Heartache

It’s been over 2 months since I blogged.  Things have been going pretty well.  But the past few days my patience has been wearing thin.  Tuesday would have been my mom’s 73rd birthday.  I tend to not give a lot of credence to the idea of “anniversary reactions,” but every once in awhile her birthday or death date seem to trigger me. 

I’m not sure why now, 6 years after her death, I suddenly feel so heartbroken.  Maybe it’s that I feel so distant from my family, so forgotten by my brothers, that I crave the person that not only created us, but kept us together.  Maybe it’s that I’m the caregiver to a woman who keeps trying to (s)mother me even though she is the one that needs (s)mothering.  Maybe it’s that it’s Fall, her favorite time of year.  Or it could be my upcoming trip to Yellowstone, one of the places she had wished to see.  Or it could be that every time I go to share a photo of her and I on Facebook I realize that we hardly have any photos together.  

Maybe it’s just that I have too much time on my hands.  And I seem to be spending a lot of time reflecting on the things she did wrong as a parent.  The way she shut me down and out when I came out as bisexual.  How I wanted to force an apology from her when she was on her deathbed- to ask her if she regretted the way she treated me.  To ask her if she realized how much I wanted to kill myself at the age of 22 because I could never be good enough for her.  I wanted to ask her if I had ended up marrying a woman if she would have been just as excited at my wedding….If we would have still had a relationship as mother and daughter….had it been a woman I married would I still have been the one sitting at her side as she was dying?  

And I wonder how I would have turned out had all of my childhood interests been supported.  Had she bought me the Matchbox cars or the Star Wars toys I desired.  But my interests were steered towards all things “girly.” I was only allowed to play with the Legos when my boy cousins were over.  It’s not that I didn’t like the “girl” toys; I loved my dolls.  It’s that I also wanted the toys my cousins played with, but they wouldn’t buy them for me.  My mom always told me I could be anything I wanted, yet the real message I was given was that certain things were really just for boys.  My dad encouraged my love of science, yet, that love was not nurtured enough to push me towards a STEM career.  It was a constant theme in our relationship that they tried to mold me into someone that I just wasn’t.  And that led me to a lifelong belief that I just was never good enough.  I wasn’t girly enough.  I wasn’t traditional enough.  I didn’t conform enough (I hear the refrain, “you just always have to be different, don’t you?”).  I was “selfish” for being bisexual.  And I was going to hell for being an atheist, which made them very very sad.  And when I complained they weren’t supportive enough, their response was that I shouldn’t let their disappointment in me hurt me, and then they would reassure me that they did in fact love me, just as I am.  Fuck them.  They were the selfish ones. They may have done a lot of things right, but they sure as hell got many things wrong, especially making their issues into mine. 

The only thing I do know right now is that my heart hurts.  I still can’t believe she’s gone.  All the good and bad things she has missed in 6+ years.  It’s so unfair.  I should have stepped in sooner.  I should have called her doctor and pushed more tests.  And I guess that’s why I’m such a control freak with my pain-in-the-ass MIL- I don’t want my husband to feel this turmoil.  I don’t want him to blame himself, or me.  I want us to be able to say that we really did do our best, even when it was hard, even when the last thing on earth we wanted to do was to be a caregiver, we still did it.  Because that’s what good “parents” do.

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No news is not always good news

I tend to write when I’m upset, so you might think the fact that I haven’t written in 49 days means I am doing well.  But that’s not exactly accurate.  In part I have been distracted by issues within my family of origin regarding current politics, which I will save for another post.  But since my last raging angry post I have continued to be frustrated by MIL.  

You may recall my last post, filled with angry F-words, was about my MIL going grocery shopping and filling my home with things we did not need.  This was a major tipping point.  I was so angry, but felt I could say nothing to my MIL directly, as I could not control my rage appropriately. That night my husband urged me to stay at a hotel, which I refused.  I told him that I was not going to spend our money just to get some respite, but if she was willing to pay I would do it.  Of course he wasn’t going to ask her that, so I spent 5 pm- 10 pm out of the house window shopping.  

In that 5 hour timeframe I was able to calm down, and hubby was able to have a conversation with MIL.  He told her that he feared that one day I will take the dog and leave.  I have never said this to him, but it’s true.  I fantasize about it all the time.  Whenever I get in the car I think about just driving off and not coming back.  And then I think about him.  And I realize that I am still totally in love with him.  I don’t want to be without him.  I want to be without her.  And the truth is, every time I get upset with our situation he asks me if it’s time for MIL to move out.  And the very fact that he acknowledges that this is an option, that he is willing to boot her out for my mental health, well, that makes all the difference in the world. Knowing that he would still choose me, as anxious and angry and fucked up as I can be, over his insane but loving mother is comforting.  I’m not sure if that says more about him or more about her.  But the fact that I have never had to put him in the position of choosing, makes me feel a little better about myself too.  I don’t want to be the partner that says, “it’s me or it’s your mother.”  But it makes me worry a little about him.  The fact that he has whole heartedly accepted this responsibility to take care of her, and that he, too, is so stressed and frustrated with her that he is ready to kick her out- all it would take is a push from me to do so.  And then I worry that if something happens to her that he will regret the way he treats her sometimes- with contempt and resentment.  

So, for the past 49 days I have been filled with a myriad of emotions.  At times I have been frustrated and angry, other times I am empowered by the knowledge that I can kick MIL out of this house when I have truly had enough.  Other times I am anxious (mostly about my family drama) but also on constant edge that MIL is going to get hurt on my watch, or that she will accidently poison the dog, or that the house is going to burn down when I leave her alone.  And other times I do actually feel a rush of compassion and sympathy for MIL’s continued decline.  And lately, I think a lot of my own mother.  More so than in all the years prior since she died.  I think about how she is the one person I really want to vent to, and how she would be able to guide me with a balance of compassion and assertiveness.  But she’s not here.  And it’s all so unfair. 

This post is going to use the F word a lot…

The fucking Hulk is back.  That’s what I call myself when I have this intense feeling of rage.  The moments I can feel my blood pressure building, the moments I am sure that my MIL is going to send me to an early fucking grave.  I’ve been angry with her off and on since she’s been here, but the Hulk disappeared about 1 1/2-2 years ago after doing some work on it in therapy.  But today, I am triggered by something that I know I shouldn’t be this angry about.  But I am.  I am rage-full.  I have sequestered myself to my bedroom, away from her, so I don’t fucking lose it.  This is made all the more complicated by the fact that I am working today.   

I left this morning to go to a kiddo’s house to pick her up and bring her back to my house.  On the way home I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things that I hadn’t been able to get at Costco on Sunday.  So I come home and unload my groceries while entertaining the little one.  About 30 minutes later my MIL returns home.  Her sister had come to take MIL for a haircut and a pedicure.  Well, guess what else she did?  Went fucking grocery shopping.  She bought literally almost the same exact stuff I just bought today.  And I’m not just talking the canned fucking goods (which I don’t have pantry room for), I’m talking about zucchini, berries, apples, lettuce (fucking lettuce. I have five fucking heads of lettuce from Costco you stupid fucking bitch!), and celery.  I bought all of this shit with the intention of it feeding both of us.  

As my MIL and her stupid fucking moron of a sister came in carrying 5 bags of groceries, I said, “I just went shopping.  You shouldn’t have done that.  There in no room for this stuff.”  Literally.  My fucking refrigerator is stuffed, along with the second refrigerator in the garage.  Then her fucking sister says, in a snooty tone, “well, sometimes she likes to grocery shop.”  I swear, if I didn’t have a 2-year-old with me at that very moment, I would have gone off on them.  So fucking what if she likes to grocery shopping? It doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.  It doesn’t mean that it makes any logical fucking sense.  She would also like to drive.  She would also like to live alone and pay her own bills, that doesn’t mean she gets to fucking do it.  The least they could have done was call me and ask.  Maybe they could have asked me what they could buy, which would have been nothing.  But if they really had to go shopping to make my fucking MIL happy, they could have just bought some fucking canned goods.

Why the fuck do I bother.  It’s like everything else I do for her.  Fucking pointless.  It is all fucking pointless.  

In case you are one of the few people reading this that aren’t familiar with my situation, my MIL is not in charge of grocery shopping.  I am.  She gives us money every month towards groceries and our bills.  She can hardly fucking walk.  She can’t fucking drive.  Why anyone would take her fucking grocery shopping is beyond me.  This is the second time this has happened in the last 6 months.  The only difference being that I have started eating an average of 7-8 servings of fruits and veggies every day, so I have been buying a lot of produce.  I am so fucking angry.

I am lucky that this all happened on the cusp of nap time, so I could put the kiddo to bed, take a Xanax and calm the fuck down.

Happy Fucking Mother’s Day 

For my darling MIL, I have some gifts for you:  I will continue to provide you with a place to live, food, transportation and assistance in exchange for 1/3 of the cost of utilities and food expenses.  I will try to remain married to your awesome son, despite the fact that living with you has negatively impacted our relationship.  Just so you know, if I left, you would be screwed.  I will continue to have good impulse control when I have a desire to smother you with a pillow, tell you to fuck off, or trip you when you walk in front of me.  I will try to be nice.  

But I will not be your friend.  I will not be your daughter.  I will not allow you to call children fat. I will not let you sleep in a chair directly below the place where I fuck your son.  I will not quiet my moans.  I will not let you drop grapes and avocado on the floor and poison my dog.  I will not let you intrude on what very little privacy I have left.  I will not share my thoughts with you.  I will not discuss my weight with you.  And I will not be manipulated by your passive-aggressive histrionic behavior.  

Teetering on the Edge

I can’t take this anymore.  Yesterday I was feeling a Hulk-like rage I haven’t felt for a while…and I was ready to pack my bags and leave my husband, because I can’t deal with my MIL any more.  But after spending a day away from MIL I started to feel better.  Until I started getting text from my hubby about the problems he was having with her while I was out having fun with my BFF.  And then this morning I woke up to take care of the dog and I found a fucking grape on the floor.  If you don’t know why this is a problem, it’s because grapes can be deadly to dogs,  and my MIL knows this.  And I found a raisin on the floor a few weeks ago.  And a few days ago, it was avocado.  And every fucking day it’s some other type of food on the floor.   And the dog follows her around the kitchen because he knows this.

If something happens to my dog because of her….well, I can’t even say what I will do.   The only thing I know right now is that I’m not buying any more food that is deadly to our dog, or at least it is not going to be within her reach.  I fucking hate her. 

Easter

I’m going to lose it.  She’s been so intrusive the last few weeks.  Now we can’t even just sit in silence in the car while driving to her family’s Easter.  I almost told my husband that I should just stay home.  I can’t take an entire day spent with her, especially at an event where I am expected to be nice and caring to her (not to mention the fact that I have to socialize with everyone).  I just want to be left alone.  I’m going to spend this car ride pretending I can’t hear a word she says and visualize a future vacation in solitude.

Wake Up!

My MIL is constantly falling asleep.  It wouldn’t really matter if it weren’t so disruptive to my life.  For the past 6 months she has been acting out dreams and talking in her sleep.  This is apparently a common sleep disorder for people with Parkinson’s.  If she were only falling asleep in her bedroom it wouldn’t be a problem, but MIL is falling asleep everywhere.  It’s like she has narcolepsy.  Sometimes I sit and watch her out of sheer curiosity.  The other day she was eating her lunch and she kept nodding off, and I watched her salad bowl slowly start to slide as her hand fell into the salad.  I was going to wake her up to prevent a spill, but MIL’s hand in the bowl prevented further slippage.  Maybe the nice thing to do would be to wake her up anyway, but that never goes well.

Whenever we tell her to wake up she insists that she was not sleeping.  And since she usually falls asleep in our living room while we are watching TV this has been a huge issue.  She gets angry and defensive when we wake her up, “I wasn’t sleeping, I was resting my eyes!”  Then I say, “Well, you were talking, and if you weren’t sleeping then that is pretty rude for you to keep talking while we are trying to watch a movie.”  Then MIL says, “I can’t help it if I talk in my sleep.”  Then I say, “Oh, so you were sleeping?”  MIL responds, “Well, I guess I was.  But I can’t help it.  I can’t help that I fall asleep.” Then I respond, “No, you can’t help when you fall asleep, but you can control where you fall asleep by going to your room now.” And then she gets upset, “I don’t want to go to bed.”  Then I say, “You don’t have to go to sleep, just go to your room so that you don’t disrupt us if you do fall asleep.” I can’t even tell you how any times we have had this exact conversation.

She complains that she doesn’t sleep at night, and we keep explaining to her that it is because she is frequently falling asleep during the day and early evening and that is messing up her sleep cycle.  I have encouraged MIL to take a scheduled nap in the afternoon, hoping that would stave off the daytime nodding off, but she refuses to listen to any suggestions I have.  I have encouraged her to drink some actual caffeine in the morning or during the day to try to regulate her sleep schedule.  She also ignores that suggestion.

My husband has instituted  a “3 strikes” rule when we are watching TV.  This has helped.  We wake her up when she starts talking in her sleep, and remind her that if she is going to talk she will be sent to her room if she gets 3 strikes.   This way MIL gets fair warning and the opportunity to change her behavior (which she typically truly cannot help), and we don’t look like such assholes for sending a 64-year-old woman to her bedroom.

I find this sleep disorder maddening.  As someone who has trouble falling asleep at night it is hard for me to comprehend why someone would fight their body telling them to go to sleep.  When my eyes start to close I take a nap (obviously when the situation allows it).  It is one more way in which MIL is the child, and I am the parent, always trying to get her to take a nap, go to her bedroom, stop interrupting, respect our boundaries and follow the rules.

I am so tired.  I am tired of trying to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped.  I am tired of giving advice to someone who doesn’t care what I have to say, or respect the fact that as a social worker I have clinical experience helping people who have sleep disorders.  I am tired of wasting my breath and wasting my energy on someone who has become so unlikable.  I’m tired of feeling like the bad guy.  I am tired of having to tell an adult woman to leave the room so we can have some privacy and enjoy a TV show when all she does is sleep.  I am just so tired.  Wake me up when it’s all over.