News from home (again)

I called my folks last night—there was more to the story than what I'd been told. The problem is that the more I hear, the worse it sounds. Evidently my aunt Mildred's pretty much gone off the deep end—drinking heavily and not taking her lithium. I gather she got in a fight with my grandmother, and that my aunt also attacked my parents.

Thus my parents took her to the hospital. Again. She did what she does every time this happens—fights, screams, yells, curses, and tries to hurt anyone who comes near her. Apparently she directly attacked my parents, too. Because of how the laws are, the hospital can't keep her against her will. As soon as she's stable—meaning her lithium levels are back up—she can't be held against her will.

So the hospital released her, and she started drinking again. Apparently while she and her son (my cousin Clint) were both drunk, she demanded to have her guns back. They got into an argument, Clint tried to get the gun away from her, and it fired.

What made me angriest…

…obviously, my parents are involved, because they faced down Mildred and took her (undoubtedly kicking and screaming) to the hospital. I brought up the suggestion of involuntary commitment, and then Mom said that Mildred had said repeatedly that the only people she'd allow to have her committed were her daughter (Shane) and her friend Susie.

…what made me angriest was when I asked my mother if she'd contacted either Shane or Susie to discuss doing this, and her response was, "I'm not getting involved."

Aren't you already involved, Mom?

I love her dearly, but sometimes I have to say that through gritted teeth. I can't believe that she's content to try to contain Mildred's outbursts and to bitch about them, but she's not willing to take the extra step to try to get Mildred the long-term care that she so desperately needs to get back on her feet. I understand that she's tired and frustrated, and I understand that she doesn't approve of a single damn thing that her sister's done with her life…but how can you stand aside when someone so blatantly needs help, and let them flounder alone?

My mother has three siblings. She's the oldest; her twin brother Wayne was born a few minutes after her. Mildred was the next child, and Keith the last.

When Keith committed suicide in '88 we asked ourselves over and over and over if there was anything we could have done to prevent what happened (namely, him taking a gun and shooting himself). We knew that he was depressed and that he probably needed help. Looking back, he was probably suffering from bipolar disorder as well.

Now, twelve years later, it's another sibling, the same disease, another gun. And my mother refuses to get involved. I find myself wanting to ask her if she learned nothing from her grief but how to grieve.

Time and distance has blunted some of the anger I felt toward my family. Growing up, they constituted my world. But one of the lingering bits is resentment and anger towards my mother; a quick look back tells me that this denial is how she has chosen to live much of her adult life, especially when her family is involved.

She's a schoolteacher. It was painful sometimes to watch her intervene at school when she found out that a student was in an abusive situation at home—and to watch her pretend that everything in her own home was fine when it so obviously wasn't. I wonder how much mental energy it took her to avoid acknowledging that her older daughter was in a series of abusive relationships, that her younger daughter was losing her battle against an eating disorder, and that her spouse was using their youngest daughter as a verbal punching bag.

It's easier to forgive when you move away.

Sometimes I say to myself, God help my family. Because they're never going to help themselves.

Anyway, in better news—I'm headed over to Casa De Wondergeek tonight for dinner. Since Terry's leaving tomorrow, he's cooking. Italian, from what I hear. I'm picking up some appropriate wine this evening on my way home. A good evening with friends, yes. Then home to spoil my kitties, who are probably about sufficiently recovered from the over-petting from this weekend, so that they're ready to be cuddled again.

Kitty therapy, Kat calls it. She is so right.