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Language Log

Sunday, Jul. 04, 2021 - 11:42 a.m.

We arrived yesterday.

J tells me that I did in fact get Q’s hand in the door. That’s no good. She wasn’t injured, thank goodness, but the pain also explains the ferocity of her response. Again, one’s instinct is to offer apology and concern, and I wish I could do that, but that’s not something that she finds comforting in those situations. She doesn’t seem to like it later, either. Anyway.

I’m worried about how our stay is going to go. I already talked with J about this and I don’t want to overly center myself but I do want to write it now for context here as I will no doubt refer to the situation over the next couple weeks.

In the time since we made the plans to visit here, things have happened: breast cancer diagnosis and related procedure for my mother in law. Then one of her younger sisters died very unexpectedly. That was only a couple weeks ago. And she has ongoing back pain from putting off a surgery she needs. And my father in law has his ongoing pain issues as well. They’re having a hard time and FIL asked that we do as much as we can to make sure there isn’t too much stress on MIL.

And so I’m going to do my best, but as I told J, the problem with my issues are that they don’t just go away when they’re really inconvenient. I experience cumulative demand avoidance whenever I’m here, and I manage that as best I can, but he has two trips happening when we’re here and all the extra will fall on me then.

And much of the stress she may feel comes from herself, internalized ableism and inflexible ideas of how things “just should be”. And so if they want me to help clean up more, I will, but what happens is if I don’t do it fast enough, she does it herself and I take the resentment for not helping. There are a lot of little things like that. And it’s not ok to say, ok, the mess shouldn’t bother her. And it’s not ok to expect me to do it on an externally imposed schedule (so long as it’s within a reasonable time frame, although what counts as that may be a matter of dispute).

Anyway, as I said, I hate that my particular issues that make me retreat and gradually unable to do what would be most caring and helpful for others simply don’t even register as issues for them. I will simply look uncaring and lazy, and there’s nothing I can do about that, even though every single thing I do and every moment will be locked up in a battle of “I should do this. No, I can’t, it’s too much right now, I need more quiet and rest. I can’t engage. I’m so sleepy. Fuck this and fuck them. No. You should help. No.”

And then the problem that as I’ve already noted, this blanket request to “help more” is exactly one of the things I have always struggled with. I should be able to look around and see what needs done and figure out what other people are doing gladly and what I should do, and do it. All the time. Like right now I’m up here taking a break from my workout routine to type this, the kids are in the pool, J is napping. Should I be cleaning up from the elaborate breakfast I wasn’t involved in making? Should I be out by the pool with them “being social” or watching the kids? Am I allowed to do what I’m doing now or are people getting mad at me and I don’t even know?

If J naps, J gets to nap. If I nap, I feel like I should check with someone first to make sure it’s ok, and then apologize for sleeping so long when I wake.

It’s a smothering blanket of inadequacy and confusion and second guessing myself that makes it so I can’t even relax ever. And it all compounds.

I would rather put it aside and not be thinking of it right now but I can’t help it.

I wish I could just show up and be there for people.

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