Archive for May, 2008

Everybody hurts… sometimes

The two of you who read this blog may remember a post I wrote long ago. And among other things, it talked about my struggles with Mr. K’s parents and the difficulties of navigating the new family relationships that BabyK brings. Since that post, I have worked so very hard on trying to forgive that person. I’ve managed to let go of a lot of anger and get down to the hurt that the anger was protecting. I’ve done exercises with my therapist. I’ve tried to enjoy living life, or at least working uninterrupted. My position on our relationship, and his relationship with BabyK, has not really changed, unfortunately. What has changed drastically is my perspective on it.

After a few months my absence was noted by said in-laws, and of course they appealed to Mr. K for some sort of… something. It felt like nothing so much as the enemy tribe taking a hostage, ripping out his guts and sending him back to our headquarters bleeding and dying to deliver their message. I wouldn’t actually give them credit for following that plan, it’s just how it felt. Laying on the floor, gasping for air, Mr. K asked me to somehow communicate with them, again, what my deal was. So, with the assistance of my therapist and the full knowledge of Mr. K, I wrote a letter. The first letter was pretty strong. It wasn’t unfeeling, or unsympathetic, but it was defensive. Then I sat on it for awhile. It wasn’t right. I read some books. I started a new bible study. I prayed. And then I wrote another letter. And what was in the second letter was all of the pain and heartbreak and frustration that has come from trying to love them and help them and do what is best for them. It hurt to write it. While I wasn’t exactly sure what it would say when I started writing, the bottom line stayed essentially the same. But I talked about my feelings and my heart, in hopes that something might resonate for them and ring true and perhaps open things up for change.

I ran it by my therapist,  I had Mr. K read it again. And then, last week, I sent it. I’d like to say it felt freeing and had a sense of closure. It didn’t. It felt like a bomb I had just started the timer on. Friday night the bomb went off… quietly at first, at least in our house. We got an email on Saturday morning from my FIL saying that my MIL had read the letter and was now hysterical and they needed Mr. K’s support. Then yesterday afternoon they called and Mr. K talked to them. My FIL did not want to talk about the letter. My MIL was fighting back tears the entire time, from what Mr. K told me. She wanted to talk about other stuff – their dog ran away last week, her family came to visit, would Mr. K come over for Mother’s Day. My FIL wanted to know why she wasn’t invited to the baby shower – which of course she was, and so I took my invitation for the shower, that I had wanted to save for BabyK’s box of things I will never make into a scrapbook, and trimmed it to fit an envelope and put it in the mail. And then last night we got another email saying that they had found the invitation.

Sounds not so bad, right? Sounds like easy peasy small talk stuff, huh? Then why is it tearing me apart? Because I’m sensitive and hormonal? Or because all my well-developed guilt reflexes are going insane for speaking from my heart and making the decisions that are the only ones I could consider making for my baby? Or just the bone deep ache of watching Mr. K struggle through these difficult and painful relationships? I suspect it’s those things and more. In all the time I have known them, Mr. K’s parents have very very rarely been able to talk about what’s actually happening and even more, how they feel about it. They have survived by putting things in boxes and moving forward like everything’s normal. Their powers of denial and small talk are stratospheric. Somewhere in all of this, I had hoped that they might actually see me, and see themselves, and see the possibilities for something new and healthy and promising. So far, I don’t see that happening. It looks like more of the same, and in that scenario I am the villain, because I can’t play along like everyone else. I am hurting people. I am causing strife.

Believe or not, that’s not what I want. That’s not what I want for BabK, or Mr. K, or Mr. K’s parents. Or his sibs. Or even the aunts or grandma. I just want to feel safe in my family. Feel that my child is protected. Use my words and be able to feel my feelings. I’m probably not going to get what I want. I didn’t get what I wanted last summer, when I worked so hard to get my MIL the care that she really needs, and my FIL the opportunity to heal himself, and all of our family the gift of being able to talk about what’s going on. I think that time has been put into a box and might never be seen again, honestly.  This is what is so hard about wrestling with mental illness, and what makes dealing with my MIL’s physical illness so very difficult.

I’m posting this, for both my readers, not just so I can have a place to speak out for myself but also to share. There is so much stigma and shame and silence that surrounds mental illness, and the hard truth of that is that mental illness has a dramatic impact on the people who care for those affected by it. If I can’t say, this person is ill, and it affects me, and this situation is not what I want for myself or my child, then I am a victim of their illness every bit as much as they are. After awhile that silence begins to weigh on your thoughts, and you are one day acting just as crazy as they are, because you’ve adapted to the situation. I’ve spent a lot of my life trying not to adapt to people who are mentally ill. Trying to be myself, and be healthy, and maybe every now and again have some happiness. I’m sure it isn’t going to make me popular, and I’m sure that I’m going to be paying the consequences for these actions for some time to come. But I don’t see any other way to live. That’s what I really want for everyone – that we can all see another way to live together. A better, healthier, more loving way.

If you pray, please pray for that.

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