Some say that anger is a negative emotion. And to some extent it is. But it can help motivate us to do things that need to be done. It can also be part of the healing process when it comes to grief or other traumatic events. This is where I find myself. Over the past year, I have had a chance to get over the grief over the death of my parents. But the anger at those around remains.
When it comes to anger, some say you should just “get over”it, that if you don’t there is something wrong with you. I disagree completely. Yes, you need to get over anger, but it is a process. And when it comes to things that are felt deeply, that takes some time. I am working through my anger at these people, but it is a process.
I wanted to write about it for a couple of reasons. First, writing is one of the ways I work through and process the world around me. Second, there may be others who are working through their anger as well. Maybe working through . my process will help others working through theirs. And anger is often so criticized that you may feel guilty for even feeling angry. But anger can, and often is, a healthy part of healing. You must learn to work through the anger before you can let it go. If you deny yourself the process of working through that is when problems occur and it turns into bitterness.
It take strength and vulnerability to admit anger and work through it. And I have never been one to shy away. So sit down and get comfortable.
I was the only one who took care of my mother when she was sick. And then when my father was sick as well. I have often talked about how hard it was, and that I was alone. I am so angry that I had to go through all of it by myself. Why didn’t I have help? And it wasn’t my friends who let me down, it was my family.
When my father died, one of my siblings was there, but none of them were there when Mom died. And after Dad’s death, after having had taken care of him for 7.5 months, I had to plan and do everything myself again. Right after Dad died, the ex was being an ass and trying to get my utilities turned off, my siblings were wanting information, I was trying to call all the family and friends, I was arranging everything with the funeral home, arranging things with Hospice and who would need access to the benefits offered. I was dealing with the assisted living facility Dad was at when he died, and what needed to happen since I had a weekend of company coming – I had my brother insisting that he and his kids come down for a visit.
We will start with my ex, who had moved out 2 weeks earlier. The day after Dad died, he was trying to get my utilities turned off. He refused to give me the information needed to pay my part of the rent, and he even had his mother come over to “discuss” things with me…all the day after Dad died. He refused to help or even be nice. Most people back off when a parent dies…he went into full attack mode, something I will never understand. He continued this behavior right up until the 1st anniversary of my mother’s death. And stopped then only then because he was blocked from every kind of communication. After he treated me this way, I often wonder if he did anything to Dad while it was just the two of them. When his sweet parents pass, a part of me hopes he has someone around him making his life hell like he did mine. Then another part of me wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Only a very sick and damaged person would attack another so unnecessarily when a parent dies.
Then my brother. Dad passed on a Wednesday, Friday I picked up my brother and his two children from the airport. And I was expected to entertain them and make sure that they had a good time on this visit. So, I was a good little robot and did what was expected…..I took care of them, took them out to eat, cooked for them, made sure they were entertained and had a good time. My brother told me that the one thing I had to do while they were down was to take he and his kids to Nascar. So I paid $800 and took them where they had great seats (I don’t even like Nascar). The attitude was greedy and Gimme, gimme. There was no asking “How are you? Are you OK? Can I do anything?” There were no offers to help, as still. No offers to help make phone calls, or help plan final arrangements, or answer questions, or talk to the assisted living place. He only wanted me to entertain he and his kids.
I paid for them to fly down, all entertainment and food out of my own pocket. Then paid to fly him down again just a few days later for Dad’s service. During that time there was still no offer to help, even though he had been given two all expense paid trips down. Not even an offer to help drive the 4 hours from Atlanta to Valdosta where the service was held. I had to drive there and back. I had not slept for days and was terrified I might fall asleep while driving. After the service we all went out for much needed drinks, and one of my best friends paid the tab for all of us.
I had to beg the ex to come to the funeral, and had to beg even harder to get him to day something at the service. We lived together with Dad, it was appropriate for him to say something about the man he lived with for 7.5 months. He eventually obliged, but made it clear it was not willingly. He sat beside me at the service. I was sobbing uncontrollably when they Honor Guard presented Dad’s flag to be on bended knee. He refused to comfort me in any way. His response was “compassion must be earned.”
My closest sibling did have a family friend plan the reception after the service so that I did not have to. All I had to do was pay the bill. That help was so very much appreciated, as there is no way I could have done it. I heard it was a lovely service, with delicious catered food. I really don’t remember any of it.
None of them were there while I was taking care of our father. There were no offers to help, no one asking how I was, no offers to fly down for a weekend and even give me a break from being a full time care giver to a termally ill man. There were no offers of financial help, since I was carrying the cost myself. There were no offers of advice or a shoulder or ear offered. They never called, emailed or text messaged. I was the one who kept in touch with them and kept them updated on Dad’s status. The sibling closest to Dad saw him twice, maybe 3 times during the 7.5 months, the others only saw him once when I said they needed to come down before he was too sick.
After Dad passed, 3 of the 4 siblings only wanted ot know about the will, and even chastised me for taking so long to get information to them. I was shocked by their attitude…and wanted to tell them to shove it, but I kept quiet instead. They were further upset by the will and lashed out at me for the document that was written 14 years prior, as if I had anything to do with it. Fourteen years ago, two out of the three of them were not even in our lives, as they had made it clear they never wanted anything to do with any of us. Nor were any of them there to help Dad during any of his 6 years of chemo treatment…yet clearly they felt entitled because of blood line. Being a family is more than blood. They complained and lamented about events that happened well before I was born, yet seemed to blame me for the outcome.
The siblings further acted out when they called me overly dramatic, saying that I had lied about many things and that I deserved everything bad that had happened to me in life because “that was life catching up with me.” They said that I didn’t have a relationship with them, that I should “take the hint,” and that what communication they had with me was strange to them and they did not like it. And they did not like me. They said many horrible and hurtful things, before I finally said it was enough. I loved them, but you cannot make anyone love you back. I swallowed the dreams I had of us learning more about each other down with the tears.
During this time I felt so desperately alone. I felt isolated. I was in so much emotional pain, and there was no family around. The heartache was palpable and this was a horrible time for me. I felt very depressed. And I felt humiliated. I had loved them and thought that we could have a relationship. While I was thinking that, they were talking to each other, deciding the information I was giving them was a bunch of lies, even though they had never been around to see anything for themselves. That’s right, they had never lowered themselves to actually be present, but thought so much of themselves that they would make judgements about the situation and about my morality.
I remember my mother warning me about them before she passed away. My mother told me to be careful, because they always had to hate and be angry at someone . They always had to blame someone, ever since they were little. It is what they were taught my their mother. But I did not listen. I thought that all adults involved during that time were dead, so I would not carry that bias. It was a fresh start, in my eyes, That would not be the case, as they proved my mother right. I felt stupid and naive. I had even been warned, and yet I left my heart unguarded.
You know who did ask what they could do during this time? My friends. It was my friends who asked what they could do, if I needed anything. It was my friends who asked if they could help make phone calls, it was my friends who asked if they could run errands for me, help with final arrangements, write Dad’s obituary even. It was my friends who called to make sure I was OK, who asked if I had had a chance to shower, or eat, or change into clean clothes…it was my friends who help me as I cried, my friends who offered to cook for me, my friends to came over to make sure I was not alone in that big empty house. My siblings….were happy to not be involved.
So yes, I am angry at my siblings. They let me down during the most painful and desperate time of life. I am the youngest of 5, and yet I have to answer people when they ask why I had to do everything myself, why I was alone through all of it. And I shrug and tell them the truth – I don’t know.
My cousins were there, and still are there for me. One cousin was there when Mom died after my sister ran off and left me to take care of both my father and Mom while she was dying. I thank God my cousin was there to comfort Dad while I held Mom’s hand and stroked her hair as she passed. I am thankful that we all still talk and plan to visit. I need them. I need connection to some kind of family.
I sitll have a reasonable relationship with one sibling. And I have come the furthest with forgiveness for her. The others… one day forgiveness will come, but that is not today. Today I am still, finally, working through my anger. I am addressing it and naming it, because only then can you deal with it. I should never have had to deal with, plan and do everything alone. I should have never had to deal with the crazy demented ex who thought that was the best time to get what he wanted from me because that is when I would be at my weakest (he was wrong). This is not a feel-sorry-for-me post, exactly thew opposite. Because I DID everything without any of them. I have been fine without them. But that does not mean I am a rock. I am human, I felt pain and I feel anger now.
They say your friends are the family you get to choose. In that respect, I have the best, most supportive, most loving, incredible family imaginable. And I am beyond thankful for them. It is sad, because all I have ever wanted is a large family with lots of love. But life is life. I have wonderful friends who are there for me. That’s all I need.
It has been cathartic to write and hopefully it will help others who are working through anger as well. Being able to name and discuss the anger is key to working through it and getting to the other side. And if you don’t deal with it, you become and angry, bitter shell of a human. I will not let that happen. I am stronger than the anger. I will work through it and come out better than before.
I have a good life, I am happy, But I am not perfect and neither is life.