“So this is what a dysfunctional family looks like.”

I received a text this afternoon informing me that my only sister has died. Of a ‘second stroke,’ and I wasn’t aware she had ever suffered a first one. Actually I didn’t know for sure that she was even still alive.

There were originally five siblings in my generation of what I’ll conventionally call ‘my family,’ and I have regular correspondence with exactly one of them. This is – I must be honest – entirely his doing. He is the only really normal sibling of our generation, including me. He’s a genuinely nice guy, and I’ve always thought he deserved a better family than the one he ended up with.

As to my sister … well, I last heard from her a little over fifty years ago and the circumstances were kind of weird. I was in an intensive care unit at the time, and she ripped me off for my only twenty bucks. She became a rather extreme hermit, proof (if my now-dead-for-over-25-years younger brother wasn’t sufficient proof) that mental illness still kind of runs in my family.

Not sure what I should make of that. Kind of wish I cared more.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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12 Responses to “So this is what a dysfunctional family looks like.”

  1. Robert says:

    You’re doing OK, Joel. Detachment can be a survival strategy. Myself, I attempt acceptance almost daily. Hang in there; your writings help some of us through the day.

  2. bill says:

    JOEL: “Not sure what I should make of that. Kind of wish I cared more.”

    Left home 53 years ago. Family loss can be confusing when one knows there was insanity and it will continue to evolve. I also kind of wish I cared more. Stay strong man.

  3. Judy says:

    I moved 1200 miles away from my family.  Dysfunctionality is only part of the reason why.  The only reason I showed up for the older sister’s funeral was out of respect for my BIL.  He put up with a lot of craziness.  If the rest of them wanted me to care more, I guess they should have made more of an effort to be civilized.  How masochistic do you have to be to be part of a dysfunctional family unit?
    My condolences to everyone mourning the loss of your sister.

  4. jrg says:

    Sometimes, members of your family are the worst craziness a person has to deal with in this Life. A younger sibling who never grew up and moved on from the drug culture they lived in their teen / early 20’s life. Normal people finally get a clue and move on. Those who didn’t are now former ghosts of themselves and have mental issues that the normal person doesn’t want any part of. Too much drama, too much ‘Help Me’, who just constantly take and take and want to involve you in their life.

    Its self preservation. If you want to help them, go in knowing that it is very likely to cause some heartache of watching someone you love destroy themselves, then blame others for their own actions.

    I’m sorry for your loss, but it sounds as if you have already come to terms with this long ago.

  5. Bill says:

    Unfortunately, family disfunction isn’t all that rare Joel. Been there and got the T-shirt myself. But in my case, at 73, I have a great relationship with my daughters and grandkids, so I feel blessed, as you are with a great Big Brother.

  6. SLee says:

    Celebrate the family and friends you have, and ignore the ones who do not want to be a part of your life. Your sister made her choice a long time ago.

  7. Jeff Allen says:

    So Tolstoy’s aphorism came to mind:
    “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” (Anna Karenina)
    But you know, maybe this should be turned on its head? The dysfunctional families all seem to share some basic flaws…
    I’m totally down with “celebrate the good.”

  8. Dave says:

    Joel, you’re a fucking dickhead asshole, so no “bad” fortune should surprise you, just as no delusional “good” fortune should surprise you. You are the living definition of a mentally ill seam, a paragon of human nothingness.

  9. Tree Mike says:

    Hmmm…perhaps Dave The Dick has issues, I don’t know. Joel, I understand about dysfunctionals. Lots of us have to deal with them.

  10. Mike says:

    Hey Joel, I think that your idea of a “normal” family must come from watching TV sitcoms back in the day. 🙂

    I have four elder brothers, and I only talk to one regularly. As for the rest, I would have to work more at caring less about them than I already do. That, my friend, is a normal family. Being related by blood doesn’t mean you have to get along, be friends & love one another.

    The reality is that there is no such thing as a normal family.

  11. Mike says:

    Ah, Dave.

    With so many bad things going on, you just had to add your nonsense. You could easily have said nothing, but you had to post a deliberately provocative message to cause maximum disruption and provoke others into an argument.

    Does doing this make you feel superior?

    Looking at your post, I see that you can’t even manage to string a cohesive sentence together. FYI, seam means “A line of junction formed by sewing together two pieces of material along their margins.” But then, even if you had written “seem,” your sentence doesn’t make sense.

    So much for being superior.

    I hope that when you move out from your basement room at your parent’s place into the real world, you don’t have to go through what Joel has. I honestly don’t think you have the fortitude to survive it.

  12. feralfae says:

    Joel, I don’t know any ‘normal” families. Even those who seem beautifully “normal” tend to have that one weird sibling whom they practically hide in a closet. “Oh, Fred lives in a commune in Florida, and they all beg at the airports. He did five years for a string of mistakes, robbing homes. We don’t see him very often. He visited us about twenty yers ago, right after he got out of prison.” These are the words of one dear friend who finally admitted she had a brother. I always thought she was an only child, but her older brother seems to be pretty much a mess. You, Joel, have a stable, good life with your own home and a dog and a fruit tree and baking your own bread.
    I am assuming Dave was being sarcastic as a joke, or else he is a troll.
    In any event, Happy New Year to you Joel, and glad the Honda is doing a good job for you. I hope you have a wonderful visit with your family, whom I think are arriving today. FeralFae.

To the stake with the heretic!