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Big Deal!

July 14, 2013

 I’ve lost my sister.

She’s living at my Dad’s. I’ve gone to see her three times since she’s been out of jail. But she’s not the same. She’s not the sister I used to have.

Vivian’s always been a bit much to be around. She takes up all the oxygen in the room. At her best she’s funny and nurturing and energetic. Even then, you can only take so much.

I remember when my mom was having her first chemotherapy treatment. She wasn’t reacting well. Vivian, a nurse was living in Chicago. She said she wanted to come down and help. Mom was worried about it. She didn’t want to have to deal with her drama. None of us could have foreseen the miracle worker she turned out to be. Vivian turned all her energy towards helping mom. She was on top of the nurses and doctors and administrators. She did things for mom only nurse’s aides did. She was amazing. I spent a lot of time with her over those long weeks, helping as much as I could. We became really close. We used to bring tulips to mom’s room. Mom said she loved watching Vivian arrange the tulips in a vase while she talked endlessly.

I didn’t think anything could ever come between us after what we experienced together. My mom passed away eight years ago, only seven months after being diagnosed. Vivian and I got each other through it.

It’s hard to believe it’s the same person who now greets me at the door of my Dad’s house, barking out, “Have you lost more weight? I liked you better fat.”

She’s sixth months out of an 18-month jail sentence. If she was difficult to be around before, she’s unbearable now.

Vivian is a drug addict. She got caught calling in scripts from a doctor’s office. She was placed in a drug court program. She flunked out. None of this was her fault, of course. She’s a victim. She is a master at the role of Victim and an 18-month prison sentence didn’t change that. She’s a victim of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The doctor didn’t want to press charges. She’s a victim of the drug court. It’s not her fault she flunked out. After all, all she did was drink alcohol in her own home. She’s a victim of a judge who was “in a bad mood,” that day. I don’t remember how the DUI’s were not her fault, but I’m sure they weren’t. She’s a victim of her husband who divorced her. She’s a victim of her ungrateful kids. She’s a victim of Dad. She’s a victim of us.

When I see her now at my Dad’s, it’s like watching a chameleon, changing colors before my eyes. One minute she’s laughing hysterically, the next she’s feigning authoritative anger. She’s defiant and aggressive and then she’s demur, crying with a puppy dog face. She’ll tell you off, bark at you and seconds later tell you a story about herself, expecting you to be interested and supportive.

We used to talk to each other about once a week, telling each other everything that was happening in our lives. She doesn’t know anything about my life. She doesn’t know about Z. She doesn’t know I just got a new job. All she knows is what she sees and what she reads on facebook. What she does know about, she belittles and attacks.

“Kitten? Why do people call you Kitten? That doesn’t sound like you!”

“Kitten and Pickle….Huh….Big Deal.”

“When are you going to move out of that shitty apartment? Isn’t it really small?”

“Stephen (our older brother) never listened to Richard Marx! That’s not possible. I should know. I was there!”

“I’m not married. I don’t have a problem with it!” (This after her assertion that she has plans to sleep with a married high school friend.)

“Ya’ll need to tell me when you’re coming here. This is my home. This is my residence now.”

I’ve met most of this with as much quiet defiance and amusement as I can. I know her behavior has nothing to do with me. Even when it seems like she’s actively attacking me, it’s not about me. It’s where she is and she’s in five kinds of pain with a long road ahead.

She attacks my friend and I smile. She knows nothing about my love life and I’m keeping it that way. She says I’m too skinny and I go walk my five miles. She says I don’t know our brother like she does and I say, “Ok.” I stand up to her when I need to without letting her suck me into her drama.

My younger brother and I were there a couple of weeks ago with his two teenage kids. We all had birthdays around the same time, so Paul made cupcakes and we put candles in them and sang, “Happy Birthday.” Everyone blew theirs out. I took a few more seconds to consider my wish carefully. Vivian looked at me and yelled out, “BLOW IT OUT!!!”

Everyone turned and looked at her in surprise. “God, Vivian, what was that for?” I asked.

“I didn’t think you were going to blow it out,” she said.

“That’s no reason to yell at her,” my brother said.

I got my walking shoes on and went for a walk with my niece and nephew and we laughed off her strange behavior.

I never thought I would say this but I don’t want to be around her. I hope she comes back. I hope she figures out how to be in the world and I get my sister back. Until then, I’m hanging on the strength I have so carefully built up. No one is going to disrupt my peace.

I told Liz what Vivian had said under her breath, “Kitten and Pickle, Big Deal!” We had a good laugh over that. We call each other “big deal,” now all the time.

I posted a few things on facebook after I got this new job. One of them was thanking everyone for their support over the past couple of years. Vivian commented on the post, not knowing why I had made it. She didn’t ask.

A few days later, she posted something happy and positive. Someone else asked what the post was about. She was getting her divorce settlement, she replied, publicly. I messaged her privately, telling her I was happy for her and I hoped things started looking up for her.

She replied with a sad, pessimistic retort, saying she didn’t know when she would have the money and she was going crazy at Dad’s. No gratitude. No graciousness. Just the victim.

Big Deal!


From → Rantings

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