Baited by a devil on Christmas Day
Because of my recent illnesses I was forced to stay at my own home for the holidays this year, which is a thousand miles away from any relatives. On Christmas Day I called my family to say hello and wish them a Merry Christmas. The truth is that I felt like crap and didn’t really want to talk to anyone, but I called them out of a sense of obligation. We had a bad connection on the first phone I called, so I called again on the phone of one of my sisters.
I initially spoke on speakerphone to everyone, but about the time I wished I could hang up with them and get back to moping around here, this sister took her phone into a bedroom so we could talk privately, or more accurately, so she could say some things to me privately. This is my sister who uses the word “worry” a hundred times a day, as in saying things like, “I worry about mom,” or, “I worry about niece X,” “I worry about sister Y’s behavior,” and so on. She also tends to be very negative about a lot of things. Because of the things she says in private (and occassionally does in public) I refer to her as an “instigator.” She often tells me all these bad things about other people, and generally wants me to do things about her concerns, which means that she wants me to tell my other sisters, nieces, and nephews that I have heard about their behavior and how I think it is wrong.
So for at least twenty minutes she went on about her concerns and her fears, speaking from her bedroom with me on speakerphone. Between my being tired and ill, and being tired of the repetitive discussion of worries and fears, I finally “lost it,” and began saying negative things as well.
Unbeknownst to me, just as I started saying things about one other sister (in response to her statements), she had taken the phone back into the kitchen area of her home where everyone else could hear me. This included every sister I have, every niece and nephew I have, my mother, and so on. So just as I began complaining about the recent behavior of one of my sisters (who didn’t help with my mother’s recent illness/injury), my whining was spoken out loud on her speakerphone for everyone to feel. I felt like an ass, and deservedly so.
For a long time I have said to myself, “Don’t say anything about anyone privately that you wouldn’t say to their face,” and here I had just lost it in front of every family member I have. Years of what I hoped were my own good deeds had just been flushed down the toilet in thirty seconds.
I felt like my sister baited me and I took the bait, hook, line, and sinker. In that way I think of her today like the devil. But to be fair, she only led me into temptation. Nobody can make a strong person say or do things they wouldn’t normally say, so I don’t blame her for what I said. I learned when my wife and I were separated that I won’t blame other people for my mistakes and problems, so I don’t blame this sister for what I said, certainly not entirely.
But I have learned that I can’t listen to her any more. I can’t go along with her conversations. Her fears and worries and concerns and so on need to be hers entirely. When she goes down that road I need to cut her off and tell her I can’t go there any more, I won’t go there any more, I don’t condone her worries and talking about people behind their backs. If she has a problem with someone else she’s going to have to talk to them about it, I won’t be used as a go-between any more. I have done nothing the last 24 hours but regret what I said on the phone, and this is not how I want to live my life. I know I frequently complain about my doctors, but other than that I don’t think I say ten bad things about other people during an entire year — and I always regret it whenever I do — but now everyone who heard what I said on that phone will only thing of me in that way, saying something I shouldn’t have even said privately that my sister aired for everyone publicly.
A little while ago I “man’d up” and sent my other sisters an apology. The truth is that I am angry with the sister I said some bad things about, but I should have told her those things directly and privately.
Love vs family
Honestly, what I’m thinking at the moment is that I’m back at the point where I don’t know what “love” is. I am angry at one sister for not helping in a family crisis recently, and I feel sucker-punched by another. I remember a friend once said that his family members were people that he was forced to share a home with when he was growing up, but he didn’t really love them. Today I feel like that, a lot.