Here we go again

Well, isn’t this what you were waiting for with baited breath? Emotionally tortured, unable to sleep and back to using my blog as a counselling tool in the early hours of the morning. Well, I need to vent. There is just too much shit going on since Mum’s death.

None of our family, including me, is coping very well. That’s to be expected, in some ways. I’m not going to go on here for hours about how awful it was to lose mum and how horrifying her death was. There’s too much other shit going on.

For starters, my sister is in crisis. She has had depression for a while, but it was being managed by meds. Mum’s death has really devastated her, and while I can’t speak for her, I’d guess she is at pretty much rock bottom. I know she is suicidal. She says that she feels very, very alone (Mum’s dead, Dad is going to the UK to visit Gran in a week, I’m in Sydney, her best friend is going through a traumatic divorce and can’t be there for her, she feels she can’t turn to anyone else). I’m extremely worried about her.

On top of everything else, she is also having some humungous problems with her husband at the moment, which is not helping things. Basically, in addition to not supporting here with her grief over Mum’s death and her depression, he seems to be actively trying to take here apart. He is being verbally abusive constantly, yelling at her for minor things and generally making her life miserable. I have witnessed this, and his sulky, moody, manipulative behaviour, and the way he uses their child as a weapon against her. He has also, apparently, been threatening her with physical violence.

Sure, he has things going on, too (off work with a back injury) and of course, he’s also affected by my mother’s death. However nothing justifies abuse. And aside from that, he’s too much of a selfish prick to take a step back from his own situation and think that my sister might be in need of his active support. My sister has been talking about leaving him. I can understand this, and it is, ultimately, her life and decision. However, general advice is not to make life altering decisions when you are grieving or depressed. Not sure what is best for her here.

Part of the problem, though is that my brother-in-law (hereon in known as BIL) ihas a reputation as a ‘nice guy’. He’s usually smiling and laid back and easy going… to everyone except my sister, that is. I know, I hear you say it: classic abuser behaviour. My sister tried to tell her father-in-law some of the stuff that BIL had said to her eg. “He says everyone hates me, even my family. That you all hate me. That I’m useless.” only to have him respond that “BIL wouldn’t have said that”. Hello!

Unfortunately, the situation escalated this afternoon, after Dad and I came to pick her up for lunch. She’d already had a major blow-out fight with BIL and he had – apparently – pissed off somewhere in a huff. She needed to finish getting ready and Dad realised that he’d left something at home. So I was there with Hayl, talking about what was going on, what had happened, patterns of her relationship etc. And I said, “Well, your selfish prick of a husband needs to get his act together and start supporting you through this.” Apparently BIL was sitting in the garage sulking (which the laundry opens into) and was eavesdropping on everything my sister and I had said. He burst out of there agressively, with a “I’m a selfish prick am I?” to which I answered yes. He then stormed off, saying the marriage was over and throwing a few good slurs about me into the mix.

Now think about that. He’s pissed off with something I said, and rather than take it up with me, what did he do? That’s right, he chose the easy path of wounding my sister. Not to mention the bonus that he got to make it look like I caused the break up. Pure genius! And an example of his manipulative, abusive tactics.

Dad and I have spent the better part of two days comforting my sister, trying to help her feel supported and not alone, and trying to get her access to services that she needs. Obviously, Dad and I are still emotionally fragile as well, but we are in a better state than my sister. I’ve pulled the numbers of organisations that offer counselling (individual and couples counselling) off the internet. Dad offered for her to stay with him for a while. but she declined. I understand she called Lifeline last night, so hopefully that helped.

I’ve also tried to help her feel supported and listened to, validated in her experience. I’ve tried to let her know she isn’t alone and that she isn’t to blame, and that she’s coping remarkably under the circumstances. I’ve been in a situation like hers (depressed and abusive relationship, but admittedly no grief and no kids). I know what it was like for me to be rock bottom with depression, hating myself for being in a relationship like that, blaming myself every time we fought and not knowing how to help myself. So while our experiences aren’t identical, I can empathise with her.

I don’t know the full circumstances, but apparently Dad and her father-in-law have called a ‘family meeting’ for my sister and BIL to meet and discuss things. In my Dad’s words, their marriage will either survive this meeting or it won’t. I’m not sure whether my sister initiated this, was convinced it was a good idea or was coerced… but I am not sure it’s a good idea yet. Perhaps I am being overley protective, however I can’t see it being a “safe” environment for her to discuss her feelings and requirements – and I mean that emotionally not physically. I am afraid that Dad, FIL, MIL and BIL will all have a tendency to deny, mimimise and justify BIL’s behaviour. I am also concerned that they will place pressure on my sister to take one course of action or another. I am worried that because of her emotional vunerablility, she will not be able to make up her own mind, and may go with the family consensus for the sake of not rocking the boat.

Partly this feeling I have is due to past experience with these people. Partly it’s due to how my father attacked my last night when he told me about the family meeting. I was very hurt by his comments. Basically, he attacked me saying my sister was fragile and I needed to go gently with her. What? I know more of her mental state than he does, I’d wager. He basically implicated that I was making my sister worse and that I was a troublemaker (OK, I’ll wear the rap for BIL overhearing me, but I’m sorry – other than that all I have done is validate my sister’s experience). I then asked him whether this came from my sister and him, and he said him. There we go then. We have the answer. I’m a troublemaking, feminist bitch who stirs up shit by telling my sister that she is not to blame for the abuse and doesn’t have to put up with it. We all know that the best thing is to stay silent, maintain the status quo and quietly shuffly my sister off to the corner to take some more anti-depressants (silently, of course).

Aaargh!

Anyway, thus my lack of sleep.

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