I made it through another Thanksgiving holiday and am preparing to fully enter this holiday season with all the strength and positivity I can muster.
It’s a challenge when you fight depression every day and have no place to call “safe.” Home life is stressful with my mother. Her health isn’t great. Her words are sharp and cruel and it is a daily struggle to put on my shield of deflection from her viciousness, and be able to shield my kids from it as well. One minute she says the most awful things and the next is saying how much she loves her grandkids and would do anything for them. Until they just…..live. And make their own choices. And express themselves. Then she tells us we are disgusting and if we continue to be who we are, we have to get out. We hear her on the phone with her family and she counsels them, telling the wonderful things like “you can’t threaten people and impose your will on others.” Or “don’t let differences keep you from having a relationship with your family.” I have no words. And I don’t recognize this pillar of strength and wisdom who sits before me doling out sage advice. She is my ex. In another body. She cares more about what strangers and distant family think than the people she lives with. Perpetuates the “do as I say and not as I do” movement.
But I get up every day and try to suck it up. Be strong and set a good example for my kids. I’m learning how to set boundaries and those aren’t received well by some people in my life. That adds to my depression because while I know it is necessary and healthy in the long run, the sting of the people who resist my boundaries is sharp.
My sister told me several weeks ago I am the most negative person she has ever met and that I make her sick. This was during a phone call where I asked if she was willing to have a conference call with my brother, my mother and me, because our mother wanted to discuss her estate planning. The conference call was my mother’s request. I was trying to set it up and make it happen for my mother. My brother agreed. My sister accused me of planting seeds in my mother’s head. Of wanting all my mother’s things after she dies. The more I tried to explain the more angry my sister became until we were yelling at each other and then those cruel words were said. I asked her if she was drinking because it has been my experience with her that when she drinks, she becomes irrational and mean. I am negative because I’m facing the reality that our mother is aging and should make these decisions now while she still has the mental capacity to do so because I don’t want to have to make those choices? I am negative because I vent when bad things happen to me? I am negative because I choose to stay in a house with my mom, who isn’t kind, but that’s my choice? It is my choice. But I don’t stay because I’m a freeloader. I don’t stay because I’m a glutton for mistreatment. I stay because I’m trying to help my children. And I’m here because cruel or not, my mother is getting older and her health is deteriorating and she needs help. I realize if I left, she would be alone and that she has isolated herself by behaving in ways that are unspeakable at times so people don’t want to be around her. But I am me. And I am not the most negative person ever. I have compassion and a strong desire to do what’s right. It’s easy for someone who lives far away to tell me what to do because they don’t see it or experience it firsthand. Yet when I share what’s happening, that makes me negative? No. I don’t believe that. The part where my sister said “you make me sick,” is what hurt the most. And I do worry about how negative I must sound but I vent about the negative things as a release. I need to get them out of my mouth and out of my body so I don’t cling to them and let them hurt me. Shouldn’t I be able to do that with my siblings, who know what our mother is like? Who know how bad my divorce was? Who know how hard it was for me to get a job and now have the ugly things happening at that job? I thought that was what unconditional love and support was built upon? Giving a person a safe place to vent and to be compassionate. My sister reached out a few days ago and when I expressed anxiety over speaking with her due to what happened in our last conversation, she said she didn’t have animosity towards anyone. I told her I don’t either, I’m just hurt by her words. And I told her that. Her reply was that she was hurt by words too. I asked what words hurt her. I want to know so I can reflect and apologize or further explain. Her reply to my question was that she didn’t have the energy to get into it. So very much like my mother, there is this method they follow: do and say hurtful things. Don’t speak for weeks. Then act like nothing ever happened. I don’t operate that way. We still have not discussed anything. That’s not animosity. That’s self preservation. That’s me setting boundaries. You don’t get to hurt me and then ignore me and then act like all is fine and I’m the one with the problem. Or animosity. And you’re the bigger better person because you tried to reach out to me? No. I deserve to enforce my own boundaries. And the ironic part? My sister told her daughters I hate her. Which I can assure you I don’t. But what I find remarkable is that she didn’t tell them what she said to me, what we fought about. She left out every detail that included her anger and unkind words to me yet she stressed and stretched anything I did or said that could be used as a reason to make herself the victim. I was nearly speechless when I heard this. I made no effort to reach out to my sister because I knew it would not be resolved and I was and am protecting myself. People are afraid of her. I am one of those people, but I have boundaries now.
My kids are going to be traveling to see their father right after Christmas and staying until after the New Year. It will be my first holiday being all alone since my separation and divorce. I’m sad but am trying to see some positives here. I can focus on just me and heal my mind. The thoughts of betrayal creep in. I know they are not really betraying me. He is their father and they want him in their lives. But I struggle with hearing how sad they are that he moved so far away and that they are finally at a good place with him. I want to scream sometimes. How can they forget that he was he person who put us all here? The person who chose to move away was him. And it’s easy to be at a good place with a parent when that parent doesn’t have to parent you. Doesn’t have to deal with the daily stresses and teenage behaviors. Doesn’t have to do the shopping and cooking and cleaning and running kids all around? Yeah. They’re at a good place. Well yay them! So being alone for the New Year night not be so bad. I can work on getting to a good place, with myself.
Work is still not a “safe” place for me either. The owner is a tool. A fake. And a giant child who doesn’t like being told when he has done something wrong. Instead of an apology, he turns every situation around and places the blame that belongs to him onto someone else. He has actually said that there is zero trust between him and I. He isn’t wrong. But then he said it is UP TO ME to make any and all efforts to attempt to rebuild the trust between us. And that I am never to share anything personal with him ever again because in doing so, I opened the door for him to make an inappropriate comment about my breasts to him. He one, doesn’t have to worry about me sharing anything with him ever again and two, I hope he holds his breath waiting for ME to work on rebuilding trust between the two of us. Regardless, I keep to myself and work like a champ. I get my work done plus the work of others. I help and I am dedicated to making the place a success. I’m still looking for another job elsewhere but the pickins are slim. I’ll keep at my search because I need to find a safe place. Just one place where I can be myself.
This pattern I see, of others not wanting to accept the blame for their actions that cause hurt or where they were wrong? Of ignoring the situation for long periods of time and then suddenly reappearing as if nothing happened? Of worrying about how they appear in the public eye but not even closely matching that view in private? I wonder what role I have in this pattern? My first step in understanding this is recognizing these are the people I see. I see them. I recognize the behaviors. And I am setting boundaries. Like it or not, they can not and I will not let them in any more. I don’t care if they are family or long-time friends, work associates or bosses. You may not come in. I think that is my role. I never set boundaries before. Anywhere in my life. A long time married male friend says something sexually inappropriate to me? I try to laugh it off so I don’t embarrass them. A co-worker says the same? My reaction is the same. Family or friends hurt me? I never say much. So they keep doing it. Kids share info about their father that I don’t want to hear and that hurts me? I let them talk because I want to support them. But who supports me? This is why I HAVE to set boundaries.
This blog post is a bit all over the place, so for anyone reading it, sorry about that. I just needed to get this out of my head and down where I can see it. That always helps me feel better.
So happy holidays. I am going to do my best to be bright and merry. It’s going to be exhausting and draining but I don’t want to let this depression get the best of me and I’m hoping my newly set boundaries will help with that.