The Sane One

I’m the sane one in my family.

Just let that sink in for a moment.

Despite all of my kookiness and neurosis, I’m not crazy. I spent many years, many dollars and many tears in therapy to be able to say that. After a childhood like mine, it would have been easy to just sink into the comfort of denial like my sister, or outright delusion like my mother. To succumb to the mind eraser of addiction like my father. I needed instead to find a way to deal with my demons, lest they swallow me whole and burp me up broken. I found my first therapist when I was 16 years old, and the work that I started there with her continues still today.

These days, I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not crazy.

For years I kept my family at arm’s length. I wanted my daughters to grow up in as healthy a household as I could give them. We saw my family on special occasions, and spent a lot of time after those talking about what they saw. As my girls got older, they formed their own relationships with my family, and I’m proud of their balanced way of dealing with them. They have managed to see my mom and my sister with their own eyes, and accept who they are today.

I find that balance far more difficult.

I cannot separate who they are today from who they were 30 years ago anymore than I can separate my own 10 year old self from 40 year old me. Our history is too tangled to tease apart.

Because I insisted on being honest about my family’s problems and refused to stay in a home that offered me no shelter, my family thinks I’m the crazy one. When there was physical and emotional distance between us, it didn’t matter to me what they thought. It was easy for me to do the work of healing and accepting. It was easy to remember that I’m the sane one.

But now we’re living under the same roof again for the first time since I left at 15, and it’s more difficult to maintain that emotional distance that I need. In fact, it’s impossible.

The boundaries that I learned to put in place over the years have been breached. The hardships over the past year have made it challenging to set new ones. Dealing with one crisis after another doesn’t exactly set the tone for mental health work. Our situation here is ever evolving, and I’ve  not found solid enough footing to make a stand for myself and my sanity.

I fear that if I don’t, all of the work that I’ve done over the years will come unraveled and I’ll be laid bare in front of a family who has no history of treating my emotions with any kind of compassion. But it’s hard to take a stand from your knees.

I intended this blog post to be funny. To talk about my crazy mother leaving the shampoo in her hair so she wouldn’t have to wash it again. To laugh about arguing with my sister about whether or not she’d already had a pain pill and winning when I pinched her and she didn’t feel it. I had every intention of using the humor shield that I’ve wrapped around myself all of my life.

But in the absence of expensive therapy visits, one finds a way to do the work. I guess I needed to write this, to post this, to get this out.

Boundaries- I’m all for them. I need to find a way to set them again.

I am the sane one, even if I’m the only one who believes it.

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12 thoughts on “The Sane One

  1. I am glad you have claimed the freedom to define who and what you are, Whiskey. Never give that to anyone else, because it is hard earned.

  2. A wiser man than I am said you never step in the same stream twice. It seems to me that you have plumbed the depths and rejected the shallow, and are now splashing along, not necessarily sure what is around the next bend, but sufficiently confident that you can swim well enough to keep afloat.

    Pep

  3. Consider your risk for caregiver burn-out, you’re getting a double dose. While its admirable that you are caring for your mother and sister, everyone has limits. I see a lot of cases in the nursing home where patients are admitted because the caregiver died [often suddenly & unexpectedly]. Perhaps you should explore what other options for care are available.

    • That comes across to me as a bit harsh, but the intent is a good one. On first reading it sounds like you might be advocating having her loved ones put in an extended care facility, but Whiskey needs to know that there may be multiple options. There may be an elder care location where her mother can spend a day with people her age and condition while Whiskey takes some time for herself. There may be a program where someone could come in during the day and handle the care while Whiskey gets some time. I don’t know her area, so I can’t speak first hand, but the two ideas I mentioned are fairly common and worth looking into.

      Whiskey, you are a remarkable blogger, and I suspect you are a remarkable person. I hope you get some time to take care of yourself. I look forward to reading your work and seeing your pictures for a long time to come.

      • Thank you, Edward. I have looked into both of these options, and they are cost prohibitive for us, unfortunately. Our options are very limited right now.

    • I appreciate the comment. I have already explored other options for care. I prefer not to go into personal details about other people’s affairs here, so I won’t. Suffice to say, this is the best we can do right now. If there were ANY other option short of leaving my mom and sister to fend for themselves, TRUST ME, I would choose it. This is our situation, I’m just doing the best I can to deal with it.

Talk to me, people.

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