Families are funny things.
We grow up believing that they will always be there. And sometimes they are.
But sometimes – they’re not.
Being the oldest of four, I was always the ‘little mommy’. I always had extra responsibility. (And blame.)
It took me until I was well into my 20’s to realize that I needed to start taking care of myself, because no one else was going to do it for me.
The rest of this blog is somewhat difficult to write, and even harder to share. I won’t go into great detail of the pain & heartbreak, but it shows my raw underbelly and makes me feel seriously vulnerable. Part of me worries about the reactions I may get, but it’s something I’ve been rolling around in my head and have to get it out… So, here goes.
When I had just started my freshman year in high school, my mother and father decided to get a divorce. My mother moved a couple of hours away up to this little mountain community that was BEAUTIFUL and took my 2 younger sisters and younger brother. I stayed behind because I had already started a school year.
After they moved, my mother and some of her friends took a trip to the beach for her birthday weekend and as the story goes, she was roller skating and the wheels were loose and she fell and broke both arms – wrist on one arm, elbow on the other.
As you can imagine, trying to do ANYTHING with two broken arms is nearly impossible. So, I packed up and moved to Big Bear with my mother and siblings to help (High School #2). Little mommy to the rescue.
Cooking, cleaning, helping with homework. All things I did. Showering & bathroom trips were on the Top 5 list of “Things I Did But Did NOT Look Forward To”! Needless to say, my mother and I got pretty close.
There were a lot of things that happened in the following years that forced me to grow up rather quickly. All of them left memories I’ll never forget – good and bad.
Big Bear is an AMAZING town. It’s charming and peaceful and enchanting. It’s a great place for children to grow up. But there’s a side to it that a lot of people don’t see. Because there isn’t really much to do, sadly, a lot of people turn to drug use. And it seems fairly easy to obtain those drugs. I’m sure that’s the case in most towns, but only more recognizable there because of the size of the town.
I NEVER found drugs as a temptation. I think after the first or second time someone asked me if I wanted to try them, word quickly spread that my answer was not one that people would willingly put themselves in a position to hear.
Unfortunately, the situation wasn’t the same for my younger sister.
I moved to Florida for my Junior Year (High School #3) and there is still a part of me that wonders if I hadn’t, how different things might have been.
Long story short: my younger sister became involved in a LOT of detrimental activities. She went from an honor roll student to a high school dropout. She got pregnant at a young age and straightened out – for a while.
But addiction is powerful.
She became involved in drugs again after having back surgery. She had a doctor that prescribed pain pills like candy, until she was red-flagged at many pharmacies. Apparently, the street price of prescription narcotics is MUCH higher than the more deadly drugs and they spun their web tightly. I had tried to get the family to do an intervention YEARS before when I saw red flags waving strongly. But for reasons I have never understood, my sister is quite good at convincing people to believe what she wants them to. She quickly lost her footing on the slippery slope of serious drug use.
A few months after my miscarriage, I learned that she was pregnant. The baby was born a few weeks before my husband and I would have been due and faced a rough road to get beyond the withdrawals.
A few months ago, I learned that she was trying to get custody of her daughter and I wrote a letter to the courts asking them to carefully consider all the facts. When I wrote my blog about it, I specifically said that I knew that what I’d done wouldn’t be received kindly by some. And I was right.
My mother is the kind of person that is ALWAYS looking to help people. To some, it could be perceived as a “fix-it” mentality. She has a soft spot for those that are in a bad way and sometimes even puts herself in rough situations thinking that it will help that person come around.
I learned that my mother had been helping my sister with many things – including moving in with her and helping her try to get her daughter back. When she found out that I’d written a letter to the courts, she took it pretty badly and I was accused of being bitter and jealous. A lot of hurtful things were said.
And we haven’t really talked since.
It is so weird to me to have so many great things going on in my husband’s and my life and not be able to share it with her. I know my mother loves me, but I feel like she’s chosen my sister over me. And it hurts.
I know how short life is. I know that not forgiving someone doesn’t hurt the offender. In fact, it sets the offended free. So, I’ve done that.
But I have to protect me and my husband and the family that we are trying so desperately to have. So, I’ve chosen to let go of relationships that can feel unhealthy at times, regardless of how difficult that may be.
I don’t claim to be perfect. I know I’ve said some hurtful things before. And I can only hope that they can forgive me for them.
I firmly stand in my belief that tough love is often not only the right way but the BEST way.
So, while it’s difficult and often painful to not be able to pick up the phone and share my excitement over J’s and my new house with someone I used to be so close to, we are going to move on with our lives and thoroughly enjoy every moment.
One Day At a Time.