So much braver than I give me credit for
But the very next day I found myself writing on one sheet of paper a list of everything I felt I needed to be in control of, from the physical - e.g. nausea - to mood - e.g. rage. On a second, I wrote a list of things with similar headings that I did not think I was succeeding in managing. No idea why, and frankly even bringing it up yesterday was hard, but as for leaving it with him... I think he guessed it was things like work, my personal space etc, not the urge to hurt myself. Hey ho.
I also countered his analysis of my avoidance behaviour. I know it's true that we see ourselves in others, but man, he comes alive when debating an idea - that feels a little dangerous to me, as it is where I live, as far from feeling and deep into thought as possible, and this is meant to be about the opposite, but I guess it's healthy to bond, too. Anyway, I pointed out that when I say I've numbed out in the face of my mother-in-law's suicidal ideation and my husband getting so depressed - as I had predicted he would - that he couldn't get up off the floor for an hour, it wasn't me avoiding.
Instead, it was something very different. I've spent a lot of time listening to people. My little cousin, talking to me about whether he was going to die when he was 15 and had cancer. My father when the docs didn't come up with a plan after his last (but one) heart attack. My father-in-law, when his wife suffered a spinal injury. My mother-in-law, when a month later she found herself still paralysed and a widow. Umpteen other people, with less acute problems.
And the way I deal with that is putting me in a box and being there for them. People need stillness and care. And if you're there for them, you get to see them relax, hear the tension melt from their voice, and get a lovely little smile in reward. It's not easy. You know fairly early on that this is going to hurt, so you put yourself aside, so that you don't flinch or shy from them and give them the time and space that they crave.
That's what I do anyway. My T proceeded to point out that he had years of training, a framework and a support system in order to manage doing a very similar thing. Though I don't think it is a similar thing - offering kindness and understanding to people you love is just love, and you get a million returns on it over time which a T won't, but anyway. I got a lovely, kind lecture on how I really needed to be kind to myself now that I'm back in a situation like this with my husband and his mum. Much more important, lots of helpful advice...
Anyway. Really long preamble to the actual point. I was walking back to the office this lunchtime, thinking about all the wonderful moments I had seen through choosing to be there for my loved ones in need, really there, to listen and aid. And it suddenly occurred to me that I'm a lot braver than I ever believed of myself. I don't back down. Okay, yes, I set up walls and limits because it is emotionally overwhelming, or it is for me, but regardless of the way I choose to narrow my focus, I do still take it on the chin for people close to me.
It might not be the biggest amount of bravery in the world, or the greatest feat of saintliness, but yes, sometimes I am nice, and sometimes I am brave. Nicer and braver than I've seen myself as for months now, anyway.
So there it is. I thought I'd share and cling to the good stuff as there's some horrid stuff on the horizon - from the still-lurking disquiet to my first attempt to mention stuff about my dad to my T. There might be yuk, but there is also (not nearly often enough, but there just the same) the bravery to be nice to others on occasion. And maybe that validation from my T but also from my husband, and people who have reached out to me in the past is a good start to fight the revulsion and rage that aren't letting go easily.
Hmmm.... V concerned about posting something I worry might be boastful, even while not thinking it's anything worth boasting about. Please be kind if you've read this far - I honestly do manage to beat myself up every minute of every other day in life!