I woke up this morning to another day of dealing with the AP and her unpleasant ways and found myself thinking back to better times. I guess it’s that time of the year when we all realise another year is almost over.
It’s almost five years since my mother came to live with us and I can quite honestly say it has been five years of misery. When I think back to pre-AP days I realise how happy and free we were but I had just taken it all for granted. The LSO and myself are not unhappy with each other and have learnt to accept that we have no personal space and no privacy but it would be so much better if the AP had turned out to be the sweet old lady we naively thought she was before she arrived.
I had never seen my mother as a control freak, always needing to be in charge. I knew she was bigoted, vain and snobbish but the rest, the need for control, the attempts to divide and rule, the nastiness when she doesn’t have her own way and the childishness, her silly little girly voices and the baby words were all kept hidden from view until she walked through our door.
Was there anything we could have changed about our situation? Probably not, for several years we fought to survive in our own home simply because we didn’t understand or see clearly what she was doing. We now have strategies in place to protect our physical and mental health which suffered as a result of all this. They work to a point but we are always on our guard, waiting for the next nasty dig which is always followed by a short lived period of almost niceness.
At least we are no longer alone in seeing her for what she really is or should I say, become. My cousin and his wife who have her to stay with them two months of the year have seen the veil slip more often in the last couple of visits and they have a better understanding of what we live with twenty-four seven. A couple of close friends have also witnessed her nasty side and are definitely not impressed but they have remained our friends, thank goodness. Also this blog and the support received as a result of it have helped me to keep things in perspective. Thank you all family, friends and strangers for being there, it does make a difference.
Its no good regretting having made this life changing decision, we just have to continue getting on with it; as the LSO says ‘it’s what it is” and when it is finally all over we can live our lives to the full again.
I struggle at times to cope with the AP and her stupidity. Actually that is an understatement because, in truth I am constantly amazed at her hare-brained and idiotic ideas based on no knowledge whatsoever. Old age has robbed her of the common sense she once possessed as well as her manners and when there is any kind of confrontation she resorts to being nasty.
I also struggle with how I now feel about my mother who is nothing like the person I thought I knew. I am beginning to really dislike this stranger in our midst. Some how I need to turn my mind off and find inner peace to cope with all this and it isn’t as if I have nothing to do, so it must be possible. Our days are busy and at times relentless especially at the moment with Christmas looming.
I was accused today of always looking for trouble because I don’t agree with someone who is one hundred years old fasting. The comment is interesting in itself because the only person in this household who looks for trouble is the AP. She couldn’t be further from the truth about me though. I definitely don’t look for trouble and have no time to even consider it, preferring a quiet and stress free life, but I felt sick inside after this comment because this is just another fine example of how used and unconsidered the LSO and myself are by this incredibly selfish and self centred old lady. There is no comeback to it and this evening she will be sweetness and light as if nothing has been said.
It is definitely true that familiarity breeds contempt and there is no doubt that the empathy I had for the AP in the early years has been completely eroded away by five years of dealing with her controlling and manipulative ways and her unpleasantness when she can’t get her own way.
I also find I have nothing to say to her and I know this is not helping the situation. I am aware that growing old isn’t easy, the LSO and myself are not young and have our own problems to handle. I did think that we could really make a difference for my mother when she first came to live with us but we had no idea at that time what we were going to have to deal with. Indeed we have helped her to live longer which is ironic given the situation now. She is remarkably fit for someone her age, her meals are small but regular and always made to ensure she has a good nutritional balance. But there is little thanks or consideration and the LSO and myself often feel we are the below stairs staff in our own home.
Well, the RMR regime continues to work and I have now lost a healthy sixteen pounds so far. Not earth shatteringly fast but steady at mostly a pound to a pound and a half a week and I am happy with that. I don’t feel hungry or deprived, well, maybe occasionally when the LSO makes his sourdough bread and I look at the luscious, plump and sweet plum tomatoes from the greenhouse and have to fight the cravings. I have always loved tomatoes on toast. Although I am still overweight I am aware of reducing in size now and that incentive certainly helps reduce the cravings.
Our month of freedom is approaching and we are both desperately in need of a break from the AP who continues to be obtuse and difficult especially when we have to explain anything to her. I do sometimes wonder if it is deliberate, this selective refusal to understand anything said to her or is it just that her brain is deteriorating. We sound like a record caught in a groove, constantly repeating ourselves. Now that the month away in Scotland is looming she seems to want to control what we do more and more but I have finally found what is probably the most important word in the English language, NO. I refuse to be bullied or harassed by the AP and have developed a detachment that is extremely settling for me and unsettling for her.
I am not cruel, but when you are treated like servants in your own home it really does become important to stand our ground. Please and thank you are words we seldom hear when there is just the three of us, then, when we have visitors staying this gracious old lady suddenly appears, God only knows where from and she plays the grand old dame, totally in charge of her faculties. It’s all rubbish of course, as she nods sagely and appears to listen intently and manages some reasonable responses even when looking at images on phones and iPads that she is actually unable to see. But all this play acting means that most people think life is fine and dandy for us but the truth is the opposite. We are trapped in our own home with this vain, at time unpleasant and demanding old woman and that’s only the half of it. She has no grace and no empathy for others. The AP is the centre of her own universe and is incapable of truly being content with her situation.
Why is she like this? It could just be that she can no longer deal with even the simplest things in her life, the television for one is becoming something she cannot use easily and her life is out of her control, so she tries to control us instead. Unfortunately in doing so she has alienated us both to the point that we really are hugely weary of her very presence in our home and that is just so very sad.
The LSO is finding the AP particularly tiresome and he has become run down and generally disinterested in all the things he likes doing. This is not good and we need to find a way of combatting this terrible feeling of ‘what is the point’. We need to restore our sense of equilibrium and humour, the latter being sadly lacking from our lives these days. The LSO has a marvellous sense of humour but even that is in serious need of revival, humour and laughter have in the past got us through some difficult times, we need to restore it.
At least we have a chance of some recovery in sixteen days time, thanks to my lovely cousin and his wife who are coming to stay for a few days and are then taking the AP back with them.
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.