Friday, September 2, 2011

It's complicated

I’m not sure how to go about telling this story without making it a long drawn out sob story.  I also want to say that I really don’t have all the facts, nor do I know how to go about asking for them so  I’m just trying to sort out my feelings.
So…I am the youngest of six kids.  We are two boys, two girls (D and P) a boy DE and finally moi.  My oldest brother is about 12 or 13 years older than me.  We are army brats and so moved around a lot as we were growing up.  My brother DE is not quite two years older than me and D is five years older than him.  We fought like any other brother and sister and we are two very different personalities but we were always close. 
We were each other’s first friend each time we moved.  When I was about nine, my dad left the military and we moved up north to James Bay.  (the La Grande Hydro project for anyone who is interested)  We were there for a few years and when I was twelve we moved to what was (I think) to be my parents retirement home.  We were out in the country.  So far in fact that without fail whenever we gave anyone directions they invariably said on arrival that they were sure they had made a mistake somewhere because the roads just kept getting smaller and smaller.  I think that my parents had visions of  being self sufficient.  We had no electricity, no phone and initially no indoor plumbing.  Eventually we got the indoor plumbing, a little electricity, and a fridge, stove and hot water.  Not because we got connected to the grid, it was generators, pumps, solar panels and propane.  Obviously, there were no cell phones at the time so DE and I had only each other much of the time that we weren’t at school.
He spent a year in Inuvik, NWT with The Bay, I did grade thirteen and went to McGill university (only one semester but that’s a whole other story).  When we both ended up back in Ottawa our friendship resumed and we were as close as ever.  We were both  living with someone and those relationships ended.  After a while and within a few months of each other, we both met the people we are now married to.  DE went back to school.  We shared an apartment briefly, but realistically all four of us were living there.  There was some inevitable friction but no blow ups or huge fights.  Eventually DE and his now wife moved to their own place and John and I later bought a house and got pregnant.  When I got pregnant, I obviously quit drinking and was quite tired all the time so we didn’t spend as much time together.  I had Jess and when she was a year old, I got pregnant with Derek.  After Derek was born we all know what happened in terms of my depression hitting.  DE and his wife moved to PEI where he now has a successful career as a manager with the Federal Government.  His wife works in retail and has done incredibly well there.  Those are the facts as I remember them.
Now comes the part I’m not sure about.  I just don’t know when things started to fall apart between us.  I know that when I quit drinking I became judgmental about those that still drank.  I felt like we should all grow up and find more grown up pursuits.  Not that any of us had a drinking problem at all, I just thought that we were too old to have beer involved in everything we did.  That wasn’t nice of me at all and I have never been able to apologize for treating all our friends so judgmentally at that time.
When I was pregnant with Derek and John was working nights, I asked DE to come over and sit with Jess a little while so I could have a nap – his response “If you can’t take care of one, why are you having another one?”  I was shocked and hurt so I just said “Well, I won’t be pregnant but it’s ok, forget it.”  He did spend time here and clearly loved Jessica.   When I was hospitalized at Christmas 1995, he didn’t visit or call.  (nor did anyone else except D and my parents came the night before I was discharged.  My sister P said she was told I didn’t want visitors but I don’t know who said that and I guess it doesn’t matter)  My relationship with DE fell away and I blamed:  My depression – he didn’t understand and thought  I was being weak; My kids – he didn’t want to be bogged down by kids when doing stuff; My house – he was jealous; His education and new job – he stuck it out in school and got a great job while I cacked out of University and was still stuck in what was a good job, but a dead end job nonetheless;  My kids – he wanted kids but for whatever reason they weren’t having kids; My depression – he didn’t want to examine too closely if he was happy and any issues he might have.  He’s always been very happy-go-lucky with a bit of sarcastic streak that provided laughs at other people’s expense sometimes.    Knowing him the way I do, I realize how ridiculous some of that is but I was grasping – still am really.
The truth is I don’t know how he felt or feels about any of this and I’ve never been able to find the courage or opportunity to ask.  He lives in PEI, and more importantly I’m afraid the answers will hurt me more than I already am.  The reason I’m writing this now is that my sister D went to visit.  She didn’t ask if I wanted to go with her but I suspect that’s because she knows I wouldn’t have.  I can’t help thinking that he wouldn’t want me there anyway.  We’ve talked about my relationship with DE and she knows how I feel about it.  I’m ashamed to admit that when she got home I found I was hoping she would have a crappy time and say that all they wanted to do was get drunk and party.   She said the visit was really nice.  They had a really nice time.  He had taken two days off when his wife was working so that he and D could have some quality brother/sister time.   Most importantly to me, she said it was like they had seen each other last week, they picked up right where they left off.  This hit me pretty hard because that means it’s me that changed, not him.  She said they talked a little about me but nothing deep or heavy.
He is supposed to be in town on business in the next week or so and D suggested that the three of us go for dinner if he has time.  Not for any big discussion or therapy session but just to see each other and we could keep it very light.  He’s never been big on talking about touchy/feely stuff.   I don’t know if I can do that.   I want to know why our relationship fell apart when I needed him most.  I don’t know if I can just pick up where we left off because I don’t know where we left off.   On the other hand if that’s the only way I can get that friendship back I have to try.


  1. I too suffer from depression and have been hospitalized a few times and went to an IOP (intensive outpatient) program too.
    One thing I learned thru all the therapy is that you can't make something feel or think what you want them to. Meaning that you might be able to educate your family about your disease, but that's all you can do. Knowing that has helped me cope, why worry about something that is out of our hands? It would just drive me nuts. and the same is true in the reverse, no one can make you feel bad about yourself, we do that not someone else.
    I do think that if you have been invited you should go. Try not to have any expectations of what might happen. Just go and see where it leads you. You might be pleasantly surprised.

  2. Maybe pick up where you left on and as you spend more time together, you can later talk at a deeper level.

  3. I think you should print this out and bring it with you. And then, if it feels right, give it to him. I can understand why you're feeling conflicted, and it does help to write stuff down, too.


  4. I have been told that you just start now and go forever, dont linger on the past. Start fresh --a new beginning. Hugs, Kim

  5. Morning (well it is here) Jo,
    I'm big on letting go of the past at the moment. So agree with Towanda and Kim. While my girlfriend and I were apart a friends mum (who I did some work for) said to me only discuss difficult things when you're both in a good/happy place. Look forward to the get together. Take some pictures of your kids and husband (and max the therapist) bring him up to speed with all your news (good stuff) and listen to all his. There won't be time to talk about anything else. Oh and take a camera and a couple of hankies.
    I look forward to hear how it goes. Be lucky, best wishes Spanner.