That scene from What About Bob?

“You’re the one drawing all the dirty pictures!”

Photo by arcreyes [-ratamahatta-] via Foter.com under CC BY-NC-SA

Feeling pretty sick when I think of me and Mom’s relationship. In general, I think I take too much responsibility for the success or workability of relationships. I mean, with Amy, Suzanne, Dad..maybe this is sociopathically simple, but..I feel bad when I’m in communication with them, so I stopped communicating with them. ? That’s a reasonable, self-loving thing to do, right? It’s not like I didn’t give them advance warning things were wrong between us — and it’s not like they’ve tried to patch things up with me. They’re not knocking down my door! But still, with Mom and me, for what should be a simple loving relationship to fail so miserably, it does literally make me sick — like feel physically nauseated.

But when I take a break from her — tell her the conversation is over and keep my door closed for a day — I start to feel better, and ultimately I feel my joy again, listening to Regina Spektor and communicating with spiritual people on YouTube, reflecting and writing and doing my thing. It’s key that I feel that joy. That joy is the meaning of life for me. It is the form I need my life to take. And I have it with some people and I have it by myself. We all have faults, but my mom’s family, my dad’s family, and my family — we are really sick. There are tiny little pockets of health here and there, but, man, I don’t think anybody self-aware could get along happily among my mother and her siblings. I think that’s a pretty safe statement. No judgment. But they are chipmunk fucking nuts. A true sentence in that family is like a hand grenade.

I don’t want to assume what my Mom feels, but I can point to a couple of disturbing events of the last few days, with as little interpretation as I can apply, that seriously make me want to erect a wall between me and her.

  1. She and my old psychiatrist were worried about my mental state. They suggested I see a Vanderbilt psychiatric evaluator. I did. The evaluator and I loved each other, cracked up laughing, talked candidly, forthcomingly, in detail — I can’t help but remember the scene in What About Bob? where his doctor takes him to a psych hospital and then they cut to a shot of all the staff in a semicircle around Bob and he’s telling them jokes. So, back in reality, the Vanderbilt psych evaluator determines that I’m fine and don’t need psychiatric help at this time. We decide I’ll proceed with outpatient psychiatric services. She said there was a wait to see a psychiatrist and she wasn’t worried about the gap in care for me — she was comfortable with me making it across that gap, and we discussed contingencies for emergencies. When I reported this to my mom, she disbelieved the Vanderbilt Medical Center psychiatric evaluator and continued to maintain that I was in danger, in rough shape, in need of immediate care, etc. There is something not right there.
  2. Later, Mom said she felt “vindicated” that I “still [didn’t] have a psychiatrist” when it was two days after my old psychiatrist discontinued my care and I did not yet have a Vanderbilt psychiatrist. I said I wasn’t going to assume what Mom feels — and I’m trying to stick to that — but her use of the word “vindicated” there makes me question her priorities and her motivation and her realism, actually. What’s more important, being vindicated (or right) about my inability to acquire a new psychiatrist in two days, or the fact that I have been given a clean bill of health and that my finding a new psychiatrist is in the works? To me that’s a positive state of affairs for her, for me, for society at large — not a negative one that justifies her feeling vindicated about being right about..what, exactly? Why not enjoy that things are going well? What is her motivation? To be right about my “failure” to obtain a new psychiatrist in two days, or to be a part of me being well? And her realism: no one finds a new psychiatrist in two days. That’s not a realistic idea. That she expected that makes me worry about her aging, actually — but with my own illness I doubt I will ever be able to take care of her in her old age. I am not physically able. I may not be mentally able.

Anyway I’m left with that scene from What About Bob? — happily, sadly. I don’t take any joy from seeing my mom in the Dr. Marvin position. But the dynamic fits us now — and not just metaphorically — bone-dry literally: She is convinced I’m in dire straits, but when she takes me to a mental hospital, I’m cracking jokes with the staff and they turn me away at the door saying I don’t need to be there.

I am ok to walk the streets

According to Vanderbilt Medical Center—but not to everyone

Photo by clement127 via Foter.com under CC BY-NC-ND

Dear [cousin] Kristi,

[parts omitted]

This has been a weird and rough week. Mom and I going through gyrations where she thinks I’m sick and I don’t think I’m as sick as she thinks. I feel pretty on top of things except when she lays in on me or questions my state..I track my moods six times daily and have a pretty good (if subjective) graph of my ups and downs, which has been excellent information to have. It doesn’t summarize my whole emotional state, but it gives a picture into part of it.

My doctor dumped me. Lol. My psychiatrist told me my case was “too complex” for his office to handle and to seek care at the nearby and prestigious Vanderbilt Medical Center. My old psychiatrist will not see me again.

So I went to Vanderbilt with Mom on Friday for an evaluation. I spoke, without Mom, with the psychiatric evaluator, for 1 or 2 hours. We had a raucous time. Her assessment is that I’m doing just fine and don’t need any psychiatric help at this time!!!!!!!++++ Ha!!

But I’m taking next steps to find a psychiatrist and other doctors at Vanderbilt to have — hopefully — my whole team of doctors at the same place to facilitate all of our communication.

My mom, after hearing this assessment from Vanderbilt Medical Center, one of the best hospitals in the world, was unconvinced. She still thinks I’m having a problem..am in dire shape..etc.

I’m not sure what to do about this last fact. But if things keep going in this direction, I may need to move into an apartment for the disabled, or just somewhere else, to get away from her — dare I say — stubborn and unrealistic views of my situation.

When I left the evaluator’s office, I came to my mom in the waiting room and said, “Ok, we can go.” She flipped out and was like “No we can’t go. We need to get a psychiatrist and make sure you’re ok and—” (this and that and this, worrying and worrying). I said, “I have the number we can call to take next steps on getting a Vanderbilt psychiatrist. [Then very calmly:] It’s ok. We can go.” I know her energy around this comes from her love for me. I love that. I love her. But when the Vanderbilt psych evaluator says you’re ok to walk the streets, you’re ok to walk the streets.

Can’t wait for our next interchange,

Matthew


Update 20 August 2016 7:33am

As I’m posting this email, Mom sits down at my doorstep and a conversation starts which quickly unfolds to a fight. She watched my YouTube video that a YouTuber suggested I show her. She says she had no idea she was snapping at me, slamming doors, etc. I said when we were kids you used to slam doors when you were angry and you do the same thing now.

She said she’s not angry.

I said I feel emotionally unsafe living with someone who snaps at me like she does, who doesn’t trust even the evaluation of a hospital she idolizes when it comes to my psychiatric state—even after they say I’m ok at this time, she disagrees..with Vanderbilt.

She said she’s talking about my overall wellness, including my tardive dystonia..she wants that to be well, too. I said Mom, TD is a chronic disorder..you were with me in the neurologist’s office when he said it was permanent, that it’s never going away. So wellness for me in that area may never involve eradicating the problem. It means, as my neurologist said, improving my quality of life given that I have the chronic disorder. Same thing with my bipolar..it’s chronic..it’s never going away. The best we can do is manage it. We’re looking for a 90% solution, not a 100% one.

Anyway she was very sad and didn’t realize that I felt unsafe approaching her and saying, “Do you realize you just snapped at me? [etc]” I said no I don’t feel safe saying that to you..I feel sure it would cause a fight! I’ve felt like I’m walking in a mine field for the last eight months with her.

But I’m not about to do anything rash—like a sudden move to another city.

I’m hopeful that I can receive good care at Vanderbilt. I’d like to continue living in this [my friend’s word] opulent apartment with my mom. I’d like if Mom and I could simply learn to get along (as we have before—something changed).

But I don’t like living with someone who seems 80% unhappy with her own life and 50% unhappy with mine.

She said she felt “vindicated” because I still don’t have a new psychiatrist set up (even though it’s only two days after my last one let me go). I said why would you say that? It makes you feel good that I don’t have a psychiatrist? That you’re right about something and I’m wrong? What kind of person would get off on the fact that her son didn’t have a psychiatrist lined up just because that makes her “right” opposed to someone else’s “wrong”? I mean seriously—what the fuck??

I wish I understood what happened between me and my mother because this is a person I love and I think there’s every reason in the universe why we should be getting along fine. I’m asking the Everything to help me in this situation, to help me act in loving ways myself and find the best thing I can do for both of us. I surrender on this one.

Oh and I’m living on the edge. She hates it when I say, “Have a good day.” She says it’s patronizing. She just left. For the first time in months, I said, “Have a good day.” Because that’s how I roll. I tell people to have good days because I like wishing people well, and if people don’t like to hear that, they can find someone else to listen to.


The vindication contradiction

If you read this carefully, you may notice what I call (local to this post) “the vindication contradiction.” On the one hand, I critique my mom for feeling vindicated that I haven’t procured a new psychiatrist two days after my old one dumped me. But don’t I express vindication earlier on when I say “Ha!!” at the result of the Vanderbilt psychiatric evaluator saying I don’t need any particular help right now?

Here’s the difference.

What I am saying with my “Ha!!” is Isn’t it funny what a subjective thing diagnosis is? and Isn’t it nice that someone thinks I’m ok? I don’t happen to feel that any of the diagnoses presented here—that I’m in dire straits, that my case is too complex to handle, or that I’m fine at this moment—are essentially right or wrong. They are subjective—clearly.

It gives me no joy psychologically that one or more of my diagnosticians is “wrong”—I am actually not thinking of any of them as being right or wrong..I am not thinking in those terms at all. Even when I say I think my mom’s views are “unrealistic,” I am not feeling vindicated (like I won something or proved something or that I’m justified).

To me this is not a fight—nor a football match.

My assumption is that we’re all on the same side.

Hurting

A conversation with a friend

Photo by chany14 via Foter.com under CC BY-ND

Note to readers, including MDs, psychiatrists, self-appointed psychiatrists, worried people, police, etc: This post describes some suicidal feelings. They are in the past. I am not suicidal now—I currently do not have any active or passive suicidal feelings or ideation. I have psychiatrists and a therapist and the feelings described here were dealt with at the time using the necessary resources. This conversation did not take place the date of this post, and I do not need any medical help at this time. If that changes, I will contact my doctors or 911. No present action is needed by you regarding this past matter. Please take none. Thank you for your care and inaction. I am very happy now and there is no need for us to meet =)


MT: I’m hurting.

DC: Oh no! In what way, Matthew?

MT: Physically and emotionally. I might be perfectly fine but deluded that I feel this way. The problem is wolves in sheep’s clothing.

DC: How do you mean?

MT: Like [my sister] Suzanne calls. Last night. And I already deleted her contact out of my phone. And I did not pick up the call. And I listen to the beginning of her message at least or maybe the whole thing—I don’t remember—and deleted it.

DC: Right.

MT: And I’m not saying that she is a knowing wolf or an intentional wolf. But by communicating with me only about surface issues and silently ignoring the serious deeper email questions that I have sent her, she hurts me. She doesn’t even acknowledge that I’ve asked those other questions. So she is in that way giving me the silent treatment while claiming to still be talking to me.

DC: That does sound very hurtful Matthew. It hurts me for you!!

MT: And the fact that at one time my father and both of my sisters are shutting me out in this way frankly makes me have suicidal feelings. And so I am dealing with it by shutting them out and making them less important in my own mind so that what they’re doing doesn’t justify me feeling suicidal.

DC: I’m so sorry Matthew. I’m hugging you, baby. That’s awful. You don’t deserve to be treated that way.

MT: No. It’s awful, awful treatment. But I’m sticking to my guns. Nobody gets to treat me that way and their reward for intentionally or unintentionally shutting me out is a big silent treatment fuck you from me. Which I hope in a way I can make last forever. Suzanne is doing the exact same thing that Dad used to do to me when we were talking maybe five years ago and before..

DC: Yeah, good. I’m glad you’re sticking to your guns they don’t even deserve you.

MT: ..which is talk about the superficial while implicitly denying that there is deeper hurting activity going on. So they come across as all pleasant and nice and loving but really they’re not. And I think I’m at a point in my development where basically I can’t talk to them anymore. Because even if it hurts, even if I’m at fault, I want an honest discussion. And those three people are not willing or capable of having that type of discussion. So I hope—in some ways lovingly—I am moving on so that I can do what I need to do for myself to flourish. That’s it.

DC: I think that is so healthy, Matthew.

MT: Thanks for listening. Thank you, baby. It’s really hard but I think it is healthy, too.

DC: I’m sorry it has to hurt so much. All I’ve been thinking about lately is how family members are the most fucked-up people you’ll probably know. They treat you worse than a stranger would smh I don’t get it.

MT: Thank you, baby. You’re so right about family and I think sometimes about lovers too. My dad and my sister Amy most certainly treat me worse than they treat a stranger.

DC: Yes yes for sure.

MT: And my girlfriend Rishi used to treat me so badly: insult me, not listen to me, discount my ideas, call me crazy politically, etc. etc. And then I would go see her at Starbucks where she worked..

DC: Exactly like what the fuck.

MT: ..and she would be sitting out front talking with some—I mean no offense but like schizophrenic homeless person (and you know I’ve been both)—and she is just listening and caring and leaning in and touching their knees and just loving this person so much. And I’m like: Wow. My girlfriend of years treats me like a piece of shit and treats a total stranger as though they were her intimate. I’m sorry I’m not doing a good job of listening. You were saying.

DC: Dang, boo, that’s shitty.

MT: Yeah well I kicked her out.

DC: Oh good.

MT: I hear what you’re saying about family.

DC: Yeah. Thank you for talking to me, Matthew. It means a lot to me.

MT: For sure, baby. I feel like I interrupted you, though. I’m here to listen if you want to talk more.

DC: No I was just relating to what you were saying. It’s a sad revelation.

MT: Yes it is. I don’t know..here’s something. My little sister Amy searches for her name in my memoir, reads all the parts about her, then gets really mad at me without ever having read the entire book.

DC: Oh my fucking god.

MT: So she has a completely warped idea of what the book is about and how her scenes fit into the whole—which by the way happens to be about me..not her.

DC: Right.

MT: And she has absolutely no concept that the little ways in which the book makes her look bad pale in comparison to the ways it makes me look bad. I feel it’s unfair treatment for someone to judge me based on excerpts of a book!

DC: Smh that’s just really self-absorbed of her.

MT: I mean commit to reading the whole thing before you open your fucking mouth about it. Yeah, you’re right.

DC: Yeah very unfair.

MT: Yeah, like you said, it’s all about her. Fuck it. I’m moving on.

DC: Good, baby.

MT: This conversation has been really good for me. I hope it has been for you, too.

DC: Yes! :)


See the picture above? The most delicate, wispy strands encastled in a mega-fortress of thorns. This is a common pattern in nature. Think of a rose. Beautiful things, exotic things—like a rose, like those white wisps above—often partner with the highest walls, the most violent weaponry, the safest, warmest wombs—to protect them. Because they cannot grow their exotic beauty out in the open, without that protection. Every rose has its thorn can mean a million things, but I ask you to consider this meaning: that exotic beauty cannot even come into existence without first setting up diabolical protections against those who would harm it. I already have some of those types of protections in place in my life. I am setting up more.

Life is not set in stone

And my rocks are moving and shaking, baby

Photo by www.vincent.photo via Foter.com under CC BY-NC-ND

I adapted this journal entry from yesterday into an email to my sisters and my dad today:

To: My sisters and my dad
Subject:
Stardate 21 June 2016

Within the context of my life, I’m where it’s at.

When I experience Suzanne’s communication style (selectively ignoring my communiqués) it makes me feel bad. When I experience Amy and Jaymz’ bizarre behavior, it makes me feel bad. Ditto Dad — though he’s a lost cause in my mind.

If these people want me in their lives, they’re going to have to make changes to accommodate me.

I have a valuable, lovable, functional thing going on.

I’m worth other people entertaining me, honoring me, accepting me — not me making all the changes all the time. And if they don’t think I’m valuable enough to do that for, then it truly is their loss and I will (and have begun to) move on without them.

Matthew

I’m not angry at these three people. I don’t wish ill upon them. We’ve all been close in the past in our various ways and in my mind, my nuclear family is special, worth fighting for, an ideal that I have wanted to preserve.

But all is not set in stone.

And when something is not working, it is time to make a change.

And here, with these three people (and more people in my extended family) it is time to make a change. I am not dirt and I am not to be treated that way. I am mentally ill, yes, but I see a PCP, a team of psychiatrists, a neurologist, a counselor, I take big-time meds, many supplements, eat an extremely healthy diet, have been sober for two years, off street drugs for many more than that, and I live a quiet, reflective life. My shit is as together as it’s going to get. And it’s good enough to have maintained multi-decade friendships with no significant conflict, to have a best friend I communicate with every day with mutual respect and love, and so when my relationships with some of my immediate family are crashing and burning, the blame-Matthew-for-everything technique is not going to fly anymore.

Other people have to do their part.

They may not want to. They may not be capable of doing it. They may not realize changes are needed and appropriate on their end, but nevertheless, a relationship is a two-way street and I’m not feeling the motion on the other side of the street with these three and some others in my extended family.

Amy, Suzanne, Dad: consider yourselves lucky. The other ones didn’t even get a note. They just got their numbers deleted. You I insanely love enough to voice my hurt to, to try one more time to get you to hear that you are hurting me.

And while the feeling part of me would stay locked forever with you in this abuse, the thinking/logical part of me will not. I need you to listen to me. The cost of not doing so is our relationship. And don’t think, if your behavior is dragging me down, that I will not cut the rope and go on being the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world. My life is rocking the house. My spirit is healthy—or as healthy as a spirit gets. The move is on you. It is your turn to see if you can integrate someone happy and healthy and seeking, through therapy and all the means listed above, even more happiness and healthiness. You either have the means to integrate me into your lives or you have not. I want to be there. But I’m not going to beat my head against the wall forever. We can be in relationship with each other, or we can say goodbye right now. I am perfectly capable of either.

“A kingdom of isolation, and it looks like I’m the queen.”

— “Let It Go,” Frozen

Photo by Lux-et-la-Liberte via Foter.com under CC BY-NC-SA

I’ve been isolating myself for a long time. Even back in the 11th grade, when my favorite lunch table clique became too cliquey, I moved to an empty table. I left my favorite people in the world and sat at an empty table. All you really have to do to isolate yourself is make up your own set of values and act according to them — you will quickly be alone.

I don’t isolate myself from everyone, which I think is interesting. I have a few friends I’ve known for 18 years or so who I’ve never fought with, never had a clash, whom I’ve never wanted to push away forever.

My dad and I have pushed each other away, I think. But in a way I must take greater responsibility because I am a lot more complex a person than he is. Early in my life he made it clear I wasn’t living up to his expectations. But it was even earlier in our lives that I had decided he wasn’t living up to mine. And instead of accepting him as who he is, I have shunned him — and I think appropriately so. He refuses to be honest with me, so even if I accept him for who he is, there won’t be what I call a real relationship there. To me the option seems to be farce..or nothing. And I choose nothing.

Now I find myself doing the same with my sisters, so the looking glass isn’t on my father’s shortcomings, it’s on me and mine.

I’m not going to blame my actions on my mental illness — I wouldn’t know how if I tried. I really don’t understand my mental sickness well enough to know how it’s affecting my behavior with my sisters now and others throughout my life history.

And I can’t single myself out as the only problem point, because as I currently don’t talk to either of my sisters, they currently don’t talk to each other. So it is a rough time, but it would be inaccurate to say that all the roughness stems from me.

Still, it’s my end of the problem that I want to solve, my actions that I want to change, my life that’s what I want to do better so I can love these sisters who currently seem so alien to me that cutting bait and motoring the ship onward seems the best choice.

I know my problem is about acceptance and expectations. About releasing my hold on what I think reality should or could be and accepting what reality is.

I’m really bad at this.

I mean I’ve had counsellors telling me this for about 10 years, and I still can’t get it right. When I do, things go beautifully. But it’s a sad world for me, because I have a very busy imagination and it has really quite a dense portfolio of ideas about what could be, what could have been.

And they’re all wrong.

Nothing could have been except exactly what is.

My father couldn’t have been any different. My sisters can’t be any different.

But I’m not even sure acceptance can help me here, because I’m so profoundly unhappy with how my father treats me, how one and now the other of my sisters treats me, that I’m not sure I want to be in relationship with them.

Maybe the awful ways they’re treating me are because of the awful ways I’ve treated them. Maybe not. Maybe we’re just really different from each other — I think this is true. But what’s are they providing for me? My dad has never provided enough value for me to consider a relationship with him valuable to me. One of my sisters, yes, sometimes. One of them, I guess yes in a lesser way. They have both housed me when I was in crisis, so they obviously care for me, or love me, whatever that means. But they also yell at me and curse at me and ignore my communication even when I make them a nice card and email it. And I can’t take that. I can’t take the irrationality of the younger and the disregard of the older. I don’t see how I can be in their lives and still respect myself, respect my own needs about how I deserve to be treated as a person. They don’t operate on my level, in some ways — they don’t meet my expectations. So the question is: can I accept them?

And the hard answer, right now, is that I’m not sure that I can.

Or maybe—and this is even worse, but maybe—I don’t want to.

It’s crazy, because I know I could be the bigger person and accept the shortcomings and humanity of these two people who have loved me when they could, helped me when they could, and who are lovely people, amazing people—and they’re my sisters! Maybe my own mind doesn’t have enough resources to do it. I don’t want this to be the final chapter..2016 was the year we stopped talking and never started again. But why would I relate to people whose communication patterns are so coarse as to cut me when they use them? And then I get mad at myself: why can’t I just give them a break? They’re imperfect, so what, we all are and are they really hurting me? I mean I don’t like the anger and the cussing and the disregard, but I’m a very smart 38 year old who doesn’t have to let any of that get under my skin. I have all the people skills needed to handle my sisters, my brother in law, my dad. I just don’t want to use them because isn’t it someone else’s turn to be nice to me, to comfort me, to be the bigger person for my sake? Maybe not. Maybe my being the bigger person falls on me rightly simply because I can do it.

When you play that role, you most often play it alone. It’s like the sheep and the shepherd: there are many sheep but only one shepherd.

It’s probably too late for me to save my relationships with my sisters. I have no desire to save my relationship with my father because to me he is an empty person. The shame is mine for not being the bigger person with him all along, or else we might have a shell of a relationship. I’m sorry, Suzanne and Amy. I have not been strong enough to accept you. I guess our relationships are trashed at this point — they are for me. I wish you good lives with people you deserve, and who deserve you and your love. Sadly, I am not that person.

[This was never sent to those involved, only published here. I don’t really care if they read it or not.]

Yesterday, a real vision of how sick I am

Writing and reflection helped me see it.

Photo by chibitomu via Foter.com under CC BY-NC-ND

Yesterday’s I feel crazy sprawling journal post, combined with self-observation and talks with my mom, gave me a real vision of how sick I am—or maybe just a little glimpse of it that will cover over and leave me feeling that I am the normal one and everyone else is crazy, which is roughly what I have thought my whole life.

I saw, again, that I hound others when they don’t stack up to my unrealistic expectations of their acumen, communication skills and styles, and whatever other characteristics, and they end up not wanting to be in relationship with me because they feel judged. And they are—they are judged by me.

I saw, frankly, how I’m not just letting people be who they are and accepting them as they are.

I see, constantly, when listening to my mom reflect on my actions, that just by who I am, I am the problem. I assume that my sisters, my dad, don’t want to relate to me. Maybe it’s more like they can’t. My mom and her siblings have a well-structured, low-contact type of relationship matrix. I was critical of my mom when I was 31 that she didn’t even have her brother’s phone number, that they never talked. At 38, I see that my critique was immature. From when I was young, I always thought my family was on the same page. Or maybe I just wanted us to be on the same page. Or maybe I was just imagining that we were. Probably this last. But we’re totally not.

Like I press my sister, who has said she doesn’t believe in my nephew’s sensory processing disorder or any disorder, really..I press her on whether she thinks bipolar disorder is real, and she doesn’t answer. While I felt this was relevant..doesn’t it matter if my sister views me as having a real organic brain disorder or rather views me as someone with a healthy brain who has some sort of imaginary disorder built within it? But my mom says, you wouldn’t press her on a matter of religion. Excellent point. I would never require anyone I was in relationship to have the same religious beliefs as me—I would never even ask. And this seems more personal, more relevant (whether my sister believes in the bipolar paradigm)..is it, really? I mean she doesn’t sit in on my doctor’s visits. Who cares what she thinks? She’s not going around bugging me, saying, I don’t believe in mental disorders—but I am going around bugging her, saying, do you believe in mental disorders? And she never responds.

Maybe a little bit of the narcissist in me thinks: The dad of me and the sisters of me and the mom of me should want to be interested in me because I’m worth being interested in. But none of them show that interest. They have their own lives and they are (like most people) self-consumed. This is probably quite natural, and for me to expect different is crazy. My family is not particularly interested in my talents, my illnesses, or anything else about me except (occasionally) my well-being. I mean let’s use this metric: when I wrote my family an email saying I had just gotten out of a mental hospital for a suicide attempt, only my mom wrote back—my sisters, my dad, never acknowledged the event in speech or text. They just ignored it. They just ignored me.

(That’s what it felt like anyway.)

But my mom suggests that their silence had less to do with me and more to do with them—they probably weren’t equipped to handle that sort of information, and it probably stirred up their own un-dealt-with fears of mortality, and she further suggests that it would take a pretty well developed and integrated person to handle that info.

I expect more than that from my family, but maybe my expectations are unreasonable.

I feel very unloved by them. I feel our relationships are asymmetrical, when it comes to caring.

And I’m tired of spinning my wheels with my sisters and dad. I am attempting, now, as I have with my dad before, to simply stop communicating with them. My attempts at relationship are only frustrating everyone involved. I truly wish them, and myself, peace. But I think I see, more than before, that I’ve been trying to paint them in a light in which they do not exist. I want to have a relationship with my sisters, in theory—but do I want to have a relationship with (and can I accept) who they really are? My mom assures me that they want to have relationships with their older brother.

But here’s where I’m a shit older brother.

Or maybe I’m just mentally ill.

I’m not sure that I can be the bigger person.

I may have to let some people go, perhaps forever, perhaps for a while, but decisively—not for them, for only they can take care of themselves—but for me, in my attempt to take care of my own.

Eating crawfish