I have been “off work” for the past three days. I have another day off work today. I am looking forward to getting back to my regular life.
I have spent this whole time with my parents and my spouse, all of whom are at the center of their own universes, and who expect all the planets (and everything else) to revolve around them. We do things together and try to just be together, but it’s very difficult. My parents are extremely rigid and judgmental, and my spouse and I have a very different life than theirs. They can’t seem to simply let anyone “be”, and that adds stress and tension to every interaction.
Why can’t we all just get along?
I’m not hurting them, by having a different kind of life. And I really don’t need their judgment / pity / attempts at support. They look at my life and worry… but I’m doing really well. I’m just not doing it all like they would. So, that means I’m doing things “wrong” in their minds.
In my early adulthood, I avoided my family like the plague. They didn’t understand me, and they really gave me a hard time… about everything. They always treated me badly, when I was growing up. They continued to treat me like I was mentally deficient (thanks to my TBI issues, which were never properly addressed), even into my adulthood… the still do it. And they did not approve of my spouse, at the start. Too bad for them, I was married anyway. But my independence did not help our relationship. And if anything, it just made them think I was more mentally compromised.
It has been a journey, coming to terms with each other. We have all reached a state of tenuous balance, over the years, and now my parents are getting older, so there is all the more motivation to stay in touch. None of us lives forever, and since there were so many hard years, it’s really precious to have happy times with them. Still, it is not easy for me to deal with them. I have to be on constant guard, because my mother has issues with physical movement, and she slams into things without meaning to – one of the things is often me, which is painful. My father tends to attack what he does not understand, and he’s very “heady” and loves to discuss philosophy and religion. But he has a very narrow view, so it’s difficult to discuss anything objectively with him without it turning into an argument.
So, it’s a constant balancing act.
At the same time, my spouse is declining and is becoming more and more demanding. And when my parents are around, they become even more stressed and demanding. They constantly harangue me about doing this and that — asking everyone to do this and that and the other thing. All their demands and extra needs for attention come at a time when I am even more taxed than usual. My cognitive reserve gets drained very quickly, and I end up yelling. Upset. And looking like I’m the unstable one, when everyone else around me is being antagonistic and confrontational.
I am caught in between everyone with their demands. But I’m the one who ends up looking like the one with the problem.
When you love people, it can be extremely taxing. And painful.
You just have to decide if it’s worth it.
I know it is worth it. It’s just a lot of time and energy. At least today, we have some time to ourselves. My parents are going back home, first thing this morning, and my spouse and I will have the day to ourselves.
I’ll get some more sleep and do some more thinking about how I want my life to be. And take a break.
From it all.
And then I can get back to work tomorrow… and get a real break.