Now I'm yearning to pick up a pen and just write. Universe gives us such wonderful opportunities to sort through the emotional junk we gather in the course of experiencing life. Over the past few years we've all encountered situation after situation in which we could examine our trigger points, resolve the inner conflicts, and release them. Over the past year, I've felt so clear and free within. Yet once again, I'm getting one of those wonderful opportunities for personal growth. At the moment, I'm seriously leaning towards ranting and raving.
My mother's recent stoke has left her unable to manage her own affairs. Her medical expenses are significant with full time nursing care. As a result of her condition, I'm having to coordinate with my siblings, four sisters and a brother, in handling all the financial issues for our mother. Originally, my mother named me to act for her under her durable power of attorney. When I moved away from DC, she added my brother and youngest sister who live in the area. A few months ago, my oldest sister went to my mother's attorney and had her name added, so now there are four of us charged with this responsibility. Is it a coincidence that the sisters and brother on the power of attorney are the ones I feel most friction with???? The short answer is, of course, No. To make matters worse, we were not each given copies of the durable power of attorney nor my mother's revocable living trust. On short notice we're trying to assume responsibility and don't have the documents that tell us what authority we've been granted. So typical.
Nothing like being thrown back into all the old family dynamics and communication patterns, most of them dysfunctional. With six adult children in the family (the seventh, my oldest sister, died in 1998), it gets quite complex.
So that I'm not just talking in the abstract, here are some of the long standing patterns I'm dealing with:
- Independence is of the highest value. The importance of our relationships as siblings has never been acknowledged in any form. As one sister I'm close to said yesterday, "We were never encouraged to be nice to each other, and never had any limits or intervention imposed on how mean we were to each other."
- In family communications about important news, activities, or decisions, one or two family members are always left out of the loop on a random alternating basis. This includes major events like birth of a child, graduations, why a family member can't attend your wedding, serious illnesses, etc.
- Family members are never acknowledged or consulted for the expertise and mastery they've acquired. This is true even though everyone is highly competent and highly educated.
- Criticism and judgment are thrown about freely, often behind someone's back and with little to no knowledge of real facts about whatever situation they're complaining about. I've called it The Family Gossip Network.
Basically, I hate the way I'm treated within my family, and I hate the way they treat each other. At the same time, I love each of them for who they are. And now I'll need to work with them in the coming months on a regular basis.
What I've done so far is to raise one of the issues, always leaving one or two out of the loop, in a group email I sent today. This was necessitated after I learned that the other three on the power of attorney made some significant financial decisions and didn't think/remember to include me in the discussion and decision-making. And only three days after a conference call for the purpose of agreeing to work together and include everyone in all the communications. Anyway, I'm curious about what the response will be to my email.
So far, I've confirmed the wisdom of my choices to move first one hour away from the family home (and become very busy with my work), then eight hours away, and now across the continent. My choice now, considering I'll have to be actively involved with my family, is to voice that this period, during and after Mom transitions to the other side, is an opportunity for us to consciously change the dynamics and communication patterns that are hurtful and do not serve us as individuals or as a family. After my mother passes, all that will hold us together as a family will be our own efforts to stay connected.
I try to see everything as an opportunity for growth. This family situation is really the opportunity for me to learn that I can use my power effectively for all concerned. To use my power without fearing I'll abuse it, and to trust I can be powerful in my usual loving ways. Most of my life I felt very powerless. This has changed significantly, yet I generally shy away from using my power and back off from family situations that hold potential for conflict. Not such a good thing. Yet if I can use my power and natural authority lovingly with my own family, I can do it anywhere. Much gratitude to the Universe for this opportunity. Oh, how tall I will be after growing through this family drama.