Family and I...family is a dirty word. Don't get me wrong, there were good times. Not many, but some. But they, along with two people I loved, two people who...accepted me, are gone. And what's left is...in a word wrong. The relationships I have with two of my three remaining family members are unhealthy. In hindsight, they've always been so. And when those I loved left (not deliberately I know, but..it feels like it on occasion) I stepped up to the plate and shouldered the responsibility of acting on behalf of two family members (one of whom belongs in the aforementioned unhealthy relationship category and who played a major role in my formative years) who are, for the most part, unable to do so. And I've done this for over 3 years. To the best of my ability. All the while dealing with a third family member (another of the unhealthy relationship duo). Some apples don't fall far from the tree. (Such a comment is beneath me I know, but...considering the...prevalence of a certain character trait...apt.) I accept responsibility for my part in these unhealthy relationships. I compromise, I hide, I say and do whatever in order to keep the peace. I build situations up inside my head and panic over them. Maybe our relationships would have been different if I was stronger, confident. Then again, maybe not.
But I can't do it any more. I'm...drowning. In responsibility, in...everything. My whole life is in limbo... I keep thinking things will change, things will get better. But they haven't. And those two aforementioned family members won't change. And then I keep thinking I'll catch up and have some time for me. But I never do. And so the internal struggle commenced...do I walk away? Do I stay? Do I reduce but not discontinue my involvement? And the whispers start. You're responsible. There is no one else. And then guilt charges in on a white horse. They are family. It's your duty. You can't walk away... But that's what I have to do. Not from both of those family members who need me. Just from one. In all honesty I've wanted to walk away from this family member before. Not just in the last year, but earlier - back at the dawn of civilization when I was a teenager. I used to drive to dance class and look at houses and picture living there without him. Where I could be me and that would be good enough. And I need to be honest, if he was hale and whole I'd be gone.
I was watching the pilot episode of Battlestar Galactica on Sunday (I know, it seems like an abrupt subject change but please bear with me) and near the end Commander Adama makes a comment - I have it written on a piece of paper and tacked to my bedroom wall, but I always forget it (to my detriment):
It's not enough to just live. You have to have something to live for.And I think he (Commander Adama) means something for you. Not something for someone else. But I don't...have something. And, I have also forgotten, again to my detriment, my promise to my mother not to spend the rest of my life looking after these two family members. She...knew! Because she was that person. But...I needed to make this decision for me, not because of a promise to her. Because if I don't then it will be the right decision for the wrong reasons, and..I won't go through with it. I've cave, like I always do. And I can't. Not this time.
Anyway, you'd think making this decision would make things easier, but...there is so much to do. I've given one month's notice - I'm not just walking away - and will work with said family member, his residential care facility and his solicitor to ensure a smooth transition. And yes the past tense was deliberate. I announced my decision to said family member today. He (unsurprisingly) reacted stoically. I also know not everyone will understand this decision, will think I am being selfish. And I am. Being selfish. But my life is just as important as those family members I act on behalf of. And I deserve a chance to be happy. And if I sublimate what I want for what is considered to be for the best, I won't have my life. I will have theirs. And I refuse to bow to that fate.
Edited to add: I wanted to say thank you very much for all your comments on my previous post (Pushing Water) - I appreciate your thoughts and your support more than I can say. I'm very lucky and privileged to have met you all.