Not a fan of mother’s day. The day here has been beautiful enough I suppose – clear blue sky, trees in blossom, sunshine but not hot. But I have had a crappy day. Weather can’t make up for sadness.

My brother texted me earlier in the week that he was organizing a dinner for my mother at a restaurant, would I come? This meant I had to miss my 12 step group, which I haven’t been able to get to for a while. However I felt guilty so I said OK.

He didn’t organize very well. It turned out to be simply a whole family dinner including my dad and my brother’s girlfriend. He left reservations too late and they were booked. Then the next restaurant that he reserved online unexpectedly closed. We ended up in a Thai place.

My parents are in their eighties and their hearing is no longer the best. The restaurant was small and noisy, and my parents basically sat at the end of the table and did not say a word. They couldn’t understand the conversation enough to join in. I was sitting right at the other end of the table, so I nudged my brother, who sat beside my parents, to talk to them for god’s sake. So he did try, he asked my mother a few questions and she responded politely. His girlfriend, who I think is odd, sat beside my mother and didn’t make a single effort to say anything to her.

Anyway. My family is extremely socially awkward. They are so boring. Everyone is afraid to say anything, because it could be criticized presumably. Only my brother will chat a bit. It reminded me of the pain of growing up, where nothing was ever discussed, and chill silences filled the hours.

However, I also felt kind of grounded and tried to be helpful and accepting. For years I was kind of sullen and angry, but I feel I’ve grown beyond that. So I was pleased with how I behaved.

My sister sat right across from me, and we do not get along at all. However, we were being polite. Then, she ended up screaming at me, then turning to talk to the girlfriend and ignoring me entirely.

It was stupid. The waitress came by after the meal, asking if anyone wanted tea or dessert. We all said no, but my sister didn’t seem to notice the waitress was there. My brother and I raised our voices, calling to her to see whether she wanted dessert. I genuinely thought she hadn’t noticed the waitress. My sister stopped her conversation, looked only at me, and yelled – I never have dessert! Leave me alone. And kind of made that angry grimacing face. She didn’t yell at my brother, who had also been trying to get her attention. Then she ignored me again immediately and returned to this pointless conversation with the girlfriend.

At the time, I just let it slide. I figure she’s pretty damn fragile, I’ll let it go.

But today, I keep thinking about it. I see now that she was purposely ignoring the waitress, my brother and me when we tried to get her attention. That’s a classic passive aggressive move that she excels in. I didn’t get it at the time at all, but I should have. This is typical for her. It’s not at all typical of her to yell at anyone, though if she was going to directly express anger, I’d be the safe person to do that to, since I’m kind of the family outcast anyway. She’s been training to be some kind of art therapist to special needs kids(!), so maybe in the course of that someone has told her that it’s good to express anger directly. Could be. Of course, she would do that in this weird way where it’s not clear what she is angry about, and in a way that you can’t have a conversation about, because you don’t know what is going on.

My sister also was raised in my family, and is damaged as much as I am. However, I’ve spent years trying to heal some of this damage, while she has not. I was in more pain IMO.

As is the way in my family, I immediately pushed this incident out of my mind and carried on. I could have said something about it to my brother after, when we happened to be walking together, but it didn’t even occur to me that there was anything to discuss, until today.

So, that happened. Then today, I had planned to go to a board games afternoon event, then didn’t go due to headache. So I’ve been alone all day. I’ll be alone tomorrow also.

Then, my ex called. He’d gotten into the usual mess he makes of his life, he’d missed a big concert his brother was giving that he’d wanted to go to and had promised to attend. I gently pointed out what he could do next time, but he wasn’t real interested. He’d done the same thing last year it seems, and is not too interested in changing his ways.

But, I know this bothered him. Then he launched into a harangue about my son’s plans, how they were to be financed, how he’d be wasting a ton of his money, how everything he is trying to do is the wrong decision. He raises his voice, talks faster and faster, has everything all figured out, and my role is to listen to all this. I hate this. I don’t respect his opinions much, and I resent having to spend half an hour listening to his tirade. It was very upsetting and a lot of his anxiety and fear was just offloaded onto me. It also reminds me of how awful he was when we were together. At first I tried to discuss it with him, as it is important stuff, but after a while I noticed I was becoming more and more upset, so told him I had to go.

I’ve spent the rest of the day trying to feel better. I know I attracted this kind of person into my life because of the depressed and helpless space I was in when we met. I am better now, and would attract a better type of person. He always thinks he is more clever than anyone else, and it’s up to him to solve other people’s problems, and then he dumps all this really boring rationalization all over everyone.

Aargh. I’m angry.

I’ve also been struggling again with insomnia, but thankfully, today was a day where I slept enough that I was not feeling the weight of fatigue pressing down on me every minute. Hopefully that will continue. I am trying to get up at night when I wake up and sit at my table for a while with a book. That seems to help me get into a deeper sleep than lying there dozing all night.

Well, onwards. I did go to a knitting circle Saturday. I feel more confident there than I used to. I feel like some of the women like me now and I feel more accepted. I just put myself out there a bit, ask a few questions, but don’t get into anyone’s space. Plus, I like the scarf i’m knitting. It’s a variegated yarn, very soft and thick. The colours are nature colours, like you might see on a Canadian lake in winter – grey, white, olive green, tan. I’m putting in ribs, so I have to pay attention and try not to make too many mistakes. So I did accomplish this at least this weekend, despite the disappointing rest of it.


  1. Sounds like a difficult day. It’s interesting that you made so many connections about your family’s behaviour–this seems so helpful, to be able to make sense of what they are doing a bit more. About your sister–weird. I can’t even really begin to guess what was going on with her. It reminds me that people in traumatized families become indecipherable. Their inner worlds are so distinct, it’s hard to make reasonable guesses about them. I’m glad your knitting circle went well.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, exactly. I do feel I was coming from a much more grounded place than I have been in the past, in the family situation. I was able to feel OK enough to consider where they might be coming from, and not react impulsively.

      The situation with my sister was more involved than I describe here because there was some conversation previously that I realized after likely offended her. I did not connect the dots at the time at all though. Like you say, traumatized families act in these bizarre ways. I know never to ask her about her business, but she brought the subject up. She was complaining bitterly about how she can’t find anyone with adequate skills to hire. I started problem solving, but what she likely wanted was just sympathy. Which is OK, but it would be nice if she could indicate that somehow. Anyway – she hates that I work for the financial industry, and I keep thinking why doesn’t she try to make enough money to live on….All kinds of background. So I think now that’s likely why she was so angry. But who knows. It’s basically very very unclear. I feel better about it again today though.

      Knitting circle seems very minor, and it is, but it’s a social occasion where I am trying to feel comfortable, and it’s hard for me. I’m glad that seems to be changing.

      Thanks for your comments Ash – they’re helpful.

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