My sister-in-law posted pictures on Facebook. We aren’t FB friends, but she tagged the one brother I am friends with on FB. The pictures showed up in my feed, at the top.

They are pictures of my family.

I am not close to my family, at the recommendation and blessing and, at times, vociferous encouragement of several mental health professionals. I am the designated “bad child,” the reason anything bad ever happened, the source of all trouble: this role was assigned about the time I was pH’s age, and was swapped back and forth with other siblings until it settled back on my shoulders as an adult. 

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This might go a long way to explaining why I’m an atheist. As for gifts, I would like to think I have hurt them as much as they’ve hurt me, except 1) I’m not built that way and  2) I don’t think that’s possible.

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Friends? In absolute agreement. Family? Everyone who took Wills and Trusts in the US knows about Kuralt. On the road, indeed.

I’d rather have wealth and privilege. Screen Shot 2015-06-13 at 5.35.00 PM

Pro tip: When your brother-in-law infects your sister with an STD that cannot be transmitted any other way than by bodily fluid and your sister is asking you for advice because your brother-in-law is telling her she must have gotten it from a toilet seat or a doctor not being hygienic during an exam, you may not have much of a relationship left if you point out that particular STD can’t survive outside the human body, and if she doesn’t believe you, there is information about it on the CDC website (for what it was worth, I tried to steer her to the website first.)

Go team antibiotics! By the pictures, I see they have another kid. The part that kills me is that I spent years working on my relationship with my sister, who is one of the most vain, fickle, bitchy, passive-aggressive people I know, short of my parents.

And I knew when she asked me point blank about the STD that I was screwed, so to speak: I couldn’t lie, and I knew she would choose to believe her husband.

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The day we had that conversation wasn’t a very good day. pH hasn’t seen my family (and her only living grandparents) in five years. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s the same time our lives became very, very hard due to external pressures. You know. Before things got much worse.

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Yeah. No. It doesn’t.

I am used to being the bad one, the one who got a card when my siblings were given lots of gifts on holidays.

But my daughter. My daughter.

If it weren’t for a few beloved friends, no one would remember pH on her birthday and holidays but us. And while it’s nice to have professional confirmation that this is A Good Thing (TM), it doesn’t make it easier.

My first thought when I saw those pictures was…well, not kind. And my second was fuck, there are no pills I can take to make this not hurt. I wish I were one of those people who experiences euphoria from narcotics, or who could drink to excess and forget, or…I don’t know. Anything. But narcotics just make me sick, I don’t want to drink, and I can’t forget, at least not all of it.

The usual comfort is a variant of, “You’re building your own family and look how well your daughter is doing.” Yes, that’s true. But see the above: you can’t wish this stuff away.

Believe me, I’ve tried.