I Think I Know Why

I'm actually pretty social and I am excited to show up in places at a moments notice to meet up with people. It's just the phone thing.

I remember as a child, we used to have this paper next to the phone that scripted how I was supposed to answer it. I was busy playing or not paying attention so I never followed it. I figured if I kept getting it wrong than I wouldn't have to answer it anymore.

All five people made me do everything in the house. I was the youngest but I cleaned up all their dishes. Washed, folded, ironed their laundry. If they wanted something, they would ask me to go "fetch" it. I was in elementary school and really didn't feel like being their 1980's version of caller id every single time the phone ran. Instead of making me stop answering the phone, they just kept yelling at me every time I would get it wrong.

One day, I was alone in the house just jumping around playing in the living room. The phone rang and it was my brother's friend. He sounded really sad and wanted him to call him back. When I hung up, I said to myself, "he sounded sad, I hope he feels better." I remember having those exact thoughts.

Immediately as my brother came home (he was in early middle school), he was crying. He started yelling at me about the phone message, saying he could have done something, he could have saved him, he ran after me claiming it was all my fault. Some lady pulled him back but after I heard the news...and I sort of blacked out. The boy laid himself on the floor and in specific ritual he committed suicide. He tried to call all his friends but they were out on that Saturday morning. I can't remember if I did the right things with taking down the message but my brother always looked at me different since that day. He constantly acted like I was the messenger of death from that point on.

He was the only one I was close to in the family so things felt really weird from then on. He was the only one that didn't call me a failure or a screw up. He abandoned me from then on. The elder siblings pretty much rubbed it in and verified that I had something "wrong" with me. I never believed them, but it hurt because I loved my family irregardless. Even though I knew they were all self righteous a-holes from the start.

Years later, I really have bad phone anxiety and have to answer a phone call. I was at my sister's house and no one was around to pick it up. I wrote it down on an envelope but forgot to tell my brother in law. He was searching for a job and I suppose monster.com called...no real specifics. He got angry at me and started to blame me for missing a job opportunity...

Which doesn't make any sense because I said he could call back and he said it was too late, blah blah blah. From then on I had a pretty good excuse towards letting their answering machine pick up. When they asked my why I wouldn't answer, I said because of that...but not because of what happened when I was a kid.

Tekkamaki Tekkamaki
4 Responses Oct 7, 2009

Thanks everyone. I think maybe even though it seems like I'm going through a lot at the same time, I think maybe it's because I'm confronting all my lingering issues at once so I can focus on being more solid for the children. Let all unresolved issues be resolved? I think once I realized that, I sort of found the core of a few things and why it manifested.<br />
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Good news is, my bank called me and congratulated me for making debt payments on time for three years. LOL!<br />
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(And yet...the spouse took that phone call too, ha ha ha. No really, I've been slowly working on answering phone calls. But every darn time I answer it it's always bad...ha...I'll be fine!)<br />
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My parents were pretty much pushovers with the kids. The kids ran their lives. Most of the time I talk with them about things and they talk with me sincerely confessing they had no idea, that it was wrong for that to happen, ect. Boy did I have to work through a boat load with them.<br />
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My brother was supposed to be the "stable" one out of all of us. But with that specific issue, it's been a huge boulder between us. I mean, given this one pretty dark issue, he's actually been a great brother. My other siblings (although older) were consistently irresponsible and selfish.<br />
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The night before my wedding, he took me and the wedding party drinking at a bar. He started crying saying he wished he was a better brother to me, he wanted to be there for me more, ect...Then he started crying the next day during the speech he gave at the reception. Again, my other two siblings said really stupid stuff "good riddens" "she's your problem now". But (rolls eyes) that's just how they are.<br />
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I mean, we both have young daughters. The fact that he trusts me over everyone else to babysit overnight with his little girl says something. (Though I'm not sure who in the family I'd let babysit my girls that long.) So it's a slow process...and I don't know...everything seems to be going one day at a time. The crap hits the fan (or maybe I'm actually noticing it more) a lot but it's progressing one day at a time.

Well it is a natural part of the grieving process to blame someone...to lash out and put the blame on someone else because secretly we blame ourselves, and can't handle that blame. But it is terrible for your family to let you keep feeling it. Your parents especially should have realized what they were doing. <br />
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But you have written tons about how insensitive your family is to you - the responsible child...Is this story the first step to letting go? <br />
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sidebar - how much crap are you going to have to deal with in one month??

Yeah...I'm not sure how to feel about it. Knowing what I know now, I wasn't responsible though for many years I had been blamed. I felt like I caused the suicide. I was what...seven or eight?<br />
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Had anyone else answered the phone, I'm sure it should have been handled differently. Maybe a bit of favoritism for the other kids? I don't know.<br />
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My nieces, nephews, my own children...had they answered the phone...My parents? And why'd they let everyone throw the blame at me for it. Hearing as a kid that I killed someone by an indirect action...it's confusing...<br />
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Later on I heard the details. He waited several hours for anyone to call actually. He was a popular kid, really smart, had lots of friends. All of which were hanging out on a Saturday while he stayed at home waiting for someone to call. My brother was out playing with his friends until late that afternoon. I suppose him blaming me for it was better than him blaming himself (even though it wasn't his fault either). Oh well. Conscience cleared for him and a morbid thought process of death and despair began for me.

Ooh I can imagine...<br />
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When I was a kid, my uncle died. They called us, but no one heard the phone at first. We didn't make it to the hospital in time for my mom to say goodbye to her brother. Still, my heart stops every time the phone rings late at night...That noise will wake me when no alarm clock ever made will.