Underneath my yellow skin

The worst of both parents

I talk often about my parents and my difficulties with them; I’ve written countless posts on the topic. What I don’t talk about as often is how I’ve incorporated both the worst and the best of my parents. In this post, I want to focus on the former. Why? Because that’s’ how I roll. And because I’ want to work on myself and not just sit on my laurels.

By the way, I was wondering how much time I would be given before the ‘what are you doing with your future?’ questions started in again from my parents (mostly my mom). It was two months. I was hoping for being freed of that discussion this visit, but I wasn’t. And we’ll probably have another. Add to that the underlying anxiety of me dying plus just general family dysfunction, and, yeah, the next week-and-a-half cannot go fast enough.

I talked yesterday about how family dysfunction is so intricate. It’s hard to focus on one aspect of it because it leads to another aspect. I feel the same here. I can talk about the traits, but then I need to give so much backstory about it. Oh well. That’s how we’re going to do it. My anger. I’m the Hulk when it comes to anger–I’m always angry. I just try to hide it from the world at large. Both my mother and K told me to fight while I was unconscious. They told me I was a fighter and that I needed to fight. I woke up ready to fight someone. I didn’t know who I was fighting, but I was ready.

It was good for my recent experience to be angry, but it’s not good on a regular basis. It’s exhausting and it makes me tense. I feel like I’m on tenterhooks and I’m ready to snap at any moment. Right now, I’m defensive around my mom because I know she’s just looking for reasons to be worried about me being alone. She can’t accept that what happened to me was a freak accident that I couldn’t have predicted. I asked my brain doc if I could have prevented it and he said no. Which was comforting, oddly enough.

My father blows up at the smallest thing. My mom wants me to talk to him more, but any time I try to bring something up, unless it’s something he’s interested in, he just ignores it. Or he laughs dismissively and ignores it. To complicate matters, he’s almost completely deaf in one ear and partially deaf in the other. If he wears his hearing aids, he can hear almost perfectly in one ear. But, and you probably know what’s coming, he hates wearing them. So he doesn’t. Then he gets mad if he thinks you don’t answer him.

Here’s the thing, though. I don’t blame him for some of the times he snaps. I snap at my mom, too, because she won’t stop chattering about the most inane things. Things I care not a whit about. Or things she needs to figure out but could do inside her head. Or, and this happens way too many times, endless chatter about my father’s various ailments.

I. Don’t. Care. I mean, I have some compassion for him and his various pains, but there’s nothing I can do about it. And her continuously talking about it doesn’t help, either. That is her way of trying to control things she can’t control (like my health), which is something I do as well. The difference is that I try to keep it inside my head because I know it doesn’t help anything. And I tried to explain it to my mother, but she had rationalizations for it up the wazoo. That’s the downside to being a psychologist–you can rationalize anything.

I know that I have my father’s tendency to sulk over every little slight. Again, I try to keep it to myself, but it pokes its ugly head out, especially around my mother. Because in her case, it’s me railing in part against another of my worst traits–the constant anxiety chatter.

Taiji has helped me tremendously to manage my worse traits, but it’s been really hard to keep a tight grip on them with my parents here. That’s not Taiji at all, by the way. Keeping a tight grip on, well, anything. Trying to go with the flow isn’t working that well for me right now, either. I’m so stressed around my parents in part because I never know when things are going to explode. And that keeps my nerves frayed, which means that I’m likely to explode at any minute as well.

I have my reasons/excuses for my anger, of course. But then again, I’m sure my father feels he does as well. As does my mother when she scolds me for not being nicer to my father. Everyone is the hero of their own story. And there are legitimate reasons to get angry. Although, funnily enough, my mom is really uncomfortable with the idea of anger. We had a discussion about it once and she refused to say that there was anything positive about it. Again, she’s a psychologist. She should not be uncomfortable with anger. I think it can be important in and of itself, which she did not agree with at all.

Watching my parents fight is like watching the worst parts of me have at it. It’s very uncomfortable for more than just the usual reasons. I can see myself in each of them and I don’t like it. I mean, it makes sense given that they’re the ones who raised me. It doesn’t make it any easier to witness, though. My father snapping at my mother or giving her the silent treatment for any perceived slight. My mother smothering my father with constant attention. My father’s hateful glare. My mother’s nervous laugh. It’s all a part of me and I seem to have less control of it around them. That makes sense. They installed the buttons so they certainly know how to press them. I’m trying to keep it under wraps, but it’s hard to have to watch myself 24/7.

In a movie, the fact that I had a traumatic event that resulted in me being unconscious in the hospital would mean that my family was suddenly close and happy. That’s not the real world, however, and if anything, it has fractured the family even further. I’m not allowed to say that, however, because we have to pretend that everything is good and fine. I vacillate between feeling angry and sad about it. When I’m not numb. Numbness is not good in the long run, but it can be a useful tool in getting through a tense situation.

I know I have to work on myself. I know that my touchiness is not a good thing. Nor are my anxiety or my bursts of anger. But I feel helpless to do anything other than keep it (barely) in check as long as my parents are here. I’m not proud to admit that, but it’s true. For now, the best I can hope for is maintaining. It’s all I have in me.

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