Breathe in, breathe out, slowly and steadily clear the mind of troublesome feelings. An activity I need to follow with some conviction because I can feel the fog is closing in again.
Having experienced a wonderful sense of freedom last week when we handed the AP over to my cousin and his wife, I now am suffering from a real knot of anxiousness. I woke up last night and cried for no apparent reason and I can only surmise that having jumped, be it briefly off the treadmill, everything that has happened over the last year is catching up with me.
We had planned to use the early part of our month of release having a new boiler installed but that, due to the bad weather has been put back and our window of opportunity is getting very narrow. It has also meant we have had to alter and change other plans which has helped to create an intense feeling of irritation and a kind of helplessness because it is out of our control. The month is slipping away and we are not achieving what we had hoped to. This is all adding to my sense of angst which is all encompassing and just to add to it all the weather is dull, grey and damp again. Even the two terriers seem affected by the weather; it really can’t be much fun for them trundling around in the cold through the mud and puddles.
One small light on the horizon is that despite the Easter revelries I have not lost any weight but equally I have not gained any so I am back on track again. My next day of fasting is Friday but I have planned some sensible and low calorie, low carb meals between now and then.
In the meanwhile I will practice slowly breathing in, breathing out, relaxing the shoulders and letting my mind drift on a sea of calm. That is until a dog barks!
I realise now having reflected long and hard about my current state of being that I am in need of finding some inner calm.
Another quote sprang out at me, again author unknown. ‘Peace of mind is not the absence of conflict from life but the ability to cope with it’. How true those words are.
Since the confrontation with the AP and the sad death of my brother I have felt myself withdraw emotionally from everything, falling almost into a state of depression. I feel an enormous loss not just because of my brother having gone but it has highlighted once again the loss of the life the LSO and I should have been leading during the past four years. The freedom we should have had whilst we are still fit and young enough to be able to enjoy so many different things. I feel as if I have and am just existing and really not coping very well with the stresses and strains that looking after a 99 year old brings and this doesn’t even include the acquiring of a metabolic as well as an auto immune disease during this time.
I feel some relief in that although some of the confrontation with the AP a couple of weeks ago was unpleasant, we at least were able to say the things that needed saying without angst on our part.
Generally there has been an improvement in her attitude and behaviour and if that sounds like I am discussing a recalcitrant child you would not be wrong because the AP behaves like one when unable to get her own way. Unfortunately one of the problems of having someone so old living with you is the inevitability of accidents. This time it has been the leaving on of the hot tap in the bathroom and the flooding of that room causing water to pour through the lights in the living room. Water has also seeped out onto the landing and into the bedrooms on either side. The AP hates to admit to being in the wrong and even now is trying to put the blame somewhere else when only she can have done this. It’s an accident and we all know accidents happen but it could have had much worse repercussions and I am just thankful that we were here. I will not be blackmailed with how awful she feels about it, just a simple ‘sorry’ would have been enough not the silly comment that ‘there must be something evil about’.
I now need to put in a coping strategy. One which can help all of us and in particular the LSO who has a long memory for injustice.
As I have said in previous blogs, living with an AP is similar to riding an emotional rollercoaster. I am discovering the hard way, needless to say, that it is necessary for self preservation and good health both mentally and physically to not react to difficult situations that arise. In other words don’t get on the rollercoaster and if on it, get off immediately.
This is, much harder to do in practice but I am learning. When the AP begins the wind up, the rudeness and the screwed up face I am trying to remain calm and in agreement; changing the subject if necessary. It isn’t easy as the AP is I suspect a tyrant underneath everything and wants to get her own way all the time. She certainly has succeeded in dominating our lives and that must change.
The LSO and myself are discussing ways to deal with all this and to start with we have decided that the best technique is to appear calm, collected and pleasant when faced with the AP being antagonistic and disagreeable. Although occasionally she says something and the goal yawns in front of us, oh boy is that a difficult one! We will be discussing over the next month ways to have some time alone and with our friends without causing too much friction and also how to deal with the inevitable unpleasantness which is appearing more and more as the months go by.
Talking to people about this problem is fine in principal but can often lead to very well meaning suggestions being made that in truth we have thought about but realise are impractical. It really is a fact that unless you have experienced this situation you have no idea what it is like, hence we are in the position we are in. Would we, knowing what we know now take on the AP? We are also aware especially when feeling tired and emotional that we perhaps overreact and realise that we must try to be more understanding. It can’t be easy being 99 years of age and not being able to do the things you have always been able to do. She too has lost her freedom and personal space but equally she has had a good long life and surely knows that our lives have come to a standstill because of her and that we need some time and space without her.
The LSO and myself really do need this break just to take stock and build up some reserves again.
Five days to go.