Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Living Like the Rest of Us

Thanks everyone for your kind words about my whole weird brother situation. That post was prompted because I was having dinner with him, his wife and kids. My sister in law particularly does not like me and will rarely talk to me. Every Christmas my mom has her family over and it is the one time each year when I see my SIL. In years past I have been looked down at by my SIL and brother to some extent, because I chosen a path in life that is different than theirs and therefore, not as good and not acceptable. I stayed single and lived a very care free existence when they got married and started their family. I was jetting off to all corners of the world while they worried about what mini van or Suburban they should have. I had boyfriends and fuck friends while they dealt with an affair that almost torn their marriage apart, but resulted in an even bigger and shinier diamond. I scrapped enough money together to buy my first small house, in the not-so-good neighborhood, while they gutted their kitchen and put in stainless steel appliances in a house in the "right" neighborhood.

But those things have come crashing down on them this year, and bigness and glitz have started to crumble and tarnish. This economy has been particularly brutal for my brother and his family. He's in the mortgage business, which a few years ago offered them a lifestyle they can no longer afford. They have stopped making payments on their vacation home in Hawaii, as it sits for sale in this stagnant real estate market, they have sold cars to come up with more funds, they have gone through all their savings and have now started digging into my brother's retirement accounts. After that, I don't know what will happen.

As hard as it is on them, and as trite, mean or uncaring as this may sound, I don't feel particularly bad for them. There were so many times when I would have to listen to them about how I "should be" doing things, how I'm not doing things "right" or listen to them rattle off about the biggest, best, shiniest new toys and gadgets they bought. I watched as my mother cried about being pushed aside because they were too busy with their decorator. I watched as my father was only called when they needed his help doing something, not calling just to say hello. I watched them build themselves up to become people I hardly knew and philosophically had very little in common with.

And now I watch as they figure out what is really important and I can't help but shake my head as they talk about how hard it is to live like the rest of us.


spunkysuzi said...

Some people i swear just don't live in the real world!! And when they have to life as they know it comes crashing down around them.

dadivastreet said...

It amazes me how life will catch up on you when you least expect it. While I hope they get on an even keel again, Kudos to you for following your own path. May you continue to do so! Wishing you & yours all the Best this Holiday & always!

Tony said...

It seems that your brother and his wife need to learn that money isn't everything in life. Hope they learn that soon!

Sherre said...

This is a good lesson for all of us to recognize that when we're expressing an opinion we have no way of knowing how our circumstances could change which would result in a change of those opinion. Thank you for sharing (and good luck with seeing them).

Bunny Trails said...

Yah know, I totally UNDERSTAND where you are coming from. My bro and I have drifted apart (there's a blog in my list about that) but my cousin (who I used to be close to) has the same disease as your bro. I swear, it's like a disease to me. money can't buy anything but stuff and stuff just doesn't make you happy. I admire you doing your own thing and not being swayed!!

have an amazing holiday!

Susie said...

hi love,
I am jsut really and truly behind on you..I caught up in reading a little bit ago..but got distracted and didn't comment..so here i am. I read your blog from thos post to dec 8..and I am really impressed with you.
a. the jeans
b. the restraint with the holiday goodies
c. the cutting corners and charity
and lastly--being ok with yourself,the choices that you make and not conforming to others ideas of the way it should be. (aha your sister in law).
Family is so hard, but it sounds like you have been the bigger person and didn't sink to their level of behaving. You know what's important and that is so admirable.
Have a most wonderful Xmas and wishing you and your family all goodness in 2009. xoxox

Sagan said...

That's wonderful that you stayed true to yourself even when you were snubbed and did what you wanted and what was right for you. Really admirable.

What a difference a change in perspective can make... I hope your brother and his wife are fast learners.

justjuliebean said...

Many people have lived recently on false wealth, that property values never go down, etc. There was just too much artificial wealth being pumped into the economy, and now it's being sucked back out. The ex and I discuss this often, being that we are about the only people we know who live within our means, don't buy the latest anything, etc. And me, with my shitty little ghetto house, which rents out enough to cover it, and then some. I'll do just fine. I'm glad people are losing their wealth, honestly, I think overconsumption is gross and very bad for the environment.