I have to.

I think I’m going to have to call my grandparents and ask if I can stay with them for a week for the wedding.  I really didn’t want to do that, but it’s the only way I can afford to go to my sister’s wedding now that I have to buy a plane ticket.  I can’t afford a hotel too.

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve barely spoken to my grandparents in the past 8 months.  See, they funded my treatment for a long time–it’s expensive, but my grandfather is the VP of Investments at a major brokerage firm.  They’ve got plenty of money to spare.  I have mixed feelings–I’m grateful that he funded my treatment, but he also interfered a lot and yanked me out of the only program that was really helping me.  And then, at the end of last year, he cut me off.  I went from having an apartment he paid for and treatment where I saw someone every day to basically nothing.  I had to move into a one-bedroom apartment with two other people because the only money I have now is the $700 a month from Social Security.  My treatment team is no more–now all I have is ICM, who’s totally useless.

(BTW, she apparently is on vacation this week and didn’t bother to tell me.)

See, my grandparents think I’m faking my illness for attention and using it as an excuse not to grow up and take care of myself.  By that logic, they assume cutting me off will cure me because I’ll have to stop faking it.  Clearly that’s working great.

I’ve always had a complicated relationship with my grandparents.  When I was a teenager, I bounced between living with my mother and living with them.  That had a lot to do with their relationship with my mother and my relationship with my mother.  They think she’s a bad mother, and in a lot of ways, they’re right–but I think she got that way mostly because of the damage my grandfather did to her.

See, my grandfather is a narcissist.  He’s very focused on achievement, and it only counts if it’s what HE defines as achievement.  I grew up listening to him mock my mother for being a special ed teacher: “Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach.”  In front of her children.  He also likes to debate, but she doesn’t, and he bullied her.  She’s one of five children, but he’s always made it clear that she’s the one he doesn’t approve of.  I have a lot of sympathy for that, for her as a child, but I don’t have sympathy for her choices as an adult because she verbally and emotionally abused us and neglected us.

My grandmother, on her own, is very sweet and caring.  But she won’t stand up to my grandfather, never has.  I’m not sure if she even has her own opinions.  Most of her life centers around taking care of my grandfather–cooking for him, cleaning for him, doing laundry for him, ironing his underwear for him (seriously), sewing for him.  She’s never had her own job.  She seems happy with it, though.  But I sometimes want to shake her and scream, “Be your own person!  Have your own opinions!  Have your own life!”

The last time I talked to them was on my birthday, at the beginning of June.  Before that, it had been at least six months.  I figured since they weren’t giving me any money, I was no longer obligated to talk to them.  My grandfather has made it clear that I’m the family fuck-up and have no value in his eyes because I’m not working or achieving anything, so I didn’t really want to deal with it anymore.  When my grandmother called me on my birthday, we talked a little, and then she gave him the phone.  We went from “Happy birthday” to “When are you going to get a job?” in less than three minutes.  I blew it off with excuses about my physical illness, but it really hurt.  He knows how to turn me back into a little girl desperate for approval and love that are extremely conditional, and that pisses me off.

But I don’t have another choice.  There’s no one else in Birmingham I can stay with.  I can’t afford a hotel and a plane ticket.  So I’ll have to put up with the shit from my grandfather and the silence from my grandmother.  They’ll probably think I’m being overdramatic if I need to use my cane or it I’m sick or in pain.  I’ll have to deal with knowing I had to ask them for help again.  I really, really hate this.  I wouldn’t do it for anyone but my sister.



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12 responses to “I have to.

  1. We sure as heck do not get to choose our family. Your grandparents have similarities to people I know. I grew up with an aunt who ironed underwear. And women who married well enough to not have to hold an outside job once had very good social standing. Note I do not say she did not work, after all raising five children and keeping a household with a demanding powerful husband is no small feat. Remember the values of another place and time even as you reject them for yourself.

    • I’ve always basically told myself that my grandmother seems happy with her life, so it’s not my business to tell her she shouldn’t be. Just because she chose a life that I would hate doesn’t mean there’s anything intrinsically wrong with her choice. My issue is that she lets my grandfather be an asshole without ever defending whoever he’s attacking or telling him to back off. If you want to take care of the man’s every need and be happy with that, great. But my acceptance of your lifestyle choices ends when you allow others to be abused rather than speak up.

  2. Ouch. I get this post so much, your family sounds a lot like mine unfortunately 😦

    I hope everything turns out okay x

  3. mandy

    It’s always difficult when someone else holds the money-strings. I’ve experienced that. Not fun ;-(
    On another note, I don’t know if you’ve seen your place on my Heroes In My Garden page, but it wouldn’t have been complete without you! ❤

  4. Your grandfather does sound awful. The grandparents remind me somewhat of my own parents. They also have lots of money, my mother has always been subservient. I know they’re of their time, but I don’t think it was healthy in their case. Your grandfather sounds like he’s not used to ever being opposed – like my father. Also a pull yourself up by your own bootstraps kind of a person.

    It does seem like you’re going to have to take their money and try to block out the grandfather’s spite. It’s tough.

    • Yeah, he’s an asshole, so I avoid him as much as possible. My mother’s going to spring for a hotel room for me, so now I don’t have to worry about dealing with him, hooray!

  5. Hope, I just saw this post. I must have missed it somehow. Did you end up staying with your grandparents? I think you didnt but cant remember for sure. Hope if you did that it went ok. XX

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