When we are young there is a sense that everything is further away. After Halloween and Guy Fawkes night the next big celebration is Christmas but when you are small that seems to be ages away. When you get older time seems to fold in on itself and fly by.
Except now. Time only flies for the LSO and myself when we are enjoying ourselves and that is when the AP is away. The rest of the time we are constantly aware of this shadow in our midst.
I was dwelling as usual, on the predicament the LSO and I are in and wondering how on earth we allowed this to happen. What seemed like a good idea at the time has become a living hell for us, trapped in our own home and living with a stranger who tries to control and dominate us.
We thought we entered into this with our eyes wide open but we really hadn’t a clue what we were up against and once again it comes back to the fact that we really do not know our parents. I saw my mother as someone I could talk to, lean on when I needed or thought I needed support but where has she gone? Looking back I realise that she was probably a domineering parent when I was a teenager but I was too young to recognise it or to analyse it. After I left home any visits were short and sporadic and there was no time for such a critical attitude. She can be pleasant to be with when she makes an effort but as soon as she feels thwarted or misinterprets something that is said to her it all changes. This does not make for a comfortable existence as we never know when the tide will turn and this spoilt, demanding, childish and selfish person arrives back in our midst.
I think the worst thing about the whole situation is how she makes us feel so guilty. As if we are not allowed to have any freedom or fun on our own. If she can’t do it why should we seems to be her agenda. The fact that she has had her life and is now pushing 100 years appears to have no bearing on anything. The AP is determined to make us live at her level and sadly we have allowed this to happen. We realise now that should have laid out the parameters in the beginning.
But this must stop now.
We are trying to follow our own advice and not allow her to antagonise us or rather not rise to her baiting. Easier said than done, but so far though things are slightly better and the AP is being kept in her place. Even the LSO is making an effort and not being defensive when the AP has a dig.
Heaven knows how long it will last but we do need to keep this up. More changes are on the way and she will kick a bit but our sanity and quality of life are more important.
The AP has returned and the dear relatives who have looked after her for a month have departed homewards and I feel so down. There are no words to explain this sense of utter despair that has overwhelmed me. As I prepared the dried fruit for my fourth Christmas cake I could have cried.
The AP has not returned in any way nicer it would seem, in her attitude towards the LSO and myself and has already started using the basilisk stare as if she hasn’t heard a word that is being said to her. When she doesn’t respond we explain again to be told with a screwed up face that she has heard everything. This is not easy. Her sweet little old lady pretence slipped at breakfast time in front of the family but a quick recovery was made although her attitude had been observed.
The minute they had gone she headed up to her room. I do not like what this woman has become and am at a loss to know how to deal with this situation. Somehow I must find the mental strength to rise above this terrible feeling of despair and gloom but how on earth do I do this. I have never been someone who wallows in self pity or enjoys being down and depressed. I have always felt that life is worth living and managed, despite difficult times in the past, to pull myself out of being miserable and have found something positive to hang on to.
This time I am really struggling.
I also wonder how much of this extreme emotion is because I have been told I am a Type 2 Diabetic. Maybe some of my reactions are down to the fact that I have just been put on medication to help control the condition as my attempts at dieting have made little difference to my blood sugar levels, in fact the very opposite. I have only been taking these pills for two days so I doubt they are doing much yet and I still have to endeavour to lose weight.
I guess part of the whole problem is the enormity of what I/we are dealing with but if someone else was saying all this to me what would be my reaction? Well, I know I would say two things and one would be to not look at the entire situation as a whole all the time, take small manageable steps in the right direction. Then the other piece of advice would be to take each day as it comes. There is no point in doom and gloom and misery is catching, of that there is no doubt. It is time to man up or in my case woman up and despite the uphill struggle, deal with everything, stop wallowing and follow my own advice.
I have just read through what I have written and actually feel slightly better. What is it about putting down feelings in words that is so cathartic?
Ok, it is official that stress makes you fat and it’s worse if you are over sixty. I can definitely relate to that statement because despite my best efforts my body refuses to do what it is told or so it seems. I am not a happy dieter, I love to cook and I love eating out so I am probably my own worst enemy in truth.
Having been diagnosed Type 2 Diabetic I have made a huge effort to toe the dieting line but generally I hardly lose any weight unless I survive on a lettuce leaf for every meal. I know, that’s an exaggeration but it really does seem that way. I tried a really low carb diet for a week and lost four pounds but the following week I reverted to a more mixed but sensible diet because we were on holiday and I put on three pounds. I do think the first part of a severe eating regime causes a large fluid loss and looking on the bright side at least I didn’t put on four pounds or more.
I am now restricting sugars which isn’t difficult as I don’t have a really sweet tooth and I am keeping carbs down by reducing the amount of bread, potatoes, rice and pasta I eat which is difficult as I am a carboholic. Hopefully I will see a difference in weight by the end of the week. I am aware that exercise is just as important and I do swim as much as I can but do need to walk more. The LSO suggested getting the bicycle up and running and provided the photograph above which about says it all really. It’s certainly a reflection of how my body feels at the moment, in need of some attention.
The AP returns on Monday but I refuse to become stressed out about it. Somehow both myself and the LSO must survive all this and enjoy life as best we can. Being resentful brings only misery and that can become a habit too hard to break and I really do not want to go down that road. The LSO and I have always managed to laugh a lot which is such an important part of being well and staying healthy and we must not lose that facility no matter what happens. So how do we do this? Well, by a sheer determination to rise above this situation and to not be beaten into the ground.
I can hear the trumpets in the distance.
That must be a good sign.
How many times do we go around with a song going round and around in the brain? Have you noticed how it always gets stuck in a rut too. Mine today is John Tams singing the song that was used in Sharpe ‘Over the Hills and Faraway’ which must be an indication of how I feel about the AP at the moment
We have just one a week to go before the AP returns from her month long visit to kind relatives in Scotland and my heart feels like it is tightening. It has been a most enjoyable few weeks experiencing the pleasure of freedom. We have just returned from a lovely weekend staying with our son and his partner in their new home, chilling, chatting, watching TV and eating out. Last night I slept like a log which hasn’t happened for years.
Sitting in bed with a morning cup of tea and looking at the Thames Estuary glinting in the sunlight I experienced a sense of well being which was further enhanced when I opened my phone to find a message on Facebook from my cousin’s wife in Ayrshire. It was a small video on the ‘Power of Positivity’, quotes from the Dalai Lama and what jumped out at me was that ‘A positive future cannot emerge from the mind of anger and despair.’ Following this I read that ‘Hard times build determination and inner strength. (Do they?) Through them we can begin to understand the uselessness of anger.’ I agree with some of that but when you are ground into the ground it is hard to even think clearly let alone make an effort to have compassion. Am I angry, no not at the moment anyway. Do I feel despair? Yes I do. I need to find some semblance of empathy for the AP in order to deal with the mixed feelings I have at the thought of her return. All food for thought. The Dalai Lama is a wise man. One quote I particularly like is ‘Remember that not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck’ It actually makes me smile – let’s hope it’s true.
But in the meantime we still have some respite left and are planning how to use these few days to get the most out of them. As the great man says ‘See the positive side, the potential and make an effort”
Nine days to go.
Well we are just about two weeks into our break from the AP and after a delightful seven days in the wilds of North Norfolk I feel much more like my old self. The trip away was a gourmet’s delight which sadly highlighted the fact that we live in a culinary desert but the coast is only an hour away so we really must make more effort to visit it.
It was a bit unnerving when the BMW’s, Range Rovers, Mercedes and the odd Porsche 4WD arrived in their droves towards the end of the week and we were surrounded by a sea of Boden, Labradors and Hunter’s wellies but we didn’t allow it to spoil our enjoyment either of the excellent and varied cuisine available or the glorious beach walks with the dogs. There was such a wonderful choice of good places to eat that I felt like a kid in a sweet shop and to just top everything off we managed to get a cancellation at a Michelin starred restaurant and celebrated a rather belated forty-seventh wedding anniversary eating the most wonderful of meals. It has made us determined to return to The Neptune at a later date to sample the tasting menu but we will definitely need to book a room for the night.
Unfortunately we had to come home a little earlier that originally planned but that was because the weather suddenly turned much colder and wetter and we were just not equipped for it, no wellies, no warm jackets. Bit of an oversight really but then the weather has been so mild for so long that winter seemed ages away. Nevertheless it was lovely to return to our own space. It’s amazing how a break can make you appreciate what you have and being on our own there is no pressure to do anything we don’t want to do. Although the heap of ripe chillies that greeted us on our return has meant another batch of hot chilli sauce is already underway.
Such a heavenly sense of freedom. It is just so important that we make the most of this return to normality because in fifteen days time the AP will be back. Am I counting? It’s hard not to when you know that within a few days of the AP’s return we will be back on the emotional rollercoaster although this time the LSO and I will try, I hope, to get out more on our own. Well that’s the plan at the moment.
It is sad to say that our first four days without the AP have been good. We have finally relaxed and begun to enjoy our own company and our space without the ever present shadow looming over us.
We have come to the conclusion that although we at times over react to some situations it is simply that we can never relax and just be ourselves when the AP is here. Even when up in her room we are aware of her and when she does come down we wait for what has become the inevitable dig, at mostly me but occasionally the LSO. We have also become acutely aware of her innate snobbery, her vanity, her need to be centre stage and her criticism of others which is so unnecessary and quite cruel. We all, I am sure have some of these qualities but I would like to think, no, hope that we let our better sides rule and treat others with respect and love.
There were, in the beginning some fun times with the AP; lots of laughter and trips out but about two years ago it all changed. We have pinpointed it to her sudden decision that she was gaining weight (her vanity again) and insisted on eating only tiny meals. It came out of the blue and was nonsense but nothing we said made any difference, her mind was made up. Her stupidly small meals did result in weight loss but she made herself ill in the process and seemed to mentally change. It was only the nurse at the health centre who said her dieting was unacceptable and unnecessary as she was not overweight. But I do think it was too late to reverse the damage she had done to her mental capacity never mind the inevitable loss of muscle.
Is this what happens when we grow so old? The AP was never, as far as I know so stubborn, unpleasant or so unforgiving about others. The LSO and I have wondered about this and we have come to the conclusion that her daft eating regime did contribute to a sudden personality change and a physical deterioration but also as we age the brain struggles to cope with everything, causing confusion and fear. Because of this it uses shortcuts for expression; hence the lack of grace, the sharp voiced demand for things to be done and the centralisation of emotions. We are aware that she has hated growing older and the loss of her sight is particularly distressing and it is a sad fact that this whole situation can only get worse.
Thankfully we have some time away on the North Norfolk coast courtesy of a special friend and the dogs are coming with us. It does mean an overloaded car for a short trip which is a bit different from our bi-annual trips to Spain which involve far more pre-preparation but a lot less luggage. It will be a joy to just chill out and do a bit of revisiting of places and the discovering of new ones too. It will also be good to have a change of venue, to be away from the shadows in our own home and hopefully they will have cleared by our return.
I woke up this morning to the realisation that today was the first day of our month of freedom from the tyranny of the AP. That statement may appear a little harsh but unfortunately it is true. When we struggle each day to make life bearable it’s a wonderful feeling to know that we can go where we like, do what we like, eat and drink what we like and feel no guilt. It is completely energising. Suddenly mundane tasks are no longer a chore, just something be done quickly and efficiently leaving time and space to follow whatever we want to do.
The LSO has gone fishing and I am about to study all the books I have on dealing with diabetes. That may sound boring readers but to me it is a relief because I don’t have to hide anything or explain myself.
Two dear friends have also made our day with their generosity and thoughtfulness. We have just received a beautiful white rose, a fine bottle of wine and some chocolates and earlier today we were given some clams and langoustine which are two of the LSO’s favourite shellfish. So tonight it is clam pasta with a spicy sauce washed down with a glass or two of Italian white wine. Heavenly, happy days.
To L, R and L thank you for everything and for all your support.
No count down yet, I am determined to make the most of our freedom.