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your thoughts are encouraged and welcomed


I'm not looking to win the Don't Cry for Me Argentina Award or anything, but I'd like to bounce some stuff off of you folks. Please consider this an open invitation to comment as I am looking for opinions - good, bad or indifferent.

I tend to minimize and tell myself that there's always someone out there who is worse off than I am. Just watching the news proves that theorem on a daily basis. What I'm after is validation that some of the stuff going on right now is stressful. Period.

A little background for you: my father does not allow any negative talk. He will challenge my feelings every chance he gets and will attempt to prove his point that there is always a bright side in every situation. So if I dare express frustration or, horror of all horrors (!), sadness he gets defensive, angry and goes on a tirade to explain why there is absolutely no reason to feel sad.

"It's all how you look at it," he likes to say. "You can choose to be happy or you can choose to be sad. I choose to be happy." I believe that up to a point. My question is: when is it okay to look at a situation, deem it sad and then express some sorrow?

Here's a run down on things happening in my extended family that currently cause me stress and sorrow.

My father is 80 years old. He recently acquired a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

He owns a very small hand gun that fits in his pocket and requires no safety latch be unhinged to fire the weapon. He keeps the gun loaded, in the house, on the floor next to his bed. When I visit my parents each week, I have to remember to ask him, upon entering the house, "Did you unload that item and place it up high away from my children?" One more piece to this puzzle, my children love to play in my parent's bedroom and like to run directly to their bedroom when we go inside the house.

My mother is 79 and has moderate Alzheimer's which is progressing at a fair pace.

She is beginning to stammer and stumble when she speaks, as she cannot remember some words. She is actively forgetting who my father is, even though they have been married for over 52 years and have lived together in the same house for more than 40 years. She routinely asks him who he is and if they are married. She regularly apologizes to me when I see her each week as she tells me she cannot remember my name. Every time the phone rings and I see my father's name on caller ID, the anxiety collects in my throat as I prepare myself to hear that my mother has died.

My oldest sister's husband made a pass at me, then wrote me a letter saying if I wanted to "take things to another level" I could always call him on his cell phone.

My husband was furious and confronted him, in front of my sister, at their house last year. We are basically estranged from her husband, even though I talk to and visit with my sister somewhat regularly. We both know there is a flaming, screaming elephant in the room crushing our bodies against the walls but my sister and I quietly ignore it.

My third oldest sister, the one I am closest to, has a complex mass on her ovary and the doctor is not sure if it is cancerous.

She will have it surgically removed on February 9 and after the surgery she will find out if it is malignant or benign. If it is malignant, she will require a complete hysterectomy.

My brother is almost completely disabled with severe Multiple Sclerosis.

He is bedridden, cannot feed himself, is almost blind, is basically paralyzed from the waist down and cannot write his own name. Most of my sisters have avoided him because he is difficult to talk to -- he interrupts crazily and his social skills have deteriorated because of the MS. He says inappropriate things and is prone to crying or laughing hysterically. I talk with him on the phone for about an hour every week day and visit him on the weekend once a month for Movie Day. He says a lot of inappropriate things to me while we are on the phone, like "Can't you make the baby stop crying, that's annoying."

When I visit him for Movie Day I have to get him a slurpee, pick up lunch from Denny's or an area restaurant, bring snacks from the grocery store, purchase songs from MusicMatch so I can burn a music CD for him and pick up a movie from Blockbuster ahead of time. If I forget something he ribs me about it the entire time I am there.

Our relationship is complicated. I do these things because I love him and I am able to do them. However, I have three small children and a husband who likes some of my attention. It tears me up inside that my family, including my parents, have basically turned their backs on my brother because it is too awkward for them to see him. I know my brother would do the same for me if our positions were reversed. I am afraid he is going to die soon and I don't want to have any regrets once he is gone.

When I lay it out in black and white like that, it seems like it is a sad, stress-inducing situation. It seems that the person who is dealing with that is entitled to feel down every so often. But true to my father's words, I tell myself it would be okay to feel depressed if both my mom and brother were dead, but they're not so what's with the frown?

If you can't tell, I'm a work in progress. Plus, I am the only one in this extended family of eight who feels depression and cries in front of others. The rest of them are stoic and upbeat. They don't understand me and this has contributed to my reputation as the crazy one who can't handle bad news. That is really frustrating.

So I'm bouncing this off you fine folks. Would you feel stressed out if you were in the midst of this situation?

p.s. I'm not looking for pity, just some honest opinions.


Another overdue thanks: I'm sending an extra 1000 strides on the elliptical trainer to warcrygirl who added me as a favorite a while ago. Thanks warcrygirl!


2007-01-20 at 12:50 p.m.

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