Later, a friend came to meet me for a cup of coffee about a block away from the hospital. Again, I told my family to call if there was any news while I was out, and I would come right back. Instead, I received a text from my other aunt saying the doctor was coming to speak with us. I texted back immediately, asking where they were and whether she could call me so I could listen in, but received no response. I ended up frantically running around the hospital looking for them, panicking, until a receptionist helped me find them. I blew up later in the day about these incidents, but was brushed off because it was a “hard day.”
I haven’t been able to forgive my family for forgetting about me, nor let go of my anger and anxiety. My therapist thinks I should confront my aunts, and I agree, but it always seems to be a bad time (neither aunt has the most stable of minds or situations), and I don’t know how to approach them rationally about something I’m so upset by without breaking down. I just want to be heard and apologized to, but I don’t know how to make that happen. I’m afraid my relationships with my aunts will never recover.
First, I’m glad that your mom seems to have made it safely through her surgery. That must have been an extremely stressful time for you—not only the day of the surgery, but also the weeks of waiting for a heart to become available. Now, though, two years have passed, and it’s from this distance that you might consider these events differently.
I don’t in any way want to minimize the anxiety, anger, and hurt you’ve experienced, but I think you could help these feelings become less intense by revisiting what happened. Right now your version of events is that your family “forgot” about you on the day of your mom’s surgery, and that by confronting them and being heard, you’ll feel better. Except that you can’t confront them, because it’s always a “bad time,” and you don’t know how.
That’s one heck of a dilemma. It’s also a version of the story that leaves you feeling helpless. So let’s attempt an edit.
I don’t know what your relationship was like with your family before your mom’s health crisis, but it may be that your interpretation of what happened was influenced by feelings that already existed. Perhaps you’d already felt left out or unseen or unheard by them. I understand why you’d be furious if they’d actually forgotten about you, but they didn’t: They let you know everything that was going on as soon as they learned of it. True, they didn’t follow your instructions to call rather than text, but there are other possible explanations for their actions, chief among them that they were terrified of losing their sister and so the details didn’t register. I’m not saying that they didn’t deliberately snub you—just that it’s equally possible that they were overwhelmed with their own anxiety and weren’t able to handle your request responsibly.