Not Strong Enough Today

There are those days where things get way down to depths you didn’t expect and you find yourself feeling like the wind was knocked out of you as you were just strolling along. These days happen to all of us. I have come to appreciate them as a sort of Karmic balance. Things can’t always be up, unfortunately, they sometimes have to come down.

I was certainly not expecting what happened yesterday. I had an amazing day at work. My project outlook is really promising, I had a serious discussion with my boss about possible article ideas that these projects have inspired and found myself full of passion for my job for the first time in a while. I started thinking maybe just maybe I can find what I am looking for right in front of my face.

When I got in my car to head home, the world was my oyster….at least it was my oyster for the first half of the day. My aunt had texted me a few days before to tell me the transition for C.G. was going slowly and she gave me her new phone number. I decided to try her on my ride home….I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy talk, but I wasn’t expecting what happened.

C.G. started out by saying ‘I don’t know why I am here and no one will sit down and tell me’. So I told her what happened with the hospital and how the family wanted her down there where more people could look after her, etc. She would go around and around about how she understood and then go back to ‘I don’t understand what I did to deserve this’. She talked about it as if it were a punishment and ‘they put her away!’. She talked about how horrible the place was, how she couldn’t leave on her own, no one was there to take her outside, she couldn’t eat with these people who can’t even feed themselves, etc. The conversation went on and by the end she was in tears telling me she wants to come home, she wants to go to the nursing home here, where she had always planned to go, and she wants to be near me, her real family. She kept saying how the people down there weren’t her family, etc…..it was really terrible. I tried my best to explain what was going on to her and assure her that her house was still here and no one had done anything to her house, etc. That she wasn’t trapped down there, they just wanted her nearby for a while….I think I might have messed up with that part.

I felt really helpless though. What do you tell your grandma when she says ‘I want to come home’? I couldn’t tell her that she can’t come home….I just don’t have the ability to say that to her. I told her the only thing I could think of…..the most passive aggressive stance a person can take, really….the chicken shit way out – Okay Grandma I will talk to dad. Yeahhh…because we all know that will make it better….damn it Natalie….

I called my dad right after, he was at work, so I called his wife. We talked for a bit and deduced this was part of the transition, etc. Obviously by saying she wants to come home she means she wants to come back to her house. If we moved her to the nursing home here she would still be going through this same transition and to be honest, the facility here is not that nice. It isn’t awful, but it definitely isn’t as nice as the place she is at now.

I talked to my uncle and aunt this morniong. I spoke with them for a while and what it all boils down to is manipulation. C.G. was trying to manipulate me. The people there are all still functioning independently. It is more of an apartment complex for retired people than what she was describing. They can leave and go places any time they want. In fact a neighbor took grandma shopping a couple of days ago. The people can feed themselves just fine and she has been attending the activities there….basically I am a big old pawn. She played me like a fiddle…and I offered her up the bow.

I felt infinitely better after talking to my aunt and uncle. I feel absolutely terrible for them. My uncle is the villan here. My grandmother doesn’t even want to see him she is so angry that ‘he tried to confuse me and put me away!’. Poor guy. The one who stepped up with a proposed solution, the one who came up to see her about once a month if not more. I feel genuinely bad for him.

I really do see both sides. On the one hand, I wish we had just moved her to the nursing home she wanted. Sure we’d probably still be dealing with some of this stuff, but maybe then no one person would be the villan. Maybe it would have been a bit easier…who knows. What I do know is I need to be crystal clear in my will or something of where I want to go and probably I need to put myself there well before I think I need to go.

But back to yesterday. After my talk with Grandma I was an emotional wreck by the time I walked in the door. I talked to Andy about it and we ate dinner, laughed at Jack and his newfound love for dried cranberries “more more more more” (which come out the same way they go in). We turned on some stand-up and were just sitting around…..then shit went wrong.

I can’t fully explain what happened. Andy sort of has this amazing ability to pick fights. Not just with me, with everyone. I have told him this is why he should become a lawyer because he likes to fight about anything and everything. He doesn’t even care which side you are on, he will argue the other, even if deep down he agrees with you. He just likes to argue. It is like the challenge sparks him.

So anyway he picked an arbitrary fight. I got pissed and decided the best thing was to go to bed…it being a work night and me reaching my capacity. But Andy doesn’t always let things end. He followed me downstairs and continued to tout his stance. I continued to defend myself and try to get him to back down. Then things got ugly. He opened up some old scars basically. Obviously I am neglectful and not loving enough – that is the gist of it. I called bullshit and gates were opened. Suddenly I am staring at a scene I can’t explain.

One of the strongest people I know is standing in front of me the most vulnerable I have ever seen him and I am hitting a brick wall. He won’t come near me, he won’t let me in. He was standing there 15 feet away, but it felt like 500. The only thing I can do after this sort of thing is to try to rationalize what was happening. So here it is…maybe way off base, but here it is:

There is deep dark damage in there. Damage that I might never be able to touch. Even if I could touch it, I am not sure how I could help. Andy doesn’t like realizing that he is in someway damaged. It turns him into a wounded predator who’s only card to play is to attack.

This isn’t the only time I have peeked into that darkness and I know it won’t be the last. It happens every so often. It is the reason he drinks, it is the reason he will talk to his best friend for hours on end out in the garage, it is also the reason he has trouble making new friends. The two people closest to him are the two people that were there. There through the darkness. I get to know pieces of things because I was sorta there. I was at home, worrying and working and trying to keep believing that someday he would come home. I earned the right to know some of it, but I don’t know all of it. And he reminded me last night that I never will. That it wouldn’t do me any good to know and despite my protests, he doesn’t believe it will do him any good either to tell me.

But how could he ever get close to anyone else? How could anyone ever understand what he has been through and how could he relate to anyone who hasn’t done the things he’s done? I think that is where he stands. I think that is why, despite how I try to encourage him to hang out with new acquaintances he meets, he repels against the idea.

It is rough….this situation is rough. Believe me this dark is always smothered out by the light that occurs in our life together. I know that our tiny bandit is slowly working his charm into Andy’s life and healing some of the things that neither of us thought could be healed. Andy has smiled more and enjoyed more than I have seen in a really long time. I know Jack has been good for him. Shown him that he has the ability to do wonderful things despite his past. Shown him that it is okay to be silly and dance and show love….

But when things get to the place they got last night, I can’t help but feel that maybe – despite what I tell myself – I am not strong enough. I let him say whatever he needs to say to get to the point where he will admit this isn’t about us. This is about him. Even though the path to get to that point almost always means he tries to shove me the farthest possible distance. Even when I want to be like ‘fuck it you’re right, we’re fucked’ I think no this is a defense mechanism this isn’t about you. And so I stick to him like glue….I am the most annoying person in the world to him I am sure.

All he wants is to bite and get away and here I am standing there letting him bite me with my arms wrapped as tightly around him as possible. I get it. I am a pest. But that is all I can do. That is the only way for me to get through it. To try to turn the situation in where I feel completely hopeless into a situation where no matter what he says I tell him and show him that I am not going anywhere.  Sometimes I don’t feel strong enough….but I keep on telling myself that I am.

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8 thoughts on “Not Strong Enough Today

  1. Nat you are doing everything you can. You are a great grandchild to be looking out for your grandma and you are doing your best with Andy- being there for him and not letting him run away. Stay strong! xoxo

  2. Ditto to everything Bridget said! You may have let CG manipulate you for a bit but you did the right thing by talking to your family about it. Now you’ll be stronger next time. We don’t start out strong, the lessons we learn from our mistakes make us strong. You’re stronger today then you were yesterday and you’ll be even stronger tomorrow. You’re one kick ass lady! Don’t forget that!

    As for Andy, what can anyone say to make it easier? Nothing. I know this, you know this, but I still want to say something to make you feel better. Time heals all wounds, everything happens for a reason…ok, enough cliche bullshit. Sending hugs your way!

  3. ((HUGS))

    I’m not even sure what to say to this, but I’ve been thinking about you all day. You are a strong woman. A strong wife. A strong mother. A strong friend.

    Hang in there…

  4. We really should talk more often. While my situation is completely different it’s also strangely exactly the same… I feel ya sister. Hang in there… I agree that being a pest who insists on sticking around to get bit in the ass over and over may seem annoying at the time, but it’s the best thing the wife can do at the time. It’s what I do over and over as well. And I keep telling myself that someday it will be better and he’ll be thankful that he had someone to stick around and take the bites… because we need that hope to hold on to, even if it won’t ever actually happen.

  5. Wow, there’s a LOT going on. I know when there’s one big emotional mess in my life, it makes all the other ones feel a lot more intense. I can only echo what the others have said–you’re doing everything just right–being strong for everyone. Just don’t forget to include yourself.

  6. After reading your post today, I realized I read this one but never commented. The issue with your grandma is the exact same thing I was worried about with mine – feeling like people were abandoning her and forcing her to do something against her will. I’m glad after talking to other family members it seems to be better off than you thought.

    And since you already updated today that things at home are much better, I won’t even go there, other than to give a virtual hug. I’m glad to hear you are getting back into acupuncture. You’ll have a sibling for Jack in no time. 🙂

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