Monday, May 9, 2011

And Monday Comes in Swinging!

I think (hope) that I mentioned in Friday's post about how I upset my parents by telling them that no, I would not babysit for them for an hour that evening, and because I told them that by saying no, I was going to automatically feel guilt for not helping.  Well my dad was extremely upset by this, and sent both my little sister and I a nasty text message yesterday morning that said, "Sleeping in?  Having a good day?  Mom's not.  Thanks a bunch!"  My little sister felt really blindsided by this, because she didn't really do anything wrong to precipitate a text message like this.  At least not recently.  She called my dad completely infuriated and reamed him for sending a text that she deemed "inappropriate to send to your daughters, ever."  So she and I were both very much dreading going over to spend Mother's Day at our parents house yesterday.  Nonetheless, I knew I would have to bite the bullet and apologize for being the one to bring all of their frustrations to a head with my selfishness. 

So I stopped at the store, bought a card and some candy, and the ingredients to make a blueberry pie, and then went over to the house.  My dad said hello and sort of acted like nothing happened.  I put the pie together and then went outside to talk to my mom.  I told her I was very sorry and deeply apologized for the whole guilt thing.  That didn't seem to make much of a dent.  She said that it's not about the guilt, it's about the fact that I wasn't willing to help out, and that I've been less and less willing to help out, and less and less considerate.  She told me that last week, when it came time to drop the kids back off with their dad, she misunderstood something my sister said which resulted in my sister saying something along the lines of, "Get in the back of the suburban with the dogs because that's where bitches belong."  She said she didn't say anything to either me or my little sister because we don't live there anymore and that makes it none of our business.  But I feel like if we're not there to back her up, and end up this way - not knowing - then we don't know to step extra lightly because of how hurt she might be.  When I went over there last Wednesday after being deferred at the plasma place, I was angry and frustrated with the state of things, and at my sister for being such an enormous drain on my parents financially to the point where they can't help me out when I need help.  I sort of took that anger out on my mom when she started lecturing me about the virtues of having a savings account with money actually in it.  Then when I told her I didn't want to stay with the kids on Friday night, it was sort of the straw that broke the camel's back for my mom.

When my little sister got there, and she found out what our sister had said to our mom, she went off on all the things that our parents "should" be doing about my sister's behavior - which include shutting off her phone, telling her no that she won't babysit while my sister is working, that they wouldn't pay her bills - even though we all know full well that if she doesn't get what she wants, she throws a fit and will stop at nothing - and I mean nothing - to get what she wants.  Then my dad got involved, defending his choice to send us that text message, and started yelling.  This is all happening while the kids were down for their nap.  My sister got up and said she was leaving because it was a mistake to come down to try and fix things.  My mom followed her outside and asked her to stay, and they sat outside talking for awhile. 

The main point my mom was trying to make is that she's come to terms with the fact that she is going to have to support my sister and her three small children because my sister is severely mentally ill.  At one point she compared it to my dad's sister having to care for her autistic adult child, or to her aunt having to care for her adult child who is severely disabled by cerebral palsy.  She said that our family members are not going to throw their children out even though they cannot possibly care for themselves, so why should it be any different for her and her child?  My little sister said that it's different because our sister knows exactly what she is doing.  She manipulates on purpose and she deceives on purpose.  Our cousins don't make their parents feel like shit on a daily basis despite the help and support they are giving them to live.  But my mom does make an interesting point - that her daughter is extremely ill and cannot care for herself.  But to us, the difference is that our sister does what she does because she knows she can get away with it.  Our mom says that she's trying to teach her daughter how to live on her own and be a successful member of society.  However, it seems to my sister and I that our sister is sort of incurable and that she will continue to be a drain on our parents, no matter what.  She's going to continue to get speeding tickets and not tell anyone until she's got bench warrants out.  She's going to continue to forget to ask if I am available on any given Friday evening to babysit while our mother is driving to the airport to pick up our dad and she's at work.  She's going to continue to need money from our parents for things she ought not to have obligated herself to pay for in the first place.  And that is exceedingly, infinitely, incomparably frustrating and ridiculously difficult for my little sister and I to comprehend.

And so I am conceding.  It is time to adapt.  My parents have made the decision to be the support system that the kids need, therefore being the doormat my sister will require to continue living the way she's become used to living.  My parents are basically sacrificing themselves for the good of the kids.  They will babysit as much as is necessary for my sister to keep working.  It doesn't matter that she perhaps needn't be working 40 hours a week right off the bat, and that whatever money she makes is going towards God only knows what.  The only things that matter are the kids.  That they get the care and attention they deserve from someone, because it's not going to be their mother.  Maybe this way they've got a chance of not turning out exactly like her.  It's in my best interests at this time to just be there for my family.  It doesn't matter that it's inconvenient or uncomfortable for me.  I'm not what's important here - it's the kids.  And if being there for my parents is what is going to make things as good as they can be for the kids, then that's what I have to do. 

When the kids got up from their naps yesterday, we decided it was a good time to go run through the sprinklers in the front yard.  The boys got their trunks on and sunscreen was liberally applied and outside we went.  I was in a t-shirt and soccer shorts, and I figured that if I could get the boys interested in the water, maybe they'd last a little longer out there, so I let both boys spray me down until I was soaking.  Little H was so cute - after getting sprayed a couple of times, he kept saying, "I feel like I need to go inside now."  So I suggested that he lie down on the warm sidewalk to dry off instead of going inside, and that kept them outside even longer.  My mom got out the camera and took pictures of us playing in the water, and it was as though we were a normal family again.

But the feelings that I had - of disappointing my parents so very much, and of being kind of a piece of shit - those didn't go away.  Because my mom had to drive my dad to the airport and they were planning to leave immediately after my sister left with the kids, my sister had to take the truck, and because Duke can't hop into the bed of the truck because his poor knees are virtually useless, I volunteered to take the dogs in my car, since I was going that way anyway.  My sister's ex-husband lives with his parents, and their house is less than 5 miles from my house.  I feel like by volunteering to do that, I was saving my sister an extra trip over there (she had planned to just come back and get the dogs and make a second trip), I was maybe saving my parents the gas money they'd have to give her and maybe saving the truck (which is running horribly thanks to my sister's inconsiderate and ridiculously atrocious driving) a few miles.  It's probably all for naught but that was a way for me to do something to show my parents that I do care, because they seemed to think I did (and do) not.

Anyway, I got home and still felt completely terrible.  From crying, from listening, from going through the range of emotions I went through in the 5 hours I was there.  I decided I wanted nothing to do with Linda and so I shut Phoenix and myself up in my room and just tried very hard to relax last night. 

Since having that stomach bug a couple weeks ago, I haven't really gotten my appetite back.  There were a few instances in which I felt completely famished, but as soon as I started eating, the nausea would come back.  So I haven't really eaten a whole lot at any given time.  I know that I'd lost 4lbs in 4 days last week.  But my appetite seems to have flown the coop for the time being.  I'm always thirsty, though.  I crave super-sugary soda like crazy.  And that's fine for now, since I have no money to buy food with anyway.

And that brings me to the next point: my stress and my money.  The two are inextricably entwined.  I was trying to budget out my money as best I could so that I would last until my next paycheck.  And calendars be damned, for the 15th falls on a Sunday this month.  I left myself $20 in my bank account after buying things for my mom yesterday, but then last night realized that I would debited $16.13 for my netflix account on the 9th of the month, which is today.  And so I have just over $4 left until next Monday.  I have two cans of dog food and maybe another couple of days of dry do food left.  I know that I can go without eating for a few days if it's necessary, but I don't want Phoenix to go without.  And I will also have to buy gas after Wednesday, as long as I don't drive anywhere but to and from work.  My mom and dad yesterday were also angry that after they had given me the $200 to pay for my enrollment, I still wouldn't babysit for an hour Friday evening.  And so I am extra hesitant to ask for money from them.  I told my mom that I felt that I was helping out quite a bit by being around all the time when we have the kids and she said that I only go over there for food.  Which makes me even more hesitant to ask for help - monetary or otherwise.  So I have absolutely no idea what I am going to do and I am trying not to freak out.

I checked with CU today to see if I would be able to view my financial aid awards yet, and the answer is no.  Apparently I have to physically enroll in classes in order to see my awards, but I am not allowed to enroll in classes until May 11th.  But that's not all!  I have to actually apply separately for financial aid for the summer term - a detail which would have been quite welcome earlier than now, and here's the icing on the cake: I can't apply for the summer financial aid until I am actually enrolled in classes!  And it occurred to me that the way that the tuition schedule works (and if I am not mistaken, it's always been this way and if I am right, I am so far beyond shit-out-of-luck) it may be required that I pay for tuition before I actually receive the financial aid awards, in which case I somehow have to come up with a check for around $4,600 and then be reimbursed.  This information is not at all helpful in my quest to straighten out my finances and try to figure out whether or not I will be able to pay for the school's insurance with loans and grants.  If I can't, then I need to continue paying for my insurance, which I really can't afford.

I thought that maybe I could change my insurance plan, but the company I get insurance through (and make no mistake, this is no endorsement - people should know that this company does this), Golden Rule through United Health, won't allow me to change plans.  I can either cancel my insurance and re-apply (which runs the risk of denial since they've seen the amount of insurance I need and the amount of doctor visits I have each year), or just suck it up and keep paying $140 a month for 70% coinsurance and lower prescription prices on the off chance that I get into some kind of horrific, life-altering accident.  I really, really, really don't know what to do.  I've done my research into other companies and other plans, and there seems to be no coverage that fits my needs out there.  I need prescription coverage and coverage for the three or four doctor visits I have to have to check my thyroid levels and keep my endometriosis in check.  It would be nice if it would also cover mental health, but there's no insurance company that wants to have to pay for that.  So, from where I stand, I am fucked.  Fucked every which way from Sunday.  Fucked whichever way you slice it.  I can't get insurance through work.  I can't afford the private insurance that has agreed to cover me despite my many pre-existing conditions.

Aside from those things, I feel mostly fine.  I had no problem waking up this morning, after all the sleep I got over the weekend.  I didn't sleep well last night, but I'm not all that tired today.  I'm excited to have money again that isn't already allocated elsewhere, even if it's just a little bit of money.  I need a hair cut very badly.  I need to buy some food staples to tide me over, and dog food.  If I can get out of paying for my insurance, I will be the happiest person in the world.  I will be able to pay my parents back.  I will have money I can put into my savings account. 

I suppose the thing that I get hung up on is planning my future.  Or trying to plan for THE future.  If I can get into the Peace Corps, I can sell my car to pay for the stupid-ass student loan I have with Wells Fargo that won't defer with Peace Corps service.  I can stop paying for health insurance I can't afford.  I can get out of what has become a terribly stressful family situation.  I can have an opportunity to start my life over and do something good in the world.  I worry constantly for the future.  I can attribute almost all my stress to worrying about the future.  I can attribute most of my depression symptoms to the present not turning out the way I had hoped.  And I don't know how to change this or fix this.

The days when I feel the best are when I am pleasantly surprised by something turning out more positively than I had planned, and when I am not trying to plan out the future detail by painstaking detail.  And yet, if I didn't try to plan everything out ahead of time, I would miss out on important possibilities, like going back to school, and being able to work everything out financially so I'm not in a huge mess come June 1st.

The only positive aspect: if this keeps up, I'll be at my goal weight in no time!

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