does doing what’s right matter?

from my inbox:

JK: “I have a sister who is three years younger. She is very funny and charming and extroverted; I am very intense and introverted … She is very popular and social. I am, ummmm, not that.

I went to college; she became a blue-collar worker. She married at 21; I married at 31. Although we are different, we are friends and quite close. Her life is not as stable as my life. She and her husband do not make as much money … they do not have good financial skills, lots of phones being shut off, credit card debt, and they actually just left their house one day and moved somewhere else, I’m sure it ended up in foreclosure.

My parents continue to support her and her children financially, and they try to hide it from me … I just found out tonight that my dad is paying for her vacation (we actually canceled our trip because we felt that we didn’t have the extra money this year). Financially, they do absolutely nothing for our family, and I am not exaggerating. They have paid for nothing for me ever in my life since I went to college at 18 (which they did not pay for).

I’m a little in shock and so upset, and I want to drink because it sucks, and why the hell am I even trying to do anything right because it doesn’t even matter. My sister has done some of the stupidest shit in her life, and she continues to get bailed out!… I’m not going to drink, but I’m pissed that guzzling wine is my first thought. Then, I wonder, does doing what’s right matter? I guess I want some type of reward. Like here’s a vacation for consistently making good choices. I don’t even know what I want actually. Some type of sign that I’m doing what’s right.

 

me: OK, you can delete this message from me after you read it and you can hate me. but here goes.

There is no ‘fair’ with siblings. Interpersonal relationships are complicated and there is no score card of ‘you get this and she gets that’. If your parents give your sister stuff it’s because (a) she’s a fuck-up and they’re worried about her and the grandkids, and (b) they feel guilty that she’s a fuck-up, like that they believe they did something wrong by her.

Nothing to do with you. someone gets a promotion, you don’t, nothing to do with you. someone gets money, you don’t, nothing to do with you.

You don’t want their fucking money because it would come with strings and expectations and depends and implied criticism and control. if you were your sister, I’d be suggesting that you turn down their money and take care of yourself.  which is what you’re doing.  you are taking care of you and what your sister does or doesn’t do has nothing to do with you and your husband. this is your family now. your family is the little cool one you built around you.

you don’t email your father and say ‘what about me’. you feel sorry for your sister. she’s a fuck up and everyone knows it. including her. she’s probably super jealous of you. even if she’s loud and you’re not. you have your shit together. AND you’re sober 🙂 you fucking rock.

is that enough swearing? love 🙂 and hugs, me

JK: “I cried when I read this message; I’m going to print it out and carry it with me and read it all the time. You absolutely nailed it; are you sure that you don’t know me in person? I want to say more, but I don’t know how to say the words. Thank you; I felt validated, yet I also understood how it’s not about me. Also, on a drinking note — totally not drinking.”

~

What do you think? Do you think i was too harsh? What would you say to JK?

~

Journal 27
front cover hand-painted, coil bound, LINED pages;
acrylic & ink; approx. size is 14,8 x 21 cm (6″ x 8.5″)
link here

Belle

I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • Totally agree Belle…. I’m not here for the easy, trite response, I want the unvarnished truth and typically get it. If it’s time to call bullshit, I want to hear “it’s bullshit”.

  • Not to harsh at all and totally on point. This E – Mail went right to my heart and made me feel better about some of my own issues with my family. Taking your advide and I´m thankful for you and especially this message: “It has nothing to do with me!” So true! And in some ways even a relieve. Because if it doesn´t have anything to do with me it also means I didn´t do anything wrong…

  • I love this straight talking – there isn’t enough of it around. I mean just look how JK reacted to Belle’s reply……it brought her to tears. We all need more of it in all walks of life. Society has become too sanitised. I love this blog. Thank you Belle.

  • I think the scenario shows how good we are at forgetting about ourselves and the good things we have in our lives..while we obsess over what other people are getting/have and we make ourselves miserable in the process..

  • Stay in your lane. Take good care of you. The shit Belle says has become the cornerstone of my sober life. It’s changed the way I interact with the world. No kidding!

  • Not too harsh. I think we need to hear clear, concise and honest responses. And JK’s answer reflected this and appeared to really resonate with her. JK – treat yourself with something nice! Spot on Belle.

  • You really have written a clear-cut, spot-on answer to JK here. It has really resonated with me as I too have a messed up brother who got all my mother’s attention and money and eventually her entire house when she passed away. I tried not to be angered by this, but I have to say it has simmered away beneath the surface for the past few years. Thank God I haven’t been drinking for the past 300+ days otherwise I would have been wallowing in self pity. Your response speaks to me directly. It is “nothing to do with me” – THANK YOU

  • Hey JK, and all in your position now – you might not be able to go on holiday now, but you are saving money by not drinking – what treat can you afford for you? You deserve treats! and love, Lucy

  • Not too harsh at all, there’s so much sugar coating that goes on these days, often in the name of being ‘nice/supportive/spiritual/whatever’. When actually I think the most respectful response is often the bluntest and most direct! I think you nailed it.

  • I have had to read your response to JK several times and leave it to simmer in my subconscious overnight before commenting because the tsunami of emotion it unleashed frightened me. I could have read it about a sibling, a mean so-called friend, a parent or a child. I endorse every word you said. It was courageous and exhibited the support and solidarity that I have come to rely on and admire from you. You are an ambassador for our continuing sobriety. Thank you Belle.

  • You were spot on! What she doesn’t realise is that her parents are really proud of her because she can manage her own life unlike her sister

  • Nope not harsh at all, right on point! It’s the same in my family and my husband’s. Other siblings/couples are always needy financially. We’ve struggled but we have worked hard to bail ourselves out. We both used to feel very hurt by their ‘favoritism’ towards siblings. Now that most of our kids are grown, we realize that some need more help than others. It’s just the way it is and it has nothing to do with liking or loving them more. If we are able to help our adult children and it’s appropriate, we do.
    I understand the frustration JK feels though. Be PROUD that you did it, on your own, like a rockstar. Take pride in the fact that you are doing it, the hard emotional rollercoaster shit without drinking!!! THAT is amazing!

  • You fucking nailed that, Belle! You spoke straight to my wolfie, telling him to get out of the fucking way & let me get my boundaries in place! Thank you!!!

  • Definitely not too harsh – oftentimes we need to hear the truth from someone else outside of our own heads, since (at least for me), being stuck in my own head all the time makes it much harder to see the truth through the booze (and wolfie) and the lies I tell myself.

  • You were spot on! There are times when things should be sugar coated but I think what people really appreciate is honesty, which is what you provided, and it was obviously appreciated.

  • You got it just right, Belle. Where were you when I was, like 15, and needed to hear this. It’s a key life message. I wish we all got told this stuff about 400 times between puberty and 20.

  • Nope, you nailed it. Funny isn’t it. My brother has always cried poor and been given a “helping hand” by my parents and he is loaded. Me, I never asked, never complained when I had nothing, and am proud that I have stood on my own.

  • Agree, you totally nailed it. I have seen this scenario play out so many times in families and for the first time ever I now understand it because of your perfect explanation! Go Belle!

  • Definitely not too harsh. It was honest and a lot of times in our society people interpret honesty with harshness which is a problem really. So funny bc my sister and situation with her is almost exactly like JK’s and your response to her just totally helped me! It hasn’t ceased to amaze me how eerily similar so many people are esp amongst the ones that want to and do quit drinking. And I’m thinking “oh I’m the only person in the world like this no one can relate to me”. Ha – totally not true!

  • You are so right Belle. I have this situation with a sibling. I can let it get to me and burn with horrible resentment or I can accept it’s nothing to do with me…its freeing.

  • Not too harsh at all.
    It is hard to see a sibling get more because they fail at taking care of themself. But they are getting the booby prize.
    I’m glad to manage my money and my life, my SOBER life in ways that take care of me. I certainly don’t have everything in perfect order, but life is working better, being sober!

  • Belle, you say what people WANT to say. In today’s world we worry about hurting someone’s feelings and have to be overly sensitive to saying the “wrong thing” or “rubbing someone the wrong way” or what if we don’t know the whole story. I prefer tough love and honest, swearing feedback. Although I’m not close to my two older sisters (one lives paycheck to paycheck, the other makes more money than my entire family of 5), my parents still provide handouts to the oldest. Hell, I’ve done it too. But maybe because we’re not close, I don’t care. Maybe because I treat my sisters like acquaintances, it doesn’t bother me.
    But I loooooooove the feedback you provided! 😉

  • I agree with you Belle. I think that it’s hard when you’re in a family dynamic to see realistically. Your advice is spot on, looking from the outside it’s preferable to be the one with their sh*t together. It must be hard to be broke, depending on someone else for help.

  • Love the reply and the swearing! Gotta love families! And yep sibiling shit is very real and sometimes very unfair.

  • Please don’t ever delete or move this link, I am bookmarking this message to read always.

    I’m the oldest girl, and can relate so much. ALL THREE of my younger sisters have financial problems, aren’t responsible, and get money handed to them or bailed out all the time, get taken on vacation, etc. Its hard not to feel un-loved and unacknowledged when I’ve busted my ass to go to college, be successful, and grow as a person without much family support.

    My mom even had the audacity to complain that we “cheaped out” on our wedding meal because my husband and I paid for the whole wedding ourselves (and paid for family to be able to come), and we cut costs by doing a catered buffet instead of plated meals. I feel so much anger, rage, and resentment towards my siblings, my parents, and towards myself for feeling that way.

    Your response is the exact kick in the ass I need (and will continue to need) to reframe my thoughts and feelings.

  • My favorite part …”your family is the little cool one you built around you.” And of course the not harsh cal it like you see it support and the swearing.

  • Having lived through this with my younger brother and sister, I learned this the hard way. Absolutely have to let it go. My parents died relatively young, and I am so thankful I learned the lesson before they died. I have been able to be successful, to become sober, and to have good relationships with all my siblings.