I don’t do drama. I really, truly, honestly don’t. I am easy going, but honest. I don’t sweat the small stuff. I don’t hold grudges. I don’t say anything behind your back that I won’t say to you directly. I go with the flow, never losing sight of who I am and what really matters.
Sometimes, it is my fatal flaw. It drives Jerritt crazy sometimes, because it seems like I don’t care – which is the furthest thing from the truth. I care too much, about too much – but I do my damn best to not let other people control my happiness.
That being said….. If you deliver drama to my doorstep, and worse – drag those closest to me down in drama – I will stand my ground, say my piece and make sure that you understand EXACTLY where I am coming from. I am not intentionally hurtful or mean. But I will go momma-bear on ya, if the situation calls for it.
Today’s shitshow was sponsored by 33 year old drama. I wish I was kidding, but seriously….. This is going to be a long one, because it has been made clear to me that certain people NEED to hear certain things, so that maybe we can let go and move on. It takes a lot to get me fired up and on a rant…. but here you go:
This is totally lame. As you all know, my dad is sick. He isn’t doing well at all. He has been in the hospital since June, but he has been in and out of the hospital for the past 10 years. I have been posting about him, when there is something to share – because I know that he lost contact with a lot of folks over the years, and people do care. Including his siblings and my cousins and other friends and family. I am an open book!!! I share what I can, when I can – I am not hiding anything, I am not keeping anyone from reaching out or asking questions. My siblings and I would be happy to have anyone visit or call my dad. Our Aunt and Uncles have the code to call and get updates direct from dad’s care team – or they can talk to him. I made the plea to his siblings to set aside the old drama that has kept them apart, and show up – because even now I am not sure how much more that guy can take, and love is supposed to show up. But I am choosing to share, NOT Pops. He would likely be pissed off at me for it – but what else is new (it is my special talent).
You are welcome to come, but check your fucking drama at the door. There is no room for it here. Not in my life. Not in his. Not anywhere near me. Certainly don’t call me out on Facebook and act like the victim.
Before I give whole long stupid history, I want to tell you what caused me to climb up on my soapbox tonight.
My aunt tagged my sister, brother and I in a post on Facebook – basically calling us out because we haven’t updated about my dad lately and it is hard for “her” to keep updated and his friends and family members “would really like to know”. Now, here is the thing…. she knows she was stirring the pot, because she already had a conversation with a distant “family member” because she knew she would “be attacked for it”.
So, I did NOT attack. I responded. There is no update. We are dealing with the same stuff. He is still in the same hospital – with the same phone number and code that they all have. He is confused. He has good days and bad. Communication is still hard. There are days where he is angry and violent. There are days where he seems better. Every day we deal with the guilt of not being able to do more. Every time we see him we deal with the heart ache for how far gone he is from the dad we know and love. We don’t know if we will ever get him back all the way. He doesn’t remember the big picture, so we have to continuously break the bad news to him about his current situation. Y’all, this is not easy. This is not pleasant. This is hard, scary and horrible and sorry if I don’t want to continue to post the same helpless, hopeless thing over and over again.
Early in this hospital stay, my aunt came and visited with him. We were grateful that she was able to put things aside (for the moment) and spend time with him. When he started to communicate he told her to fuck off. So she left. She hasn’t come back. We were sorry for that. We told her we hoped she would come back and try again – because we do, no matter how bad it was the time before. Getting hurt feelings from being treated poorly by the illness, isn’t going to help him – so we square our shoulders and keep going back and hope beyond anything else that we will see some glimmer of the man he really is.
This little Facebook post alone wouldn’t set me off (the comments though…..). No. It was the messages that we had previously gotten, taking digs at us for “having fun” with our kids, but not providing an update on how he is doing. Another time (I was at a freaking wedding), she was telling us about a friend of a friend who knows something about a nursing home, that maybe she can help our dad – but “why are you guys ignoring me”…..
Okay. This is where I start to nut up a little. Our dad being sick is horrible and tragic. The ONLY victim in this our dad. He is the only one really suffering, so please don’t tell me how hard this is for you. Every single member of his family has been invited to step up and help and heal. If you are not hearing what you want to hear, when you want to hear it, how you want to hear it – that is on you, not me. Pick up the phone. Get in your car. Show up.
Let’s take it back now. My dad has made a lot of mistakes. He hasn’t been proud of the things that are in his past, but we have made the best life we can. We have learned, we have gown, and we have moved on.
My dad and his siblings stopped talking much when my Grandpa Bob & Grandma Norma passed away. It was hard on them. It was hard on us. It was devastating. Rather than leaning on each other, they let all the little stuff become big stuff, and it drove wedges between them. I was 7, and even I could see what was happening. My aunt is worried about what we think she did wrong all those years ago, but she will be disappointed to learn that I don’t blame her. They were all adults and they all made their choices.
Fast forward 7 or 8 years….. My parents had divorced. My dad had a drinking problem. He went to recovery for the first time. During that process, he had to come to terms with a lot of old feelings and fears. He HAD to face the fact that his dad very likely had a drinking problem. That was more difficult than you can imagine. His dad was gone. He loved and revered that man – and he did not want to admit there was a problem, that he wasn’t perfect. But he did what he needed to do to heal and get sober. None of his siblings were a part of this process. None could agree that their dad wasn’t perfect.
Not too long after his new found sobriety, my cousin Jenny was getting married. We wanted to go, but there were some things that kept us from going. Our life was busy, as it can be with 3 teenagers; but there was also fear of how it would be to be at a family function. The Russell Family gatherings always had beer. There was always laughs and funny stories. We always enjoyed being with the family and we had so many great times with all the cousins. But, my dad didn’t know how he would be able to handle being there, with beer and his brothers & sister – and not being able to drink. And not being able to address the fact that it may be a problem. My dad not only had to face the fact that the man he adored wasn’t perfect – but that he, himself was far from perfect. Rather than ANYONE trying to understand the big picture, everyone made assumptions.
Battle lines were drawn, and hate was strewn, and for years we were pretty much extracted from the Russell Family. My dad was in a bad spot, and he was too proud to share the whole story. No one seemed to care enough to bridge the gap. I was 15. What was I supposed to do?
In the years that followed, my dad had more struggles. He had an unhealthy second marriage. He had a horrible addiction to prescription pain killers, that put him in a really dark place. Marriage ended, he turned back to drinking. Now, to be crystal clear, I am telling you all this, so that you have a small understanding of how we got to where we are today. I am not a victim, don’t feel sorry for me. During these dark days – he came and went from our lives. I got called by the DEA to testify about the prescription drugs. I would get calls that he was going to kill himself, that we need to come get his stuff. He cut himself off from my sister, and I think he has always tried to protect my brother. But they went through this with me and we stayed strong. There is a lot more in these years that I would be happy to share another time – but clearly, he has been fighting demons for some time. During all this time, he not only further distanced himself from the family, but most of his friends. But WE have been here the whole time. Including my mom (his ex wife)…. We have always been here to pick up the pieces and do our best by him. It was HIS choice who to have in his life.
Shortly after my boys were born, he got sober again. It was the only way he was going to get to be a part of his grandson’s life. He had met Trevor, but didn’t have a real connection. He needed to get his life together to be a part of theirs. I am proud to say he has been sober for about 10 years.
He has lived his sober years at Sun Street Center in Salinas, where he got sober. He worked there and helped with the programs, and they helped keep him on the right path. We spent time with him in Salinas, or would bring him to Hollister for holidays, weekends of kids sports, and just to hang out. During these sober years, health problems seem to be compounding.
We have been by his side through countless seizures. We have been in the emergency rooms with him more times than I can recall. We worry and ask the doctors as many questions as we can – because it seemed to be getting worse and worse. We have gotten calls that he has pulled out his IV and walked out of the hospital. We have driven down to Salinas and searched for him. We have had days after seizures where we couldn’t reach him, and we would have to go down and have someone help us unlock his doors so we could take him in for care. I have driven him to the hospital without him knowing who I am. We have sat by his side when he doesn’t know where he his, or what is happening – and seen him bounce back to “normal”.
All this time (even to this day), he is in charge of his care. We have no legal control over his medical or other decisions. We have more questions than answers. We don’t know what will happen next. So please, explain to me how any of this leads to other people creating drama…..
Obviously I have skimmed over a lot – I could write a book with all that we have helped our dad through. But, we love him. He is our dad. We are his family. His choices made his inner circle small – and we have tried to invite people to try and work their way back in. But, it is not MY responsibility – or that of Michelle or Adam, to make anyone feel better about their lack of space in his life.
As an adult, you have the POWER to make choices and NOT be a victim of life. Don’t post something to garner attention or sympathy for yourself and drag me into it, please. Do what you want, whatever makes you feel good. But don’t try to take me down that path.
It makes me sad. I am sorry if you have a hard time. It certainly isn’t a walk in the park for us. We had managed to build relationships with our cousins and even some of our Aunts and Uncles through Facebook. We have even connected in person from time to time. I LOVE being part of a big family. I LOVE sharing in their lives. But I accept that I cannot heal the relationships between them. That is their job, not mine. I fear that this latest drama will lead to another freeze out, and my kids will never really know anything of the Russell Family. We don’t have pictures. We don’t have history. And we surely aren’t going to get them from our dad. But, the keepers of the Russell & Roux family histories will likely freeze me out for not meeting their expectations.
I genuinely hope that hurt feelings can be put aside. But I can’t lose sleep over it. I don’t do drama, but I won’t stand to be personally attacked when “family and close friends” don’t have any clue what we are dealing with. I am an open book – if you have an issue, I ask that you act like the adult you are and deal with it. I choose to surround myself with true friends that focus on building each other up, not tearing people down. They say your vibe attracts your tribe – that seems to ring true based on the strangers (who are somehow “related” to us – though I have NEVER heard their names) making snarky remarks about something they can’t begin to understand.
So yeah. I am completely pissed that I got dragged into this drama today. But you know what – I won’t hold a grudge. I’ve said my piece, I’m hopping off my soapbox, and I will set fire and walk away. Whatever it is about our life struggles that make you feel like you are somehow being targeted – I suggest you reflect and revise your approach, because clearly this drama did absolutely nothing to help ANYONE, least of all my Pops.
If you really want to move forward and heal, you have to ditch the baggage. You can’t “fix” the past, so let it go and choose your happy. I have a place in my heart for ALL my family, but a place in my life for only those that want to be here.
#ThatISAllIHaveToSayAboutThat #AtLeastForNow #FamilyIsAChoice #NoDramaMama #CrazyAsAMother #PerfectlyImperfect #BuckleUpButterCup
3 thoughts on “The View From My Soapbox”
I admire your honesty.
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I am sorry you’re going through this.
I’ve been doing time in a decades-old family drama since my parent began divorcing in 1971, so I feel I do understand a lot of what you’re going through.
My one piece of advice is that you tell co-mingled relations, “My issue is with so-and-so; stay out of it as you’ll only fan the flames.” It’s helped me have healthy relationships with extended family members, cousins and siblings without new drama pile-ons.
My functional alcoholic father is now 81, having survived multiple brain bleeds, etc., due to his alcoholism. How he keeps going is beyond me, and one of the great mysteries of life. His happiness is his own choice and responsibility.
I know you deserve happiness. Rest. Time off-duty as caregiving, even remotely, is exhausting and will eat you alive if you let it.
Any family member with sense would know this, too.
You need to have time off-duty, functioning as a normal family with you, your spouse and kids as priorities in building new and happier family memories than you may have experienced whike growing up, and all without apology to any family members taking potshots.
Keep writing. You’ve got a great voice.
From what you’ve written here, you’re doing a great job in self-care and in trying to break the cycle.
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Thank you. It is such a struggle, and I try not to let outside folks drag me into the muck. Yesterday they got under my skin… ugh!
Thank you for your kind words and comments. I really do share because I know others struggle with the same sort of things… it is always nice to know you aren’t alone!