Sunday, January 05, 2014

Ayelet doesn't always fight fair

I got an email from my sister, Jerusha.

I am doing the Seders. Mom and the Survivors are coming. Some of the our Long Island cousins are coming for one Seder, and the Survivors' friends the Millers may come for one as well. 

We would love to have you join us.

I've been too sick most of this autumn to visit the kids at their father's. And I miss them terribly. But badly enough to cope with Jerusha's sharp tongue and my mother's betrayal? I don't know. So I sent an instant message to my cousin Yonina.

Ayelet: Jerusha invited me for the sedarim.
Yonina: That's nice! I hope you will join us!
A: I don't know.

She responded with an extra-large weepy emoticon.

A: I hate how horrible she is to me. It's really unpleasant.
Y: Well, it would be nice to see you. I know that the kids and I would all really love seeing you- and you can spend your time with us-
If you decide not to come- let's make a plan to have dinner in the city one night while I'm there?

That's when I struck a low blow.

A: I don't appreciate you not validating the effect her behavior has on me, or that it's inappropriate.

And last time I made plans with you, and then got sick, you blew me off.

All of you just enable her behavior.

Two years ago, Yonina and I were supposed to go out to dinner during her Passover visit to the East Coast. Then I got sick from taking passion flower supplements, which was probably another incident of serotonin syndrome:

I tried passion flower supplements, which are supposed to be Nature's benzodiazepines, and ended up sick in bed for several days. Nausea, stomach cramps that felt like I was being wrung out like a rag, palpitations. Withdrawal. 

Yonina was supposed to come see me and didn't.

Y: I'm sorry that you feel so hurt by her behavior. I don't what I can say? I care very much about you- I don't recall blowing you off either, but if I have hurt you in some way- I'm so sorry-

I really hate "I'm sorry you feel." It means, "You're wrong about what's happening and just making yourself feel hurt by it."

A:We were supposed to have dinner. You flew home early instead. Then you had Jerusha over for a visit.

Nobody in this family says anything about her behavior. That's the problem. You're all just part of the abuse.

Why don't you ever tell her that what she's doing is wrong?

Y: I flew home early instead because my dog died suddenly and I was totally devastated.
Jerusha had plans to attend a conference in SF- so we spent some time together between her meeting sessions

I'm still holding a grudge, one of the things I do best. As a therapist I know how toxic this is, but knowing something's wrong and letting go are just not the same. I'm tired of feeling like people treat me as a lesser being in my family. So I hit hard again.

A: You didn't seem devastated when you took her to a baseball game.

I know it's not fair to bring up something that happened almost two years ago. I guess it angers me that Jerusha acts so coldly toward me and nobody calls her on it, and I get sick and nobody takes care of me. And it's pointless, because nobody sees things the way crazy Ayelet does.

Y: I honestly don't see what she is doing. I am so sorry that you feel this way- I do talk with her about your relationship to one another- but I cannot change either one of you- so I am just going to listen. It is not my place to tell you or anyone else what they should do.

You know what, I am done with this conversation. I will talk with you later.

Which is of course the mature thing to do: end an unfair fight and talk later when both parties have cooled down. But I'm not sure this can ever be resolved. If she can't see how inconsiderate and hurtful Jerusha's behavior is, then she's enabling it. And to say that she can't change me intimates that she thinks I'm doing something wrong. Also infuriating. Not that I think I'm perfect, but I was never as nasty to Jerusha as she is to me, over the years. Except after my niece's bat mitzvah weekend, when Jerusha was so flagrantly rude and unappreciative that I told her,

"I totally get why your husband left you for his secretary."

That's more or less the last communication I've had with her. And I don't think I'll go there for Pesach. I don't want to see Jerusha, I don't want to see my mother, and right now, I don't want to see Yonina either. Hopefully after I start feeling better, I'll be able to visit the kids at their father's again.

I did slip in one final barb:

At Shira's bat mitzvah, half of Jerusha's friends didn't even know she had a sister. That's not a hurtful behavior? To pretend I don't exist?

Because it is not all in my head.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

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