I finally made it to Sacramento. Alive and (relatively) well. Let’s say, all in one piece physically, though possibly a little frayed at the edges mentally.
It was a rough trip, and an even rougher “homecoming” when we got here. This is the side of my family that is so dysfunctional, my mother’s side, that spawned my crazy sister(s) and that I try to maintain a (healthy) distance from. Mental health & wholeness is very important to me, and it is not found when among or dealing with my mother’s side of the family, so I stay out of their business as much as possible. I love my Uncles Robert and Michael, but Robert, too, has some deep-seated issues and can be quite toxic, so I try to limit my exposure to him as well.
Of course coming here I walked right into Dysfunction Central, with my Uncle Robert trying to care for my aging, manipulative, passive-aggressive grandma, his husband Michael stuck in the middle of them, and my mom being thrown in the middle as well, but also being used by my grandma to further hurt my uncle in their ongoing battle of wills and slinging of arrows.
It’s ugly, and painful, and if the uncles had not left to go on their vacation (which is why mom and I came here) I would have had to excuse myself from the house until they did. Things have settled down now, though, with me just having to deal with Mom’s occasional craziness while she cares for Grandma’s more-than-occasional craziness, most of which, I have come to suspect, is dementia. Although her p/a and martyrdom adds a special flavor all her own.
In spite of the incipient dementia, I have a hard time feeling too much sympathy for my grandmother. I can certainly understand her fears and unhappiness with growing infirm and losing her independence, but…the meanness I just can’t. And I have never been able to tolerate passive/aggressive behavior and the martyr attitude, all of which she perfected long before she got old.
BUT – and this is a big but – I also cannot abide by her being treated with anything other than kindness, even at her bitterest. I may have to grit my teeth to do it, but she is old and her life is coming to an end – I will not do anything to make it less pleasant than it already is.
Even if she is making all of our lives a whole lot less pleasant than it could be.
A good thing that has come out of this is that this is a huge object lesson for my mother, with whom I had a rather lengthy discussion on the train regarding relationship dynamics and p/a behavior. The first night we were here, after we got in bed (we share a room) she, in a small voice, “Am I like that? Is that what you mean by passive/aggressive? Please – don’t ever let me be that way.” So she is seeing firsthand what it is, and maybe she will be able to change her own behavior, now that she recognizes it.
There are other positives about the trip. I am taking time each day to get out for a walk or run. I am enjoying time with my mom, time that I don’t usually get to spend with her. I am finding the glitches in my work-at-home set-up, when I am not working from “home” but traveling or working from a housesit – like realizing I need to have an Ethernet cord with me, even if I do have WiFi, just in case. And that I need to buy a regular headset for conference calls (the earbuds don’t work well.) And I need to have a 3-prong extension with me, not a two-prong. But I’m working those things out, and this trip has been a great way to do a “trial” housesit before I truly am on my own.
To the good, I discovered, to my delight, that my Verizon hotspot really is far superior to Sprint’s or ATT’s, however, and was able to be online across most of the desolate Northwest. And…I feel a sense of accomplishment in being on my own, in handling all the challenges of a less-than-ideal situation, in being an efficient and competent problem-solver. And although I feel a little bit sad in a way about it, I have discovered that I am able to handle being alone much better than I have been in the past, and I am feeling much less than needy of W than I have been before.
Okay, just so I don’t wrap this up on a downer, here are some fun pictures I took while we were on our trip. There really was some beautiful scenery and some lighthearted moments.
This is North Dakota. Empty, isolated, barren, but beautiful just the same.
When we finally made it to Portland, we were 12 hours behind schedule and we had missed our connecting train. This time, Amtrak put us up in the very nice Crowne Plaza Hotel. I was THRILLED to have a night at a hotel, even if it did delay our trip by another day. After a good night’s sleep I took a much-needed walkabout on my own.
I attribute that walk to preserving my sanity!
And one last picture that was my favorite on our trip, and it wasn’t even one I took!
I got the news while we were on the train that my application to adopt this gorgeous pup was approved (pending a home visit when I get back.) Learning that was the highlight of my trip.
Next up, I’ll share some more “fun” pictures I took while I was in Portland. ;-)