I do not compartmentalize well. Most women I know can’t. My husband is able to compartmentalize at will. I am jealous, I’m an emotionally integrated person, for better or worse. The overriding emotion de jour in my compartment is what drives my day. This is my favorite explanation of the difference between how men and women’s brains function. It’s worth the 13+ minutes. Go pee before you watch the video!
Since mom’s meds were changed-up at the beginning of the year, and her anxiety dropped by 98.7%, she suddenly, as mentioned before, is relaxed, appreciative, sweet, and non-corrosive. I’ve spent enough time with her in those six months that my apprehension during our visits has gone from 1579% to 51%. I can mostly count on her improved disposition, and am able to relax around her, and enjoy her company in ways that I haven’t in over 15-years, maybe longer. It’s not that every interaction during the past was fraught, but enough of it was, and during a time when I didn’t know she was ill, and/or didn’t know enough about her illness not to take what felt like her constant assaults, personally. So, I built walls. I built them for me, and my family. I spent a lot of time defending our collective perfectly-reasonable ways of going about our business, AND then we realized something was amiss. She was losing her faculties, 15-years ago. She excelled at being critical for weird, illogical, and ridiculous reasons. It’s been a long, hard road.
Now that mom is easier to be with, my defenses are lowering. This is not a conscious choice. What lets me know my force-fields are waning is that I’m feeling profound sadness for the first time. To date I’ve been defending myself, and my loved ones. I diligently helicoptered everything when my dad was ill, and then took on far more oversight, tho it wasn’t enough, in the four years between dad’s passing and mom going into care. There was no time to grieve over my mother’s loss of capacity. And it was damn difficult when she spewed angry BS during Thanksgiving, or the other gatherings we worked so hard on to create normalcy for her, and dad while he was alive… Now, it hurts to watch her limp off to the elevator after saying fond good byes, particularly when I’ve enjoyed being with her, yet that 51% steers me out the door because I can’t risk her having a relapse.