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Friday, December 17, 2021

Microstory 1780: Triangulum

My parents hate each other, but they claim they can’t get divorced. My little brother is very sensitive, and they don’t think he could handle it. Unfortunately, they can’t stand to even be in the same room as each other, so I don’t think that’s really helping him. They parent him separately, and I’m expected to fill in the gaps. He may be too young to be consciously aware that he never sees the two of them at the same time, but it’s almost certainly affecting him, and eventually, he’s going to grow up. I guess they’re hoping they’ll be able to finally walk away from each other by then. I think it would be far less traumatizing to the kid if they just took care of it now, but they won’t listen to me. I’m just the older brother in the middle. My therapist calls it triangulation. In order to put up a united front for my brother, both of our parents have to agree on whatever decision needs to be made. But since they can’t talk directly to each other, they go through me. My mom sleeps on a pullout couch in her home office, while dad stays in the master bedroom. They coordinate their schedules so they don’t end up in the bathroom at the same time, and mom still needs to keep some closet space up there. Again, I don’t know that their youngest doesn’t notice all of this, but again, I’m actually the one coordinating it for them. I’m responsible for knowing who is going to pick him up from soccer practice, and which is available for the next game. Both of them have pretty flexible schedules, and could theoretically watch him play together, but one will always pretend to be busy, and it’s up to me to decide which, making sure that he doesn’t feel too neglected by either one. It’s such a pain. It’s also not fair. I’m 17 years old, I’m not supposed to be responsible for their relationship. My therapist says I need to stand up for myself, and he wants to have a conversation about that with all three of us, but that is just this side of completely impossible. I gave up on trying to fix them a long time ago.

It wasn’t always like this, and even after it started, it wasn’t always this bad. It’s not like they had a meeting at one point, and contrived this plan to triangulate their fourteen-year-old son. It started out small. They would fight about the baby, and one of them would sleep on the couch that night, but then they would work it out, and come back together. This happened more and more until they realized that they sometimes hadn’t spoken for two straight days. I was brought in to relay their messages, but if that got to be too complicated, they would step in, and finish the conversation themselves. But then they stopped doing that altogether, I guess because I got better at anticipating their responses, lessening the amount of back and forth necessary. I became half my father, and half my mother, so that I could act on each one’s behalf to the other without actually speaking to them about what they would choose to say under normal circumstances. It was too late before I noticed that I had lost my whole self in that chaos. I’ve been trying to get the real me back for a year, but it can’t be done unless we break the triangle. So that’s why I’m here today, Your Honor. I know it will be a long process, but it must be done, and I was advised by my counsel to begin now. I turn 18 in six months, and when that happens, I need to have full custody of my brother, so I can take him out of that toxic environment. Our parents are not going to like it, but I’m confident that I will prove myself to be the most mature person in the family. I have filled out all of the requisite paperwork, and I’m ready to plead my case, whenever you are.

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