Saturday, January 23, 2010

Do I LOOK Like a Bank?
Introducing: My Brother, the Man Child

I have a 37 year old brother who is the epitome of a 'man child'.  But not in a handsome, funny way as shown on TV sitcoms.  More like in a completely dysfunctional, irresponsible and pathetic way.  He has managed to dodge any form of real responsibility his entire life and continues to play the victim card.

He is two years older than I am, but at one point in time, we were side-by-side in the high school year book, if that gives you any clue to what I'm describing.  I believe he dropped out of high school his junior year.  Then he proceeded to drink, smoke, drug himself and hang out with other winners.  Stole things, was an accomplice to burglaries, did jail time, asked everyone for money to help him out because he was going to turn his life around each time.

He's part of the reason I moved away at 19.  I didn't want him showing up on my doorstep and begging to sleep on my couch or asking for a hand out.  When he has visited my older sister, even just a year ago, he has stole things from her.  He has crashed at my little sister's house and just trashed the place and sponged off her.  He's clueless, messy and ill-equipped to be a man.

I worked various jobs since the age of 12, and that shithead was always stealing my money or the nice things I bought with my money.  If he wasn't stealing from me, he would harass me until I paid him off to leave me alone.  Just thinking about it makes me angry all over again.  

Fast forward to about a year or so ago... My brother was working as a dishwasher at a diner, renting a trailer from a woman and riding his bike to/from work.  (He couldn't drive since he had a DUI and his truck engine blew up - on the same night).  I kept getting calls from him that he had had a seizure and was pulled out of a ditch or off the floor of his work.  The medics would arrive at the scene, take him to the ER, do a full work up on him, prescribe him anti-convulsive medicine, tell him to go to rehab and ask him to follow up with a physician.  

He wouldn't do any of these things.  He didn't want to stop drinking (one ER doctor felt that he was having alcoholic detox seizures), he didn't want to follow up with a physician, didn't want to fill a prescription, none of it!  He would rather spend his money on his cell phone and lap top - which would be great if he was a businessman, but he's not.  He never paid his expensive ambulance and ER bills either. 

He started dating this girl about a year ago and things seemed promising.  He was going to turn over a new leaf.  However, since he had an outstanding DUI that he never showed up to court for, when they went out to a bar one night, he got carded and his name showed up as a wanted person.  So he went to jail.  Yep - cause and effect.  You do the crime, you do the time.  Seems obvious, right?  

But he's always the victim.  He and his girlfriend continue to pester me.  For money, for me to write up a letter attesting to his character, take his expensive collect calls, etc.  I have sent money twice - $50 once and $10 another time.  I did not write a letter to the public defender attesting to his character.  I'm not a liar.  I told his girlfriend exactly what kind of person my brother is and that it's good that he's in jail so he can learn a valuable lesson.  But she wears these things called 'rose colored glasses'.  

The story gets better.  My brother's girlfriend discovers she's pregnant! *oh great*  First of all, she already has 3 kids that she is sharing custody with her ex-husband and can't even provide for them.  Second of all, she has no job or stable living arrangement.  Third of all, my brother has no business being a father when he can't even take care of himself.  He crumbles under even the slightest amount of pressure.  He does not follow any civilized standards for living: nutrition, hygiene, dental care, etc. (His teeth are black and rotting and he doesn't get them treated).  He is practically illiterate, has one or more mental disorders and is emotionally unstable.  

Another wonderful thing that happened to him while he was in the county jail was that his landlady filed charges against him for r @ p e. WTF?!  He apparently has no recollection of this event as he was drunk, he claims.  He had a very lame defense of how crazy and jealous his landlady was because of his girlfriend.  JEALOUS?! Really?!  The prosecutor put pressure on him and claimed she had video evidence (how and why would someone video tape this?)  They did some sort of plea agreement, he plead guilty and got sent to prison for 8 months.

He is not a very good candidate for prison - he is a fragile weakling that is easily bullied.  He gets overwhelmed very easily and is prone to emotional breakdowns.  But - one must face the music eventually, right?

I feel I've done enough by writing him an occasional letter, putting a little money on his books for stamps and stationary, sending a gift basket for Christmas and taking a few collect calls here and there.  (Those calls are very expensive - about $25 each.)  Lately though, I've distanced myself from him and his problems because it's just too much to wrap my mind around.  AND - it's not my problem.  He's not my son and he's not my husband - he's my brother.  I have my own family, children to raise, responsibilities to take care of... and he needs to live his own life and deal with his consequences.

I just continue to pray that he speaks to a chaplain or a psychiatrist there.  I pray God will work a miracle in his life.  I'm going to stop caring that he doesn't take my advice and uses me for hand outs and sympathy.  Tough love baby!

Today his girlfriend (who is due any day now), sent me a text message that said, "'B' has been calling you 'cause he has no money for envelopes.  He has to stay [in jail] a month longer."

I groaned when reading this - and how is this my problem??!  She should be sending him money, not me.  I text messaged back, "Did he say why he has to stay longer? I work long hours and miss his calls.  We're rarely home.  We also are short on cash.  Daycare is not cheap."

She text messaged back, "He doesn't have an address to be released to.  They are working on something now.  He has to stay an extra month."  Me - no response. 

Seriously, I put $10 on his books in December.  Plenty to buy stamps and envelopes.  I still haven't received a thank you letter for this gesture either.  He has a month or so left in prison.  I am not his bank or his bitch.  I am NOT giving him anymore of my money.  His girlfriend needs to stop spreading the guilt on me too.  I can just see where this will go when she has the baby and uses these tactics to get me to help the poor hungry baby.  I'm so glad I don't live there - and I'm thankful for caller ID.  

Word of the day: "Codependency" - the tendency to behave in ways that negatively impact one's relationships and quality of life. This behavior may be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, compliance and/or control patterns.  

According to a friend who is a self-proclaimed expert on this, I might be a tad bit codependent.  Looking it up on Wikipedia (, I don't fall under the categories you would normally think of (denial, low self-esteem or compliance patterns).  I would fit more into the 'control pattern' type (but I really don't have a problem with it - honestly):

  • I believe most other people are incapable of taking care of themselves.
  • I attempt to convince others of what they "should" think and how they "truly" feel.
  • I become resentful when others will not let me help them.
  • I freely offer others advice and directions without being asked.
  • I lavish gifts and favors on those I care about.
  • I use sex to gain approval and acceptance.
  • I have to be "needed" in order to have a relationship with others.
Apparently there is a 12 step program to become cured of this...    

In terms of my brother, it starts with not accepting his collect calls, not obsessively worrying about his life and his future (or lack thereof) and stop sending him money.  Put it all in the hands of the power above.  I also hope his 'issues' are not genetically-linked.  

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Fun Day

It's Friday Fun Day (my day off during the week that I spend with the girls), and I'm still 1/2 way in my pajamas and 1/2 in my workout clothes.  Got on the computer to see which gym class I can go to that I wouldn't be too late for, and here I am.  

1 child is dressed and in shoes, hair done. 1 child is in her underwear because I couldn't finish dressing her since I got distracted.  I still need to brush everyone's teeth, including my own.  

This is one of the reasons I don't think I could be a SAHM.  I need pressure and structure to function. Otherwise, we would likely end up staying in our PJs all day watching back to back Disney movies, and when the girls napped I would tune into Oprah.  *sigh* - almost seems tempting today....

But NO - I must push forward and do the responsible thing.  I'm certain my going to the gym is just a way for me to avoid cleaning too. Don't want to see it or deal with it.  

Ok, I'm OFF!  Really.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Work-Life Balance Achieved in 2010?

Oh the ever-elusive work-life balance... 

Every day I seek the balance, yet every day the work aspect seems to overtake the family life aspects.

I'm glad there are so many resources out there for working moms these days and such wonderful women paving the way for us.  Mom Corps has built a business helping women find  flexible employment to fit with their family life.  HALLELUJAH! 

I honestly think that everyone desires and deserves a good work-life balance - single people, people without children, fathers... As soon as companies start offering flexible options to their employees, they may see that it dramatically increases job satisfaction, productivity and retention. 

I feel so fortunate to have every Friday off to spend with my girls.  It's had a huge impact on my state-of-mind and happiness.  Having that extra day doing mommy things has been so rewarding.  Now I don't think I could ever go back to a 40+ hour work week.

Here is a great article on achieving work-life balance this year:

By Nadia MacKay of Mom Corps

"Work-Life Balance" -- Everyone wants the secret formula, the magic number of hours they should be spending on their various work and personal activities, but the truth is that the definition of balance is different for everyone, and it will vary over time as the demands on each person's time change. This year make it a point to find your own balance niche, rethink your approach to work, and make smarter choices based on your priorities....
Let me know if you have negotiated any flexibility into your job.  Hope you attain balance this year!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

We've Lost Another One to the SAHM Club

As I was reading my news feed on Facebook today, I learned that another friend has decided to go the Stay-at-Home-Mom route.  

I must admit, my heart sank and stomach dropped.  I felt a little jealous and sad for me and happy for her all at the same time.  All these mixed emotions about working surfaced for me as well as old beliefs: "I've always worked, I'll always work, everyone else should be working too, you can't do this!"  

Deep down, I really want to be unencumbered by a job and I want to have it all together on the home front and all the benefits of staying at home, but it's just not a reality for me at this time. Not sure if it will ever be.  Even if we have 3 kids - I'm sure I'll find myself back at work and juggling all the balls (or at least attempting to.)  

So, in the mean time, I forced a cheerful comment on her post, "Good for you!" - and went back to work. 

Inspiring Email Newsletter - Workplace Wisdom

I receive a Weekly Workplace Wisdom newsletter from my church each week and it always offer wisdom, inspiration and a new look on work life. Just wanted to share it and a little of my perspective

: mention of God to follow - if it offends you, replace term with the 'entity' of your choice.  

I have a hard time looking to God for the answers because I used to never think he would give me an answer or was even listening for that matter.  But lately, I've made a conscious effort to try to pray and actually listen for an answer.  AND - I've received a response and it blew me away! 

For example, I struggled with extreme anxiety when I started my new job.  Every morning I would feel like an insignificant impostor.  One morning I prayed that God would remove this anxiety and help me feel significant and of worth.  Something a little more powerful than the affirmations you hear by Stuart Smalley (SNL), "I'm good enough, smart enough, and doggone it - people like me!"  I was walking into this huge, luxurious office building tower surrounded by affluent people who were well put-together, feeling insignificant and anxious, and a thought popped into my head like God speaking to me, "I am bigger than all of this."  

A simple sentence with huge meaning.  It stuck with me and helped me grow closer to God and stick with him.  I felt more significant, special, loved, cared for and at peace. I've carried it with me and it has helped in many new, intimidating experiences.  

Now I just have to think of something else to ask, like, how can I be more productive at work and stop getting so distracted by the Internet?  That's a tough one!

Here is the email newsletter:
Career Plans @ Work by Helen Mitchell

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” - Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

When my daughter was 8 years old and in third grade, we were talking about the life that lies ahead of her and what she wanted to be when she grew up. We read this verse together and I explained it this way.

I asked her to imagine that she is going to take a test and the teacher told her that she had two options to complete the test. First, she could do it on her own or a second option would be to ask the teacher for the answers. She looked at me as if this was a trick question. I reassured my daughter that if she chose to ask her teacher for the answers to the test she was taking, she would not lose grade points and the teacher would actually give her the answers to the questions she asked.

Through her big blue eyes I could see that she was considering what I just asked and was weighing all the options. I asked her what she would do and she said, ‘ask the teacher for the answers.’ Exactly!

Isn’t that like life? God has already told us that He has a plan for our lives to be prosperous, joyful and full of future. So why do we try to do it all ourselves? God is the great career planner. He gave us our talents, skills and abilities and He knows just how to use them so we will have both joy in our work and glorify God through our work.

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” - Jeremiah 33:3

Jeremiah 33:3 is a promise. If you call out to God, he will answer and give you wisdom that you cannot fathom. So why do we try to do it all ourselves?