Saturday, April 14, 2012

Time-travelling (part two)

I'm at the airport in Graz on my way back home.

I will be talking to my therapist on monday night and I look forward to it. These couple of days away did wonders to my spirit, I still found it almost impossible to sleep the first night, but I had a very good day yesterday with newly met people and so I felt much better going to bed and had a good night sleep. So did Oliver at home I am being told. No fussing having dinner, no fussing going to bed, no fussing in general. He did wake up the first night I was gone (and my parents were gone too), but not in a state like the previous nights, Mike realised after an hour or so of on and off sleep, that his gums were bothering him, gave him the soothing gel and he went straight back to sleep till the morning. Last night he gave him teething granules before going to bed (a homeopathic remedy) and he slept through the night. Made a couple of noises, but Mike never had to get up as he settled back on his own. Just saying.

Back to my memories.

When I was a teenager and then more so in my early twenties, I started being very uncomfortable at home. Really thinking of leaving some how. I am quite sure this influenced my studies when I went to college. I wanted to do medicine, but the thought of the number of years I would have had to be economically supported by my parents was unpleasant. Note that my parents never had issues in giving me money, still I really wanted to work a bit here and there so I didn't have to ask. I baby-sat, taught swimming classes, worked in a perfume shop (all this was met with hostility by my father who did not understand why I wanted to work instead of just focussing on my studies). I had a first "serious" boyfriend when I was about 17. I knew perfectly well everything about safe sex by then and certainly not thanks to my parents who never ever felt comfortable in talking about these things. Also, the thought I may be having sex never crossed their minds, I'm sure. In fact a year later or so, we all went skiing and the boyfriend came along (though he was staying in a different hotel which made everything all the more exciting). My mother saw some pics if us making out on the slopes (remember when we all used film cameras?) and got all worked up and said something like "I hope we are not there yet" ehhrr yes we are mom for a while now, but no worries you can keep your head in the sand, thank God I can look after myself. Of course I didn't say this, I just let it be. This one boyfriend happened to be a right ass, but you know the way your first love seems so unmatchable you really don't want to break it up. We did break up several times and every time my parents interfered. They were only delighted to get rid of him and seriously opposed resuming the relationship, which of course had the opposite effect on me and made it last much longer than needed. The next boyfriend came along and oh boy was this one even worse in my parents eyes. Again, it turned out to be wrong too, 13 years my senior (my father started saying I was going out with someone who could have been his brother), didn't go to college and in general had a very different character from mine. But sure he looked perfect to me. He had a solid job, he was very kind, had a fast motorbike and looked so hot in his leather gear. Sex was amazing and he really could get me out of my parents' house. By this time I was also going to therapy, my parents thought I had completely lost my mind, and our relationship was at its worse. Firstly I was feeling guilty (with a huge help from my parents) at the fact that I was so uncomfortable at home. How could it be? I had everything I wanted, a car, holidays, money. And yet. My therapist helped me greatly. It was normal that I wanted my independence, it was normal that I felt my parents' house was not my house. She said it actually meant I was a mature adult wanting to live life in my own way. That's good right? But I suppose you can get to that point in a right way or in a wrong one. Not sure it was the right way in my case. You know, when I was off on holidays with friends or boyfriends (these were of course other battles I had to fight) I never really felt the need to call home. I was just fine on my own. I would never talk about my feelings and how things were in a more personal sphere. Of course I would happily talk about college, exams and research in the lab during my PhD. Safe stuff. Then I got married. My mother the night before my wedding said "should things go wrong, know that we are here". Not the most encouraging talk at the time, though it became true a few years later. They helped us buying a place, gave me my half of the money, which I didn't have, to match what my husband had saved over the years, and we had a mortgage together to pay the rest.  But oh boy the freedom of having my own place! Closing the door and do what the hell I wanted with my time, going out, staying in, without having to report to anybody! I was a new person. And our honeymoon period lasted about a year or so. Then the differences were just so apparent it was impossible to make it work on great sex alone. But sure, it wasn't that simple to break up. Going back to my parents? oh my God, any other options? Anyone? Seriously, give me any other option. I was about to finish my PhD and thought I can just leave then. I mean leave Italy, not just my husband. When our relationship started braking up (about 18 months into the marriage), it was complicated by the fact that my father-in-law become very ill. I mean, I wasn't cruel and my husband did nothing to make me hate him, he needed me and I was there for him. I few more months went by where the topic of breaking up was not brought up again. We all new, including my parents, this was probably not going to last much longer, but it wasn't for them to call the shots and there were far more serious things going on. On the day of the funeral of my father-in-law, I remember holding my husband's hand throughout the ceremony and my father outside the church must have got quite worried I had changed my mind, so decided to bring up the separation subject that very day. I told you already he believes he can speak his mind whenever he wants, apparently oblivious to other people's feelings. Anyway I reassured him I had not changed my mind but that this was not the time.
Another couple of months and my husband and I started working out how to split everything up and agreed we would share the house till I was leaving at the end of my PhD (I had found a post doc in Ireland already). That was so difficult. Packing everything up, dismantling what we had put together, it was the hardest bit. We put the house up for sale, we went to a lawyer (colleague of my father) who explained the process of a consensual separation and clarified for us rules on goods and money. On the day of my birthday (September 2001) I went out for lunch with my parents and somehow my father thought it was the perfect moment to upset me over what we had decided about splitting furnitures and the like. Of course he decided it wasn't right and that I was letting my husband having more than he was entitled too. Which wasn't true of course. I had to explain to my mother the maths and why everything was ok so that she could go back to her house and tell my father (who never brought up the topic again). We sold the house for exactly what we wanted to realise, we didn't loose a cent, gave back the money to my parents, split the furniture and shook hands. I left at the end of October of that year and never moved back to Italy. The relationship with my ex-husband is fine (though lately we are not in touch much) we got together a good few times after our separation, you know, just for sex and for the good ol' times. Till I met Mike and everything turned out to be just perfect.

Living away from my family was the best thing I have ever done. We were able to rebuild a relationship which benefited of short periods of close contact, enough for love and happy moments and just right to avoid frictions. For the past eight to ten years I don't remember a bad time with my family. They liked Mike immediately, celebrated genuinely our engagement, loved our wedding and rooted for us to be successful in making a family. Our relationship had changed so much they knew everything about our treatments, often mentioned if we needed money to just ask. They cried with me when I had the first ectopic. They were the first to know we had a positive test. My mother flew over when I had the second ectopic to offer support and help. We cried some more. They were over the moon when I was finally properly pregnant. Though I went back to my old self in not sharing my fears with them. And started feeling a bit annoyed when my mother insisted to be with us when Oliver was about to be born. I really wanted that to be a moment for me and Mike, but my mother (armed with the best intentions) booked a flight on the 31st of December when it was clear I was getting induced that very day. When I went home from the hospital and I had all those sad days I always had a mask on around my mother (who was a fantastic help with managing the house and keeping us fed) and wanted some space.
It seems that the arrival of Oliver is impacting negatively on my relationship with my parents. Again they feel entitled to give unsolicited advices which have escalated in the last week. Let's hope I can find my happy place soon.

Thank you for listening. Boarding shortly, I finished typing just in time.

9 comments:

  1. Sending you lots of love and hugs! You have gone through so much and come out the other side! I believe you can get through this

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  2. All our mistakes are meant to teach us the right way from the wrong one. I do think you learned what you had to learn from your mistakes, and the troubles you are still having when dealing with your parents are not your fault. You care a lot for them, but are not blind to their own faults, and this makes you wise. I hope you find peace of mind and better sleep soon. :-)

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  3. And by now you are back in your own home with your own little family. Hope that Oliver gets the next tooth through smoothly so you can all sleep and enjoy the weekend.

    The strange thing with my brother happened when he had his second child, I don't know what is going on but the relationship with my parents seems strained to say the least.
    Hope your therapist will give you peace of mind and maybe some coping strategies.
    It would be wonderful if you can avoid this kind of horrible tension while still maintaining a normal relationship.

    hugs and welcome home.

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  4. Wow - I have found you to be such a positive and strong person, Fran. Never realized you have this deep past which is so bothersome. I think it is this which actually made us some how connect when we were going through our IF journey. My childhood has not been very different from you (apart from the physical abuse)... the interference, domination, sports... and advice with discipline and routine for kids! Aah... I can feel you!

    I hope the session with your therapist helps!

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  5. Thanks for sharing all this about your past. I hope you can work through it with your therapist, and that you can have the relationship with your parents that YOU want.

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  6. Oh Fran, my heart feels so sad for you right now. I just read parts I and II of your story. I'm so sorry you are beginning to feel that stress again with your family. With some of the parts, I could relate, as my mom has not been terribly considerate at times, saying harsh things about my husband and thinking she knows everything about Scout. It seems our parents simply think they are right and somehow they are doing us a favor by sharing their brilliance with us. I'm glad to hear though that you have confidence in your own parenting. I think you found the key: to keep hold of the truth despite the noise and attempts to convince you that you are somehow less than perfect. Remember who you are. Remember that you are a good, kind, loving friend, wife and mother. Remember too that your parents are not perfect and their rough edges and cruelty demonstrate that. We can love our parents without having to agree with their perspective.

    Sending you a warm hug and hoping you feel better.

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  7. Just the warmest hug for you.

    I read both the posts, and it will take me a while to sink it all in.

    I hope you learn from their mistakes, and vow to not make the same ones with your children.

    I want to write some more...will do it later!

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  8. I think it's brave of you to share your story with us. I'm sure it's also theraputic for you to write it all out.

    It always seems like your parents have the best intentions, but they just can't seem to let go.

    You are amazing, given everything that you have gone through. Thanks for sharing your stories.

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  9. I am glad to hear that your relationship with your family is finally taking the right turn.
    Family can be a true blessing, but dominant parents can also be quite the burden at times. Gosh, I can relate to your story in so many ways, the similarities in our paths are almost shocking.
    I am happy for your new family! you have a wonderful, supportive husband, a gorgeous baby boy. I hope your parents will find the way to be the 'perfect' part of your new life! with their love and gentle support.
    Thank you for sharing your story!

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