Going home… Part 1

I hadn’t been back to Chicago in close to three years until last weekend. The last time I went back to the Chicago area was when my mother-in-law died. I was there with Husband helping to tie up loose ends, discard old, out of date, no longer needed items to be prepare for selling the house, and to attend the funeral. I was there two weeks, and I didn’t want to be there. The little free time I had was spent watching my parents argue and, when my schedule finally allowed for visiting friends, we couldn’t make it happen. It sucked!

Both Husband and I have complicated families, and we  have felt the effects even miles away. I almost cancelled this trip  a day or two after I decided to book the flights because of the drama attached to going home. Ultimately, I chose to go because my Dad needed an angiogram to further assess blockages in his heart. Knowing that Brother and Sister-in-law had just visited,and the possible severity of the situation, I went but did so on my terms.

One of the greatest and most surprising parts of the trip was on the first day when I spent eight hours with my parents and they both made an effort to get along. First, we ate lunch at Wojo’s, a neighborhood hamburger joint. Later on,  my Dad gave me a lesson in how to hold, load, and fire a semi-automatic weapon with a laser target and dummy ammo. This was lots of fun and gave him great joy the day before he ended up getting a stent to clear  two heart blockages. I was also able to spend a lot of time with my Mom at the throughout  the weekend,  and  we were able to eat Beggar’s pizza while watching the White Sox on Saturday. I wish my parents could be those well-meaning people toward each other more often, and live a happy life together… However, I am grateful to have had that time with them.

I found time to walk around Downtown Chicago for a few hours on Saturday afternoon looking at stores,  visiting a few new places (Maggie Daley Park and Dylan’s Candy Bar to name a few), and to visit the Chicago Cultural Center. My Grandfather took my Brother and I to many events there, and sometimes we would just stop to rest in the café sitting area after lots of walking. This was a tough but good stop for me to make but it was great to see some art while remembering Grandpa.

All photos taken by Chrellie

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Being the adult child of parents who don’t get along….

I am forty years old, and I cannot remember a time when my parents got along for more than a short time. I imagine my parents must have been happy together at some point, but not in years. I can handle that I have my own life and that my parents have their lives, and that we all make our own choices. They are both good people in their own ways and they often mean well and yet they bring out the worst in each other. It is hard to hard to watch and to hear on almost every phone call.

They did the best they could as parents, each with their own style. I could count on my father to drive me to far away tennis tournaments and to help me with complex homework assignments, while I could count on my mother for encouragement, a laugh, dinner, or to take me to local tennis tournaments or other activities. My father was the strict one; my mother was more lenient but ruled with a look or a quick comment rather than loud, harsh language. I learned a lot from both of them over the years, good and bad, just as I will always have memories of them good and bad. I’m sure that it is the same for them with me and my brother, like all families. Brother and I are both happy, and we wish they would choose to be happy together or apart.

In the three years before I moved to Texas, I started visiting my parents separately because a visit with both of them was either extremely uncomfortable or ended with an argument. My father is loud and verbally aggressive and my mother is passive aggressive, which doesn’t end quietly. I would visit my father while my mother was at church or shopping and I would plan lunch with my mother on a weekday. Did I mention that I have been suggesting divorce to them since I was 12? I don’t know that either of them could live without the daily chaos after all of these years, or that they could afford to separate the house, assets, SSI, etc. There are a lot of things my mother would not be able to manage, and my father has a few health issues, which further complicates this situation. It’s sad to know that both of my parents will live unhappily until their last days.

Even my brother’s wedding weekend, which should have been a joyous and fun occasion, was not without drama. First, my brother and I had to practically beg our parents to hang out with them for a little while before he and I went to the Yankees game and, once we did meet up with the parents at their hotel, my father flopped around on his twin bed when he got upset with my mother or got annoyed with the conversation no less than three times. Other drama included miscommunication with my brother and mother on wedding day, which resulted in me getting cussed and yelled at. I mostly enjoyed the weekend because I spent limited time with my parents, I did what I wanted to do, and I spent most of the rehearsal dinner and reception with my brother’s friends or my extended family. Oh, and I indulged in a few drinks. I had not seen my parents in two years prior to this… go, family!

I wonder if I am the only one who limits contact with their parents because they don’t want to deal with them trash-talking each other worse than NBA players or because they don’t want to play referee. Am I the only one who cringes a the idea of a big family holiday , anticipating a shouting match at the extended family’s home every single time.  My aunt has almost had to drive my mother home because my father got mad and began to drive away because they couldn’t agree on a time to leave. The last Christmas I was home for ended with me and Boyfriend (now Husband) leaving because we couldn’t take the arguing. We even asked them to behave so we could enjoy the dinner we had prepared for them… too much to ask. 

I have accepted that they are who they are, but I try to avoid absorbing any more of their negativity, so we probably talk 2-3x a month. For every great, enjoyable conversation with either of them, there are probably five when my father criticized the conversation in the background or texted complaints while I was on the phone with my mother. With my father, we connect well sometimes and sometimes we don’t due to the limited topics he will talk about and our different hobbies. I love to hear the good in their lives and wish I could share more with them, but it’s hard and often out of my control.

Feel free to share, if you can relate or have a method that works with families such as mine.

 

 

 

Bitter….

via Daily Prompt: Bitter

Bitter makes me think of unsweet, unripened fruit, maybe lemons or limes, certain  roasts of coffee, and people full of regret and resentment. I can sweeten the fruit and the coffee, but a bitter person is a whole other thing.  ruffled

I think of my parents, especially my father. He has been a reliable father, a dog-lover, and a wonderful friend to many… just don’t ask him about my mother, don’t bring up sports he doesn’t like, or politics he doesn’t agree with. If he were a cup of coffee, he would have an aftertaste, even with a health dose of cream and coconut sugar. On the wrong day, you might switch to another coffee blend, or just drink tea.

Bitter also makes me think of bad choices, like fruit picked at the wrong time or eaten out of season. Have you ever had a good winter peach, or enjoyed a strawberry that is pale rather dark red and sweet? Not my preference, for sure.

Letting go, or taking time to chill out can keep you from becoming bitter, like candy without the sweetness. I am trying to remember this, as I slowly begin to  feel overworked and exhausted. I try to seek laughter and sunshine, rather than darkness, anxiety, and the impulse to recoil. I don’t want to be bitter before my time.

Letting it all out… and letting it go

I deal with people’s problems in my job everyday. I work with multiple people having personal problems currently, and then there is my life.  Although Boyfriend and I get along great,  each of us has our own stresses. This sometimes piles up on me, making me feel like the shaken-up soda bottle that overflows when you open it.

I have a pretty easy to get along with group of co-workers, just leave controversial issues (especially immigration and related issues) out of the conversation and there will be no problems. However, others do not get along quite the same as I do, which leads to some tense, heated moments.

This happened earlier today. I joked with one of the co-workers a little and she gave it right back, but it opened the door for other’s to make comments and be critical about her part in a group project. This put my friend in an awkward position, causing her to stand up for herself and then snap with the other two women kept pushing her. They didn’t care, but my friend, who has been managing a lot in her life, became tearful. It broke my heart. I left the office to handle business and later ironed things out, but it sadly showed who the other tow people really are. They are interested in getting their way, looking high and mighty, and enjoy putting someone else in their place, even to the point of embarrassment.  After working in my job for over a year, people have started to real show themselves, though not for the better.

I am struggling with family issues, as always, and issues related to my brother’s upcoming wedding. I am happy for him and glad for his happiness, nothing changes that. People live their lives as they see fit, and I understand that. I need to let go of things over which I have no control, and not hold on to bad feelings. I just want to say that most parents do have a favorite child, whether they admit it or not. Despite all of the “I’m so proud of you’s” that I now hear or the “you’re so strong and independent” comments, I am not the favorite but I make a hell of a shoulder to cry on. As I tell my clients, “You only have control over yourself and your actions,” and I need to take my own advice.

I need to keep my friends close, and my eyes on everyone else. I need to breathe, and then let it go…. Easier said than done.

 

I will never forget…

 

September 11, 2001 is a day I will never forget. I wrote about it last year, which you can read here, but I wanted to post something new.

I think about September 11 today as I do every year since, with sadness, but this year I thought about one of my brother’s best friends. His friend gets married in November, and his father will not be there to witness this son’s wedding. This lost has profoundly affected my brother’s friend and his family, which I know does not make him unique, but it touches me because my brother’s friend is more like the brother he never had. If his father had not died, this young man may not have attended law school and met my brother, but… I feel for this young man and the pain he feels without his father, with whom he was very close. wp_20151108_014

I am also thinking about all the controversy about protesting the American flag and the National Anthem. I am very much an advocate of the First Amendment, and I appreciate the fact that protesting is a part of this freedom. I have the right to also speak my peace, and I vehemently disagree with protesting the National Anthem and the American Flag, especially on a day like September 11th.  Regardless of your thoughts about race., religion, whether the government has told us the full story of what has happened, today is a day that has greatly affect most Americans and how we live our lives. It is a day that many brave men and women stepped up to serve and protect those in need and made the ultimate sacrifice to their city and to their country. They did that without hesitation or thought, they did what they did best – spring into action to save lives. Thank you, NYPD, FDNY, and others in public service for your bravery and sacrifice that day and always.

wp_20151108_018-1If you want to protest, please do that on another day. Today, please just remember the men and women who died and pray for the families they left behind.