Jay is in jail again. County jail this time. Looks like he will be there awhile. He doesn’t have any money to get out, and the docket is full.
I’m disappointed, angry, and yes, even hurt.
So what happened? Wasn’t Jay doing well? Yes. At least on the outside, working, second year of college, but still on parole and drinking.
Drinking is a direct parole violation.
I asked if he was drinking the last time we talked. He said, “Just a few sis. I’m not getting crazy.”
I know Jay. I know the foolishness, the folly, saturating our DNA. “Just a few” with no problems, climbs like a roller coaster to a few more, and then the out of control, full-out drunk.
I’d guess 95% of drunkards (one-timers to all-the-timers) manage to never get arrested. I’d also guess that most of them don’t feel the need to show how tuff they are when stumbling stupid. Jay’s story this time goes something like this:
Jay hosted a Memorial Day Party. An uninvited male arrived. Words were exchanged, Jay “knocked his teeth out.” The man went to the ER. ER called police. When the police came, Jay told them what happened. They took him to jail for aggravated assault.
On the surface, drinking screwed him. It always does. A simple call to the police would have removed the man from Jay’s yard. Oh, but, duh! Jay’s a convicted felon on parole, having a party with alcohol. Even if he wasn’t drunk; am sure he says he wasn’t; he can’t call the po-po.
So he withers in jail. Lest he produce $5,000 to get out and await a court date which is 12 months out. Or so I am told.
Told by whom?
I have an older sister by 3 years. I’ve talked to her once, maybe a handful of times in the last 30 years. We grew up together until her early tweens when she was sent away to juvenile detention, then to live with our mom. (I’ve blogged about it before.)
Yesterday my phone rang. It was her. I thought for sure Jay, or my mom, died.
She told me Jay was in jail and needed $5,000 to get out. Not a single word of courtesy. My mom talked to someone in the background….they were all riled up. Not a “Hi! How are ya? How’s that cancer thing coming along?” Nadda. Just a “T, this is W your sister….”
She told me about Jay, I replied, then she hung up.
A drive by conversation!
It’s not like I want sympathy. But shesh. I’ve been fighting for two YEARS for my frigging life and not a single “hey how are ya” or phone call before, during or after. Not once from my sister; not from my mother; not from my father; not from brother Jay either.
Silent as the grave.
The last time Jay did call, it was for money, and on my first day of chemo. He didn’t know. He never asked.
Hey I get it. I’m thick, not stupid.
They don’t care if I live or die. And ya know what? Hello! NOT a news flash. I grew up with that fact re-enforced every single day of my life until I escaped it.
And I don’t actually believe I am the center of the universe, (though sometimes it’s fun to pretend…ha!)
Why do they feel the need to drag me into the drama when the rest of the time I don’t exist? It’s not like they’re pulling me in so we can “hunker down” as a family during crisis. There will be no hunkering. All my resources are focused on surviving to see my youngest grown. And frankly, it seems they are always IN crisis. We’d have hump backs from being in a constant hunkered position.
So, I told my sister exactly what I told Jay when I visited him in prison. (I visited him. No one else did. Though he’s accepted all the excuses as to why they just “couldn’t” make it…. I have children, cousins I love. But for death, NOTHING would keep me from them when they need me. No thing. So call me harsh, or unrealistic, but I don’t accept the excuses, most of which are financial, but still manage to smoke 2-3 packs a day…)
So I told my sister what I told Jay all those visits to the prison. I will help once. But if he lands himself in jail again, he’s on his own.
And I helped him. Once.
This time my love won’t be shown by writing letters to judges, contacting lawyers, spending hundreds of hours looking up case law, spending money on making things right, stressing over the details.
I will love him when I go visit him in prison once his parole is revoked. (I assume it will be.)
I won’t forget him or abandon him. I love him. But, I won’t fight this battle for him either. I’ve got a whole other war raging right now.
When it was apparent I was “out” my sister ended the conversation with “well love ya, talk to ya later” and hung up.
I stared at my phone for understanding (I’m sure it was uncomfortable). Just as if someone walked into my house, gave me some really bad news along with a run-by slap in the face, and said “oh yeah, love ya!” on the way out.
Love is an ACTION, not a word. Right?
They don’t love me. It’s a strange, hurtful place to realize a mother, a father, even siblings that were once close, care more about a pack of cigarettes, or the guy next door, than you.
The better part of my first 25 years wondered what was wrong with me; that my own mom and dad couldn’t love me. Must be a monster, right? I did so many things to try and destroy myself, to make myself pay for whatever it was that made me so un-loveable. And I treated the man who loved me like he was a monster too for awhile, because if you love a monster something MUST be wrong with you. Duh. (So cliché I’m embarrassed to even write that! I was young, wounded, and without role models for a time.)
I looked around at the world. All the woe-is-me, my mama didn’t love, my daddy didn’t spend time with me-ers, fail. Again and again. And that crap is against my nature.
Can’t change the past, but I can dang sure change the future!
So, with God’s help (because I tried on my own and it didn’t work well..lol) I put out the trash and became a tiny bit of an over-achiever, determined to cut myself a decent life out of the chaos of my youth.
Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t happen overnight, and I made horrible self-destructive mistakes along the way.
Eventually I came to accept the people in my family for who they are, not what I want them to be. And I set boundaries. Most of which involved surrounding myself with people who say what they mean, and act on what they say, and staying away from the others.
Though I once truly believed there was no such thing as real love….that my family’s love was the only kind, today I actually don’t have a place for that paper bag kinda love. Not in family. Not in friendships.
Easy to blow up with meaningless words, flimsy, often single use, dissolves-under-stress-kinda love.
Having been on the receiving end of actual hate from an enemy, as well as the paper bag kinda love, I prefer the former. Though there is not much difference in delivery, hate is more honest. While the consequential reality of insidious paper bag love endures.
Perhaps the occasional reminders are good for me, keep me vigilant.
Keep me from EVER slipping into such an impotent wasteland of “love.”