Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I haven't been able to blog lately, not since we got back from Arizona, and I haven't been really reading other bloggers either. There has been a mental block going on inside my head for several weeks that shows no signs of clearing itself out so I thought maybe I'd take a stab at breaking it apart myself. My time in Arizona was a great break from the cold, wet, winter, and it was just what I needed to stay a little healthier this year. It was also a break from the near constant drama that seems to come from being born with (or adopted into) the Swensen name. I really do try to steer clear of so called negative posting, but please bear in mind that I am trying to purge myself of this terrible "block" that is fixing to burrow in and stay a while.

I doubt life for the oldest of seven kids is a breeze for anyone lucky (or unlucky) enough to acquire the position. But I've managed to make the whole thing harder on myself by making myself "responsible" for the rest of my siblings early on. I took it upon my shoulders to worry about their well-being, protect them from pain and hardships, and rescue them when protection wasn't enough. Basically I took on a parental role and over time came to be counted on like a parent would be. I can't be sure why I did this since I can't completely remember when I started. I don't think my intentions were bad, and I hope I helped and did some good along the way. Another surprising aspect of taking upon yourself this responsibility is that your own parents will let you! And in a family with seven kids, who could blame them... if one child steps forward and says "I'll do that," who wouldn't say "Sweet!" So now I find myself feeling the aches and pains of my siblings sorrows the same way I would/do for my own kids. And I am trying to deal with the guilt of choosing my own little family first, and basically abandoning my siblings if I can't do both. Yes, I know they have a mom and a dad, and the responsibility of acting as a parent is theirs'. But it's not always so "black and white" in the deep folds of my psyche. My time in Arizona was a well needed break from this enormous responsibility.

The problems don't just disappear though. They wait. So last night when I got a late night call from my mom to let me know that my brother was served with papers to strip away his parental rights, and that my former sister-in-law is planning to sever all ties with our family because she has remarried and wants to start a new life, and that we will no longer be able to be a part of my nephew's life, it was just the last straw! And my mom thinks for some reason that if I could just call former sis-in-law and explain how much we love my nephew and how much better his life will be with us in it, and how much more love he would have with us around, that maybe she will change her mind. And I whole-heartedly believe that all those things are true. But I couldn't do it. After thinking about it all night, all I could do was tell her how much we love my nephew, and we love her, and I want both of them to be happy and be at peace. And I have no right to tell her what the best choices are for my nephew, just because I want her to choose something different. I don't know what she needs to do to make her new marriage work, and to feel like she is being a good mother. I couldn't be angry with her, I couldn't condemn her, I couldn't beg her to reconsider, even though that's what I wanted. This is a little boy that we took care of half of every week for nearly a year when my brother lost custody for a time. He became a part of our lives. I bathed him, dressed him, fed him, read stories to him, lay next to him at night till he fell asleep. My kids played with him, took care of him, taught him things, and loved him like a little brother. My heart is breaking to think we can't see him anymore.

So what is the cause of all this heartache? Drugs.

My brother, it seems, has a harder time making good decisions than most. I am not trying to judge. In fact I completely understand that for many people, real life is something they need to escape from, and self-medicating is a common way to accomplish this. It's not a rare condition. The world can be terribly unfair and downright cruel, believe me I know well how unfair things can get and we all have to try to cope with the consequences. But coping is different than escaping, and this is where I've got to take a stand. I've witnessed and endured some pretty horrible schtuff. I have burned in my brain the kind of material the writers for "SVU" or "Cold Case" might come looking for, so believe me when I say I wouldn't mind a little escaping once in a while. While I won't judge another for their methods, and won't blame them, I will give these words of caution. Drugs are not the answer! Unless more trouble and heartache is what you're after. Or you like mooching off of family and friends, transient living arrangements, burning bridges, and losing jobs. Drugs will eventually get you arrested and sent to jail. Maybe you will even have your three year old son with you at the time and then child protective services will get involved. Drugs will stunt your emotional maturity, make you a burden both physically and mentally on the people who love you, and make it nearly impossible for you to have meaningful relationships. Drugs will not only bring chaos and pain to your own life, but to the lives of everyone you know, to some level, and you will always let people down. Maybe you will lose your privilege to drive, have to rely on the kindness of others to get you to work, or be a slave to bus schedules. You will lie, cheat, steal, and eventually you will lose everything. If drugs don't kill you, you will likely spend the rest of your life trying to recover from all that has been laid to waste during the time that drugs ruled your life. We all want to find a way to deal with our personal pain, but it's wrong to think that what you choose won't affect the people who love you so just say NO to drugs!

Monday, March 16, 2009


And I may even start blogging again.