Monday, January 17, 2011

Obligations and Guilt - Now That's a Catchy Title

I'm finding it a little ironic that I am actually doing fairly well with resolution #3.

It is the peripheral characters in this here story I am ready to strangle.

After years of successful extricating myself from most family drama - I live here. You live there. I don't need anything and don't ask for it. I hope you return the favor - I am full on up in it. And not really digging the role.

Both parents are dealing with some significant health issues right now - not that they haven't before - that's what happens when you place no value on physical or mental exercise - but this, this feels different. This feels like, "you'd better get used to this m, cuz it ain't getting better." The fact that one is here and the other is in Delaware - why? great fucking question - is not making things any easier.

I am a sucky caregiver. I mean, SUCKY. I get resentful if you don't get better, bitter if I feel you're not even trying. And I have a huge attitude problem if I think your ills are self-inflicted. Seriously folks, if I even contemplated a nursing career they would laugh and send me packing before I cracked open the first book.

But, in this particular instance, I feel like I am holding my own. Holding my breath, counting to ten, juggling all kinds of shit to get to and from places (not easy with one car and two adults who work and I would hope that on some days some relatives would take that into account) and making it work. Kind of. I am sure there are some who feel I could be doing more and are saying as much on various social media. Bottom line: I am not the kind of person who enjoys someone else depending upon me.

Unlike others in my family. But whatever. I am Polish. I can handle the embracing of martyrdom. I don't like it. But I can deal. Especially if those folks are shouldering a significant portion of the drama. (Seriously, if you're reading this and think I'm talking about you, thank you. And I mean that. I'm venting, but I am truly thankful.)

What is making me grind my teeth are the hangers-on, the "friends" and neighbors who feel its their duty to call nightly, to post on facebook, to spin their OWN versions of what they think is occurring and share that with the world. M. is doing his best to be my own personal dalai lama and fill me with teachings that should make me refocus on myself, what I can do and how I react and not obsess about others. Some days it helps. Others not so much. But bless his heart, he is trying. And I am sure I am stretching his last nerve.

As a communications professional, I understand the value of phone trees, of communication strings, of getting the word out, of passing along information.

I also understand the value of staying on message, of not adding your own commentary to a factual account, and of being a reliable source.

At what point does it go from "I am a friend and I am concerned" to "I am a nosy b*tch and I need to know the latest news so everyone else knows I'm in the loop and I can hold court at the expense of this family?" At what point? Where is the line between "I am worried" and "I gotta watch this train wreck and be the first to report it"??

I can feel my blood pressure rising as I type this - which is why I've put off posting for so long. I know this is my problem. I know that line is not always a clear one and that my perceptions and preconceived notions cloud it as much as anything. And I know any rational being would say, "who gives a shit about the hangers on - worry about yourself and your family. It's your parents that matter right now. Not anything that anyone says about them or you."

Because you just know there's some shit being said about me right now, right?

And here is where M inserts himself a little more forcefully to say, "NO, YOU DON'T KNOW THAT and even if there is, WHY DO YOU CARE?!?!"

Argh. I don't know. I just do. Because no one likes being judged. Especially by those who are outside of the situation. No one like to have their own stabs of guilt of not doing enough reaffirmed by whispers saying, "but isn't m. there? couldn't she...."

And I guess there it is. Smack. I am in a situation where I think I could do more. M disagrees and points out all of the reasons why our lives and our marriage and our jobs would crumble if I tried. And that's not even getting into logistics. But still....


This whole aging parent thing. I hate it.

Strategies, daily mantras, words of wisdom, some "I've been there's" - I'll take anything you got.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Gosh, I am going to miss the winter break. Sleeping late. Drinking early. Dog sitting. TV watching. Work avoiding...and cooking! Seems like the kitchen got some hot and heavy action this December. A lot more folks wandered through our apartment than expected - and that is a wonderful, wonderful thing. I love that we have friends that call and say, "I'm coming over, is that cool?" I love that we are at a place where we can say, "Yes! Please!"

I love that I got to see A. from the glutton button this week. And I'm still scheming ways to see a few other blog friends before the first month of the new year passes.

That reminds me....I should probably throw down some resolutions, hey?

I was reading an article on weight loss the other day and it said for any fitness goals to work they have to be specific, measurable, attainable.

Specific. Measurable. Attainable.

This idea was re-emphasized when I watched the video embedded in this post over at Weight in Vain where the speaker/researcher starts off by talking about her shock when her professor told her:

If you cannot measure it, it does not exist.

She goes on to recount her six years of research trying to define, trying to measure Shame. (Can you imagine?) And then talks about her findings on connections, living wholeheartedly and the role of vulnerability, including her year of therapy she needed to come to terms with her conclusions. And I really, really think you should find 20 minutes in your day/evening to listen to it.

Here is the advice she leaves to the audience:
  1. Let ourselves be seen - vulnerabilities and all
  2. Love with our whole heart
  3. Practice gratitude and joy
  4. Believe that we are enough
Weight in Vain connects this to her running and the mind shift that she needed/needs to take it to the next level. I dig that. I like those 4 suggestions as starting points for my resolutions, but they don't really feel all that measurable, do they? Here is me, trying to add some data points to those 4 key ideas. In 2011 I would like:

to see myself published. Maybe an essay here, an article there. I've got some ideas I've been sitting on, some posts here I'd like to build and grow. But I've been: too busy/too scared to flesh them out and put them out there. I think I need to find the time and follow the advice I always give to M - if you don't try you will never know.

to open our home to more people more often. I'm talking dinner parties, informal gatherings, you know, taking the free time we have and actually sharing it with people. Neither M nor I are particularly good at this but we love it when it actually happens by accident, like it did yesterday. M is private and isn't crazy about people up in his space. I fear throwing a party only to have no one come. It's that whole will people like each other do they like us will the food be ok will I be boring oh why don't we just sit on the couch and watch some reality TV its much easier mindset. I guess that's what the researcher is talking about when she talks about opening ourselves to vulnerability...

to practice more gratitude and patience with my parents and show less anger. Specifically, to use real calming techniques to prevent my laser tongue from lashing out so quickly. They are getting older. They need me. They don't need me reminding them of their shortcomings. I had a long talk with my dad a few weeks ago where I told him how upset I was when he forgot I and J's day. His response was so honest and so heartbreaking (you don't think it hurt me? You don't think it isn't awful not to be able to remember anything? I cannot remember things and I know it gets me in trouble and I don't know what to do. I just feel so old) it has truly made me rethink how I handled that situation and how I added to his pain as I so forcefully expressed mine. I must control my temper. I must watch my words. Mostly, I must not let them be the receptacles of all of the anger that I shield from the rest of the world.

to run at least 3 half-marathons. Basically, to keep running, to build on my running, to gain confidence in my running. To believe I am enough and that I can.


The 2010 Creme de la Creme is up and ready for your reading pleasure. Scroll down to the bottom to see yours truly (#265) who barely squeaked in under the deadline.

Many, many thanks to Mel for putting this together, and for all of her work supporting the Adoption/Loss/Infertility communities across the internets. Lists like this are what blankets, hot tea and a new laptop lap desk are made for.