This includes burying my best friend of 20 years. This includes burying my favorite paternal aunt, who was a guiding light during some very stressful and crazy times during my life. Pretty much everything in my life up to 3 weeks ago.
Poops and I have a weird relationship. He’s the oldest of the Niece and Nephew Crew by a few years and he’s in the “too old for the kids table but not old enough to hang with the adults” stage of growing up. He’s uncommonly mature for a 13 year old, very even tempered. He is, quite possibly, the one teenager I don’t mind being around for extended periods of time. He’s been on the honor roll every marking period since 3rd grade when the school discovered that he doesn’t have a learning disability but was flat out bored in class. So we challenged him and he’s exceeded every single one, despite what’s going on in his life. Which has been hard.He’s observant and notices EVERY.SINGLE.THING. He may not say anything, but he sees it. He’s a better person than me at his age and he’s going to be a remarkable adult. He’s the kind of child every parent dreams of having (for right now anyway).
Three weeks ago, I had to do the hardest thing ever in my 36 years on Earth. I had to sit this incredible person down and explain to him that his mother is sick, that she’s an addict. I had to sit there and watch as every fear this boy has had in his young life was confirmed. He had already talked to my parents about what was going on but they’re “Mimi and Pop Pop”. MiMi and Pop Pop always sugar coat things to save feelings, smooth things over.
I had to watch an already broken heart break into a million more tiny little pieces as the conversation went on longer.
As we sat there and talked (our conversations are always open and frank..I refuse to stifle the kids curiosity because they’re afraid to ask questions because of I’m an authority figure in their lives), I watched tears form and fall. We talked about how he knows her signs of using. We talked about how he’s never had the chance to be a child because he’s always been taking care of his mother and his sister…ESPECIALLY his sister. Making sure they ate. Making sure their rooms were clean and they had clothes to wear to school.
I told him that none of this is his or his sister’s fault. He asked me some very pointed questions about rehab and inpatient therapy, which is how I found out that his mother didn’t tell them she was going to rehab. She told them that she was going to inpatient therapy for another issue…so now both of these children think anytime you get counseling or therapy, you get shipped off for a couple days. I told him the truth about therapy and counseling. Do you know what it’s like to watch a child question any and everything their parent as told them in life up until that point? I mean, aside from the normal “this adult person doesn’t know what they’re talking about” stuff. I’m talking about seeing light bulbs go off. 1+1 starting to equal 2. Dots connecting. I told the boy that he needs to not internalize. If he needs to cry, to let it out. If he needs to talk, to talk to someone. If it’s not me, it can be my other sister. It can be HIS sister. Hell, it can be Chubbs’s dad. HIS dad. An adult he trusts. I tried to get him into therapy in January when my sister pulled this stunt before and he felt like he would be violating her trust. NOW we have to contend with new fear of being taken away from us. I promised him that’s not going to happen.
These children have been lied to so much in their 13 and 9 year lives that it’s sad. My sister has been a manipulative person and habitual liar since we were children. My dad and her mom enabled her to believe that there were no consequences for HER actions, but everyone had to endure them. She’s spun so many lies that the threads are wrapped around each other numerous times. To her children. To their fathers. To my parents. To her mother. To other family members. And it all came unraveled 3 weeks ago. ALL of it.
Y’all, she told these babies that she was going away for THEM. For THEM. Not for herself. FOR.THEM. I had to tell my nephew that when/if she comes home and starts using again that it has nothing to do with him. It doesn’t mean that him and his sister aren’t worth being sober for. That it doesn’t mean that they’re not worth working towards a goal for. Out of all the things the kids have been through (multiple almost evictions, not having food in the house, embarrassing stories floating around town, etc) that was what pissed me off the most. She would clean up her act long enough to keep DYFS (or CPS depending where you live) and other people off her back then go right back to doing the same thing when she thought the coast was clear. She REALLY had these kids believing that the state of NJ would separate them in foster care if either of them said anything.
The important part is that as of right now, my parents are filing for guardianship. Trying to get everything done before school starts isn’t so much of a hassle when there’s no holidays in the way. The plan is to have everything settled and straight before my sister gets discharged so all the bullshit comes to a stop. The most important thing is that the kids are in a stable home where they KNOW they’re loved and cherished without a doubt.
This whole situation has been going on so long that it’s going to feel weird NOT having to deal with it. Having to figure out ways to get around 1) child custody laws 2) someone spending more time/energy manipulating people than actually trying to get it together (especially when they have a huge support group in their corner) is exhausting. I swear more than half my gray hair is from dealing with this crap.
I haven’t seen Poops and Chubbs smile as much as they have in the last 3 weeks as I have in the last 3-4 years. It’s great. Truly.