Exhausting parent-induced quasi-trauma
Friday, Apr. 16, 2021 - 10:21 pm.

This week has been quite a rollercoaster, at work and with my family. The first has been exhausting but rewarding, the second mostly exhausting.

At the start of the week, I got an email from my mom. All very in secrecy, just a couple of lines to tell me that she was worried about my reputation as I'm writing in a medium that has been "questioned nationally and internationally". She meant my columns on the digital newspaper. The ones that question the government. I fucking rolled my eyes.

Then I couldn't stop it from getting to me. I got so angry, and it took me a whole night to write a short response. I ran it by Andrew, who was deeply shocked by a few lines and outright told me to tone it down. He was right. But I did feel that way. I still do. I defend my mom a lot because my dad has made her life miserable, but I forget she can be as hostile as him with a few back-handed strokes.

I didn't say this to her, but I'll say it here: My book, that novel that she told me to stick to instead of writing stuff that may ruin my name by association? My book is about, among other things, people who learned that it was healthy to sever ties with their parents, because their parents were intellectuals and always meant well, but were intolerant and incapable of entertaining other worldviews that weren't their own.

I suppose I'd have made my mom die of a broken heart if I'd told her that. But that's what it is. It's just these last couple of months that I've made conscious the fact that I never felt fully comfortable talking to my parents. They loved me, took care of me, never hit me nor yelled at me, but they also made me feel so ashamed of everything related to socializing with my peers and exploring an affective-sexual life (like how uncomfortable and upset they seemed when I build up the courage to tell them I had my first boyfriend...in my early twenties).

I feared so much being scorned, and to this day, I feel so humilliated whenever I get a reprimand for anything. My mom's scornful email reminded me of that. I couldn't believe the nerve she had to tell me what to write or not, based on bullshit and nearly unexistent criticism.

Moreover, her religiosity and conservatism are very much intact. At times these things protect her from further suffering of living with my dad, but they've also kept her chained to it, and it's hurt her children and their partners, too. I'm thinking of some comments she's made about sister-in-law #3 regarding her and my brother not having children -after she's had a few miscarriages- and I just start foaming at the mouth.

So yeah, I am angry at my mother, too. So angry for her judging and disapproving, regardless of the "unconditional love" that triumphs over her scorn. Everyone who knows me well tells me how my parents had me in a chokehold. I knew that. I could feel it, anyway. I always excused it because, well, I had no other choice; and eventually because "other than that", they were great parents.

And this isn't all. My girlfriend Helen went to visit my parents on Wednesday. She brought dinner, they were very happy to have a visitor. She brought them a copy of my book, she took flowers to my cousin's grave. They like her. Yet later that evening she called me all freaked out, telling me they'd sensed her queerness. She said my parents kept bringing up Andrew, or the very fact that I was happily married, A LOT.

To be fair, she said they overall had a lovely evening. They were very loving and kind towards her. It was just the constant reminder of my marriage that put her off. It freaked me out, too. My gut reaction was fear of, again, getting scorned by them. Are my parents gonna write me, demanding explanations about the kind of friends that I have, and that I should be very careful of shady people? A very regressive reaction if you've ever seen one. But after that, I was just: What. The. Fuck. Sooo nice of you to acknowledge woman-to-woman attraction, but get a fucking grip.

Half of my week was horribly stressful because of this. It feels, however, like a breakthrough in the lingering relationship I have my parents. I love them and I'm grateful for them, but I'm over the need of staying in touch with them. Of course I will stay in touch, but if it were for me, I don't need to talk to them anymore.

Ah, well. Things got more relaxed because they got vaccinated, which is always a huge relief, and they actually sent me a message telling me to thank Helen for her lovely visit and for bringing dinner. Even Brother #3 scored some leftovers, when he went with my parents for their vaccine (he also got his own the day before, YES!). My mom did not reply to my message, so I hope we can move on and not speak about this shit again, in true amnesic fashion.

Jesus Christ, so exhausting.

Ok, quickly, work: My research project officially started on Thursday. I've spent these two days talking to people, sending emails, writing letters. My boss, who's also my research sponsor, is all like "do-it-now", and my motto here is Listen to my boss. She tells me who to write to and what to say, and I need that so much because I don't know who's who in what unit in uni. Nobody tells you these things when they hire you.

It's been hectic, and thank God we're not in pre-pandemic times in which I would have had to CALL all these people. It's already tiring for me to plan a script of what I'm gonna say, and then spent time second-guessing myself about whether I'm asking the right thing with the right words. Forgive me for being like this. I am what I am.

This is all to get the ball rolling, though, and I'm doing it way before it was planned. According to my chronogram *checks notes*, I'd get ethical clearance by May or June. I actually got it last Wednesday. I like doing things in advance, and so does my boss, so even if I so much think about slacking off, I have her voice inside my head telling me to pick up the speed if I can.

And my little lab! I have four students under my wing, I'm their thesis supervisor and they help me with the project. There's a lot of work to do with them to have them develop research skills, but they're all good kids. Also, I assure you that half of them, if not all of them, are queer. Blessed be.

So all in all, this was an extremely demanding week, but I accomplished a lot. I'm happy about starting my project, can't wait to get back to it. But I could probably use a nice relaxing weekend, too.

I saw the UK is slowly re-opening hospitality businesses. God, I miss Sheffield so much.

Take care of yourself and give yourself a treat often. Stay safe.

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