Thursday, August 6, 2009

And then there was drama...

Earlier today, I lamented on GitP that my upcoming move to TN was turning into a greater burden. My brother expects me to pay $350 a month for rent, plus start paying off a bed he'll have to buy for me, plus pay for a cell phone, plus the possibility of putting a satellite TV extension into my room, pay for any specialty foods I might want/need, and, on top of all this, play the role of "manny" (a male nanny) to my nephew when he and his wife have to work. Up until today, I have been very accommodating. My brother and his wife want this, that, or the other thing, and I have been placidly nodding my head.

Today, however, I did a little more thinking than usual, and it seems like a lot is being expected of me, when this move was supposed to be made under the concept of me being closer to family that cares. When I complained months ago about how it seemed I was only wanted for the rent I'd pay, my brother threw a fit and shouted into the phone, "We want you to come out here!"

Here's why I don't lie anymore. You see, when you have to maintain a lie for a long time, it starts to come apart, and the truth is slowly revealed for what it is. That truth is often rather ugly, which is why it started as a lie to begin with. But to be caught in the's upsetting to all, from the victim, who feels that loss of trust, to the liar, who is angry that the truth dared to rear its ugly head.

Stu called this evening to inform me of more money I'd have to shell out, specifically for the cell phone I never wanted. The thing is that I needed a phone, and this was the phone he'd be able to set up. At $15, it wasn't so bad...but now he apparently needs to upgrade his family plan to get another phone, and so an additional $18 was going to have to come from me for said plan.

With my post on GitP and a discussion with Arguskos as to whether I would continue to let my brother walk all over me, taking advantage of the nice guy that I tend to be, I was already on the cusp of having issues with this move to TN. The closer moving day came, the less I wanted to do it. And so I decided to test the waters to see how things would be once I got there. I tried to broach the topic carefully, knowing my brother's ability to throw a fit when he isn't getting his way, and asked if my income could be reduced to a third of my income. The approximate total would be $275. The threats immediately started flying. "No! Nikki already said that if you're going to start complaining, then forget it." His words, verbatim.

"Well, Stu," I said, "It just seems like a lot is being put on me as my responsibility, and it seems unfair that I should shoulder so much without getting anything out of it."

He counted with, "You'd be paying over $100 less than what you're paying now, so I don't understand what you're complaining about."

My reply: "Well, this is supposed to be mutually beneficial to both of us, but it's starting to -"

That's where he cut me off. "THEN JUST FORGET IT!" And he hung up.

Okay...Not panicking just yet. However, what has been made clear from this conversation is that *I* was NEVER welcome there. What WAS welcome was my money. Sure, it was only fair that I pay rent, because I'd be around much of the time, and I'd be burning through the electricity and food...but if it was just me that was welcome there, my rent would be $0. That would be unreasonable to the point of me insisting they take rent from me. This is from a guy living BENEATH poverty level.

I called Stu back, and got his voice mail. I happen to have his wife's phone number, so I called and got her voice mail. I didn't leave any messages. This was too important to just leave a message and hope someone calls back. So, after waiting a bit, I called Stu again and he picked up. Now I was on him with the truth of the matter, and that was the fact that no part of me was wanted in TN. No...The truth is that my rent was wanted in his house, and that's about it. "If you're ready to talk like a grown-up, you would realize that I'm the one who, finally, isn't having the mental breakdown. I'm the one being an adult this time, and it's you who is acting childish in hanging up." I then, quite calmly, started pointing out that it was being made startlingly clear to me that only my money was welcome there, and that I, myself, was not.

This earned me another hangup.

But I wasn't done. Nooooo. If I couldn't talk to Stu, then I would try to get through to his wife. So I called her again, and this time I did leave a voice message. "It would seem that there are no adults currently in your house with whom I can speak. I have no idea what you and your husband are thinking, but apparently I don't really have a place in your house. That's okay. You're more than welcome to try and take on a stranger to pay rent...a stranger who will do G-d knows what to your house and family. But if I really am welcome there, my number is..." Well, I'm not posting that last part here.

Immediately, I called Arguskos. Why? Because it was his intent to take off tomorrow night to come get Nike and watch over her until I was in TN. If I'm no longer moving, then his trip would be a complete waste of time. He apologized a great deal for the circumstances, and I insisted he not apologize; none of this was his doing - it was my brother's.

Then came what should be, once again, an embarrassment to any and all who have known me for decades. Arguskos IMMEDIATELY offered to help me move into his apartment complex, and to help me in any way he could to get me there.

This is...sad. It's very, very sad. That is, it's wonderful that a friend would leap to my aid in such a way, but that's also the problem. My family would never, ever, under ANY circumstances, do that. They look upon me like I'm a major issue to be dealt with. I am little more than a burden to my blood relations, and it has reached the point where they don't try to hide it anymore. When my name is mentioned, they sigh heavily and dread the next time I'll call, because they know I'll want love.

I've said it to Stu. I've said it to my father. "I love you." They are the last two relatives I'm still speaking to, and they don't know what to do with those three words. It's as though I've spoken complete gibberish, and they mutter it back to me without knowing what the words mean. I don't know if I've somehow become emotionally advanced, or if there's something wrong with me. What's clear is that they don't see me for the person I've become; I'm "that disabled guy that happens to be related to them, and they would love for me to 'snap out of it' and get a job."

So would I. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen.

Now for the problems. Arguskos and I have chatted for hours at a time about things, and one fact he's learned is that when Rob gets pissed off, it's "duck and cover" for the person at whom I'm pissed. He was supposed to come get Nike tomorrow, but if Stu doesn't come to his senses by then, Argus won't be able to do me this monumental favor, and I may well lose Nike altogether. If that happens, Stu will pay. I certainly care more about my cat than I do most people, and to lose her will be a hefty emotional blow. Should Stu change his mind once it's too late to transport Nike, I will remain a man of my that, when told to watch my nephew, I will watch as the kid destroys one room after another, and do nothing to stop it (short of the kid hurting himself). Put the kid to bed? Sure thing...though what the child chooses to do after that will not be my problem. Cook any meals? Okay...but they will purposely not be fit for an animal to eat. Use headphones for my computer to keep the noise down? "Sorry, but I'm prone to ear infections, so that's not happening." (A matter of truth, if not for me making a conscious effort to keep my inner ears dry.)

The list goes on and on, and it will be totally vindictive on my part...But he separated me from my beloved pet, and for that there is a price to pay.

And does he really want me out there? Well, he AND his wife will have to make the offer for me to move to TN, and I'm fairly set on insisting they offer me a place in their home for nothing. (I'm upset right now, so this is the anger showing; I'm a bit smarter than that.) Mind you, this is just the offer I want. The reality is that I'm still willing to pay rent...exactly $275 of it, and no more than that.

(How did I come to that number? Well, there's a program across the United States called "Section 8." This program allows someone in my position to pay a third of my income, and then the government steps up and pays the rest. Why should I pay more to family when there are programs out there that will allow me to pay less.)

I love that my friends treat me like family. It's a joy to have them in my life. But it's distressing that my family treats me like a stranger. I am just about done with the lot of them. I mean, it's very late where Stu is...and where my father is...and yet I am fighting the temptation to call them this minute and tell them that I'm done. They should hang their heads with shame when my ONLINE FRIENDS offer more love and caring than my family does. And this is the breaking point. To gear me up for a move under the pretense that it's for the good of all, especially me, only to find out it's only for the good of my brother and his wife's bank accounts...? No...I'm about done with them. I don't need the emotional beatings from thousands of miles away; I can handle that all by myself. I need love. I need caring. I need what strangers give more readily than family.

What I also need to do is drive the suicidal thoughts from my head. While my family may not care one way or the other, I have friends that would probably kill themselves to chase me into the afterlife to beat the crap out of me. Besides...My friends are more like family than my actually family is. And I don't want to upset them at all.


Arguskos said...

Rob, no matter what happens, if it EVER looks like the cat has to go, YOU CALL ME THAT MOMENT!! I will come get Nike no matter the time. Hell, I'll cut class for a day to ensure you keep that cat, since she means everything to you. Don't think for a moment you'll lose it, ever.

And remember Rob, we're here for you, no matter the time. Even if you are a 12 year old sometimes (inside joke lol ;) ), we still are there for ya!

Gamer Hippie o' death said...

We care, and it makes me sad that you think of us as strangers. We may have not met in ''Real life'' but dangit...We care.

HellfireLover said...

No advice and no jokes today. Just hugs.

If there wasn't a stupid ocean in the way (who put that there?!) you can bet your boots that I'd be there to help out.

Rob Meadows said...

GAMER HIPPIE: haven't I made it clear enough that I love my friends, and that they mean a lot to me? I tried hard to avoid calling my friends "strangers," and only slipped at the end...and it's really about the fact that those who know me only a few years treat me better than those who've known me my whole life. No, I don't actually think of ANY of my online friends as genuine strangers. After the events of today, you folks are more like family than what I was born into.

However, there have been LITERAL strangers who've offered me more than my family does. My pharmacist, a guy I just happen to know by name because I visit his business often, once slipped $10 into my prescription bag during a time of stress. HE'S NOT EVEN A FRIEND, just a guy I talk to now and again, and he did that. And I hadn't even asked him for help.

My family should be ashamed of the way they treat me, but I don't think they have consciences. It's the fact that I know YOU care that I haven't thrown in the towel. It's not as though I have blood relations to hang around for anymore.

ARGUSKOS: I believe I was no older than five when speaking about and to Nike. I mentioned being 12 in my post, but I'm FIVE, dangit! =P

Honestly, I'm still debating you coming here to get Nike. The state of chaos in my life makes caring for a cat difficult, and an alternate plan brewing in the back of my mind has me thinking I may need to be homeless for 30 days.

I'll explain before anyone reading this freaks. Section 8 often lands one on a waiting list that takes years to receive their benefits. But one is added to an emergency list if one is homeless for 30 days. It's just an idea, and a last ditch effort at that...but a possibility.

Meanwhile, I await angry phone calls tomorrow so I can tell various parties that unless I'm treated like a person and not a "quick cash" establishment, they can all go to Hell. I'm done sitting back and taking abuse for being sickly, especially from FAMILY!

What shocks me is how readily Stu seems to be to screw HIMSELF. In one childish moment, he lost extra money, be it $350 or $275, as well as a live-in babysitter. He was relying on these things. My arrival there was supposed to allow him to open up his new work schedule so that he could work whenever they needed him, and I would be around to watch his son when he and his wife were working. Instead, he will now have to continue to restrict his schedule, and rely on our biological mother to watch his son. The added joy to the latter is that he will have to spend MORE money on gas to drive back and forth with his kid.

Me? Well, I'm not really losing much, am I? I mean, blood relations that treat me like crap can certainly badmouth me without my having to hear it. Cheaper rent? I can get that, with Section 8. (One person has even offered me to become a roommate.) As for financial aid...Well, my friends have been INFINITELY MORE GIVING than my family; the latter seems unable to live without their luxuries, while I am forced to live without food and medications. If I said at this very moment that I was completely homeless, or would be in the next day or so, my FRIENDS would exhaust themselves trying to help me, while my family would say, "Oh, that's too bad." (That was their general response when I was homeless in the middle of a BAD New York winter.)

I have been holding on as hard as I can to the two family members left to me, and the way they treat me is grotesque. Over a year ago, I lost my mind trying to get to Stu, and for a while I thought we were bonding. Now I see what I really am in his eyes: something to break up the boredom of his previously unemployed life, and now I was to become an ATM. I don't need someone else shoving me toward those suicidal thoughts that plague me; I do just fine by my lonesome. If Stu REALLY wants me out there, he's going to have to prove it. I don't know if he can, and I doubt if he will, so I'm on my own in terms of family...

But I am certainly not alone. I have the most amazing friends on the planet.

Be well, folks.

Anonymous said...

Families can be brutal, and I think the ability to love was largely beaten out of yours, but there's always hope.

I'm not sure that it's terribly abnormal to love your friends more than your family. I'm probably guilty of that myself. I like my family, but I love my friends.