Monday, June 29, 2009

Taking care of my parents. Or not.

I spent 4 whole days at home this weekend and I'm honestly glad to get back to my apartment tomorrow. When I arrived Wednesday night, both of my parents were stressed out and not in a good mood. Thursday night was the good-bye event with former pupils at my parents' school since my dad is retiring. Friday afternoon I asked my parents if they wanted to go to the movies, because my dad had mentioned wanting to go see 'State of Play'. My mom completely exploded, complained about how she was so stressed out and just wanted to enjoy her evening at home and how she still had so many things to do and so on. The only reasonable thing I could do was get up and leave the room. Lateron, my dad came into my room and asked if we were going to go to the movies, because he had time. So the two of us went, as so often before, because my mom is too stressed out to watch a movie she isn't much interested in anyways. On the way to the movies my dad complained to me about how much my mom is stressed out and how he has to suffer from it, ultimately. I had to literally stop myself from saying something mean about it, so I just basically said nothing. I don't exactly remember, but somehow we changed the subject.

I know that I'm on the verge of adulthood and part of adulthood is seeing that your parents are only human too and not the superheroes we believe them to be when we are little. I know that having honest conversations about how they are doing are part of adulthood. But I have a lot going on in my life right now and I honestly feel like I'm doing a pretty good job at everything. I don't want to complain, because I choose to do what I'm doing and I'm really happy that I get to do this, but it's not easy. I haven't felt very supported by my parents, my mother repeatedly expressed her disapproval for my plans to emigrate and they did not help me plan any of this. My mother's support was to ask me if I had taken care of this, this and that and put pressure on me to do this and that, when I told her that I had everything under control and had already taken care of everything I could. Not very supportive, if you ask me, but rather getting on my nerves about things that are none of her concern anyways (eg I told her that I had taken care of my room in the town I study in and that the next tenant would sign the contract next Thursday. Today, she asked me about it, asking if I had talked to the landlord and so on. I had to explain to her again, that yes, I had, because we would all meet at the lawyer's office next Thursday. She has nothing to do with all of that and she shouldn't even think about it, because I already told her that I had taken care of it, yet she worries about it.).

My mom clearly isn't happy that I'm planning to move 4,500 miles away, but she has realised that she can't stop me. She can, however, make it clear that she disapproves and she did make it clear on numerous occasions. From what I gathered, she worked A LOT this year, partly to keep herself occupied so that she wouldn't think about me moving away. The thing is, I cannot take care of her. She's not that old yet and I'm not quite an adult yet and I can't have responsibility for her well-being. I just can't carry that load on top of everything else. When my mom was ill, I was just 15 years old and I felt like I had to do everything in my power to help her get better and to take care of her. For a very long time I was too considerate of her feelings. But now I'm making these huge changes in my life and it will be hard for me too. I will move to a different country with a different language and culture and I will miss my friends and family too. It's not like I'm moving away to get away from my family, I'm moving away because I cannot achieve my dreams here.

I don't even stand a chance saying how hard it will be for me because there is an 'easy' solution for that. If it is hard then wouldn't it just be easier to stay?

I don't want my mom to pretend that she's fine when she's not, but the way she is handling everything right now is just too fucking hard on me. Most of the time I don't even tell her when I'm not feeling well, I'm the one who pretends that I'm fine when I'm not. I get that she's stressed out, but she is the one who chooses to do all those projects that she doesn't have to do. She can just not do them or only do one and the only person who would notice the difference would be her. It is her choice and her decision and if she feels so stressed out then she should maybe take medication or go to therapy. Complaining about it to me will not change one thing about the situation. There isn't anything I can do. I know that I'm not causing that much extra stress. I avoid causing her any further stress as much as I can anyways already. I will move my furniture back home all on my own, just because she worried about it so much already that I got tired of it and said I'd do it while they are on holiday. That way she doesn't even have a chance to help and worry even more about it.

I also cannot worry about my parent's marital problems. When we were little my mom would ask us with whom we would want to live if they ever got divorced. Looking back I feel like that was just a cruel thing to ask. When my sister was going through a really difficult phase during her teenage years, my parents' marriage almost broke apart. I experienced that first-hand. I was about 10 years old when it started and while I had seen them fight before that, I wasn't used to those huge blow-ups. On some days I truly felt that they would be better off divorced. Sometimes all I could do was go to my room and turn up the music so that I didn't hear them scream at each other. Now I'm at the point where they will directly talk to me about their problems and I can't deal with that. What do they expect, that I can help them with their problems? I always tried to stay out of their fights, because I feel like no child should take one parents' side, unless there is violence or infidelity or something grave like that. My parents both make mistakes and I don't want to get into the middle of their fights.

I've talked about this a little in therapy and my therapist encouraged me to take care of myself and to say 'Stop!' to my parents, but so far I have not been able to. Tuesday will be my last therapy session and I'm scared because I feel like therapy is part of my support system and it was one hour that revolved only around me and I could talk about whatever I wanted to. I know that I will miss it and I don't know where I can get therapy again in America, especially since this therapy was free.

I know that my parents are getting older and I notice the changes and it hurts me. It hurts to have to watch certain things get worse, but there is nothing I can do about it. My mom will retire in three years and I hope that things will get better then. I just know that I cannot take care of them yet. They are not that old yet and I'm too young. I realize that since I still 'live at home' sometimes, I experience things first-hand that my siblings probably aren't even aware of, but I'm the youngest, by far, and I feel like I'm carrying the biggest load. Yes, my brother has a son now and his own family to take care of and he lives far away and my sister is still very much in the process of growing up and taking care of her own life, but just because I'm doing a good job at taking care of my life doesn't mean I can take on more.

Not one person in my family has asked me if I miss my girlfriend. My mother keeps asking about her, but not in regard to my feelings but things like 'Where is she now', 'Does she have a job',... My mom clearly isn't excited or happy about my relationship, for one because it's just one more thing that ties me to America. Secondly, my relationship makes her very aware of the fact that I'm gay and she clearly doesn't want anyone to know. I asked her who I wasn't allowed to tell about my girlfriend and basically she wants me to tell everyone what I have a friend in America. I am supposed to keep mum about my relationship to everyone they know. I don't know if my mom realizes that, but in the next 5 years, I will very likely get married to a woman. I will not lie about my marital status and I just don't get what difference it makes if I wait another 5 years to come out to some of their friends. They are friends with a woman that I'm good friends with too and I had to tell her that I have to keep things from her because my mother doesn't want people to know. I want to invite that woman to my wedding. My parents wanted my brother to think about inviting that woman. I hate lying to her. Yes, technically I'm 'just' keeping something from her, but I'm keeping my relationship and a big part of what makes me me from her, so I feel like I'm lying.

It hurts me that they are treating my relationship so differently to my sibling's relationships. Being so far away is really difficult, which is something my mother should know because my father studied in America for 9 months too when they were engaged. She must know that it's hard for me. Yet, she has not once asked me how I'm holding up. No, she wants me to deny and/or lie about the existence of the person I love.

Yes, I am somewhat glad that I can move away. I cannot take all of this anymore. I cannot be responsible for my parents' well-being. I cannot help them with their marital problems. I'm sick and tired of finding out about problems through other people. Why does everyone think it's okay to tell me about my parents' problems? I know that my father is forgetful and that it's getting worse the older he gets, but I don't need to be told about it. I don't need to be told that my mother is burying herself in work because she's unhappy about my decisions. I can't come home for the weekend because my mom is worried about my nephew and having me close soothes her. I have to take care of myself first. At 21, I am definitely too young to take care of my parents, especially since they are not actually sick. There isn't anything I could to to help them, except give up my own happiness. And I have been doing that for too long now.

[I didn't proof-read this post, because I'm already crying. So sorry for any mistakes.]

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