Saturday, 11.04.2017 - 10:27 am.
As I'm writing this, my dad's in a hospital bed, and got a call from my mom when I was sleeping at 4 am (10 pm in my home country). Plus, I have over 150 WA messages from my siblings discussing my dad's situation. It's always hard to gauge what is going on, my parents have become very fragile and also very nervous about being fragile. My two siblings with a medical degree live abroad, albeit significantly closer than I do; and my two siblings in the same city as my parents take turns to look after them.
This week, I learned from Brother #3 that my parents are not going to Houston, where I'll be, for the holidays. Understandably, given what I just said above, but I'm kicking myself for buying my plane ticket so early. I mean, it was so much cheaper then, a few months ago, when there were still talks of my parents and siblings and me meeting in Houston for the holidays.
Now it'll be just me there, because no one else can make it; parents are sick and the three remaining siblings plus their families can't afford to travel. Brother #1 will be in Houston because he lives there, but he'll be working. His marriage is in shambles, and I guess he still hasn't told my parents or my other brothers and sister, so Sister-In-Law, Nephew and Niece #1 will actually be in my home country, our home country, for Christmas.
I wouldn't mind keeping Brother #1 company, in fact it'd be great, and he makes killer drinks. But the plan now is that I jump from Houston to my country to go spend the holidays there. I've been reluctant about this plan the whole week. I hate going back to my country, I'm horribly scared of that place. You deal with the fear if you live there, but I've lost practice, and I don't care for regaining it. I suppose once I'm there I'd say, "oh, this isn't so bad", or realize I've remembered the bad over the good, but...yeah, no.
It looks like I have no choice, though. I mean, Brother #3 said I didn't have to go if I didn't want to, but he also understands that the Freudian Super I can be devastating. I'd be a horrible, ungrateful daughter if I didn't go. For the last few years, around these dates, I start to think "this might be my dad's/mom's last Christmas", and this year that doesn't feel any less true.
Long story short, because it did take a lot of mental and emotional elaboration, I'll go. I can't go any earlier, I don't have the money for the ticket and I have to collect data for my PhD. I'm aware of the guilt trip I'd catch if my mom or dad died at some point and it turned out I didn't go visit him because I was collecting data. I suppose I'm always afraid an external observer would point that out, but frankly, it's not easy nor cheap to leave this island to get to that God-forsaken country. Furthermore, as pleasant as my life is, I am working hard, I'm on fucking deadlines all the time, on a tight budget, and I also have a small family of my own to look after.
Right, Andrew. I can't talk much about this with him. He is supportive, I just mean he doesn't seem to have patience for my ramblings, and I need to ramble. When I told him about me being the only one in Houston along Brother #1, I think he was hopeful I'd cancel the trip and spend the holidays with him. As I should! As I WANT TO! Every fucking year it's the same, having to choose between my family and my partner for the holidays. This isn't new, this hasn't started with Andrew nor when I moved abroad.
I'm going to be selfish and horrible for a minute and say that how convenient that my parents got cancer just as soon as I moved abroad. My mom in my first year living in Chile and from then on it's gotten worse, for her, and then for my dad, who also got cancer. Over time, I've become resentful of and angry at their overprotectiveness of me as I was growing up, which, I see now, took away a few opportunities for me to enjoy myself. It should be my dad's overprotectiveness, really; either my mom was too scared to confront him or she agreed with his point of view. To be fair, and sadly, my dad is still a pain in the ass, to me AND my siblings, about how dangerous it is to be just outside the house. It's also fucking condescending. We know, dad.
It's been a bit of a relief for me being away from them. They were excellent parents, loving, protective, inspiring in many ways. But even now, at 32 and hundreds of miles away from them, I'm out of the house late at night and a voice at the back of my mind goes: "I shouldn't be out so late, I should be heading home before I get hurt, they can't sleep because they're worried sick that I'm not in the house". The latter line I heard it a few times from my dad over the phone, as I was out having fun with my old friends Lighthouse and CR. It fucked me up a bit. It's taken me a while to acknowledge that and recognize that it mattered.
I digress. I'm still being selfish and horrible: I'm meaning to say, so now that I'm away, they get sick and so I can't not think about them, and I'm still the one at fault. I'm still guilty that I'm not there with them. I was out late at night having fun and I was at fault because that was keeping them out at night. I'm out of the country living my life and I'm at fault because they're sick and I'm not there to help.
No one tells me this. I'm not even sure they, my parents and siblings, think of it this way. They probably don't think I'm horrible. But this is what's happening. My parents miss me so much, which is fine, but then they get so vulnerable and miserable about it, on top of their illness. I learned from Brother #3 that, although they haven't told me they cancelled their plan to go to Houston (though I guess they'd think that I'd think so, based on recent events), they're making plans as to where I'm going to stay when I get to my country; they're finding hotels nearby in questionable neighborhoods so that I'll be "close" to their house. It's them making decisions for me. Luckily, my brother told me about the hotel thing as a warning, and to offer his home for me to stay there.
Ok, so I'm angry at my parents. At my weak, exhausted, cancer-striken, infection-prone parents. I'm a horrible person, but also, I have compassion for myself and I completely understand where I'm coming from with this anger. I'm mad at attitudes they showed in the past, and I'm mad at some of their current cognitions that keep making things worse, for themselves and for their kids.
In a nutshell:
- My dad is currently in the hospital. It's some sort of infection, hopefully nothing life-threatening. He and my mom are fucking tired of having to go to treatments and check-ups nearly every day, for him or for her or for both.
- I have to go to my country for the holidays. I don't quite have the money for that, I already paid for another trans-Atlantic flight. Tough luck, buddy. You have to go.
- I'll have to leave Andrew behind for yet another Christmas and New Year. December 23rd it's the anniversary of his brother's death. Fucking peachy.
I need to resolve the data collection for my PhD, too. It sounds shallow and unrelated to all of the above, but if I didn't have that weight on my back, I'd breathe more easily and I could work from whenever I wanted.