I keep starting and getting stuck on a post about the People UpStairs, or PUS< as I like to call them. I can't make it more than a line or two without getting angry. And when I get angry about them, my brain seems to lose function. So, instead I'm going to try this --->
This is a letter I wrote to the PUS (technically, my maternal uncle, aunt and their 2 oldest children)- & got convinced by my family/chickened out of sending - about a year ago. It gives all the details except for this - tonight my grandmother asked me if I had an extra birthday card that I could give her, for Mr.PUS.
I am the font of extra cards... if your parakeet dies on a Thursday, I can mail you a "sorry about your dead bird" card by Friday. But I got her angry with me by refusing. By saying the only piece of paper I could give her to give to him would have the word EVICTION on it. (Although it could say "Happy EVICTION!" I'd be fine with that; or even "Happy Birthday, You're Evicted!!").
So, she's pissed at me again. But I know I did the right thing, because of this letter that I still regret not sending...
Mr. & Mrs. Pus -
This letter serves two purposes. The first is to present evidence on what I consider to be an increasingly dangerous situation. You do what you want with what I’ve said, because the second purpose is to tell you what I choose to do about it.
The things that I have included here aren’t the only issues that I am aware of, or the only things that I’m worried about. No, I have plenty of additional concerns that come to me through other people, through Nana herself, but what I’ve mentioned in this letter are only the things I know to be true. These are the things I can’t doubt, that I can’t say, “well, there’s another side or another way this could be taken,” because I heard them. Whether you believe them or not, it doesn’t really matter to me. I know they are true, and I know they can’t be allowed to continue.
The following are some examples of behaviors that I feel contribute to a stressful, and frighteningly dangerous living situation. These are things I have overheard, not because I have somehow snuck upstairs in an invisible cloak, but because they’ve been yelled, screamed, shouted at top volumes, for anyone to hear. I’ve been listening. I’ve been biting my own tongue because Nana assured me – all of us really – that she would make changes, that certain behaviors wouldn’t be allowed to continue. Not only have they been allowed to continue, they’ve escalated. So here’s what I know:
In the past few months, the range of names I have heard Nana herself been called – all to her face, mind you – are:
Bitch. Asshole. Dyke. Stupid. Useless. Friggin lunatic.
Names I’ve heard shouted - at Nana - about other members of this family include :
Crack whore, Junkie, Alchoholics, Sluts, Assholes, Bitches and Freaks.
I’ve heard Nana be told – on more than one occasion, and by more than one person - these things:
“Go Fuck Yourself!”
“Go Downstairs where you belong and leave us the fuck alone!”
“You have ruined my life, and I’ll ruin yours.”
“It’s none of your fucking business what I do!”
In response to Nana’s: “Shut your mouth! I won’t be spoken to like that!” a litany of fucks, one right after the other
“I don’t have to listen to you!”
In response to Nana’s shouting that this is her house: “I don’t give a shit whose house it is… Mind your fucking business!”
Threats I’ve heard made against Nana, or to Nana (against other people) include:
“If you keep spreading rumors about me, I’ll do it again.” (This was during a conversation that was about bleach and included the admission that “I only did it that once, when I was younger.”)
“I will stab him in the fucking face. Give me the phone. Tell that bitch that I will stab him in the fucking face if he goes near my father. You don’t think I will do it, but I will.”
“Those people downstairs so much as look at me and I’m going to punch them until they bleed. I won’t be able to stop myself.”
“You can’t stop me, bitch. I’d like to see you just try.”
“Nobody cares if this is your house. Now get the fuck out of my face or I’ll make you.”
We talked once, years ago, about why you stayed: your children were obviously unhappy, Nana was unhappy, and (even then) you felt you were being treated unfairly. You told me then that you had made a promise to your father – to take care of Nana. Looking back, not just at the things I’ve included here, but at everything else you know to be true, do you feel you’ve kept that promise?
By isolating Nana, ignoring her, threatening her?
By allowing a home to become a hostile, tension-filled environment?
By refusing to acknowledge where things have gone horrifically wrong?
In making this decision to go against Nana’s wishes, in making the decision to write this letter and in order to reassure myself that it was the right choice, I asked myself what I would do if the people upstairs were just neighbors, random people with no relationship to me at all.
What would I do if I heard another woman being threatened and screamed at in an increasingly vile way, on an increasingly frequent basis? It’s what I would have done if Nana hadn’t kept asking, pleading for the opportunity to make things better; to let us let her take care of it.
It’s what I should have been doing all along.
Of course, the only answer is I would have called someone; the cops, DCFS, whoever it is that handles these kinds of abuses. I can do no less for Nana then I would for a stranger, no matter what she wishes were otherwise.
And don’t think that I’m exaggerating my concerns because of whatever grudge you think the rest of the family is supposed to have against you.
Don’t underestimate what has happened so far…what continues to happen everyday.
Regardless of the names you give it, the reasoning you’ve built up behind it.
IT IS ABUSE.
Whatever wrongs you feel you have suffered, whatever injustices you perceive in how you all have been treated, those aren’t important to me. There can be NO justification for such behaviors. No justifications – not the age of the offender, or the attitude of the victim. There are NO excuses for this kind of behavior – not for those who said and did these things, and not for those who allowed them to occur and reoccur. And I am no longer willing to hide behind Nana’s excuses and allow it to continue.
The fear of ‘what’s next?’ is not something I am willing to live with. If no one else is able - or willing - to recognize the dangers in this situation, to see that things are getting progressively worse, then I will make it my responsibility. Because it already is my responsibility. Nana is my responsibility. And I am not living with what happens the next time someone’s temper gets out of control.
Be assured that the very next threat, the very next diatribe of cursing and screaming, and the police will be called. No threats, it’s just my choice. To finally do what I know is right.
I’ve kept quiet because Nana wanted me to. Because I hate to have to do something I know she disagrees with, but I can’t let that be why anymore. I’ve kept quiet because I didn’t want to make a bad situation worse, because I didn’t want to become yet another thing for people to yell about, because I was afraid of making things worse for her. I’m not sure how much worse things can actually get, and that’s horrible. But I know that I am doing what I can – the only thing I can think of - to make them better.
I doubt you can say the same.
In place of sending this letter, my family had (yet another) big meeting. As usual, it descended into name calling and screaming. Nana assured us all that an eviction notice would be forthcoming, but here we are: More than a year - and numerous more such encounters - later, and no notice.
Just this past Sunday, it happened again. I missed the yelling and screaming, but Nana came down crying and shaky, then said she was "getting them the hell out!" the very next day. It's Thursday, and they are still here.
So, she can be as pissed at me as she wants - Cuz I'm pretty pissed at her, come to think of it.