I wanted to say thank you to everyone who took the minute to write to me the other day when I was so overwhelmed. Your words of wisdom and encouragement really, really helped me.
Each morning, our day begins with very early morning phone calls from Dad or his sitter demanding that we go up there immediately, followed by call after call after call all the rest of the day and into the night. It’s annoying. I make a crappy servant.
Most of the time, it is only me that goes because Debbie and Rebekkah can’t deal with the constant tirade of demands to get him the hell out of there. In the beginning, we tried to placate him with encouragement, stressing caution, and always avoiding his efforts to pin us down on an exact date of when he’s going to get to come home. These days, his mind seems to be returning just fine, yet his body is still shaky and weak. Instead of appreciating all that people do for him, he is lashing out with a sharp, mean tongue.
I had a nurse tell me yesterday that my father is “mirroring” whomever is visiting with him. She says that as an “alpha” male, he is struggling with the feeling of powerlessness and he uses this aggressiveness to reclaim some of what he is used to. It makes sense to me that this is what is going on. The sitters and nurses tell me that he acts out much worse when it is me or Debbie there than when Rebekkah or Matthew come to see him. Subconsciously, he knows they have boundaries that he can’t risk crossing. The key to this situation for me, then, is to set some boundaries for myself as well. The lady telling me this assured me that if he were to come home with me, it would only get worse.
My dad has apologized for some of the things that he’s said, but it hasn’t stopped him from being a complete butt again each time I see him. Yesterday, I went up there twice, and both times he interrupted conversations i was having with other people, cussed because I wouldn’t just take him home, ranted at how none of us are living up to his expectations, bragged on relatives that have NOT been there to help him at all, and the list goes on and on. He snapped at me continually when I didn’t read his mind and adjust to whatever it was he wanted from me that next minute.
Finally, something in me just clicked, and I laid down my first boundary with my father. I can’t deal with being anyone’s verbal punching bag, and that includes Dad’s. I’m sorry so much has happened and he is so sick and unable to care for himself right now. None of this was of my doing, and I can only do the best I can. So, I stopped placating him, and told him the truth about his situation, expressed my sadness, and told him I have to think about what my next move is because I have my own life to think of right now as well.
I, on the other hand, have decided to take the day off from Dad, and get my emotional feet back under me. I know from experience that you should never judge how loved you are by someone else’s willingness to give up everything and everyone in their own life just to please you. I love my dad. I’ll visit. That’s it. I can’t save anyone, nor can their happiness rest on me.
Thank you again for helping me through my confusion, sadness, and guilt. This road has been hard, and I’m not sure where it will all end, but I feel stronger today. The prayers are working!
8 responses to “Boundaries”
hi Bird… it’s been a while. God bless you!
Good luck to you. Take a long deep breath. I too am dealing with parents that have recently tested my patience, and been unaccountable for their own actions and ungrateful for all that has been done for them. I’m sorry this is what you’re going though, but rest assured, you’re not alone. Taking a day off was a wonderful idea. Replenish the Well.
Glad you’re feeling better and setting some boundaries… You are so right in that you absolutely cannot be a punching bag…. praying still for all that you are going through..Diane
Kudos. Setting boundaries with a needy family member or person is VERY healthy for one’s own personal mental health. : ) Good job! Will keep praying for y’all in this tough situation that will continue to play out.
Setting boundaries and sticking to them is better for you *and* for your dad, no matter what he thinks–if you let him drive you to the brink, he will. It doesn’t matter what he would think was the *just* thing to do, now it’s simply what he would do instinctively; in his current state, he lives (as anyone would) almost entirely on instinct and not on logic or fairness, and *certainly* not on a basis of understanding and caring how his struggles affect others.
We humans are not always the kindest or most thoughtful of others at the best of times, and what there is of that flies out the window instantly when the focus is shifted by our own injury, poor health, limitations and fears. Meanwhile, those who are determined to help others can be at highest risk of losing the perspective to care for themselves, and that’s equally unhelpful. Best to step back whenever you can (regularly), however briefly, and assess your moves, be kind to yourself so that you have strength and health and patience to share, and embrace every good thing that can give you yourself any respite or peace.
Strength isn’t easy to come by, nor easy to hold onto. But the more you love yourself, your soul, the easier it is to hold on. That sounds very cliche’ish, but its true. If you stay strong to your own heart and path, all anyone else can do is throw stones. And be jealous. I’m proud of you.
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