In case it wasn’t clear, I’ve spent the last two days visiting my parents. I’m not there all the time because … well that would just be too much. And my wife stayed behind because she’s still trying to get a new client and there is a lot of work involved in that. So I’ve had a lot of time to be alone and think and I’ve been around my parents without a buffer from other family members. Both have positive and negative aspects.
I’ve said before that there was never a lot of open affection from my parents – either to each other or to us. I kind of feel they’ve stayed together more out of a sense of obligation than anything else. They don’t get out much anymore and it is kind of depressing for me to think about the dynamic that goes on when nobody is around. Dad is losing his sight and that means losing control and he’s always been the guy in charge. So there’s anger and fear and other unpleasant stuff that comes out from time to time.
Yesterday, my brother calls and wants to come up for two days with his kids. He wanted to stay at the house because it is summer season in this little beach town and rates have increased. Long story short, he got off the phone and it turned into an argument because Dad (a) didn’t want them to stay in the house, (b) didn’t want them to come on the days they wanted and (c) was mad at Mom for not knowing this. She got so flustered she couldn’t talk and I just had no clue what to do. I don’t remember them arguing like this when I was a kid but I might have just been in my own little world then. But I ended feeling powerless when I just wanted to scream at them to STOP. I tried to do what I could but there was no stopping them.
It was still going on today because they were waiting for a response from my brother about (a) staying at a motel and (b) changing the dates of his visit. I suspect my brother is being a little passive aggressive and choosing not to respond. She took me downstairs to help her print out something for him (classic case of being tech support for a generation that hasn’t quite figured out computers). Then she tells me about she’s tired of being yelled at and some other things.
The ironic thing is that at one point Dad says something about wondering why he would only want to come up for a day and only stay at the house for a couple of hours. Part of me really wanted to say “because that’s all we can take”. I chose to just leave telling them I needed to get gas before coming back for dinner.
There was a brochure in the hotel lobby for a little farm where you could interact with the animals. Even though I had no intention of going, I picked up one. I’m staring at it now in fact. Clearly it is geared towards young children but I had this strong desire to go. I know they had arguments when we were young as well but it never felt this intense. I think there was a part of me that just wanted to run back to that childhood where I just remember some of the good times we had as a family and not the drama and tension that I feel now. It makes me sad. I know that neither one of them are going to be around forever and I hate that I live relatively close and don’t manage to get up here that often. But it is just too hard to do this and to see this and to not be able to stop it. They make it uncomfortable to be around them and then I just feel guilty for feeling that. So much for a nice quiet relaxing vacation, right?
Now, I don’t want to leave the impression that all they did was fight because that wasn’t true. I did manage to have some nice conversations with them although, as always, it tended to me more surface stuff. We only briefly touched on dancing and it did prompt my Mom to bring up the whole thing about how all of her friends were so shocked that I was dancing and how I was the last person they’d ever expect to be ballroom dancing. The funny thing is that I think she’s trying to be supportive in saying those things but it has the opposite effect. It just hits at that whole “your not really a dancer thing” because I was playing the part of the serious, non creative guy for so long that they really can’t see me as anything else. And now I start to understand why they often talk about INFP’s searching for identity. I’ve worn so many costumes over my life that there are times when I wonder who I really am. (Boy, I’ve had way too much time to think)
No, it was good to come up but I’m also glad I only stayed a couple of days and that I get to go back tomorrow. I think the first thing I’m going to do when I get back is play with my dog. He’s always happy to see me and I think just being around a creature expressing nothing but pure joy and love will be a good thing.