I was sitting at the computer, barely listening to the hustle and bustle of "Trauma: Life in the ER" on TV, when I heard my sister running into the bathroom, crying hysterically. Then she headed for the kitchen, making so much noise I was sure the house was on fire, or Mom fell over dead. Eventually, she got enough of a breath to wail, "I'm sorry!! I didn't mean to!!!!"
Seriously, I hear this from her almost constantly. Rain on your wedding day? "I'm sorry!" Bad day at work? "I'm sorry!!" She apologizes for things she has nothing to do with.
She doesn't freaking let you know she's taken your mother to the emergency room, but calls in hysterics to tell you to walk her goddamn dog?
No apology for that, no.
This has been going on for a bit over 20 years. She's in her 50s, now, but up until her mid-30's she was independent, self-sufficient. I don't know what happened, but she broke. By the later '80s she was on the phone to Mom at least 3 times a day for crisis management. If no one answered the phone (she was living in Georgia, south of Atlanta), she would let the damn thing ring until someone picked up--either that or go for 15 minutes, hang up for a few, then have another go. It never occurred to her that the parents were still at work at one in the afternoon. It never occurred to her that I was unplugging the phone, either. Hard to study.
It's really hard to be sympathetic. She's got several health problems--diabetic, significantly overweight, bipolar...every few months she crashes in some way and has to go to the Emergency Room, gets put into mental care for a few days, then comes out "cured." She tosses out all the junk food and soft drinks she's not supposed to be having, loads up on diet stuff. Within a month, she's sneaking junk food and soft drinks (right on schedule, this happened in mid-August; she's already broken the "diet"). It won't be long before she's buying and consuming Coke by the case. She just stops trying.
Now she's living with me and Mom; at first, she was helping to take care of the Old Man before he died. The upside is that the damn phone doesn't ring all day. The bad news is that she's here, so there's no delay when she has another crisis. She's stuck inside that head of hers, and everything in the universe is in orbit around her.
I'm not the sympathetic ear in the house. I'm not going to play along. That dog-walking stunt isn't anything new. She did the panicky-hysterical "It's important!! Call me as soon as you get this!!!!!!" shit while I was in a movie a few months ago. She left two messages on my phone, and when I didn't call back she called my friend (sitting right there in the theater next to me) to tell him to tell me to call home.
She wanted a Whataburger.
She was recently diagnosed as bipolar, the same thing that affected my less-favorite ex, "Number Two." I don't know if this is in addition to whatever's causing her panic attacks, but they're all working together to make her someone I just don't want to be around--and we can thank her and Number Two for that.
Back to the present. She's wailing hysterically, and I can only make out "car" and "door" and "purse." She dropped her purse near the car? Wail, wail, "IM SORRRYYYYYY!!!!!" and by now I'm just telling her to settle down, get a grip, take a breath. Honestly, by this point I don't even care what the "crisis" is. I just want her to shut up.
She left her freaking purse at the store, and they had called to say it was there. That's all.
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