My life is as complicated as lives gets. My family is as complicated as families get. There is no question that everything about me is complicated. Sometimes, the complexity of it all leaves me a position where I feel like I am locked into a tight space and I can’t breathe.
I am very claustrophobic and I have been for many years. I am not sure when it started or whether there is an association with the claustrophobia and my conditions, but I hate tight spaces, in particular a packed elevator. I work on the 7th floor but there was a time I worked on the 42nd floor. It was a temp position and when offered the job, I did not take it because of the elevator issue. I also have issues with height but that is not as bad as the tight spaces issue.
I also fear failure and that is how I have been all my life. That is why I make wise choices because failure has a tendency to set me back. Mostly, I dwell on my failures but I also I find ways to fix my failures and get past them. It is like I always feel like I have something to prove. That is probably why I plan everything ahead of time, I am a control freak, and why I hate surprises. My family knows better than to plan a surprise party for me. I am this way mostly because of my Type A personality but I also think that life has made me this way through all of the obstacles I have been handed. As far as failures go, lately I have been dwelling on my failed relationships with my brothers.
One thing I have learned is that I can only control myself and I can’t control anyone else and sometimes, when I see someone I love making bad choices, I want to have control and it hurts that I can’t. That is a setback for me because I never make a decision without thinking it thoroughly and investigating and when I see people I love making spontaneous choices, it scares me. The reason I bring this up is because my brother has been in the hospital for two weeks and we have been told it’s stomach cancer and he is really sick. He is also in denial as to the extent of his condition and he won’t let anyone have a say in particular why he continues to smoke. I know that I don’t have any control over his actions but even a suggestion as to how successful his treatment will be if he made changes turns him into a mad man.
I know denial because I was there two years ago when I received my diagnoses so I am trying to keep my mouth shut. He also isn’t sharing with his family specific details on how bad it is and even the treatment plan. I think that we have a right to know so that we know how to prepare or how to handle particular situations. He is 31 years old, never married and has no children and he is acting like he has nothing to lose. He can have a long life ahead of him, get married, have kids, but he has to start making changes now so that he can be cured and go into remission. I am very upset about the diagnosis and how he is handling it and I have spent a lot of time praying and crying. This is when I realize I what little control I have and sometimes, just that feeling alone makes it hard to breathe.
We were all close when we were kids because we were born one right after the other in terms of years. Our ages now range from 36 to 30 when it comes to the six of us (two boys, four girls). My youngest brother is 19 (he is number 7) and my mom had him after the youngest was 11 so he was a surprise. When I got married to my first husband, I was eighteen and my brother was thirteen, and life happened and we went on with our adult lives. I don’t really know my brothers but I know my sisters and we are as close as sisters get. I wish I could be close to my brothers but I am not. I am close with the youngest but that is because I had a part in raising him because after my father got sick when he was only four months old, my mom spent the next four years taking care of my dad, and then when he died, my mother was never the same and my sisters and I continued to take care of our baby brother.
You can imagine that this diagnosis has had an impact on my mother, my sisters and I, and my brother seems to think that we have no say. I know we have grown apart and I know why but when it comes to things like this, I really wish he would let us in. My younger sister (she is a year younger then me so she’s 33) was diagnosed in late 2008 with Hodgkin’s Disease and we had answers because she let us in. I believe hers was pretty early, maybe Stage 1 and she has been remission for over a year now. The not knowing and the feeling like you have no control is difficult and you feel like you can’t breathe.
I want to close my eyes and wake up to a time when we were kids, when life was simpler and when the C-word wasn’t a part of our lives. When I start thinking about it, I start to cry. I am tougher than most but I also know that good health comes with hard work. I also know that he is in denial now, but he won’t be forever so I pray that he fights and that he learns to make better choices. That is all I can do because clearly, it is out of my control.
I am a very content person and I love to laugh but I also know how to cry. I know how to feel hurt and how to feel angry. Being an adult sucks and it is not much fun. I get my drive from my own successes and I have never really learned how to get it from anyone else’s successes. Maybe I will learn that better as my kids get older. The problem is that I am so focused on my goals that I forget to stop and smell the roses. Sometimes, I need a reminder and if anything, my brother’s illness is a test. Maybe, it is meant to bring us together again but it is really scary to see someone you love so sick.
My brothers and I are not close. In fact, the next one in line is 32 and I have not talked to him in nearly two years. We don’t see eye to eye on anything and he has been known to be a jerk. In fact, I am not the only one he has not talked to in years – the only person he talks to our mom and more often than not, he is asking for money. That is why there is animosity there. As for the younger one that is sick, he and I just lost touch. We talk if we see each other and we don’t spend much time together and the problem with my brothers is that they think that they don’t need anyone, and it takes things like this to remind them that they do.
See, I didn’t lie when I told you that my life and my family are complicated. What is more is that I am even more complicated.