Thursday, April 12, 2012

Time-travelling (part one)

Written on the plane, posted from the hotel.


I’m on a plain on my way to Austria for a EU meeting couple of days. Getting some space is exactly what I need at the moment.

I feel the need to write down my feelings now, though I’ll only be able to post this from the hotel later this evening.

Yesterday I recontacted my therapist in Italy who had offered in the past to talk if I ever felt the need via Skype. I really need to work through what has happened with my parents as I have not felt this distressed in years. My mother came talking to me last night saying that not soothing Oliver when he wakes up at night (no matter the reason) may scar him for like. Talk about being dramatic. This morning on the way to the airport (they left today to go back home and I was leaving at the same time for the meeting in Austria) my father said that they don’t think we are bad parents (thanks) but what he said two nights ago was limited to that instance and our behaviour in that situation (as if I asked his opinion). He also said that he pretends I never said that Oliver started acting up at night in connection to their arrival that he refuses to believe I really think there’s a connection. I am stating the facts. It may just be that they are upsetting me and Oliver picks up the vibes, I’m not saying they are upsetting him direclty. At least last night Oliver slept through, while I barely had a couple of hours. Anxiety does this to me.
The thing is, I am not at all concerned about our parenting skills, I do believe what we are doing is correct, far from being abusive and, as I mentioned before, it works for us. I am reliving the feelings I had when I was living at home. My parents seem to think they were the perfect parents. Well, that’s not what I would remember. Strangely, I was sure I was over all these thoughts but obviously they were just silently waiting to come back up again if given the chance.
I am sure I was happy most of the time, but somehow at the moment I can only muster the negative feelings I had back then. I remember clearly when I was in primary school that some of my friends had parents splitting up and being upset about it. I could not see what the big deal was. I really thought I would have been happier if my parents split up. Imagine that. I couldn’t see how my mother could/would put up with my father‘s attitude.
Since I was very small, I never really remember going to my parents if I had a nightmare. In fact, I remember thinking they could have been the monsters in my dream and so I was safer in my own bed.  My first memory of my father shouting at me seems to be somewhere between the age of four or five. He had asked me to go and get something for him and I answered “you go!” (I suppose I didn’t see why he couldn’t do it himself).  Of course I didn’t know any better at the time, but I do remember my mother calming down my father as he was shaking me, telling him I didn’t mean it and that I wouldn’t say that again. I remember it like it was yesterday. Then I remember my mother making fun of my first crush on a guy, you know the kind, primary school sweetheart that makes your heart skip a beat if he talks to you during the break. I know now that was a child thing, nothing important, but it was important to me at the time and could have done with a bit of sympathy rather than being laughed at. Needless to say, I never said anything anymore about my feelings for other boys till about I was 17 and started going out with a guy a bit more officially. I would not go to my parents to discuss personal things, like ever.
Then there was the sport thing. My father is mad about sports and believes they are an excellent way of socialising and keeping fit. I agree completely. Since we were very young we did all sorts of things. I so happened to be quite good at artistic gymnastic and got to competition levels. At one point training was very demanding (5 days a week and then competitions at weekends) but my dad was so proud and would bring me everywhere. At about 12 years old or so, I started becoming scared of the various things I had to do for the higher levels. Every time I had to go training I had a knot in my stomach. Which was every day. I started thinking of quitting and couldn’t muster the courage to tell my family. My dad would bring me to every training session and this one time I remember falling from the balance beam and hurting my leg, started crying that I didn’t want to do it anymore and dad got so angry he slapped me in front of everyone. How on earth was this normal I have no idea. Still I kept going till I finally told my mother I wanted to quit. She had no problem at all, never been the sporty type, but I had to tell dad. When I eventually did I think he didn’t speak to me for a day or so (or so it felt to me).
The thing is, my sister seems to have had a totally different experience with the same parents. Maybe it’s me taking things the wrong way at times, re-elaborating over and over, still I don’t want to be that kind of parent. I mentioned in my previous posts a few other incidents, but also my parents (father) seemed to believe that it was ok to interfere with my life at every level. And I mean, it’s not like he would tell me his opinion and let it be, no, he would say it over and over, getting louder and louder, with the excuse that he says what he thinks and is entitled to do so. But I wasn’t. I always perceived him as very confrontational and aggressive in his way of talking. Maybe he can’t help it, but his voice is loud to start with, so it takes very little for him to start shouting. I hate shouting. It freezes my blood if someone shouts at me.

To be continued. 

8 comments:

  1. I agree with you that Oliver may be picking up on a negative vibe in the house. I can't wait to see how his behavior will change when your parents leave.

    You just sound like you are under so much stress and I wish your parents were helping not hurting. How long are they staying with you guys? Hang in there my friend. I pray that things will get back to normal and better for you guys. ((Hugs)).

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  2. Dear Fran, I'm wishing that your hotel has a massage or a nice whirlpool for you to relax.(although I'm not sure how common that is in Austria) And wishing your italian therapist will get back to you real soon.
    Hold on
    Love and hugs

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  3. Thinking of you as you travel. I'm so glad you have a little time alone to think through this stuff. It's important to work through this stuff, both by writing it out and by talking about it with your therapist. I admire you for doing this! You are such an amazing mother to little Oliver - I know you're doing the right thing!!!

    Sending you love...

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  4. I'm so very sorry you are reliving these painful memories. But I think it might actually be a good thing to get things out and express your feelings, even if only on your blog. I agree that Oliver might be picking up on the stress that you are under. Plus, his routine has been disturbed and since he's so used to a routine I can see where changing it would cause him to have these sleeping issues. I'm glad that you get to take a small break and have a little alone time. I'm hoping that once you get back home you and your family can settle in again. I wish you nothing but peace and a light heart.

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  5. Oh, I so wish I knew before hand you'd be in Austria, it's practically next door to me, we could have met! If you have some time off, shoot me an email and let's see if we can arrange to get together.

    As for your parents - you are not them. You know what mistakes to avoid. You can't change the past, and they are of course convinced they know better and they remember things differently - I wonder sometimes, we will do the same to our children? Remember things our way and treat them like children? Anyway. You are your own person and an adult in charge of your life and raising a child. You should not doubt yourself, not even because your parents imply it.

    Try to enjoy Austria, it is a lovely country, with far better cuisine than Germany, and do try the cake shops - they are fantastic!

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  6. It's so hard to make the transition to parenthood and NOT compare yourself to what your parents did or did NOT do properly.

    The goal is not to be perfect parents, but "good enough" parents. Oh, and finding good boundaries with your own folks.

    Good luck!!!

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  7. Siblings often have very different relationships with the same set of parents. I don't think you are embellishing anything or making more out of it than what happened.

    I am sorry that you're parents weren't there for you in they way you needed them to be. The one thing I've learned is that we tend to expect our parents to be perfect or at the very least to have done the best that they could to be good parents and role models. The thing is, that they probably were doing the best that they could. We have to accept our parents for who they are and make our own choices for who we will be as parents going forward.

    Sorry their visit brought up all of these old feelings, hopefully this time away will help you deal with them.

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  8. I hear you so much, Fran...we should talk via phone sometime about our Italian fathers (hate to stereotype, but well, there it is)...I am so glad you contacted your therapist and that you're getting your thoughts on paper (virtual paper)....and...maybe the next time your parents visit they should stay in a hotel so you can control your home environment and have your space.
    Love,
    Maddy

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Thank you so much for stopping by, your comments warm my heart!