This time of year has always been hard for me. I think it’s partly the cold weather, partly the short days and partly the gloominess that tends to settle over everything. I find myself being a lot more sensitive to things people do or say than I normally am. Or, I’m not as good at hiding it.
Where I live it doesn’t really get or stay as cold as it does other places, so I guess I’m not as used to it as some people.
I don’t get to see my family hardly at all. We are all spread out, with my parents in North Carolina (8 hours away) or Virginia (10 hours away). I moved this far away to be with my husband and I don’t regret that but I’d really like to be able to go up more often. The reason I can’t is partly my job and partly the cost it takes to drive up there. It’s not like my job is even that important-I’m a server at a restaurant-but my husband does tech support and can only take so many off days. While we don’t suffer financially here, we wouldn’t be able to afford the sheer amount of gas it would take to get to and from, well, anywhere. Plus he hates being without me.
Staying home or not, I’ve always been kind of standoffish. I spent a lot of time by myself growing up because I was a huge nerd and didn’t have many friends. My sister had a lot of problems that took my parents’ attention. I didn’t know any of this at the time, but she had bipolar disorder and got into a lot of trouble with drugs, alcohol and older guys. When I was about ten she went to California to live with one of my aunts. There was a special school/rehab for teenagers with these problems, but I did not know this. All I knew was that she and my dad argued incessantly, we had financial problems and that they’d gotten to a point where they couldn’t take it anymore. I thought she was being sent away because she was bad and my parents didn’t want her anymore. I was afraid that if I wasn’t perfect, I’d be sent away too. I almost was.
Shortly after my sister came back home, she told us she was pregnant. I wasn’t there to see my dad’s reaction, thank goodness. It upset me so much that my parents were being so tolerant of her while getting onto me about stuff like bad grades. Getting pregnant was much worse than getting a C, right? I don’t begrudge her anything, but I just didn’t understand why I suddenly couldn’t do anything right.
I got failing grades in some of my classes and wasn’t adjusting to sixth grade very well. My mom asked me if I wanted to go somewhere else to live because I seemed so unhappy at home. Looking back, it was a stronger version of the usual tween-angst crap that a lot of kids go through. That might have been when my depression set on; there’s no real way to tell.
When I heard my dad telling my older brother about all the money problems and how they nearly went into bankruptcy taking her to doctors and getting her help,
I remembered all the times they seemed upset when I asked for things that cost money-school trips, cheerleading leagues, flag corp uniforms, senior-year and graduation stuff etc-I felt like I’d done something wrong. I’m not sure if this would be different if I had been told what was going on, but it might have. Even now, if I ask for something from my husband and we can’t afford it, I feel like I’ve done something wrong simply for asking and needing anything.
You know what bothers me the most? I would have understood. Yes, I was ten, but I was at a higher level academically and otherwise than other people my age. No one ever had to give me grandpa-died-because-God-needed-more-angels or whatever other things people tell little kids because they were straight with me-he got sick and died. I was six. I can understand why they didn’t say anything-perhaps my sister didn’t want them to. They didn’t want to burden a ten-year-old whose biggest problems involved boys and being made fun of at school. I totally understand this. I probably wouldn’t have given the full story either. But it seemed odd that my dad would tell all of this to my brother who he hadn’t seen in twenty years (looooong story) but wouldn’t tell someone who was there for it all.
I have no ending for this, but there’s still a lot I don’t understand about the way I react to things. Maybe I’ll figure it out, or figure out that there’s nothing to figure out. Anyway, good night.