Another mobile post…please excuse the poor formatting.
I don’t write a lot of detail about my current family situation often out of respect for their privacy. Some posts will contain coping challenges in general terms or about past experiences. But often the tone and feelings are mixed.
This post comes from the perspective of being safe and loved by my father’s side of the family.
For the last ten days, I have spent a lot of time with my father’s side of the family. Grandmother (100+), 3 aunts (seniors), and one uncle (senior) – they welcomed me into their lives, let me stay with them, spoiled me, and showed me through actions that I am safe and loved here. In return, I tried to be a polite and respectful house guest and show them the same love.
I am not going to lie. The adjustment was rough on all of us. It still is. Most of their time is spent taking care of grandma; it’s stressful and difficult sometimes. Whatever time is left, each one lives her or his own life too.
My biggest fears sort of came true. But others did not. We walked on eggshells around each other and tried to be sensitive to the point of frustrating each other sometimes. Other times, we fell back into old patterns without even realizing it.
Then something amazing happened. Instead of holding grudges or getting angry, we were able to move past it and forgive or let go of the negativity. When I got stressed and anxious into a flashback, they would help me calm down. When one of them felt a certain way, I tried to help them.
And they all tried to get along with each other for my sake. Something I greatly appreciate because of the strain it takes on all of them. For my part, I tried to spend quality time with each relative one-on-one or in groups in the way that suited us both best.
In the past, we all wore masks and stayed “on” around each other. This time, we acted like ourselves. And got along better that way.
Communication is still iffy sometimes. I tend to be more direct and open about my feelings. They are not. Certain things can be said one-on-one, but are taboo in front of each other. I screw that up a lot.
The most important part of this family visit was spending quality time with my grandma. At 101, our time together is limited. Instead of talking or going places, I sat with her and my relatives in her living room and occupied myself with activities while she watched game shows or slept. Sometimes I talked with my relatives. Mostly we did our own thing, and I tried to stay out of their way when they took care of grandma.
So while we struggle sometimes, we are doing okay. My love of silence and solitude come naturally. Best quiet times are when we sit together in the same room doing our own thing. Sometimes we talk; sometimes we don’t. Best active times are when I walked & shopped with different aunts. Or when an aunt taught me how to hem my pants.
So I love my family. And now I know that I am safe with them too. So I will come back to visit when possible. But I will not be staying with them. Seeing me when I have to use certain coping strategies hurts them. And they are not in a place where I can explain what they observe happening.
They accept all of it 100%, but seeing me like that reminds them what their brother/son did to me. And their best coping strategies are denial and silence. So it’s better to limit time with them next visit. At least until we all can come to a place where talking about that stuff doesn’t stress them out.
thanks for reading.