very long. Or maybe you can see this as a chance to get to know someone who has done and achieved, according to the world, important and amazing things, but who considers her RELATIONSHIP with Linda, and the love and care that brings to both of them to be her greatest accomplishment.

This has been a difficult and long thought out post to write, and I would please ask that this not be seen as a joke, or a laugh, or anything but what it is: a desire for a serious non-sexual relationship based on some sort of model where people care about each other and it is seen in both words and actions.

30 comments:

Hermes said...

What a terrible experience, both to happen to you and in many ways worse to have to relive it. Your parents are in denial, trapped between two people they love but if they believe you they have to make a choice.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Yes, objectively, I can appreciate the difficulties for my parents and perhaps the limits thier own backgrounds have given them - but in the course of over a year, Linda and I talked about trying to find a substitute or alternative "stand in" parents - and indeed at this three hour session, I stated (again) that what "I" needed, were parents (this expression was met by staring).

There is no easy solution that I can see, and I will always love my biological parents but with my weakening health, the ability to be "a rock, an island" isn't possible - plainly, for example, I need people, if Linda was gone away for government business who would care, or who I could call if I was brought to the hospital in an ambulance.

I agree about a choice, but the longer they make no choice at all, the more entrenched THAT particular choice becomes (to do nothing and hope that in doing nothing things are as they are).

Hermes said...

I can't truly imagine your situation but I think I might feel much the same. Excuse me if you have already blogged this, but has Linda a family that might support you, or several of my Aunts were like mothers to me when I was growing up. Good luck with your search. You seem lucky to have Linda to support you, you write about her with such love.

kathz said...

I'm glad that, at least, your parents and brother have acknowledged what happened because it's better than denial. I'm glad you see, too, that their subsequent behaviour comes from their background and is not an intelligent reaction to the situation. I hope the friendship, affection - and love - you have from fellow bloggers helps in some measure. Your own intelligence, courage and wit - and Linda's support - must be worth a great deal.

I think sometimes friends can function as a family.

Gaina said...

Your family are the people who make you feel loved, respected and safe. They also nurture your self-esteem. This has nothing to do with blood ties. I am a single child with wonderful parents, and the people I consider to be brothers and sisters are very close friends, some of whom I've only known 4 years and one I've known for 10.

Your life needs to be of the best quality possible, because as you say you are not sure how much of it you have left. I would say that means your happiness and comfort should be your priority and you have no time for anything or anyone who compromises that to an unreasonable level. If people's behaviour towards you is not healthy, they need to leave your life so you can make room for the people who enhance it. If that means changing your email address and refusing any other correspondace from them, then so be it.

Does it worry you that your brother has a child, after what he did to you? In any case, I doubt very much you're the only person he's done this to. He's predatory rapist who needs to be stopped and certainly restrained from contacting you.


Reading your blog over the past few weeks has shown me that I'd love to be friends with you and Linda, and if you'd like to email me sometime via the link in my profile, I'd like that very much :).

gina said...

Chosen family can be closer and far more supportive than trying to cope with dysfunctional crap that continues to be draining and needy. DNA is lousy way to limit relationships. It's easy to say that you shouldn't waste your energy trying to sort out their issues - but doing it is another matter.

I'd be a lousy parent - but I wish I could sign up. I would at least start out with real respect for both you and Linda.

Devi said...

I'm sorry you have to deal with this.

alphabitch said...

"This is my daughter, Dr. Elizabeth McClung."

I kind of like the sound of that. Of course, I'm not quite old enough to be your mother (despite the grey hair) but I would certainly be proud to have such an accomplished daughter as yourself, if I were, you know, that old.

But as far as my chosen extended family? You're in it already, my friend.

VK said...

I've been lurking and reading your blog for a couple of months - I'm sorry that I haven't commented sooner, but my mental health imp likes to remind me that it is unlikely you would want to take the effort to read what I write.

I have as little contact with my biological family, but I have several people I have met who have become my family instead.

I doubt I'd be a good mother, but I'd be willing to give sister a try? I'm in the UK so physically no much use, but very happy to be emotional support via email or messenger? I'm female, queer, disabled and have just finished a undergrad degree in Mathematics, so I owe the world a lot of emotional support karma, and you can have as much as you want.

elizabeth said...

I echo many of the sentiments already shared here. We are all kind of like a family aren't we?

I read your blog because I care about you and what happens to you. Knowing you makes me happy. If I lived closer I'd totally bring dinner over and hang out with you or with you and Linda. Gladly. Then I could tell everyone you were my sister and that's where your twisted sense of humour comes from...

Elizabeth said...

God. I had to read this a couple of times. Can I say, purely from the writing standpoint, this post is amazing. You are amazing.

The content, of course, angers me. I don't fathom parents who don't parent or, especially because I'm a woman, mothers who don't mother. Flawed, I get. The first instinct is protect and nuture, I don't understand that it passes some by. And I'm sorry for your loss.

Onto making your own family. What an excellent proposal. I wish you were here (or I was there) so I could give you a big hug, *right now*. :)

hugs, E

p.s. email me anytime. I'm a little too flaky to be an adopted mother...but I work out well as the amiable cousin who cares a lot and never gives you shit

TomCollins said...

I've been reading for quite some time, but I have difficulty writing/typing. We seem to have similarities due to our misfortunes (disability and abuse) as well as our fortunes (I also have a very supportive partner who is my only family). I just wanted to let you know I was out here, reading and supporting you.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Hermes: your suggestion regarding Linda is great and we are trying to reach out to some people who have had experience with health issues there to see how they feel about that. I am lucky to have Linda, and since she seems to feel lucky to have me, I'll go with that! (Don't question the mental illness of a person when it makes you appear more attractive)

Kathz: In some ways it is better because I don't have to do the defending that I am not a loon - I am simply left with - yeah, horrid stuff happened but we don't give a toss. I too am hoping that friends can act in some way as a network family, and trust issues aside, if someone is willing to say; "I want to be part of your life", I'm not likely to say no.

Gaina: I'd very much like to email you, and we can compare dirty songs we like. I agree that in the situation I am in, I simply (like many with chronic disabilities) cannot be everything to everyone and must make what might be almost medical choices.

I am somewhat concerned that he would do the same to his own child, or pay for sex as he has ample opportunity in his job away from home. This is why I communicated with him (in email) and asked to have him tell me that he was just a horny teenager who was so self centered and absorbed he didn't care whose life he negatively effected in order for some instant gratification instead of a serial predator. His first response was to tell his wife and phone my parents. Now, the one thing I know is that my sister-in-law, if it interfered with her plans, would quite easily kill my brother and distribute his body in many pieces over several state lines. I am not joking, this is a woman who can get in a car wreck, have broken bones and decide to "continue as normal" (no hospital) while recieving morphine suppositories because THAT IS WHAT SHE DECIDED. To say a strong determined will is an understatement. It is this which has stopped me from calling the local childrens authorities and asking for an investigation.

Gina: Yeah, you can choose your friends, but family are the people who do to you what even strangers wouldn't dare. I think I will always end up spending some energy on trying for those relationships but still look out for good friends who can hold me up when times are bad. It's okay, I think I might a lousy parent too - I didn't seem to do very well as a child either.

Devi: Thank you, I wish I didn't either - but I think like a paster/bandaid, it needs to be RIPPED off at some point.

Alphabitch: Oh, come on, I know you're not old enough but then you could have free licence to mettle as you pleased? Tell me to eat more greens? Take an embarressing picture of me and send it around as a Xmas card? Doesn't that sound inviting?

Seriously, thanks for letting me know I'm in the extended family. And I seriously do want to visit you - you aren't that far from the Canadian border right? (ha ha!)

VK: Well you mental health imp is wrong, but then I know a similar imp who whispers things like that to me too (is there a support imp club where they go to drink when they aren't filling us with insecurity?). Well, I moved from 60 miles from you (Bristol, the highest increase of homophobic crimes in the UK - woo hoo!) - and know the town well-ish, from the hideous downtown round about and bus station to the airplane plants. Horaay, a sister, and one who is good in Maths - even better. I used to be good in maths, then I took advanced Calc at 7:00 am in the morning and something blew up inside while trying not to fall asleep. I use email because messenger confuse me (unless you use ones with horses who deliver telegrams, I like those ones! - and by the by, your hair is FAB!)

elizabeth - yeah, what is with this whole mountain range between us - and why can't I get invited to your wedding party bashes (which seem to involve a) drinking and b) taking pictures of doing things while drinking). That would be so fun if we could go out to some function and tell everyone we were sisters (leave some very blown away and confused people in our paths).

Elizabeth: Errr...thanks about the writing thing, I think. Yes, well, I have tried to accept that my mother doesn't like to....be mine (she says that the reason she never breast fed me was it was too hard and too much work - um...okay!). Thanks for the hug - I hope the plan will work/is working - but like everything, I risk rejection too - but no gamble, no gain! Cool, I could use a flaky cousin - I want to be a flaky cousin! I want to be the person who sends odd gifts that turn up just the right time in the post. I'll email you and work on that (no, no studly man pics, you already have enough of those).

TomCollins: Thanks for posting, I know it is a risk and I appreciate you letting me know - Yeah, it is odd because it is hard not to do the compare game and look around and say, "Why do those people have....family?" But at the end of the day I can always say that Linda is there. But we both recognize, she can't be EVERYTHING and EVERYONE for me, just as I can't for her. I hope both our fortunes in human contact change for the better.

shiva said...

Wow. That was an... incredible piece of writing. I don't know if it's ethically or politically "appropriate" to admire you for hacing written it (and, something i should have said when you sort-of-referenced this in your last two posts, for being capable of such coherent writing while dealing with something so massive), but i do. I hope that doesn't offend you.

There's not much i can say in reply, really - I'm in the wrong continent to have any meaningful friendship/relationship with you. But, if you lived in the UK, i'd want to (I think you are someone that i could have *incredibly* interesting conversations with on all emotional and intellectual levels).

Your brother, as far as i am concerned, joins Matthew Israel, Ashley X's parents and the doctor that agreed to operate on her, Robert Latimer, etc as the kind of scum who my personal ethics would not justify me not trying to kill if i ever met them. Seriously, if the result of you calling the local children's services would be for your SIL to kill him, i would consider that a very good reason to do it straight away.

Then again, your views on killing may well differ substantially from mine...

Lene Andersen said...

I am so sorry. I don't know what else to say, except how sorry I am that your family can't be there for you.

When we moved to Canada, it was only my parents, my sister and I (oh, and the dog - very important!) and in the past 25 years, I've been lucky to somehow acquire an extended, chosen family in many of my friends. I'm also lucky that my family's pretty low on the dysfunctional-meter, all things considered, but those chosen members are still essential.

When I read your post, my first impulse was to sign up, because one can never have too many family members (well, of the good kind, anyway) and you and Linda seems like people who'd be worthy additions to the group (because, apparently, it's all about me ;)). But I don't make promises I can't keep and I have to face that my energy levels are making it hard for me to be as present in my existing circle as I'd like, so... could I be a cousin? Unfortunately, I live too far away to be useful in medical emergencies, but I'd happily do other, family-type things. Like tease you mercilessly, send goofy cards (when I can) and whatever else grows out of it.

Zephyr said...

Ah, having an alternate family rocks. I'm part of a polyamous family and it is deeply fulfilling and satisfying.

Your parent's reaction is unreal though. My God, they have proof he abused you and they still won't take any action? Christ. Getting a new family sounds like a good idea.

Marla said...

Eliz-I am so sorry your parents did not react in a loving, embracing and supportive way that you are so in need of. I tried to look at it from their point of view but no matter how I did it still seems they reacted in a poor fashion. They should have hugged you and cried for you and apologized.
I don't know which made me feel more emotion, your post or the comments to your post. I especially like the comment from alphabitch. Very sweet. Hugs. Hugs and more hugs. Having an adopted daughter myself I always have room for more kiddos in my heart...just not in our tiny home. So...there is a little spot just for you. Sending prayers for a peaceful sleep with less pain tomorrow and energy to feed the squirrels or some such things that brings you joy.

Lisa Harney said...

I got your e-mail, which reminded me to post - I wanted to post yesterday, but had a hard time responding.

Shiva, didn't the doctor who operated on Ashley X commit suicide recently?

Elizabeth, reading about your parents just makes me angry. The deliberate and willful ignorance and unwillingness to engage this real and serious problem is just awful.

You'll come out of this post with an extended family that you probably already had, but it wasn't as obvious. I'd be proud to consider you a sister, although my ability to visit is extremely constrained.

Many sympathies.

Linz said...

You are amazing.

If I were closer (I'm in the UK) I'd sign up right now to being an adopted sister, but as I'm not, I'll be a British cousin! I'd love a cousin like you! Email me if you want: info - at - wbme.org is already out there as it were.

alphabitch said...

I guess it would amuse me to put zucchini in your pancakes without telling you it's there, and watch you rave about how delicious they are. Just like every other vegetable-hating individual I've served them to. Same with the zucchini chocolate cake.

I will put a picture of you -- maybe a boxing one, or with some squirrels? -- up in my office and brag to my co-workers about your many accomplishments. Will that help? My co-workers already think I'm bizarre; an adult daughter who talks to squirrels wouldn't really surprise them too much. They'll probably figure out you're adopted, though, as I am 5'2" and used to have very dark hair.

Veralidaine said...

There needs to be a way to email hugs, because you need a few!

I can hardly fathom your parents- this is like reading a Roald Dahl novel, where you almost want to laugh because the horrendousness of the parents is so appalling it can't be real- but then with this you know it is real and it isn't funny at all anymore.

You need to write your biography. Seriously. Or maybe not a biography- but a novel based on your experiences. There's a cool Canadian publisher I've discovered, as a would-be author myself, if you write something and want the link. Maybe a compilation of blogs published as an essay collection?

Also, can I be the oddball cousin who moved away from the rest of the family and lives in an apartment full of pet rats, and sends weird Christmas letters with pictures of her pets in Santa hats, and doesn't show up to family dinners but is always there in a crisis?

glassroses said...

I'm having a difficult time understanding why your parents didn't try to get some type of help for your brother and why they're not more horrified by the whole thing. I wonder if he's as sadistic to his wife and hope that he doesn't do the same to his kids. And your parents probably do bear some responsibility for what happened, at least teaching him about limits, not to touch people without consent, and more.

I'll have to settle for being unreliable sister because of my own disability. Wish I had friends like you guys living close. People seem to drop us when I can't get out.

N1nj4G1rl said...

Finally able to post after no reliable internet access! At least I now have a reason to look forward to work.
I live in the US and am unfortunately too poor to visit. Otherwise I would love to offer you my services as a family member! Some kind of oddball sister type thingy perhaps. I'd love to have another sister, especially one who enjoys anime as much as I do. Regardless I would also like to extend my email to you and make a solemn promise right here (in internetland) and now that I will write you as often as humanly possible without being a pest. If you are interested of course.
The email is KitieD12@yahoo.com
That sucks about your parents, that kind of reaction is so difficult. Reading your entry I kept thinking in my head, cmon now step up to damn plate...NO that is NOT what you do! I think I made some out loud disgusted mouth noises about their reactions to you because my partner kept looking at me weird and asked me what the hell I was reading.

saraarts said...

Personally, I prefer friends to family. I find family obligations and connections most taxing, and I find that the more I think of my friends who are not related to me by blood as family, the more we tend to disappoint each other.

I am very sad that your parents think "no one was hurt." Seriously, they suck at the parenting. Having had parents who sucked about 50-65% as much at parenting (estimated) as yours do has been enough all by itself to prevent me ever desiring to parent anyone, ever ever ever -- anyone with fewer than four feet, that is, though of course amputee pets will not be discriminated against in this household, either, but I digress. Beyond that, though, they suck at befriending you. One does not tell one's friend that she is not experiencing what she is experiencing. In most cases, unless specifically asked to do so, or unless one perceives a need to warn said friend against mortal peril or other serious, immediate, and believed to be avoidable concerns, one does not tell one's friend how much to care about something, what context in which to place something, how to think about her own traumatic experiences, or anything like that. Hell, my therapist wouldn't even do that without being asked, and she gets paid over $100 an hour (and she's great at what she does).

A friend listens. A friend cares that you are hurting and asks what can be done to help.

So your parents suck at parenting. Can't they even make a stab at befriending?

Sad. Sorry. I really think you deserve better, and you have better in Linda who is your family now. If you still really want more, though, I hope you get it.

And that said, I am happy to volunteer to be your eccentric aunt. I am very very good at this. Ask my sister's adopted children. Don't ask my brother's actual direct bloodline daughter, though; she doesn't speak to us and as a Righteous [pseudo]Christian would no doubt be appalled to be your new cousin. ;)

cheryl g. said...

I am appalled that your parents don't seem to get that you were grieviously harmed by your brother.

I am happy to invite you and Linda to join my extended, created family. I'm not close enough to assist with emergencys but I can manage visits and certainlly can send cards and do emails.

Think of me as a sibling or cousin. I think I'm not old enough to be your mother and I've never had much maternal instinct. I do unconditional, loyal friendship well.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Shiva: thanks for your appreciation of the writing effectiveness. I too think would could have some very interesting conversations. I would prefer you not kill my brother, not because I believe that living in his own skin is his own punishment or anything like that but because I still have such anger that if I get close enough, I plan to 'mark' him, in breaking enough bones that he will forever wear his encounter with me, as I have with him - and one day, when I don't have that feeling anymore, then I will know I am free of him (at which point you or anyone else can run him over for all I care).

Lene: I appreciate both your heart and intent as well as your honesty regarding your condition. It is a sad fact that us medically complicated don't get as much interaction as before so I would relish any goofy cards, or teasing or any commitment you want to make to what I am realizing may not be the best time of my life to make 'happy memories'

Zephyr: Like you say, alternate family rocks and since I need the support, I will go where I must to find it.

Marla: yeah, me too, though I might have questioned them as alien body snatchers if they HAD acted in such a way. Marla, you have a good heart but you also have a VERY full plate. I think knowing you are out there making sure that your children will never feel as I do is enough for me (That and a few cross blog comments once in a while).

Lisa: yes, I didn't realize how many kind people were already here around me. So many sisters but not ONE Xmas visit? okay, but there better be a pretty good gift.

Linz: Thanks - I didn't want to post your email in case it got bot reaped for spam but I wanted everyone to know that you are a kind and generous person. Thank you.

Alphabitch: If you can feed me zuccini's Without me making 'The Face' then go to it! Well, you might cover Yams with chocolate, but they're still yams - I am up for a challenge - bring on the attempt to alter my views of vegetables (and don't get me started on mushrooms, which is usually, "I don't eat things which are a distant cousin to athlete's foot"

Yes, I will try to find some really odd ones - how about the disability lap dance one - and you can frame that and tell co-worker's it is your daughter! Hey, we're the same hieght - in my chair I'm about 5'2" as well! See, we resemble each other!

Elizabeth McClung said...

Veralidaine: Yes, good comparison, the surreal parents and now I fly away in a giant peach........still waiting, darn! I did write a biography based on some of my experiences - it is called Zed and it won Science Fiction Book of the Year for 2006, it also was the in the top 5 Canadian horror books for 2006 and was number 1 in the catagory of First Books and one of the top 100 books of the year according to the Globe and Mail. I would still be interested in the link as I am writing a sort of memoir to help others called: Life in the Wheelchair: the First Year (or something like that - assuming I can make it a whole year in a manual chair).

Yes, I very much want an oddball cousin who sends pics and cards at Xmas - because I do have cousins who are considered "oddball" because they went to oxford but don't drink port - which isn't really what I was hoping for - they also only spoke to me once in 11 years, which is sort of tradition for that side of the family (very upper lip, no need to "gush" and demand to speak say.....every 4 years or so)

Glassroses: I do wonder why my parents don't try to help my brother - but maybe they just accept that is how he is, or that he isn't thier worry either. I know that his wife can hold her own so they are well matched, I do worry that thier child, who mimics thier behavoir (which is "I get to do what I want and no one can stop me") will not become a "self" instead of a mimic until the 20's when we realize we have brains that work in OUR heads.

Yes, I know the feeling about being dropped, my closest to frequent contact are the medical supply guys who deliver Red Cross supplies, since I see them every few months that is almost like someone visiting. But I'll keep on plugging on if you will to (meaning don't give up on humans).

NinjaGirl: see I am sooo L33t that I can just use the regular spelling, it must suck to physically painful levels to have to use work email. I accept your offer of whatever family member: poverty and anime only bring us closer together! And I will try to reply as I am physically able, I promise. Well, we can't make people do what we want, no matter how hard we concetrate on controling them (or making their heads explode) - something years of trying I have proved - so I will try being around people who I want to be with and don't want to control and who don't want to control me - which sounds a lot nicer.

Saraarts: If you find family obligations taxing, then switch with me and you are free forever! I actually have the opposite experience, there are true friends and one, once came several thousands miles because I needed them. So I know what friends CAN do; and having observed Linda's family, I know what families can do too - and they CAN be pretty amazing. Horaay, an eccentric aunt, something I am trying to cultivate with Linda's neices and nephews myself. And actually you have already proven yourself as what did arrive yesterday but a literal GOODIE BAG! Which made my home care worker all in envy and I think there is a real market there if my home care workers are any indication along with "Wow, she REALLY does know you doesn't she!"

As for the bloodline cousin - I would be HAPPY to write her myself, actually probably write her minister directly so it could be included in the church announcements (with some pics to be places on the back table near the coffee) - you see, I know exactly how those kinds of groups operate and how to leverage them to maximum embarressment (along with a note: "Just keep saying 'love the sinner, hate the sin' until blood pressure returns to normal").

Cheryl G: Thank you, I do look forward to your visit. And maybe we can both add to each other's created family. I could use some loyalty (Did I mention I have trust issues) - you are kind and caring to offer it up.

Lisa Harney said...

Yeah, visiting's the hard part, as I have enough trouble getting to the nearest mall. :(

What sucks is that I did mean to send something back when we were talking about socks and you didn't believe that I hadn't owned socks for a few years straight, but then I ended up spending all my spare cash on my nieces for Christmas. So, that doesn't even count. :(

saraarts said...

Yay! And this means Alphabitch is my sister or sister-in-law, right?

Once you get this nailed down, we should draw you a family tree.

Your "cousin" A who wouldn't want to be your cousin has married an Air Force guy and gone to live with him while pregnant with her fourth child (their third together) in Japan. I haven't spoken to her since she was a child herself and don't even know her married name because, as trained by her INSANE "Christian" mother, the one who THREW OUT the copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory I'd sent as a gift (see what a good aunt I can be?) because it was a "devil book", she kept sending me religious tracts in the mail (at ages 10 through 14) and urging me in badly spelled letters to listen to Christian radio, and I could not get around her idiot parents to teach her to behave better because we never ever even lived in the same state, letters were screened, and her mother is afraid of the telephone because she stutters a tiny bit.

You can see how I might find in you infinitely preferable niece material. I feel I am trading up. The bonus part is that I don't have to go through your crazy mother to talk to you.

As your eccentric aunt I promise to do what every eccentric aunt must: I will always encourage you to be yourself and share with you whatever resources I come across which I feel will help you do that. I will stress to you the importance of enjoying your life to the fullest of your capacity, and will support your every effort to do so. I will visit you if I can (I'm going to try to visit Seattle in July, so this is not a complete pipe dream) bringing a whirl of madcap hilarity and a whiff of cinnamon perfume, but if I can't, you will at least feel my presence in your life and know you are not alone or wrong in being yourself.

Does that sound about right?

KateJ said...

You seem to have acquired enough new sisters, brothers and cousins as a result of your post - more than you need perhaps. I'm only sorry I didn't see the post and put up a comment straight away. I never had a sister but I have lots of cousins and I'd love to add you to my list... I do have birth cousins in Victoria and around, so when I come visit to Canada I could visit you too.
I've been posting comments on your blog for a long time, but would be very glad to exchange e-mails too if you want to. (But I won't be in the least offended if you've enough to do and enough people to correspond with).
I won't put my e-mail address in a public place but will post a second comment which you can then not publish...