If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I had something of a difficult week last week (Sliding Backwards) and so what happened this past Friday evening really shouldn’t have come as a surprise.
If I can also refer you back to Thoughts, I recently expressed my displeasure at our weekly Sunday evening ritual, where I am forced to endure heightened anxiety and increased agitation caused by a large (enough) family dinner for which my Sister and Brother-in-Law join the four existing members of my household. Now, my family as a whole have undergone some therapy via the CMHT. This was mainly to increase their understanding of my illness and behaviours, but also to teach us to communicate better as a family. Problem solving was something we were forced to practice a great deal so, feeling fragile and vulnerable, I decided to revisit the issue of Sunday evenings but thought I’d approach it in a more controlled manner.
I waited until after our evening meal on Friday, when my parents were just sitting down to relax. Nobody was busy, preoccupied or stressed…I thought my timing was pretty good. So I went for it and asked if we could have another think about the arrangements for Sunday dinner. My parents know how much I struggle with this so, to me, it didn’t seem an unreasonable request. We would reach a compromise. How wrong can one person be.
After around 5 minutes, my Mum had left the room, my Dad was accusing me of making a personal assault on my Sister and I was reduced to a messy puddle of tears. Again, I had to listen to how a long-standing arrangement would not be changed to accommodate me when it was often the only chance we got to catch up with my Sister. This may be true, but does it have to be over a huge meal? Why can’t Mum and I go and visit her on a Sunday afternoon? We could go for a long walk? Have a coffee at her house, or ours?
Then my Dad decided to inform me that it hurts my Sister that I spend so much time with my cousin, that I talk to her about my illness and that she knows more than any of my more immediate family. This may be true, but (and my cousin has said this herself) she couldn’t do what she does for me if it were one of her own sisters. It’s that little bit of distance that makes our relationship work so well. My Sister has never been quiet about the fact that she doesn’t cope well with my illness and everything that goes with it and, God knows, I need someone to talk to.
The CMHT spent the best part of 18 months coming in to see us as a family and not one member of my family has been able to implement any of the advice given – they do not validate my illness when I need them to, they do not reassure me that going to A&E or the Practice Nurse is ‘the right thing to do’, they do not remain calm when I need them to, we certainly don’t problem solve as a family. In a far shorter space of time, my cousin has mastered all of this and more.
He also informed me that he resented a CPN and a Psychologist coming into our home and telling him how he should deal with such things as my SH. To him, I shouldn’t be doing it. End of discussion.
Eventually, my Dad and I settled into a more rational discussion, but I had cried myself exhausted and the damaging comments had been made. Comments that he will barely remember making, but which are etched into my brain – further ammunition for the Poisoned Parrot.