Thursday, March 13, 2008

Layers of exhaustion

Thinking about my trip to LA and all the layers of exhaustion, starting with the complete and utter overwhelm due to traveling there: broken body, pain everywhere, sinuses sealed, hypersensitivity, exhaustion. Then, more pain from lacking my day-to-day comforts: different bed, different pillows, not enough air in the room, different pots and cooking utensils, carrying water from the bathroom all the way down the hall because that's where the water filter was, different chairs to sit on. Then, more exhaustion because I can't sleep. Then, environmental hypersensitivity because of the pollution, because my sinuses are aggravated, because my sleep is disturbed, because of cat hairs covering the bed and into my nose. More pain from sitting in cars to get to places, when sitting in a car is what brought the pain to such an extreme in the first place. More pain from sitting in restaurants, sitting, walking, trying not to do too much, doing too much, trying not to do too much.

On top of all this, there's the overwhelm of trying to engage with my sister in an open, intimate, revealing and vulnerable way, while she remains emotionally disengaged. The ways in which we connect and laugh together and I can recognize her intonation in my voice when we're talking a certain way and sometimes I can see similarities of comprehension, but then she'll say: I would never do anything just because it would be helpful to you. And I listen to this, listen to this like it isn't preposterous. I listen, that's what I do. So then there's the exhaustion of not responding, holding emotion, holding.

Mostly, I say what I mean and then I let her respond. But there's the exhaustion of not getting the responses I want. Not getting any of the responses I want. She says: I would never do anything just because it would be helpful to you. I guess I don't say: then what is the point of our relationship? Because I already know, I already know that still I love her like I'm a little kid and still I want to protect her even when that means silencing myself, I mean sometimes when I engage on her terms and I don't allow my own expression, exclamation, except when I'm sobbing, sobbing is my favorite part I mean it leaves me drained but also renewed because I'm able to be vulnerable. Sometimes I don't know why, except that it's the only thing that helps me not to feel suffocated. Except when I feel suffocated.

I can't help thinking that still Lauren has this allegiance to my father, and allegiance to his decision never to acknowledge the abuse. I mean, 11 years since I confronted him, then another year when she knew he was dying and still she couldn't ask, couldn't ask a thing. Can't even support me when I ask my mother for something so small, something that wouldn't change her life on any level at all and still Lauren says: I'm worried Mom won't have enough. Won't have enough. Enough.

Lauren says: it's her money. Which is gross. Gross because it accepts my father's legitimacy, his control over money controlling everyone even after his death. Gross because it accepts my mother's legitimacy, her control over what's controlling her she has no control even when she's controlling, that's what she'd like you to think. Gross because it acts as if this money is unencumbered by all the violence they've enacted against us. Gross because it fails to acknowledge that it's their violence that’s left me in this place where it's difficult for me even to function -- the least my mother could do is to remove the financial part of the struggle. Gross because Lauren would rather leave me vulnerable than tell my mother: of course you should create that account. Of course. Gross because Lauren doesn't even believe that. Gross because yes, so many times I've done things just because they would be helpful to Lauren, maybe even now while I'm talking to her, allowing her to say draining and preposterous things to me because I want her to be able to speak.


grantatee said...

I would totally do something for you just because it would be helpful to you.

thanks for writing this!

love you,

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Darling, you're sweet -- and I know. And thank you. And the same goes for me.

Love --

Willow said...

I hope writing this relieved some of your overwhelm, and that you're able to rest more now.

My sister too is keeping her allegiance to my father's refusal to acknowledge the abuse. She once told me, "Whatever happened, I think the important thing is to focus on now." Which, in a way, is worse than simply denying that the abuse happened because it's saying that it doesn't really matter whether or not it happened. I've chosen, for the time being, not to try to talk to her about it but that has its own price. I mean, I hardly talk to her and she doesn't really know the true story of my life and so we're not close anymore.

I'm glad that you're able to speak here, regardless of your sister.

matty said...

I'm so sorry you're going thru all this shit.

...sue your mother.

Just do it.

mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Willow, that's terrible what your sister said: "Whatever happened, I think the important thing is to focus on now." How depressing and condescending and contradictory -- but you know all that!

My sister has said: "I believe you, and I believe him." Which obviously carries its own contradictions. Now that he's dead, she'll say "I don't remember that." But never "that didn't happen." So that's progress. Since she was the only other person around, and in a similar position of (no) power as me, I can't help wanting her to acknowledge everything. Thanks for your support!

And Matty, so lovely to hear from you! If only suing would actually accomplish anything...

Love --

matty said...

I often wonder if it might not have an impact.

You know -- to sue for damages.

I don't know. The pain of moving forward with it might not be worth it, but talk about bring attention to a subject.