So last week when I met with my therapist I explained how truly surprised I was at the stroke and the idea of needing stress therapy. Today's session ended with her saying that back to me adding: and we've only just begun!!
Being new to the whole therapy process (outside of grief therapy after losing my Dad) I really didn't know what to expect. Do they start with your parents because as we know they ARE the cause of all the grief in our lives right? How personal would the questions get regarding well everything. Was I supposed to have an idea of what I wanted to talk about? Nope nothing that deep. My therapy today started with: What's been going on this past week? Really~ that was easy. Didn't think there was anything in there that's new (PS Not going to tell you Everything ~well not now at least). Then we hit the hammer on the head and boy did she pounce.
Meg's birthday was 3/21. My sister called and explained a card was on the way. Like any typical teenager~ No let me rephrase that. Like ANYONE Meg would ask if her card had come in the mail today. This was a daily question for about a week or so. Then last Friday as I drove her to school (out of the mouth of babes) I guess Aunt 8 just isn't sending that card. Well don't you know that card came today. On the back was written: Thought this card was mailed weeks ago found it in the to do pile. Mea Culpa.
I had 2 different feelings. 1 Glad Meg's card finally came 2. Did she really think my child wouldn't acknowledge having received your card/gift card for the last 4 weeks!!!!
Well Murren was all over it. (Yes I've spelled that correctly) First off did I really think she had that card for weeks? Secondly why should I feel guilty over thinking she thought Meg didn't say TY when SHE is the cause for the entire situation. OMG
She went on to continue that sooo many of us, in more than not, have a relative like 8 in our lives. The person who truly believes that their effort or their time is somehow worth more than ours. Of course they don't come out and say it but their actions certainly do.
I shared how for years my sister would send the most inappropriate gifts to the kids for Christmas. When her package came I would unwrap everything return the gifts and of course reshop. My sister was considerate in that she included the gift receipts and she always spent $100 or close to on each kid. Anyone who has teenagers knows shopping for them is near impossible unless they themselves have pre-chosen their gifts or sent you out with a written directive. Somehow my sister felt she knew better. 2010 she sent Patrick a balloon art kit, Emily a sun-picture kit and Meg a book on fairy princesses. This was the year I decided they needed to be aware of my gift recovery program.
I finally shared my recovery program with 8 and to say it wasn't well received is an understatement. This was also the year that each of my kids were given $40 gift certificate. The gift certificate was from a website where they could choose from a list of different charities to give their money to.
Now your chosen family member may not have quite the same actions. But chances are they are doing things that say somehow their decisions and their time spent on your behalf is more valuable than any time you spend on the same activity.
Here's the thing..... if a friend did anything like that would you take it? Would you continue to allow your friend to make you feel less worthy? No of course not. It is true we pick our friends not our family. The flip of that is family is family we can't really do much about it until we decide the true value of that relationship.
I will always love my sister. She's my only sibling. Reality is we had very different childhoods. Coming out of that situation created 2 different people with 2 different perspectives of the world. If we met somewhere chances are we would not be friends.
What Murren helped me realize today is that my sister isn't going to change the only thing I can change is how I react to her. So when it comes to things like the kids' birthdays we are going to approach them differently. Instead of being frustrated when the cards are late we are going to anticipate the card will be late. Murren actually suggested turning it into a game, almost like a pool. Who thinks the card will be ontime, 4 days late.
Accepting that the way I view these situations is so different than they way 8 does as well as placing the "blame" where it properly belongs was an incredible freeing lesson.