I woke up with that feeling today.
I realized nothing terrible has happened yet this week. Does that mean something will? It made me question if each week I am subconsciously waiting for some trauma or emergency to happen in my family (legal issues, near death experiences, mental breaks, divorce, etc). Then I wondered how that is effecting my life. I am kinda getting used to this roller coaster. I waited it out.
After arriving home from work I began preparing to apply for jobs. I found three positions I am interested in at NYU. For some reason I decided to check my email and I got an email from my uncle. My paternal grandmother died. She was abusive to him as a child so my father avoided her like the plague while I was growing up and therefore I saw her fewer than ten times in my life. She was cruel to me on all occasions. The saddest part of this experience was when I called my father to check-in. He acted like nothing happened, wondered why I was concerned, said he didn’t care (which I actually believe in his case) and complained that he is now obligated to go to the funeral.
I then spoke with my older brother who has been battling serve depression, various physical pains and suicidal tendencies for over 15 years. My brother and I are close. He raised me in the absence of my father, has always taken care of me and is the sweet, empathic, voice of reason in my life. He told me he was jealous of our grandmother. He told me about all the physical pain he experiences and I even listened to him cry out in pain as an episode took over his body. He told me that even though he is trying out drug #31 he no longer has hope it will work. The more open I was to listening to him and asking him honest and loving questions, the more he shared. We talked about the past, the future and our options. And then we both cried. Then we talk about other things, like how Donald Trump seems like a societal practical joke, our jobs, taxes, and so on. Every so often he shared a thought that indicated that he was preparing an end-of-life plan. We kept talking, said good night, hung up and then a bit later – I honestly was so sad I have no idea how much times passed – he called back in the midst of a suicidal episode. He shared that he felt overpowered by thoughts to end his life, how his body was responding and what he wanted to do. I listed. I tried to hold on to hope, tell him I love him, and suggest options. As the thoughts decreased, he tried to hang up. I suggested we spend the rest of the night together on speakerphone. He couldn’t understand why I would do this for him and assured me he didn’t have the means to kill himself right now. I told him that I just wanted to be with him, which he liked.
It’s funny, right after I read that my grandmother died I called both my uncles. I wanted to know how they were doing and I wondered what it was like for them to lose their caregiver. I then thought about what it might be like for their sons (my cousins) to see them (my uncles) in a vulnerable, emotional state, seeing as these two men rarely express those emotions. In the end, even though I wasn’t close to my grandmother, and my uncles weren’t available to speak on the phone, I gained new insight into all of those emotional responses. But for a very different reason.
I really don’t know how to deal with these feelings (sadness, pain, fear), crises and family breakdowns and still fulfill my goals in life. How am I supposed to walk away from this experience and go sit at a desk and apply for a job? It will take me days to recuperate from this. Will that be in time for the next issue, as has been the pattern for the past 3 years? And then I wonder how my brother has achieved all that he has in his life while battling this disease. And once again I am reminded of the fact that he is my hero.