Last night I confronted my grandmother for the first time since we came into the apartment. She demanded something small and unreasonable. I said no. She got angry and recriminated another small thing that happened earlier in the day. I reminded her that things did not happen as she was telling them. Then she questioned my need for being here, that she could hire a replacement. I said I'd be fine with that. It was then that I saw fear in her eyes, she threw a tantrum, and then refused to be helped.
From there, I allowed the conflict to simmer. In her tantrum she had to concede to some help, which I offered gently while she sarcastically said "are you going to charge me for that?". I was patient in bringing the charged environment down, and eventually her eyes lost sparkle and her shoulders slouched. If experience tells me anything, this event will repeat itself and I must be consistent in my handling of conflict. It is spiritually and psychologically instructive to do this.
This morning my inner dialogue is all worked up, now that I have dominated a conflict it seems my psyche is eager to engage in more of it. This is where the abused becomes the abuser and turns the table of the game, a grave mistake because one has become infected by the trauma of the other. Instead of engaging in this kind of thought, I will engage in a psychological exercise that we should call "what it is like to be you?". Here I will pretend to be my grandmother, and see things from her perspective.
A year ago my life with John was going as always, we had everything set up in our apartment to our liking, John take care of the finances while I organized and tended to our social circles. All of this changed suddenly when I had a fall in my walker, which was John's fault because he was in a rush, he was always in a rush.
Some bystanders called an ambulance, but instead of an ambulance we got a police car, which took us to the hospital. My ankle was beat up pretty bad, John wouldn't be able to take care of me at the apartment, so we explored a couple of retirement homes in order to move in together.
We couldn't find anything to our liking, so we decided this would be temporary set-up. I'd stay at the retirement home while John remained at the apartment, and when I healed we could get our old life back together.
Mark, a grandson I hadn't seen in ages, volunteered to help us with the transition back into the apartment. Why would we need him? If our life together was fine without him, why would having him here make things better? After discussing it with John we decided to tell him no because of covid. Besides, we already had Kate and Shevaughn, and Sheila and Lea to help us out. Adding more people would only make things more complicated.
However, at some point Kate and Shevaughn said that they were too busy to help us out going back to the apartment. It is understandable, they both have jobs and we've been asking for a lot of help. Perhaps Mark's help is the only way in which we can make it happen, even though I barely know him.
We were both looking forward into moving back into the apartment but then I contracted covid. I was tired and sleeping all day, making long calls to John during the day. One day I called and there was no answer. I was worried, so I called Kate and she got in contact with management at the building. When they came in they found John lying on the floor from a fall. Rick, his son, came from Toronto to nurse his dad from the fall.
Johns conditions deteriorated at home. He was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with covid. A couple of days later, he would die. At this retirement home I wake up with bruises and everyone is mean to me, John wanted me out of here. Even though it's scary living with a grandson I don't really know, I'll have some semblance of my old life back, so when Mark arrived a week after Johns death, I wanted to continue the plan.
When we moved back into the apartment Mark wanted to take charge of everything. I had to put him in his place, this is my home after all. Why would he want to do the shopping? Lea did this all the time. Why would he want me to take me to my appointments? Shevaughn used to do this. He wants to take over my life, I must take a stance and show him who is the boss. He should only do what he is told to do, end of story.
The experience of moving back to the apartment has been frustrating. Everything seems to be out of place. I'm frantic trying to organize, but my eyesight isn't what it was before, I can barely read anymore and I have to go through a pile of mail. I have bills to pay. I wake up soaking wet in my own urine, this didn't happen before, I don't understand. Mark is of no help, he doesn't know where things are, he puts things out of place, he buggers up even the smallest chores. He is a great cook, though.
But I have to pay for all the groceries, the rent, and I owe so much money. John used to do all of this, why do I have to do it now? I wish someone would come and resolve all of this, but they have to keep me informed, I want to understand what is going on, but my memory is failing me. The CLSC workers that come to give me my hygiene are also good-for-nothings. They don't know where anything is. It's a nightmare on repeat every day. I get angry and I scold everyone, but no amount of tough love seems to bring anyone into shape.
On top of it all I miss John terribly. Everything in the apartment reminds me of him. I'm asking Mark for the apple beer he used to drink. The soups he used to buy. The mouthwash he used to rinse his mouth with. I want him back, I want everything as it was before this hell of a year I've been through, and no amount of pleading, coaxing or yelling is getting me any closer to it. I don't know what to do anymore.
The easy way out is dehumanizing the other, calling my grandmother a monster makes me think dominating the monster is the endgame of this project. It is not. The endgame is putting my grandmother into a situation which she finds tolerable, and her home is not it. I will focus on a good outcome for my grandmother.