December, and boundaries, and self care.

chansen

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DaisyJane, I'm glad we're a place you can vent. I apologize, because I come with no answers. Except that I really suggest you hold off on introducing your husband or your in-laws to anyone from Wondercafe. At least for a few months. That could get ugly, like, really fast.
 

Mrs.Anteater

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Think of it this way- if you have chosen well, your husband is also a strong character. Your kids will come after you. So, naturally, there is stronger resistance to change- until reason and emotions catch up.
 

PilgrimsProgress

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Daisy Jane - a tale of wisdom comes to my mind as you talk about change, and fear causing hurt to others. That's a narrative many of us fall into - particularly women I think. Long ago, a wise family therapist gave me this tale & image - and it has always stuck & made sense to me. Let me see if I can describe it in words tho - it's so much easier in person!
Thank you so much, Carolla, for supplying that wonderful image -it will stay with me. (Not to mention that when I see my therapist next week after a 6 week break I will say, something to the affect, "You may have been off on vacation, but I have been doing a lot of work -let me show you this fist and what it means re boundaries.")
No doubt she'll give me her enigmatic smile........

I think you, as far as therapists go, would be like Goldilock's porridge, "Just right".:love:
 

PilgrimsProgress

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I totally hear you PP. Your comment about enforcing boundaries is spot-on. I find the challenge is knowing that if I enforce them people I care about will be hurt. I have a hard time sacrificing relationships in order to enforce certain boundaries. You've given me lots to think about.
Phew - that's a relief - I was worried that I'd hurt you!
The bottom line is that if your boundaries are fair, those that love and care for you, won't sacrifice the relationship. They might push and pull that rubber band of carolla's in the beginning, but if your boundaries are maintained they'll work with them.
Value yourself - and the great job you're doing. Yes, you are just one of the fingers in that rubber band - but you don't have to be the little pinkie!
You may hurt others, but the way things are now, you are the one hurting......
 

ChemGal

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But there is also a very clear rule in our home that if I set a boundary or ask for help then I mean business - mostly because I so rarely do such a thing. I have been clear, that while I can do a lot, I can't do it all. I think that was what really upset me that past week. I identified my need for boundaries and was ignored because they didn't align with others' needs and agendas. Originally my in-laws were only supposed to stay for about two days - that I felt was okay. I was up for that. It would be a nice visit, but not too much. But then at the last minute my in-laws changed their plans to a full week without first discussing the change with me. I basically got a call and was told "this is the new plan". I chatted with my husband that I didn't think I had the energy to host for a week and I was frustrated I wasn't initially consulted about the change in plans. I suggested he chat with his family about how things might be done differently. It was then that things broke down. I feel I set a boundary and it was ignored - for lots of complex, family-dynamic, related reasons.
Ugh no. Shouldn't have happened, plain and simple. When you said the week earlier, I thought that was planned in advance.
Your temper tantrum came too late, it should have been right when that was not being shut down immediately - and directly at your inlaws. May have not had any in laws as guests over the holidays!
 

paradox3

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Hello All!

Yes, I know. I told you I was leaving back in the summer. WC2 has been a hard habit to break and I find myself checking in from time to time to see how some of the more interesting threads are progressing. This is a great thread!

Thanks @DaisyJane for your openness. I am slightly concerned that you might be *ahem* crossing a boundary or two in your discussion about boundaries within your family circle. But that is your call and sometimes we need to risk vulnerability in order to receive meaningful feedback from others. I would never air any conflict with Mr Paradox in such detail but we truly get to decide these things for ourselves.

Chansen makes a good point here:
DaisyJane, I'm glad we're a place you can vent. I apologize, because I come with no answers. Except that I really suggest you hold off on introducing your husband or your in-laws to anyone from Wondercafe. At least for a few months. That could get ugly, like, really fast.
There are so many layers to this particular issue. I am most appreciative of your response re: your other two sons and your desire that they be allowed to be "siblings". Regular posters here may recall that I am a sibling of a very disabled individual myself. Not too long ago I read a young people's novel entitled From Ant to Eagle by Alex Lyttle. It is a wonderful story from the perspective of a sibling who has a brother with cancer. I related to it so strongly I emailed the author and received a very nice response from him.

Agreeing with @BetteTheRed about the expectations on women in particular around the holiday season.

So Christmas alone is a big factor here. Huge!

And a one week visit from in-laws would present a nightmare to almost anyone I know. No matter how much we love these people, extra family members in our space is stressful. Agreeing with @PilgrimsProgress about house guests and fish going bad after 3 days. So true!

Don't be too hard on yourself about that "temper tantrum" @DaisyJane. Such reactions might be more common than we think. A beloved minister of mine once said in one of our study groups, "That which is the most private is also the most universal."

So much to ponder here . . . it's good to "see" everyone again . . . P3
 

DaisyJane

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"I am slightly concerned that you might be *ahem* crossing a boundary or two in your discussion about boundaries within your family circle. But that is your call and sometimes we need to risk vulnerability in order to receive meaningful feedback from others. I would never air any conflict with Mr Paradox in such detail but we truly get to decide these things for ourselves."

Fair point. But to be honest, my beef isn't really with my husband, more with the entire situation - he got caught in the crossfire. And for the record, I shared with him that I was discussing it here to try and get some feedback from people not directly involved. He actually thought it was a good idea. In the end we both agree that WC2 was a safe place to vent, with people who were decent and would provide good feedback, and it would happen in a manner that didn't directly involve anyone in my personal life. The handful of people here who know me in RL I trust with this conversation.


......that said, now that I have provided the basic narrative I do agree it is a good idea to talk in more general terms about boundary setting amid situations of high- expectation.
 
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paradox3

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Fair point. But to be honest, my beef isn't really with my husband, more with the entire situation.
It is a complex situation for sure.

Let us not forget the role of the health care system which could handle Matthew in an ICU bed but could not care for him on a regular unit. They assumed you had appropriate equipment at home (probably so) but also assumed appropriate staffing would be available. This turned out not to be the case due to the Christmas season. This is a significant factor in the whole scenario, it seems to me.

Hospitals are under pressure to discharge patients in a timely manner and it doesn't always make for good planning. I have experienced this where elderly parents are concerned. But I digress.
 
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DaisyJane

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It is a complex situation for sure.

Let us not forget the role of the health care system which could handle Matthew in an ICU bed but could not care for him on a regular unit. They assumed you had appropriate equipment at home (probably so) but also assumed appropriate staffing would be available. This turned out not to be the case due to the Christmas season. This is a significant factor in the whole scenario, it seems to me.

Hospitals are under pressure to discharge patients in a timely manner and it doesn't always make for good planning. I have experienced this where elderly parents are concerned. But I digress.
Agreed. Under normal circumstances a discharge home normally makes excellent sense because our ability to provide 1:1 supervision at home is much better than a hospital ward. The time of year and holidays definitely added to the whole complicated mess.
 

paradox3

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Um, hello? Why does my most recent post (#28) say it was "last edited by a moderator"?

There have been no edits to it that I can see.
 

BetteTheRed

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hmmm...did you edit? You may still have mod status, mendalla?

I have to share, daisyjane, that yours was the best example of a post-holiday "well, that was f***ed up" analysis I've seen.
 

revjohn

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DaisyJane said:
Warning: This is a long post, mostly because I need to vent.
Go ahead. We can handle it.

DaisyJane said:
But I wouldn't mind some thoughts about how to handle touchy in-law situations.
Oh boy.

DaisyJane said:
December 2019 was a write off. I spent virtually every day simply trying to get through the day, and then the subsequent night. We started the month with urgent medical visits to deal with Matthew's hip pain - he has a congenitally dislocated hip. A week later I called 911 because he went into respiratory failure. He spent almost two weeks in the ICU. I was there every single day. Nine of those days he was intubated. Because of his complexity he wasn't stepped down to a unit, but rather discharged directly from the ICU home. The general feeling is that wards often can't handle complex cases like my son. We have better equipment, and usually better staffing, at home. But we came home just before Christmas so most of our home care staff had booked off. This meant that I spent most of the holidays managing his care almost solo. I was up every 2-3 hours through the night because of his need for care and medications. I also hosted 20 for Christmas dinner. It goes without saying that I bought and wrapped all the gifts - staying up late into the night after leaving the ICU. My in-laws arrived a few days after Christmas and stayed for a week. It is this last part that really did me in - and is what I am most upset about. I need a safe place to vent (here) and wouldn't mind some advice on how I might have been able to set better boundaries - so thanks for listening.
Sounds like it needs to be written up not written off.

December can be difficult even when things are relatively stable. Sometimes whatever spirit Christmas is it isn't particularly godly or restful.

DaisyJane said:
Prior to my in-laws arrival this year (just after the ICU discharge) I had mentioned to my husband that I wasn't sure I could "do" a week of hosting and wondered if we could juggle things. But he didn't feel that we could change things so late in the game.
Family of origin issues can be difficult to contend with. That said, I expect that your family has done what it can to accommodate both families of origin and to differentiate from both. I suspect this is another area where some negotiated differentiation needs to happen because there have been changes to your family which make accommodation more problematic.

It looks like these changes were unexpected and hopefully temporary which doesn't mean that they don't have an impact. It does mean that there will be a rush by everybody to get back to whatever passes for normal. The in-laws obviously find it easier to get back to normal and cannot, apparently, comprehend how their presence doesn't contribute to a smooth transition back to normal.

DaisyJane said:
I am not sure why two weeks in the ICU didn't earn me a pass, but for some reason it didn't.
Well, you were at the ICU not a patient in the ICU so there is some grounds for in-laws not picking up on that. This is where your hubby should have taken one for the team and, given the time in ICU plus the home-care absence, cancelled their visit or drastically scaled back their expectations.

Kimberly and I negotiated early on that neither one of us would cancel plans with the other's in-laws unless there was some precipitating crisis. Then we would just put our foot down and worry about mending fences later.

DaisyJane said:
What really bugs me is that my in-laws are known for telling me how things will play out, rather than consulting me. So I get phone calls that basically tell me when they're arriving, how long they're staying, and what I will be expected to do. At times that can include hosting meals for extended family.
This isn't a new thing.

Which means, as far as your in-laws are concerned, it is perfectly inbounds behaviour. They could have managed that with a bit more empathy. So maybe that needs to be addressed in some way. And it may have been negotiated if rather than thinking it was too late to cancel the thinking was that it was not too late to modify.

DaisyJane said:
On the whole I don't mind this because I enjoy their company.
Ordinarily, you would have enjoyed it this time around also. December, for your family, was not skewing ordinary. So accommodations of the in-laws should have been modified and your husband (because he is a lawyer) should have considered that. I'll give him some benefit of the doubt because it is family and he might have expected that they would have responded better than they did.

DaisyJane said:
But this year I was simply too burned out and felt quite resentful that there seemed to be no awareness of how overextended I was.
Not to be an ass or anything. Is your husband and his side of the family blessed with Extra-Sensory Perception? If not you might need to say something. Granted you did with telling him he is taking a week off to help. Apart from that were you very clear that you were at the end of your rope when the cancel discussion happened? Did you get concessions out of him when he felt cancellation was not a reasonable option?

DaisyJane said:
No one thought to stop and ask what I felt I could handle given how overwhelming my December had been.
Would they have been if not for December?

Would they have been more empathic in May or June? Because if that isn't part of who they are 11 months of the year expecting it from them in the 12th is a bit much.

DaisyJane said:
What really hurt was that they ended up planning a large family gathering in such a way that I couldn't attend because of my son's care needs.
We had some family drama during Kimberly's dad's death a few years back. I'm still pissed about it. Kimberly doesn't want me to address it so I won't. Her brothers sense I am pissed about something and I expect that they understand it is my reaction to their insensitivity. It will pass and I know the dynamic is such that it is more the elder brother than the younger brother who insisted on being the jerk so I am lenient in that regard.

That said, I cannot imagine my in-laws, showing up at my place, expecting me to do grunt work for them and then making sure that I was shut out of events. I can't imagine Kimberly being okay with that. I can't imagine my kids being okay with that.

Nor can I imagine sitting back while my family treated Kimberly as a drudge and then shut her out of something at our place.

Fur would fly.

DaisyJane said:
So despite providing a B and B, purchasing the gifts, cooking meals, and so on, I didn't get to celebrate Christmas with the family. It feels a bit like I wasn't seen as a "real" member of the family because my absence was so inconsequential.
I'm actually getting a smidge furious listening. That is quite the injustice.

DaisyJane said:
They just left a couple of days ago and I at the moment waffle between feeling so tired I could just sit down and cry,
Sometimes crying helps and heals. I think it is warranted in this situation. You have been hurt.

DaisyJane said:
and feeling angry, frustrated, and hurt that they didn't stop to think of how their needs for Christmas/holidays usurped my need to manage my own self-care, and ultimately excluded me.
Yeah. That doesn't cast them in a good light at all.

But back to the bounday issue. Much of their behaviour appears, from your description, normative. They use your place and second you to do stuff for them while they are there. So from their perspective they didn't ask for, or get more than, they are accustomed to getting.

Yes, they suck for not being particularly empathetic to your situation. Not knowing their baseline empathies makes it hard for me to say whether they were uncharacteristically dense or you are uncharacteristically expecting too much from them.

DaisyJane said:
I blew up at my husband earlier in the week and basically told him he was taking the week off work to "help".
Well. Blowing up not really good and yet, it gives you an opportunity to rearrange a new subset of boundaries moving forward.

I'm not going to pretend to know how your relationship with your husband works so this is my strategy for dealing with a similar situation.

Step 1. Apologize for blowing up. Don't excuse why in fact, lay all the reasons that you would fuel an excuse with and then simply say, ". . .but that is no excuse. Can you forgive me?"

Unless Kimberly smells a trap she will say that she does. And when she does I spring the trap. I own your feelings about the event, let her know that I wish things had been different and, it doesn't hurt to grease the skids with apologizing for not asking for help sooner. (Here, a wise spouse, even if they suspect a trap, meets you half-way by offering apologies of their own.

Step 2. Come to an understanding moving forward about what boundaries come into play and who is responsible for putting those boundaries into play. Who cancels plans with whose family. Who negotiates modifications to expectations and how are they framed? Is it a forever and an always thing or is it a temporary change due to extenuating circumstance. Negotiate with one another and make sure the plan is fair and the boundaries secure.

Step 3. Be thankful and appreciative for all of the effort the other put into hearing and responding to the concern and their contributions to the resolution. Kimberly and I have only had to do this sparingly. Do it right and it takes less than an hour and we both feel better moving forward.

DaisyJane said:
To be fair he did - take the week off work - I'm not sure he was all that helpful.
Ummmm. Baby steps?

DaisyJane said:
But I resent the fact that I was essentially pushed to a minor temper tantrum before it occurred to him that he should step in - and he wouldn't have done so without the temper tantrum. Remember I had already (calmly) told him that I didn't feel I was up to hosting for a week. And before you ask, yes, there are other places they could have stayed, and other ways things could have been planned.
It is a lousy feeling, isn't it? Sometimes it is the result of us not communicating clearly and other times it is the result of the other not fully participating in the communication. December not particularly helpful with nuanced conversations around family and expectations.

I think it important to find a way to let that resentment out (healthily) otherwise it becomes like sand to fine machinery.

Speaking on behalf of husbands who have been known to blow it in this regard we don't particularly feel good that it took a tantrum from our beloved to get us to see what was really going on so depending on how maturely we handle embarrassment about personal short-comings things can get worse if not addressed.

DaisyJane said:
Tomorrow we supposedly return to "normal" life. I have an entire month's worth of work I am supposed to catch up on. I start teaching a new class on Thursday. The syllabus isn't even prepared, much less any lecture prep. I am presenting at a conference in less than two weeks. I haven't started preparing my talk or slides. And then there are all the meetings, appointments, and so on,
I am married to an Academic so I can empathize with your plight in this regard.

Given your husband's most recent failure to perceive your strain and appreciate it and operating on the premise that he is not characteristically this slow to understand it might be good for you to have a plan to catch up and share it with him so that he can know that it is not a good time to ask you if he has clean socks or underwear because he has to be in court tomorrow. Or whatever endearing/annoying quirk he brings to the relationship.

Currently, Kimberly is in the mad rush to get courses ready. This includes online courses that she did not write but has to deliver that are invariably full of out-dated references or broken links. So I have to stay out of her way and when she finally gets to step away from her desk I have to be ready to watch some episode of some series I don't particularly find compelling knowing that she will be asleep before we are half-way through and she will expect me to let her know what happened.

And all of that generally happens when I would rather be going to sleep.

Sorry to hear that December was such a bust and I hope that your son is also back to normal.

Best time to set boundaries is before you need them.

Second best time to set boundaries is before you need them again.

John
 

revjohn

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Um, hello? Why does my most recent post (#28) say it was "last edited by a moderator"?

There have been no edits to it that I can see.

I note that DaisyJane has quoted you but your material does not appear in a quote box.

No idea if that explains your phenomenon or not.
 

DaisyJane

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Um, hello? Why does my most recent post (#28) say it was "last edited by a moderator"?

There have been no edits to it that I can see.
I think I hit edit instead of reply. Sorry. I will go check when next at my computer.
 

Mendalla

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Um, hello? Why does my most recent post (#28) say it was "last edited by a moderator"?

There have been no edits to it that I can see.
According to the History of the post, it was Daisyjane and no changes were made. Probably hit edit by accident or something.
 

Northwind

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I find the challenge is knowing that if I enforce them people I care about will be hurt.
This is something I've struggled with in the past, and sometimes still do. We get afraid to hurt others so instead, we hurt ourselves. That's kind of messed up when you think about it isn't it. We need to remember to consider our needs too.
 

BetteTheRed

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Yes, and we need to relativize "hurt". There are completely degrees.

OTOH, I am a completely "don't f*** with me" sorta lady, and I tend towards loneliness, lol... My children and sisters largely adore me, their extended family largely raise eyebrows.
 
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