OK, life in Ham-land has been….pretty intense for the past couple of weeks. Some of you know me better than others, so I’m going to lay down a little groundwork before I launch into why this is political. The several comments I saw yesterday were about how to deal with Trumpy/anti-vaxxy friends and family. I empathize with everybody who’s going through that.
So here’s what’s been going on. I am the primary caregiver for my dad, who is confined to a bed or an electric wheelchair. He has MS really badly, and end-stage arthritis in his left arm, which is his only functioning limb. It’s pretty bleak. But he has a good attitude and he makes the most of things. One of the things he decided to do was buy a beach house near my brother. This is both to be able to see him and for income as he rents it during the summer.
Brother is a hard-core Trumper. Still. It’s beyond distressing. We have a “no politics” rule. And while we both abide by it, we are siblings and have been known to dance up to the line and play the “I’m not touching you” game. Got the picture?
Anyway, dad was supposed to get 6 hours of nursing care a day so that I could run around and get the house ready for the summer. Some days it was one person for 6 hours, some days it was two people on 3-hour shifts. And the company we used said that they were having trouble getting shifts covered because “people make too much on unemployment.”
The coordinator said that in front of me and my brother. I did not violate our no politics rule and bit my tongue. I should note, we have problems every time we go down with caregivers bailing out at the last minute because it’s a chronically underpaid job.
So then I had back to back days where we only had 3 hours of care. I texted my brother and said that I needed him to pick up dinner that night and bring it out, because I was burned out. He said he would.
I texted him later that we probably needed to have a conversation about how I was burned out in general and we needed to talk about how trips to the beach were going to work moving forward. He texted back, “Normally, I would say hire 8 hours of help per day, but communism is prevailing so nobody wants to work.”
Folks, I flipped my shit. I told him not to come to dinner, that I would handle everything, and Dad and I were leaving in 2 days anyway, so don’t come out here until we’re gone. There was a lot more back and forth where told me not to play the victim and gaslit me, but I stood my ground. He did not respect my request not to see him, called me an idiot, and asked what I wanted for dinner. I told him what dad wanted, but that I wouldn’t be there. I chose to eat a salad in the parking lot of a strip mall for two and a half hours rather than share a table with him.
I think that’s the first time he’s suffered an actual consequence in a long time. He was quite contrite for the last two times I saw him: once for dinner the following night and once when he came to help us pack up and leave.
I know this won’t last. I know he’s plotting the next Adam Corolla/Dennis Praegar video to send me. To finally, once and for all, own his SJW sister.
But he can’t own me if I don’t let him. So I’m taking steps to protect myself, and backing away slowly. And I guess that’s the game a bunch of us are playing. How to minimize certain people in your life. I have other Trump people that I can jettison entirely. But I can’t get rid of him. So the question is, how far do I go to protect myself, but not lose him? Does that distance change? I’ve certainly developed some healthy new boundaries over these past couple of weeks. And they may eventually cost me my brother. We shall see.
Lots of hugs everybody. Be kind, give yourself some grace, no threatening Mayor McSquirrel or anyone else, hang your towel up in the bathroom, you left it on the chair after your shower and it’s going to smell all funky.