When “Alone” Doesn’t Begin to Cover It: Being the “Balanced” One

2 Dec

Over Thanksgiving, I was once again reminded of my role in the family: the balanced one. I don’t know how I got stuck with that title, but it appears I have no choice. My sister and my mother can’t seem to stand each other. One owes the other, and one can’t see that she’ll never be repaid. They are both anxious and nervous, and can’t seem to talk to one another even on the eve of my fathers death.

So Mom comes to me to cry about everything because my sister isn’t talking to her. My sister comes to me to cry about everything because she isn’t talking to my mom. No one seems to be able to remain calm but me.


Being the balanced one means I don’t get a lot of time to be unbalanced, which sometimes I so desperately need. I have to be balanced, because if I become unhinged like everyone else, the world plummets into chaos. And I can’t handle chaos.

It’s lonely when you’re balanced.

My mother told me something on the phone the other day that I just can’t seem to shake. I know it’s true, and I know that means I’ll be alone. She told me, when talking about the grief counselor that hospice sends over once a week, that herself, my sister, and I will each need someone to be our rock on that day, and that my mom doesn’t think she will be able to do it.

I haven’t heard such a truthful statement.

And on that day, I will be the loneliest, most alone person on the planet. My mom has the grief counselor, my sister has her husband, and me…well…

I have no one.

But I’m the balanced one. And the balanced one must remain balanced, so naturally I will use logic to assess my emotions, that my emotions are valid, that death is necessary and predictable, and that having no one is a result of being balanced. Because only the balanced one can be okay without someone else to balance for them.

And on that day, I fear nothing more than my entire family becoming unhinged and estranged from one another, simply because the person who made the balanced person balance, is gone.

4 Responses to “When “Alone” Doesn’t Begin to Cover It: Being the “Balanced” One”

  1. thecuriousbum at 10:53 pm #

    I know it’s not quite the same, but you can talk to me if you like … through some channel or another.

  2. Daniel at 3:50 am #

    In other circles this concept is though of as: who cares for the caregiver. It is something that nurses, doctors, and chaplains deal with. And it is tough because everyone needs someone. And then, sometimes its hard because that person who has “no one” has to ask: Do I have “no one” because this is my lot in life or because I am too busy worrying about others and I spend no time on myself? It is a tough question.

  3. April at 1:21 pm #

    *plops my ample backside down next to you* I haz the weight of a decent sized boulder, I can be you’s rock?

    Seriously though, you summed up my feelings surrounding the passing of my grandfather better than I ever could. In theory, I had my now-ex, Megan’s dad, but he was working and largely disinterested in things that didn’t impact his paycheck at that time. I spent a lot of time alone, dealing with things and knocking out my personal projects like a Spartan running down Persians.

    The one “pro” of it all is the security in knowing that you CAN handle things on your own. What would your mother or sister do if the counselor or the husband weren’t there? … Got that mental image? It isn’t pretty, is it? … Okay, now, people like us, on the other hand? We’ll be okay. It might take us a minute. We might cry, have a bad day here and there, end up bonding with a marathon of “Pretty Little Liars” and potato chips for a weekend, but in the end? We’ll be okay.

    I struggle with it from time to time. I do consider it to be my “lot in life,” as Daniel put it. But I’d still rather be one of “us” than one of “them.”

  4. butimbeautiful at 11:23 pm #

    That’s a bit of a burden, being the balanced one, by the sound of it. People always take the vacant space – if you were less balanced, someone else would probably be more so.

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