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Long distance is the next best thing to not being there.

Sometimes I need a break from my family. Like, from 1993-2014, when they didn’t know where I was.

Now that we’re back in touch and they know where I am, I would still like some solitude once in a while. Especially when some of them pepper me with 10 calls and 20 emails a week. I can only wonder how often they’d be messaging me if I used Facebook or Twitter or such apps.

I’ve asked them not to call so often, and most of them call once or twice a month, which is fine. I’ve also warned them that I’m slow on the reply with email. For the most part they know me, know I’m a near-absolute recluse, and they respect that. Most of them.

My brother doesn’t. I love him, but he calls several times weekly, despite my asking him to call less often. He emails several times daily, basically every little thought that pops into his head. Again, he's my big bruddah and I love the guy, but he wants to talk for an hour, and he sends enormously long emails, and wants me to proof and edit his memoirs. I've explained that I can't do that, can't keep up with this level of correspondence, but ... the phone still rings, and the emails accumulate.

For several weeks I’ve left the phone switched off, and let the emails pile up. Yes, I understand that I’m an awful brother, and that my desire for solitude if very, very strange. It's OK if you hate me for it, but I like my space, and prefer to limit the intrusions.

I’ve never told anyone in the family the name of the company where I work, because in the past when family had that information, my mother and brother called me at work, frequently. Constantly.

Foolishly, though, I have mentioned to them that I work at an insurance company. Thus, when I didn't answer the phone or reply to his emails quickly enough, my brother called every insurance company in this county asking for me by name. When he got a ‘bingo’ he asked the switchboard to ring me, and the phone at my desk rang, and it was my brother.

To me, this is unacceptable, perhaps unless there’s an emergency and someone’s sick or dying or something. There was no emergency, except that they hadn’t heard from me in three weeks.

My brother, though, has a history that includes some mental illness and instability, so I tread gently. I have sympathy for mental issues (ahem), so I told him that hunting me down was inappropriate, but I didn't yell. I didn't seriously scold him.

And I’ve asked my work to tell him, next time he calls, that I no longer work there. And I'm leaving the phone switched off, emotionally moving a little further into the distance, away from the family.

 

itsdougholland.com 

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