I have so little time for myself that I feel I squander it when I write, yet it is therapeutically helpful. I'll try to limit my sessions to 15 minutes so that I make good use of it.
Yesterday I told my family this is not sustainable. I want out. I told them not to rush, we just have to position ourselves so that they will be ready when the time comes. Christine will go back into a retirement home, and I will go back to Toronto. I don't know what I'll do there, at this point I would like to sleep a week straight and then decide.
(The caregiver came in early, and my session was interrupted. I resumed it hours later).
As my grandmother is just as weary, tired and irritable as I am, it is of no use to keep trying. I'm certain she will be unsatisfied in any situation. Yesterday she was terribly anxious because she thought a close friend wanted to keep a ring from her deceased husband (my grandfather) and because a pile of invoices and bills had accumulated over the desk. Said friend came over and gave the ring back and dealt with the pile of papers, she was content during a couple of hours, but this morning she asked me to scan every document regarding my grandfather and send it to my uncle, who is the executor of his will.
I started protesting it would be useless work, and it would take me a long time, but then I told her it would take me three hours, and that she would have to free up the space where she usually hangs out smoking, because the scanner is there. I scanned some documents which looked important and sent them to my uncle, and then I begun writing this work log.
I've quit smoking yesterday, and the smell is still alluring. These are very unfavorable conditions to quit smoking, but as I see the pattern of my grandmother, I understand that the anti-pattern is often inspirational. So, in this way I understand I don't want to age like my grandmother, and I find the will to quit.
I took out a document from the pile and I put it next to my laptop in order to make it look as if I'm typing out something important. This is just a placebo for her, an appearance of control over her life, that things are dealt with in the ways in which she wants, but in reality she works against herself, insisting that she knows how to wield a gun while pointing it to her head, and when you try to take it away from her hand she points it at you.
One may think: why not just impose your will, say "Christine, this is useless, I refuse to do it", but the anxiety will not disappear, and the relationship will be soured. She will ask somebody else to do it and then recriminate you. It is best to give the illusion that you are working in her favor, and then use that time for yourself.
There is a place for limits and even harshness, of course. A while ago the doorman called the phone and said a parcel had arrived, I said I'd pick it up in a while. My grandmother said "For Christ sakes just go pick it up now", I answered "I'm in the middle of scanning all this, you don't want the documents mixed up, do you?". She conceded.
However, there is great danger in fighting fire with fire, many of the people who have been victims of abuse become abusive themselves. The friend that came yesterday asked me how I was doing. "Terrible" I said, "Christine is getting more abusive by the day". She said that her first husband was abusive with her. It clicked, I had a girlfriend whom I also felt that kind of energy, she'd be harsh, unwilling to negotiate or make concession, unable to hear anything which she didn't like. She was also in an abusive relationship.
Even though the endgame has already been decided, there are still some moves that must play out for this period to be complete. I don't know yet what "slaying the dragon" means in this context, but I learn by the day.