On top of feeling so blue these days, I’m also feeling quite dispirited and irritated. More like I’ve been pared peeled and flayed to be specific. Everyone and everything seems to be getting under my skin, working my last nerve. Part of it is undoubtedly related to feeling so low in general. But the other reality is I seem to be the place the buck stops after a long line of responsibility-shirkers. It makes me wonder if I evade accountability as often as those around me seem to. And why don’t I? Maybe I should learn.
Perhaps my tolerance is low. Or perhaps my own cup runneth over with responsibility and watching everybody else pass their cups makes me mad. This seems to be a somewhat historical struggle in my life. My mother never took responsibility for her actions – problematic as they were. She was angry. She was protecting or defending herself from paranoid delusions of what she perceived as slights, insults or affronts. And if I’d been a better daughter, she could have/would have been a better mother. Society too never thrust responsibility on her. She has a mental illness, she can’t control herself. Forget about the fact that she has always been a prescription drug addict (something she felt put her above those scumbag street drug users). My brother imbibed that same philosophy and made it a lifestyle if not an art-form. He’s a homeless drug-addict whose fault it never is was or ever has been. He’s just a guy who can never catch a break, who swears on everything sacred that he is clean and sober, just a poor schmuck down on his luck in the wrong place at the wrong time. Everything is someone else’s fault. He’s just there to help those drug addicts that seem to surround him wherever he goes, a model of sorts for them to look up to, there to help out those less fortunate. What a great guy. And if I weren’t so damn perfect and he didn’t have to follow in the blinding sunshine I spread wherever I went, he might have had a fighting chance. But who can survive a perfect older sibling?! I paved a path inconceivable to him and impassable for him. Obviously, his life is my fault too.
More recently the moving company refused to take responsibility for the shoddy work they did, blaming me, instead, for not calling them to complain sooner. And the icing on that cake – the insurance company called to tell me that Mr. Barker denies any involvement in the accident he allegedly obviously did not cause. Of course. In other realms of my life, my boss created a major fuck-show in my absence (my one week of vacation all summer) because she refused to take responsibility and actually do any work for a change. Denying any and all accountability after the shit hit the fan, by saying that everyone else on the team (me included) was just a poor communicator. She was too busy “working off site” to come back, own up and fix things though. So it was my fault AND I had to clean up the mess. Lovely.
Joita went off to overnight camp in Western Mass. My ex drove her there with the understanding that I’d do the drive to pick her up two weeks later. But they forgot Jo’s crutches (don’t ask how, but they are something she obviously needs). I called and texted and called and texted (rather maniacally) as soon as I realized the crutches were in her room here. But she either didn’t hear her phone or ignored me and, well, she couldn’t be reached until they got to the camp three hours away. So I made the drive out there to drop off the crutches. Then turned around and came back home (without so much as catching a glimpse of Jo). I’m not even sure how it fell to me to be the one to figure out how to get them there since it wasn’t actually me who forgot them. But when I looked around for help it seemed everyone around me got the cosmic message, “Quick, look busy.” But this is my kid and she needs her crutches. Emily did help by searching FedEx and other couriers. They would have run me a couple hundred dollars and wouldn’t have gotten them there as quickly. So in the end, I took the responsibility because no one else had any intention of doing it.
I drove out there again to pick her up at the end of the two weeks. She’s an amazing kid and had a wonderful time and I’m deeply grateful for that. As we were driving home she mentioned offhandedly that she hadn’t heard from Emily. She’d heard from Emily’s folks, my aunt and uncle, her other parent and her girlfriend as well as others. I’d sent two letters and two care packages. When we got home I asked Emily whether she’d written to Jo. She got angry at me. Could I really have sent letters and packages and not signed her name too?! What?! How did that become my responsibility?! Honestly, I had signed her name (and Nina’s) to the care packages. And honestly, it would have been no big deal to me if she had responded, “oh crap! I was so busy getting her room all set up here at home, I didn’t have time to write.” Which really is the truth. Emily spent countless hours designing and decorating Joita’s room, making a duvet cover, picking drapes and painting walls. Who has time to write? But for me, the owning part would have been helpful, would have made a huge difference in how I felt.
Why is it so easy for others to deflect blame and why is it so impossible for me feel anything other than responsible? Interestingly, Joita was the only one in the above lists to have said sorry. She said, “I’m sorry happy (her pet name for me). I can’t believe I did something so stupid. I mean, really, I forgot my crutches?! Crazy.” Well, at least I have not passed on my co-dependent ridiculousness to my child. Perhaps there’s hope for me yet.