Rule #1: Never, EVER answer the phone

I was all excited because I was getting ahead on the $200,000 grant application I’m writing, and I had a good meeting with the dean yesterday, and my mom and dad were relatively stable, and I had two consecutive good nights of sleep, and…and…

And then I answered the phone.

It was my dad, very upset that my mom continues to be very upset about being “in jail” (a/k/a “in memory care”). I met him for dinner, but didn’t even order any because he’d killed my appetite when he started talking about how we had to “get her out of there this weekend even if we have to bring her home.” I bit my tongue and only hinted at the fact that there would be no “we” involved because I might just stop even answering the phone if he decided to bring her home.

For the 57th time, I gently reminded him how much she’d hated being home (what with all the intruders only she can see, especially that one who pretends to be my dad) and that she was pretty likely to be unhappy anywhere she went at this point, which is heartbreaking but true. And then I gently reminded him that we have probably hit the point where we have to worry less about her being happy than about her being safe. And she’s not safe at home in an insecure environment where he’s not capable of taking care of her and where his own health would suffer quickly if he even tried. I also (still gently) reminded him that we were not the only people impacted here, and that my aunts, not at the peak of health themselves, were only capable of taking so much more–particularly the one who lives next door and bore the brunt of Mom’s problems when she was home.

And speaking (gently) of impacting other people: I can’t live my life in perpetual panic mode anymore, afraid to answer the phone and having to drive thirty miles to their house at all hours every time my mom gets upset about something. I’m barely capable of even managing my own life right now, much less mine and my parents’. While I’ve tried to minimize it as much as I could, the last eighteen months or so have been completely devastating for me (things were bad enough before the problems with Mom started) and the worst thing is that I haven’t even had time to work through most of it yet. There’s only so much drama an emotional weakling like me can process in a short time. Thus my ability to simultaneously manage their lives and my own (not strong to begin with) gets a little weaker every time my dad panics and threatens to undo all the work I’ve done.

And you know what? I think, for once, that maybe he got it this time. Or at least I’m going to convince myself of that before I go to bed.

Pardon my vent. My dad is a really good person and he’s in a really bad place right now, too. I understand that and I’d never abandon him or my mom. And I think he’s genuinely concerned about how this is affecting me, or at least my work. He’s trying. He’s lost the love of his life. He’s sad and lonely.

But I’ve essentially lost two of the most important people in my life this year–the love of my life and the woman who gave me life–and I’m pretty goddamned sad and lonely too. And it’s the hurt that keeps on giving because, despite the loss, Mom and Mark are both still part of my life and there’s always one more fucking thing to deal with (a run-in at the nursing home, a new mortgage to sign, an incoherent verbal attack, a new cell phone plan) to remind me of what the relationships aren’t anymore. I’m just getting weary of minimizing my own feelings in favor of everyone else’s. It’s starting to seem like a running theme and making me feel a little like a doormat. But I’m whining now.

Again, pardon my vent. Back to francophone pop or something tomorrow. Francophone pop makes me happy.

3 thoughts on “Rule #1: Never, EVER answer the phone

  1. You did the absolute correct thing with your dad. Of course he panics & wants her home, it’s all he has known for decades. As painful as it can be to do with elderly parents (and I speak from experience, as you know), you have to set boundaries in order to keep yourself healthy. And if you have to go to the lengths of, “Dad, if you bring Mom home, I will no longer answer your phone calls. I will not participate in a situation detrimental to her safety and your health,” you have to. Period. No debate. And if course this extends to romantic relationships, workplace relationships, etc. But you’re doing this, so why am I yapping? I feel so strongly about learning how to set boundaries, I want everyone to do it. I have people in my life (not you, David) who are just suffering over the past, a few people being victims & martyrs, all this crap, and they are suffering and being stagnant and fearful. Ugh. I guess I’m just saying…take care of yourselves…guess what, if you do, a lot of things fall into place, for the better.

  2. Thanks. What I didn’t add to the above is that by the end of the evening my dad was back to understanding that home is no longer a viable option. Some part of me knows we’ll have this discussion again, probably multiple times, but at least he always comes around. Maybe he just needs to vent, too. Either way, at least I got some sleep.

    BTW, reconnecting with many good friends has been the saving grace of what has become known as The Year of Suck.

  3. Sorry to hear about this ordeal, and I went through it with two parents at once over the course of three years. There is no happy ending to it, and most “promising sign” prove to be wishful thinking. And then it’s over, and a weird mix of feelings follow. Sorry to sound so glum, but that was my experience. But eventually good memories have overtaken the bad ones.

    Regardless, you definitely are doing the right things to be supportive.

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