Yesterday, we were with our surviving parent (other parent passed away two months ago). This parent had surgery yesterday. Our only sibling provided pre-dawn transportation and was planning to spend the recommended 24 hours with parent to ensure safe recovery (it was a brief, low-invasiveness procedure but of a very serious nature). We were asked to watch the parent for a five-hour period so that sibling could get some employment tasks accomplished. We feigned some objections in order to whittle down our commitment to four hours.
Why were we not just direct about it? Embarrassment and it seems like sibling does not always appreciate that we are apprehensive about this parent. This parent taught us violence, anger, how to yell. This parent has continued to shame us throughout our life. This parent neglected us in many ways including that we were not allowed to emote unpleasant emotions.
So it’s ironic that this parent has been scared and sad leading up our other parent’s death. (They were married until the death–55 years.) We think we have been compassionate, empathetic. But the contrast between our providing emotional support and the lack we have received in our life pains some of us inside.
So we got our obligation shortened to four hours. We did not want to go. We hoped parent would be groggy and asleep. But parent was alert and wanted to talk. This makes sense since parent now lives alone after the death. But parent wants to talk about things that cause parent anger, and angry tone can get expressed, though not always.
We had another task going (looking at nature on our computer as well as answering texts from our children at college). We almost never multitask because it is very disorienting and confuses us. We can do it because we have many us’s inside. They can do lots of things at once, but this creates a confusing relationship to reality. We did the multitasking to protect us from having to focus on what parent would want to talk about (anger, the surgery, dead spouse).
So when we got home from parents, we did not have much memory of what happened at parent’s house. And we still don’t. We can see us sitting there, can see our digital screen. Can remember some of the topics parent covered. But it’s fuzzy, milky, and whoever was doing the listening does not want to come up and be present or communicated with. We were performing at parent’s house. We did not listen attentively, but just enough to be able to give animated responses that indicated listening and interaction. But this was a performance among some of us to just survive it without getting shamed or too uncomfortable.
Which ever us’s are hiding also contain some information we wanted to access at therapy today; namely, goals we had written recently in our journal. We could not remember them. We did have the journal with us, but someone inside told us it would not be appropriate to access those pages without these missing us’s.
This is very confusing to us because people don’t really all know each other. And we were tired and fuzzy and milky in our thinking so that we couldn’t get a head count or do an inventory. The one of us who can talk to everyone was unavailable. So maybe that is who was there yesterday with parent. It is hard to know.
But this lack of continuity in our experience, this lack of full access to events that happened yesterday and the journaling from a few days ago creates a lot of emotion. We feel frustrated, we feel embarrassed, shameful. We are having to go through life with these gaps that come and go. We know we were at our parent’s house yesterday, but we lacked the internal resources to discuss it fully with New T. And we could not access our goals.
We rely on our values and goals to help steer us in this challenging existence. We talk a lot in therapy about what is real vs what is dream vs what is delusion vs what is memory (and it could be a memory of something real or of a dream or of a delusion). And dreams and delusions are “real” in that we had the dream or delusion, but they are not exactly the same as lived experience. And the differences in all this, the nuances, are very hard to for us to grab. They are like wind. We can see it if there are leaves blowing around or branches swaying. Otherwise, how do notice and grab onto the wind?
We are learning about feelings and body sensations some in therapy because we lost some of those skills during quarantine when we had no space to ourselves. Now, we have some space! Spouse goes to work sometimes. The children are in college. So now we are wanting to pursue more coping skills since we have space and time to practice. New T works on skills with us, and we applied to a weekly PTSD/DID skills group. We are very, very anxious to find out if we get in. With New T’s help today, we called the clinic and asked if we got in. The receptionist didn’t know and said they facilitators were reaching out to people this week. So, rats. We’re still anxious. Still waiting. We would really benefit from a skills boost. This isn’t the only way to get them, but c’mon: a PTSD/DID skills group? There can’t be many of those in our metro area. So we’d like to get in.
Here we are, doing our best, same as you and everyone. Here we are trying to ALLOW experience (maybe our favorite word these days is ALLOW). We will welcome back the us’s who are not available today. Can you tell us your needs? We could try to hug you or listen or give you space (which seems to be what’s happening). It feels a little lonely sometimes when people are gone. But also we were able to ask Spouse to go on a walk and we did. Usually, we let other people lead. So asking to get our needs met for exercise was effective.
Goodbye from us for now.