I’ve been trying to figure out how to write this post for hours. I’ve had the window up, silently reminding me that I wanted to blog, nagging at me while I ignore it by focusing on my actual work. Isn’t that funny? So many times I blog instead of working, here I was working instead of blogging.
I guess it’s hard for me to think of how to start this one. So I type a line, delete it one letter at a time and try to think of a new way to say it. I have so much to say but I don’t know where to begin. I’ve wanted to blog this for three days, at least say something, write it out and read it a few times, polish it and then let it sit there, words on a page telling how I feel. But I couldn’t ever figure out those first lines. I knew the rest would flow, if I could only write the beginning. Then I read the prompt at The Daily Post for today: Are you stressed out? And I kept thinking yes, oh yes. More than I have been in months.
I’ve mentioned several times about all the positivity I’ve been trying to focus on, especially for the new year. All the good things I feel can come this year, and how I just want to open my arms wide and welcome them into my life. I rang the new year in with some great friends and had a wonderful time. I spent the first morning of the new year with the same friends, and a few others, chatting and enjoying a lovely brunch. (Isn’t brunch the best?) And then I went to spend the afternoon with my family, looking forward to fun and games and the cheerful smiles of two of my nieces and my nephew.
And when I got there, it was exactly as I was expecting. Esther and Jared smiling and excited I was there finally (I was a few hours late, since I had attended the brunch first). Wonderful spread of food my mom provided to snack on. Everyone having a good time. We played a few rounds of a fun game (Tip Of The Tongue, I highly recommend it) and then Ruth and her family had to go because they had dinner plans with friends.
We continued playing a few games, a fun twist on Scrabble (Banana something, I forget the title but it was fun), Ben (my youngest brother) & I played some Tetris-like game that I totally sucked at, David (my older brother) and Miriam (sister) played a game called Quartro with really pretty wood pieces (I don’t have a clue how you play, but it looks nice). And then we decided to play Phase 10, which is a family favorite.
The thing about our family is we love games and we play for fun. A lot of us are really competitive, but the most important part is to have fun and just relax, enjoy each other and have a good time. We make up “house rules” a lot of times. One of the things we do during Phase 10 is keep a Skip Tally. It started like a decade ago, and it was actually Tom’s family (Tom is my brother-in-law, married to Ruth) that started it but once I heard about it, I latched onto it because it’s awesome. Every time you are skipped, we keep track, to see who gets skipped the most. It’s silly, it’s fun. Apparently not everyone thinks so.
Because Saturday when we were playing, for some reason (or really for no reason), David was the skip target. This happens a lot in our games. Sometimes there is a reason, sometimes there is none at all, but there is often a single target for skips by at least one person, sometimes more than one person. And it’s just the way our family plays.
But, for whatever reason, David either couldn’t handle it and/or couldn’t understand that we play without strategy sometimes and we just do things for fun. Because after he’d been skipped by every person in the game, I guess he felt picked on, targeted, and he threw his cards down on the table. That would have been bad enough – people get upset and throw down their cards and quit and, while not the most mature action, we all do it at times. But then, he picked up the entire deck of cards and stood with them in his hand, poised to spray them all over the room.
Teresa (his wife) and my Mom both said, “no” multiple times, quietly but seriously and kind of in surprise. And he stood there for a good thirty seconds, time enough to decide “yeah this is a dumb idea” and stop, but instead chose to spray them all over the room and storm off.
Before I get into the rest, I have two things to say.
1) David has a history of losing his temper, being physically threatening and has actually been violent. When I was 16 (he was 22), I was on the computer and he wanted on. I don’t remember much detail of what I said or did, I just remember I didn’t get off when he wanted me to. So, he picked me up out of the chair and wouldn’t put me down. My mom was telling him to stop and he was yelling and I was probably yelling/screaming/crying. I remember being terrified. I remember seriously thinking I was about to be thrown into the wall. My mom said something along the lines of he better cut that out or he was going to be kicked out of the house. I distinctly remember his response (me still being held against my will) of, “If you kick me out, you have to kick her out.” Kick out the one who all I did was not get off the computer when he asked and, is also a minor. Right. I don’t remember how it stopped, thankfully I was put down and not thrown anywhere. But that feeling, the terrified feeling of having no control, of being held against my will and thinking I was about to be seriously hurt, that has stuck with me. This isn’t the only time David has been aggressive, threatening or physical. A few years ago we were playing a Monopoly game (yeah, another game..) at Ruth’s house and he threw a fit. Threw over the whole game. He was kicked out of the house because he was being violent and physical. There are other stories that go just like that.
b) I admit that some of the things I’ll relate below are my fault. I take responsibility for the fact that I was scared and I reacted in a way that didn’t help the situation. I do not think that it justified his behavior. I know I could have handled myself better but the fact is I was scared. The same scared feelings from when I was younger came right back, like it was yesterday.
So he stormed off to the back room of the house, and my mom got up and told him to come clean up his mess. He ignored her. He’s good at that; he ignores people if he feels like it. Instead of saying, “hey let me cool off a little” or something, he just ignored her. I believe Teresa followed and was saying similar things to him, which he also ignored. He was pacing in the back room, which scared me. I said (I may have yelled) something about disrespecting my mom in her own house and that he should leave. He kept ignoring. I remember saying that at the very least he can NOT ignore his wife or his mother, especially in her home.
Finally he turned and yelled, “I’ll clean them up when Debi and Miriam leave!” I don’t know why Miriam was roped in this; she was still in the living room and hadn’t said a word. I don’t know why he yelled this. I don’t know why he thought I had to be gone to clean up his mess. When he yelled, that scared me more. David is a big guy. Not that all big guys are scary (I have known some absolute teddy bears who I wouldn’t be scared of at all!). But David is big and his voice is already loud and when he yells, it is terrifying to me. So when he yelled, standing there in his towering way, which I find very menacing, I got even more scared. Everything was adding up to repeating what has happened in the past. At this point I said if he didn’t leave, I was calling the police. Ok, I might have yelled this. I’ve already said that I didn’t handle this the best I could have, and I was terrified.
He said something like I had no right to since it wasn’t my house. I’m fairly certain I’m allowed to call the police any time I feel threatened, thank you very much.
I didn’t say much after that, but I stood there, phone in hand. Mom was saying something, I don’t remember what. She was reminding him that he was living in her home, rent free, food free, everything free and that he should keep that in mind when throwing a fit in her home, and disrespecting her. She was saying she wanted everyone to be able to hang out and be peaceful in her home and he wasn’t allowing that.
I don’t remember what was said, but at some point he came back into the dining room and threw a cup of water in my face. Ben was at my side and instantly moved forward and shoved David into the kitchen. All I remember is the look on Ben’s face and feeling scared for him. I pulled Ben back and held him by me and I kept saying, “no Ben, don’t.” I was terrified. Ben was angry.
Teresa came in and had David in the kitchen, talking gently to him. Mom was saying more stuff about David behaving this way towards people who had been doing him favors and letting him have a place to live, as well as a place to store his things. Miriam came in and said calmly that maybe he needed to go for a walk, get away and cool off. Teresa agreed and I think David intended to push past her so he could leave. But, she wouldn’t let him just push past. I was impressed, she handled him well and was calm throughout. Finally he said whatever she needed to hear and stopped trying to push her away; he let her move aside and then he went to gather his things so he could go for a walk.
I went and sat on the couch, shaking from anger and fear, crying. I felt 16 again, and was trying not to think of what could have happened, and honestly what still could happen.
After David left, we all talked a little and then Miriam, Ben and I left.
I’ve made it clear to my family that I will not be around David until he gets professional help. He is too easy to set off (Ben said the night before they had been playing Monopoly and he could tell David was getting close to losing it, and that his fuse is getting shorter and shorter). He blows up and loses control. They all talked Sunday night and passed on to me and the others not there that he says he has learned to control himself more and that he won’t hurt anyone. The problem is, how do I know that?
As Dr. Phil says, “the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” I haven’t seen any change in David, so how do I know he’s changed? When he’s angry, yelling, pacing, towering over people, THROWING things in my face, WHY should I trust that he has enough control over himself not to hurt me or those I love?
Ok. So I’ve admitted I had my faults in this situation but I still stand behind the fact that nothing I did or said justifies his over reaction and his physical and threatening behavior. Nothing anyone ever says would justify that. But he seems to think he’s not to blame, or at least he seems to think he shares only a small portion of the blame? I don’t get that. I didn’t start it. I didn’t do anything except react in fear. I am not threatening. I have never hurt anyone or threatened to get physical. Even if I tried, he could stop me easily by grabbing my arms. I am not a threat to him.
He also thinks it’s not fair that I remember what happened a “long time ago.” I think the fact that I allowed him to live in my house shows that I had forgiven and moved on from that event. Only when he started behaving the same way did those feelings come back and my fear of him return. I think I was justified in that. I was scared. I had every right to be.
I know my mom wants peace and everyone to get along. I think the problem is there is no easy solution, no quick fix. He needs professional help. He needs to learn how to handle himself and control his temper. I refuse to be around him until that happens. I know my mom feels torn. I’ll admit I am slightly disappointed; right after all this happened my mom said that a condition for him to remain living with her is he get therapy. I agree wholeheartedly. Now I feel like she’s backing up on that. I understand that he has no job, no money to pay for it and no health insurance to cover it. But I am sure there are options. And, I really don’t feel that’s our problem. He needs the help. He needs to figure out how to get it. I don’t need to let myself into situations that make me uncomfortable just because he doesn’t want to put the effort in to fix his problems. I don’t need to set myself up to get hurt. I’m not going to just forgive him and sing Kumbaya.
I told my mom that I don’t hate him. I understand he’s got issues to work through and once he has, I’m willing to be around him again (although I will never be around him if he’s playing a game and I definitely will never play one with him!). I can’t just forget what happened, now or in the past, but I do agree that people can change and I am willing to forgive him for what he’s done, and to move past it. But I am simply not willing to put myself in a situation where I am vulnerable. He admits he can’t control his temper. I get terrified when he gets that way. Even if he thinks he won’t hurt someone, I don’t trust it, I don’t trust him. I don’t believe he realizes what he’s like.
There have been multiple e-mails back-and-forth with me and my siblings (not David) and my mom. I’ve stated my feelings. I’ve drawn my line in the sand. For now, I’m cutting him out of my life because he’s not healthy for me. I don’t deserve that. When he changes, I’ll let him back in, though it’ll take time and I’ll have to ease into it. But, I’m not shutting him out completely and I do believe he CAN fix this. I’ll hope for him and think good thoughts in his direction.
I have asked Teresa that they remove their stuff from my home as soon as they can. I don’t see why I should be doing a favor and putting myself out for someone who treats me like that. There are consequences to your behavior. One of them is people don’t want to do favors for someone who disrespects and threatens them.
I told you everything would flow out as soon as I started. Over 2700 words. Longest post ever.