we are all okay (for now)
April 9, 2016 § Leave a comment
It was a pretty bad week. My sister-in-law was hit with a stroke last weekend and my mother has been losing weight and unable to eat properly for weeks. My family does not have any language for talking about feelings. If you ask anyone how they are feeling, about anything, they will answer, “Fine”. It is extremely frustrating, especially when we have catastrophic health events that clearly cannot be experienced as Fine.
My sister-in-law survived the stroke with minimum impairment (she can’t sing in tune right now). It turns out my mother has gall stones, a urinary tract infection, impacted ear wax, a possible B12 deficiency, and artheroschlerosis in the arteries in her stomach lining. She does not have cancer and that is good news. Each of these conditions can be addressed and she will feel better.
By mid-week I was feeling pretty blue. I was so frustrated that there wasn’t anyone in my family that I could talk to about the emotional reality of what was going on. In fact, when my sister-in-law was discharged from the hospital on Thursday, still with a blood clot in her brain, but on the mend, her highest priority was to get out to sing at a gig. That was when she found out she couldn’t sing in tune. It probably has something to do with the inflammation in her brain from the stroke. It is as if no one in my family ever feels scared, sad, lonely, depressed, anxious, disappointed or discouraged. It is utter taboo to attempt to talk about any feelings that might be appropriate to the situation we are facing.
I find it incredibly burdensome because I am not good at denying what I am feeling, in fact, I suck at it. However, in my family, my authentic emotional response to difficulty, which is to admit what I am feeling so I can move onto other things, is met with an attitude of invalidation, or perception that I am somehow weak. And I am not week. It is possible that I am the strongest of the bunch, simply because I can tolerate and accept the reality that we experience a range of feelings and I am okay with admitting that.
Anyway, at the end of the week all the health crisis have passed, for the time being. My family is aging and we are bound to have more health emergencies coming up. My task is to find support from people who are able to be emotionally honest, and accept the emotional brick wall that makes up the structure of my family. I mean, what would happen if family members were actually able to admit what they were feeling? Really folks, it isn’t that bad. It actually feels good, and, bonus, you get to feel closer to the people you love.
It is Saturday and a clear blue sky. The sun is rising and the dog is waiting patiently for me to take him out for a nice long morning walk.
And that is just what I am going to do.