23/07/2010

From this post: Yes, I think my dad is depressed.  I’ve been depressed too so it’s clear for me to see. My mum thinks this too but she has this absurd way of walking around  issues without really dealing with them. My mother has also gone through periods of extreme stress but being busy and being responsible for keeping the family together coupled with a very resilient character has made her stay on top of things.

When I was 18 and everything was starting to fall apart,  my mother took out her stress and frustrations on me. Being the eldest child, she would tell me off about anything that happened at home that she did not like. She would even refer to my brother’s mistakes as mine. If my brother did something she would start with ‘you children always do this…e.t.c”. Being a teenager and going through that roller coaster phase that every teenager goes through I always made sure to let her know that I was not happy with that. I would argue with her, we would talk about things as a result of these arguments and I would get it out of my chest and then we would make up, but of course she never stopped. She  minimised it, but she didn’t stop. I understood somehow that her treating me differently from my brother was because  she was looking to me as the eldest of the two to set an example which is fair enough. However, it was very tiring  to have this kind of responsibility weighed upon me when it was that it could be shared, and sometimes none of it was my fault.

So she called me selfish. All the time. I was selfish because I told her her to be  specific about the mistakes I made and the mistakes my brother made. I was selfish for pointing out that responsibility was not mine alone. I became very frustrated that I didn’t communicate exactly what I felt because I have a introvert-extrovert kind of personality.  Sometimes I got really angry and complained and shouted and then cried. Sometimes I just stared at her blankly as she ranted away because I couldn’t take it anymore. I could feel my spirit dying away very slowly. She called this selfish.

So, I went around doubting myself. I’m I being selfish now? Is this right. What should I do here? Would my mother think this is selfish? I went around not thinking about myself and my needs because I was scared of being selfish.

Then I grew up. No longer a teenager and starting to understand the serious issues in life I decided to back away from unnecessary arguments with my mum. Our relationship changed to the point that I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want any arguments, so I usually told her calmly if I didn’t agree with her and just generally avoided unpleasant situations. If she was having a random rant I would just let her let it all out and then just nod or offer my very brief opinion and that would be the end of that. Part of me wanted a good relationship with her while the other part of me just wanted some peace and calm. I was tired and weary of arguments and resentment. I changed. I grew up. This has been good for me because we can now communicate as adults without any one of us going away huffing and puffing with resentment, disappointment or even anger. This change in attitude  also helped me learn that I can think about my needs and not be selfish. In fact these days I don’t listen to my mum when she starts with that selfish tirade, which thankfully she hasn’t done in about two years. I know better now and I think she finally realised that I saw through her manipulation because let’s be honest she was manipulating me by calling me selfish.

My dad is different. My dad is difficult. He’s an extreme introvert. I mean really introverted. He’s not flexible too. He has this type of personality where it’s very easy for him to develop a low self-esteem. With him, when things are going well, money flowing in, kids getting good grades, affluence…influence..you know the lot, he’s happy. When things are difficult he gets stuck in this negative and self deprecating rut that is almost impossible to get him out of.  Sadly, life isn’t that one-dimensional. I remember once last year he refused to talk to my brother because he was not getting good grades. My relationship with him hasn’t been bad at all, although being the way he is and with all the problems around us, most of the times he hasn’t made the effort to communicate with me. And when someone doesn’t communicate with you and you have so many issues to deal with it gets really difficult to  get talking properly about things. It’s also extremely hard when this person is very negative.

I don’t want to be around negative people. I don’t want to deal with negativity.  Is that so bad?

When I was away at uni my dad never really called me or sent me emails a lot, just the odd one. I used to send him  e-cards on occasions like his birthday or father’s day when I couldn’t afford the postal ones but he didn’t respond  most of the times. Our communication was mostly along the lines of:

‘Hi dad, are you alright, how’s everything bla bla bla. My uni work is this and that bla bla bla…’ and he would reply with the same kind of thing , ‘I’m fine…bla bla bla. This is what is happening at home bla bla bla…’

It was just like that. It worked most of the times because I understood that my dad isn’t that big on words and opening up, so I left it like that because I knew my dad loved me and I love him very much. I was aware it was due to my dad’s depression and the stressful situation were in so I just worked at making myself feel better first and making sure my family was OK.  Things got bad and they are now worse after he quit his  job. When I talk to my dad I feel as if I’m being judged for something. He used to call me the last few days when I was at uni and it always felt like I was under watch. We didn’t communicate. He was just frustrated.

‘What are you doing? Where are young going? I called and you were not at home, where were you? How are your studies?’

That is not a phone conversation. I hated that, so all I did was just answer his questions, offer brief explanations and that was that. My parents in general haven’t been the let’s-be-open-and-talk-about-everything kind of people. I don’t know, I guess it could it could be because of my parents need to protect us and in a way treat us as precious little children or it could just be tradition, but that’s the way it is and I can’t change that now.

Still, my mum is very hands on. She calls us, emails, talks to us. She is generally the one who’ll tell me to get out there and live life. She makes an effort to make everyone happy. Now my dad has started saying that we are excluding him in stuff and my mum is blaming me. He says that we are talking to each other and doing things together and leaving him out. I don’t understand this. It’s his doing. He doesn’t want to do things, he is always worried about how much money we spend. He’s constantly stressing over things and when my mother tries to make him do things to make him feel positive, he refuses to do them. He sometimes even refuses to go for walks or treat himself to something that will make him feel better. He just wants to stay at home and be depressed. I don’t want to live like that. I want to be happy. I want to meet people. So I make an effort not to be in the company of my dad because he is so negative and I don’t want his kind of mindset. It’s not that I don’t like him. I love my father but I don’t want to live like him. Is it so wrong that I don’t want this kind of life? Does loving your parents mean putting up with a negative attitude? I’m also a grown up now and I’m a woman, surely my relationship with my father is going to be different from my mother. At this point in my life, I’m going to be close to my mother than my father but that doesn’t mean I don’t love him or care for him. So  why is my mum blaming me?

She went to work yesterday and called me for about half an hour to tell me off. She says I should make an effort even if my dad does not make any effort at least I’ll have done my part. But why is this? It’s not fair. He’s the one who isn’t making any effort, so why shouldn’t he be told to make an effort? I’ve been extremely patient with the situation at home. I’ve respected him. I’ve never shouted at him and or been rude to him when things were getting extremely hard and when he was not being very nice to my mum. I’ve never demanded anything of him, so why I’m I being told that it’s my fault? It’s not my fault that he’s depressed. It’s not my fault that he’s not working towards feeling good and being happy. I’m angry at my mum for making me feel guilty. Deep down I know it’s my dad making my mum feel guilty. It’s his low self-esteem and depression that is making him think  he’s being neglected. I just feel as if every time I try to stay on top of things, my dad puts me down again.

Tell me what’s wrong with wanting to run away from all this negativity?

Whenever my mum starts going on about this, I always think of that moment when I found a note from my dad to my mum in the kitchen table with my mum’s bank statement.

‘We don’t have money. She’ll never finish university’

Or that day when my mum sent me a message asking me to come up with a surprise present to give to my dad after graduation. For his efforts. I’m sorry but as much as I’m supposed to thank my parents for financing my education but I’m the one who is graduating. And my mum is the one who has struggled a lot more than my dad. A lot more.  If I was goin to buy a present it would be for her.  But, I didn’t say anything. Didn’t complain, just focused on completing my  degree, and now I’m the one who isn’t making an effort.

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2 Responses to “”

  1. gekkogirl Says:

    You are the dependable one.
    Your Mum is depending on you. This also means that she is transferring duties to you that perhaps are not yours – but because she knows that you can be persuaded/cajoled/harangued into doing them.

    I would not underestimate your Dad’s contribution. You say yourself he is an extreme introvert and what you see is not always what is going on.

    I think its brave (and healthy) of you to remove yourself from any guilt or manipulation. You’re not selfish or guilty… but also remember that compassion & more patience is probably required when it comes to your dad.

    It’s not an easy situation that you are in. I wish you luck, success, patience and perserverance.


    • Yes you are right. I’ve noticed that pattern with my mum and while in the past I used to think everything was my responsibility, now I’ve learnt to control the situation so that in a way I’m not manipulated. I am trying my best to be considerate and patience with my dad, it’s what I’ve always tried to do. Thanks.


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