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Spilling My Beans

October 22, 2010

I have yet to post anything on this blog that I wouldn’t share with anyone who asked.  But I’m feeling a little hurt right now and thought “Isn’t this one of the reasons you wanted to start a blog?”

So here I am, thinking of spilling some beans and sharing my hurt feelings with the world.  I might not post this.  I’m going to write it out fully and then decide if I’d like to let all of you random assholes into my heart, even just a wee bit.  Which is actually easier than knowing that family could read this and be hurt by the truth of what I feel.  That makes it sound like such a bigger deal than it actually is, but creaking open this tiny door could very well lead to my soul spilled out on the floor of the internet like a gory crime scene.

We’ll start with a little background info.  My parents divorced when I was around 9 years old.  They had gotten pregnant very young (twice, actually, within a year and a half) and that, along with a host of other things, put a strain on their relationship.  Divorce was the right thing to do.  I was as confident about that then as I am now.

Flash forward a couple of years and they had both begun new relationships; relationships that would eventually lead to a step-mom and a step-dad for my sister and I.  Which in turn (or out of turn, because babies in wedlock rare in my fam) led to two sets of three more little siblings.  Yay!  I freaking looove babies and kiddos!

So for those who are more visual, here’s a quick and dirty version of my family tree.

Every other branch is as complicated as ours. I can't imagine what it would be like to draw the whole thing out.

So technically I have one full sister and 6 half brothers and sisters, but I’ve never really felt the “half.”  People always seem to need me to describe them that way, which I can understand from a detail oriented position.  It is a more accurate description of our genetic relationship to one another.  But you know what genes are?  Big double helices of bullshit.  Ok, maybe not really…I’m not a scientist.

What I do know is that I don’t feel any differently about them than I would if we all had the same parents.  But the age difference does factor in…I’m 27, Sister Murph is 25, and the little kids range in age from 6-16.  Sister Murph and I don’t get the full family experience with the little kids because for most of their lives we’ve been living in a different dorm room or apartment or house.

It seems that half-siblings and step-siblings often cause a rift in the family…an us-against-them mentality.  One set gets jealous and focuses on any tiny difference in how the other group is treated.  There are adults who still get bent out of shape about this.  I’ve never felt that.  I can say bluntly that there are HUGE differences in the life that my little siblings know and the one that Sister Murph and I had.  But there’s been no real animosity for it, and I’ve never felt like I wasn’t fully a part of both different sets of families.

Until a couple of days ago 😦

Wednesday night my dad sent me a text just to say hi.  He’s into texting and uses all of the stupid-ass slang.  I need to get my English-to-4th-grade-text dictionary out to interpret half of the shit he sends.  So we’re talking for a bit and I tell them that we have the video footage of the wedding and I’d like to come over this weekend and show everyone.  He tells me that they’re all going to camp in some cabins this weekend so they won’t be there.

So I get a little upset, thinking that I wish they would have invited me.  I know it wasn’t intentional and it’s not as if they don’t want me there.  I think that they assume that Sister Murph and I have our own stuff going on and don’t want to deal with family obligations.  My dad and my stepmom are also a little scatterbrained and irresponsible so planning things is so unnecessarily difficult for them.

Then I see on facebook that my little sister is bringing a friend.  They didn’t think to invite me on a family mini-vaca, but they invite an extra 12 year old girl?  I talk to Sister Murph and find out that they asked her to watch their dog.  Seriously?  That feels like they’re saying “We don’t consider you family enough to go on vacation with us, but you’re family enough that we’re comfortable asking an annoying favor of you.”

It’s like asking someone to help you move but then not inviting them to your housewarming party.  I went from being a little upset to full blown make-me-feel-like-shit-all-afternoon hurt feelings.

I feel like I should take partial responsibility because for a good amount of my early 20’s I let Bud Light bottles and hanging out with friends take precedence over most things.  Although I don’t think what I did was unusual, I know that at the time I treated family as an obligation.  Now it’s something I want to do and because for so long I turned my nose at it I no longer get the nod.

I don’t call every week asking for a schedule so that I can go to soccer games or school plays.  My dad and stepmom don’t call me and tell me these things, but I want to be involved in the little kids lives and still choose not to put the effort in to finding ways to do it.  So part of the responsibility (and guilt) is on my shoulders.

I know that the rational solution is to talk to my dad and stepmom about this.  To go over there and say “Hey, this hurt my feelings.”  I’m just afraid that it will be met with a thousand excuses and maybe even the “don’t be so sensitive” rhetoric that I’ve had to hear from my dad for as long as I can remember.  I’ll say something anyway because I wouldn’t feel right not standing up for myself.  It would be really nice if it were met with a little bit of culpability, an apology, and a commitment to be more inclusive in the future.  Possible, but not likely.

So, because I don’t trust that they’ll change, I asked my little brother and sister if they’d try and remember to ask me and Sister Murph to come along when things like this come up.  I feel like it’s not fair to ask them to do something their parents should be doing.  I know how annoying it is when you have irresponsible parents and you have to be the reminder or the alarm clock or the voice screaming on their answering machine because they didn’t fill out your FAFSA and you’re about to be kicked out of school.

It fucking sucks.  This is just another situation where I’m affected by it.  But that doesn’t mean that I don’t love them and it didn’t hurt my feelings when I wasn’t included.

***I’m nervous to post this because there are a couple of people who read my blog that personally know me and my family.  I just ask that you be sensitive to my feelings and their feelings if you choose to comment on this.  Either in the comments section or in person.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. October 22, 2010 8:50 pm

    Oh Sweetie, I think you explained the situation perfectly. You accepted responsibility for your part (small though it may be) and are understanding of the other parties involved. You still have a right to be upset however.

    Hubby has been treated this way by his siblings ever since his parents died when he was in his twenties. He is the youngest of 5 and has several nephews only 10-15 years younger than him. We never get included in family gatherings even now (14yrs married) unless I call and ask. I still struggle with the unfairness of it. I know it hurts my hubby on a regular basis even though he denies it. My SILs don’t see their behavior as hurtful either. I find out about family parties on Facebook (after the fact) for heaven’s sake!

    Bottom line, if it is important to you, then you are going to have to be the adult and do the communicating. How about once a month instead of weekly? Sports usually has a set schedule when the season starts. You don’t have to call just for the schedule, just slip it into the normal conversation. Check the younger kids’ school website for info/dates too.

    Hope this helps. You are not alone in feeling this way or having this sort of situation. It does hurt but there eventually comes a peace with deciding what to do about it.

    • October 24, 2010 12:26 pm

      Well it looks like this is pretty normal in large/blended families. I’m sorry that it still happens to your husband. Knowing that part of the reason is because they just plain don’t think of it helps. While it still stings a little, but since I know there isn’t any ill will involved I won’t dwell on it. I’ll still say something…but after a few days to sit with it I’m not hurt like I initially was. Good advice though, checking the schools’ websites for dates. Thanks!

  2. October 22, 2010 8:55 pm

    I have long admired how you can separate out your disappointments from the actual emotion you feel for the people in your family.

    Also? I hope you say something. I’d want you to do that with me. I’m sure I’ve committed this very same sin before, probably. Sometimes I feel bad asking because I worry you’ll feel pressure to come along and I do know that you have your own life. Maybe that’s what happened, if you’re inclined to give some benefit-of-the-doubt.

    Still, you’re right that the absolute correct response is an apology and some culpability. It would be good to get that…

    • October 24, 2010 12:29 pm

      Thanks, I never really thought of it that way. I guess it’s because I know that I’ve been the one to disappoint others but it doesn’t mean I don’t still love them. So it’s only fair that I realize it’s the same going the opposite direction.

  3. October 23, 2010 7:35 am

    It is stories like this that make me glad I’m an only child and have a very small family.

    • October 24, 2010 12:32 pm

      I dunno…stuff like this sucks but I swear I wouldn’t give it up for anything. I absolutely love the noise and the laughs and that there are always kids to go get something out of the other room for you. They’re fun and functional!

  4. Julie permalink
    October 23, 2010 2:14 pm

    Hi Katie! I’m a friend of your Mom’s and wanted to let you know that I get it. I’m 42, have 4 kids and I still feel like that where it comes to my Dad & stepmom. I don’t expect to be included in everything, but the slights really sting.

    • October 24, 2010 12:36 pm

      Yeah, it just stings. It’s tough because since we’re all adults we do have other stuff going on and it seems like it’s hard to coordinate schedules. Even harder for you because you have kiddos.
      Maybe some people just see family like that. I know a lot of people who don’t spend time with their parents or siblings that often. Then again, I know people who are on the phone with aunts and cousins and nephews every day and that’s not what I want either. Seems it’s just a matter of different expectations and then trying to work together to execute.

  5. October 24, 2010 10:38 am

    I have a kind of similiar-ish family situation with 2 “whole” siblings, two “half” siblings and two adopted siblings…I’m the oldest and live in another city, and sometimes feel like us three oldest kids are in a different circle of the family venn diagram, you know? It’s a weird circumstance for sure!

    • October 24, 2010 12:40 pm

      Wow what a different family dynamic! But just like anything it helps us become who we are. Could you imagine it any other way? I just couldn’t see myself as part of a traditional nuclear family. I think that having to work with a non-traditional family to find harmony has made me better at juggling communication between people of different opinions and experiences.

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