I love my family. I do. But I also resent them. A lot. And lately it’s been really bothering me. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe because the weather’s changing and I’ve been thinking about how nice it would be to take a stroll with my sister-in-law. Maybe because I went a few days without a phone and realized that no one would have known if I hadn’t posted anything on Facebook about it. Or maybe it’s just time to get over it.
So, like I always do when I want to do something, I warmed up my favorite search engine and looked for anything I could find on resentment. I came across this quote:
It stopped me in my proverbial tracks. One of the things I truly value (and I know this cause I’ve gone over my values a couple of times in the last few months in counseling) is trying to do God’s will and grow spiritually. The fact that I’m disrupting my values by holding onto resentment gives my bone marrow frostbite.
So I sat there and thought about it. Why was I so resentful of my family? Here’s why…
Somehow growing up I picked up the conviction that getting help by asking for it means less than if someone figures out that you need help and offers it. I’m not quite sure why I picked up that conviction, but I did. What’s worse, I typically don’t ask for help until the last possible second, usually right before disaster strikes. Like right before I slit my wrists.
Unfortunately, most of my family doesn’t think the say way as I do. Especially my brother and sister-in-law, the ones I feel most resentful towards. You see, I needed a lot of help the past year or so. As you may recall from this post, this post, this post, and this post, I was suicidal and went through a major traumatic injury. My brother and sister-in-law are the only family members who could help me (everyone else lives too far away) during those times and I resented it when they didn’t help me more.
What was I expecting from them? Well, when I got home from the psych ward, both times, I expected them to check in with me once in a while. By phone if nothing else. If I didn’t call or stop by, I expected them to call me or stop by my place (I live less then 10 minutes away from them). I didn’t receive any check ins. Ever.
After I broke my arm and was in a cast from my armpit to wrist, I expected a daily visit until I was able to do things like pull up my pants up one handed and cook myself dinner. I got daily visits the first two days. I couldn’t pull up my own pants one handed for a month after I was released from the hospital (they kept getting caught on my fat rolls. Remember, I’m circus-fat-lady fat), and I couldn’t cook for two months. In addition, I was on pain killers for six weeks. Pain killers and a history of suicide…not a good thing.
The part that I hate most about how resentful I feel is that I knew I wasn’t gonna get any help from my family unless I asked for it. My brother works too much to be able to help me (he works twelve to eighteen hours a day, typically seven days a week. He’s been known to go three months without a day off). So it was my sister-in-law, a “Domestic Engineer” (aka housewife) who would/should be checking in on me. Now, don’t get me wrong. I adore my sister-in-law. She’s the best thing to ever happen to my brother and a wonderful person. She just believes that it is a person’s responsibility to ask for help; that one shouldn’t just help a person without that request. Her belief comes out of her own past of domestic violence and addiction. And that works for her. It just doesn’t work for me.
Why? Because when I’m deeply depressed, suicidal, traumatized, and in pain, I don’t ask for help unless it’s an
The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli 1781
emergency (like gotta call 911 emergency). I can’t. And I mean that in an almost physical sense. I spent hours lying on my bed keeping myself alive by telling myself over and over that if I just stayed in bed, I would be able to resist the impulse to kill myself. That if I got up, took that step closer to the drawer where I kept my medications, I would take every single pill I owned in an effort to die. The thought of calling someone for help did cross my mind, and, in occasional moments of logic, I tried to get myself to do it, but I couldn’t. I remember the words piling themselves up at the back of my throat. And I couldn’t get them into my voice box and out of my mouth. No matter how many times I tried to get my hands to pick up a phone, they wouldn’t move. It was almost like psychological paralysis. It sounds dramatic, even soap opera worthy, but it’s true. I couldn’t speak, couldn’t move, couldn’t do anything other than breathe and fight the impulse to kill myself. All of my energy was used up in that fight. I had nothing left to ask for help.
So I didn’t get any help from my family. And the only family member in any position to help me was not pre-supposed to help without being asked. And I knew this. I knew it and yet it still hurt when I didn’t get the help I couldn’t ask for. It still hurts today. And so the resentment grows. And grows.
I haven’t spoken with my family in any way other than through social media in about two months. And I hate it. I miss them so much. I want a hug from my sister-in-law. I want to tease my brother and see that twinkle in his eye that makes him him. I want to hug their dog and chat about NCIS and their grandchildren. I want to find out what home improvement plans they are gonna tackle this summer. I want to see my brother and sister-in-law laugh and kiss and hug in that way that is their own.
But I can’t do it until I let go of this resentment that I know is totally irrational. I know that they were never going to be able to help me in the way that I wanted, or even needed, to be helped. I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I knew it. And yet I still expected and wanted it from them.
I suppose that ultimately what’s preventing me from letting it go is that I can’t forgive myself for expecting the impossible from them. I can’t forgive myself for needing help. And if I can’t forgive myself, how am I gonna be able to forgive them?
Blessings to you all.