Big Noise From The Southlands*

Trepidation in The Park this week.  My sister, T, decided late last week to come home.  Seems her partner had been laying on a heavy guilt trip – “Your Mom had bypass and you didn’t go home for the surgery? What kind of daughter are you?” After a month, she suddenly decided she had to come home, canceling a planned business trip this week.

i understand how hard it has been for her to be far away – even though we’ve provided regular updates by phone and e-mail, and she’s had plenty of opportunities to talk with Mom by phone.  And i have been careful not to tell her to stay away – i provide the status, explain current conditions and present Mom’s needs, but it ultimately has to be her decision whether to come home or not…

The night of Mom’s surgery in mid-May, T called me – probably after quite a few drinks – and was saying she would come home, that her partner, LPGA, was making her feel horrible about not being home for the surgery.  This conversation – incredibly one-sided, as T doesn’t listen, or seemingly take a breath, when she’s on a rant – didn’t really go anywhere.  It finally came to a close after i had to scream at her to shut up and listen to me – she actually calmed down, when i explained that there was really nothing to be done, Mom would be in ICU for at least a week.

The sad nugget buried in this little dance?

On top of everything else, the last thing Mom wanted – or needed – was to have T come home.  And the rest of us were working to follow this unspoken guidance.  There is a little background on my sister T here.  As i stated then, she is truly remarkable in both her degree of professional accomplishment and her ability to self-manage her bipolar disorder. 

But with this trip home, we’re all a bit edgy.  She came home under similar circumstances about a year into Dad’s post-surgical chemo.  It was clear from the pre-visit telephone conversations that she was edging toward imbalance.  When she arrived?  All hell broke loose.  Shortly after her arrival, there was a screaming session in a grocery store – triggered by an innocuous event – and she waged a bitter attack on DQ and her then husband, LC** until i returned her to the airport a week later. 

The shitstorm broke while i was at work on a Monday.  i first got a call from Mom, then from DQ.  Both messages – “Get down here, T’s lost it”.  Getting home from work, i called the house – Dad answered the phone.  In the background, i could hear T yelling obscenities at the top of her lungs, and Dad simply said “If this is how you all are going to help me then just leave me the fuck alone…” before hanging up.

i was on the warpath.  Grabbing my keys, i was headed down there to beat the piss out of her.  Yelling?  Screaming?  Creating a tempest under their roof when Dad was dying?  My ex-husband physically restrained me – for the first and only time in our 25 year marriage.  He calmly pointed out that if i went down there, i’d most likely pound her into a barking pulp, and she’d have me arrested for assault.  Further aggravating the situation.  He was right.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about my sister, T?  When she “loses her balance”, she never seems to lose her sharpness of wit and intellect.  When in a manic phase, she is formidable***… and as a result, it seems to fall to me to “deal with it”****.  For the most part, i’ve learned how to best help her settle down – but it’s not been pleasant.

i’ll be heading into the threatening storm in the morning – taking Mom to see her hot cardiologist for the post-bypass physical.  Just not ready for this…


* Props to the Divine Miss M as the Big Noise From Winnetka!

** T saw quickly that there was a degree of “exploitation” by DQ and LC — although they were taking care of Mom and Dad (all of the yard work and home maintenance was handled by LC), they milked the situation… and this set off the tirade.  Though her instincts were good, her timing and approach were dreadful.

*** Her first breakdown at age 26 was when she was working on her PhD.  She actually wrote her entire dissertation in 6 days – pretty much with no sleep.  It was accepted with only minor revisions – while she was hospitalized, and recovering from the breakdown (and arrest) at the height of that episode.

**** Short notice trip to Hong Kong when she was there on sabbatical to keep her “level”, responding to a mailed “suicide” note to my parents, numerous interventions to keep her contained and prevent her from saying things that would cause irreparable harm… there are more. 

9 thoughts on “Big Noise From The Southlands*

  1. You have my empathy on this one. I am hard to manage, and all I get are downs (mostly). Just hugs, and hope it turns out unexpectedly good. (Keep saying, “I’m going to Spain, I’m going to Spain.”)

  2. Ai. Family. Can’t live with them. Can’t shoot them. I must say, I’ve got a couple of bi-polar mates. It’s not easy. And hugely tempting just to judge them and tell them to pull their act together. Their behaviour is so selfish. It’s hard to see it as a disease.

    Fek, Ms Fae. May it pass quickly and without incident.

  3. You know, whenever people ask me how I feel about my familly living more than 3,000 miles away I always tell them that is actually a very comfortable distance.

    And soon you will be that far away from yours too! At least for awhile. Something to look forward to. 🙂

  4. silverstar – so far so good. her partner came with her – and rather than stay with Mom, they are staying at a local hotel. Much less stressful for all, and her partner helps keep T “level”. And yes, “i’m going to Spain…”

    gnu – taser? not yet… as for chocolate? Um… see my post from today. Blechh. will have to bring my own next time…

    annie – sending more hugs back to another “NOS”. patience. creativity. more patience…

    dolce – it is supremely frustrating, but it’s a real disease. and genetic. i know from whence this comes – and wonder how (or if) i didn’t win the bipolar lottery, or if it is perhaps somewhere in my genes to rear it’s head in future years in my progeny… (sigh)

    az – yes, definitely in dire need of some R&R, and T&W (tapas and wine). can’t wait!

    kyknoord – minimal drama so far. but it’s early in the week… there’s comfort with T’s partner in town (she handled a bit of a meltdown after the “Trailer Park Wedding” in Oct). None of us fully exhale until she’s back on the plane… and as a mother, it makes me wonder if someday my children won’t be delighted to be living far from me. funny how that works, isn’t it?

    uncle keith – hold that thought. don’t have a high powered rifle, but i’ve got a marshmallow shooter. we could lace marshmallows with the tranq and wait til she gets the munchies…

  5. Pingback: Donut Magic « Trailer Park Refugee

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