Sunday, May 29, 2011

Grandma - Why I Can't Do This Anymore

I posted on Facebook last night about my grandma, but I want to give a more detailed description of what is going on.

As you know, grandma was in the ER for the umpteenth million time for a bladder infection turned mental issue.  She was ordered by the doctor to come home with me, and he advised me to contact the hospital's patient advisor to arrange for home care for her (nothing new, we did it after her hospitalization for pneumonia).  She stayed one night, and insisted on going home the next morning.  Since then, she's refused to allow us to bring in home care for her, and we've brought in her mail and everything she needs - resulting in daily trips to the store, pharmacy, and various other locations.  I spend at least an hour every day on the phone with her, but since being in the ER that time has doubled.  She's decided that her illness was caused by the anniversary of her daughter's (my aunt) death - 6 years ago May 21.  This has opened a floodgate of grieving for her, and she's revealed a lot of horrible things that happened in the past.  My aunt's father (grandma's first husband) raped her when she was 7.  I'm still dealing with my own abuse at the hands of her 4th husband (step-grandpa, but the only grandfather I knew on that side of the family), and honestly hearing about my aunt's abuse has re-opened old wounds.

In the last few years, it seems I've turned into some sort of therapist for grandma.  Our daily phone calls are constant sessions of her digging up old traumas and rehashing them over and over.  She's 88 and has never gotten over her mother's neglect.  She bemoans the loss of my father, who walked out of my life when I was a year old and completely cut her out of his life when I was 18.  She constantly grieves for my aunt, and hates her daughters.  As much as she hates them, she brings them up EVERY SINGLE DAY.  She can hardly remember her name most days, but she remembers her father telling her to sit in some pedophile's lap for $5 when she was a little girl (she didn't, but apparently it left an impression).  Her first husband beat her and tried to kill her (and, as stated above, raped my aunt).  Her second husband was worthless as well.  Her third (my real grandfather) was a nice man, but an alcoholic with end-stage liver disease that he kept secret from grandma.  He died when my father was 2.  Her fourth husband (step-grandpa) was an ex-POW in WWII (his story comes tomorrow) and came home from 42 months of imprisonment a madman.  She ended up married to him for 25 years, and says he threatened to kill her every single day.  I've heard stories about him holding guns to her head, threatening to kill family, etc.  He was a horribly evil man.  That's all I have to say about that.

While she's bringing all this up, I'm struggling to deal with it.  I've told her numerous times that she needs to be back in therapy, but she says it doesn't help her.  She takes a mild tranquilizer and a daily anti-depressant, but those obviously aren't doing their job for her.

When she falls deeply into this grieving/depressant state, she lashes out.  Suddenly she needs to talk to me 4, 5, 6 times a day (our record is 9); I can't do anything right, and if I don't do things her way, she blows up and hurts my feelings.  Last night, I had already talked to her 4 times that day.  She was going through pictures, and grieving again for my aunt.  She normally goes to bed around 7, but sometimes doesn't go to sleep until 11-ish....but my thought is, when you're in bed, the phone shouldn't ring.  So, Faith wasn't due back from Boatnik until 7, and I knew she would be in bed, if not sleeping.  Around 8, she called (it was apparent from her voice that she had more than her normal 3 cocktails that evening) and asked if Faith was home.  Since she wasn't (she ended up meeting up with one of her teachers, so I felt comfortable letting her stay), grandma started calling my parenting into question.  She railed at me for not "keeping her updated" with what is going on, brought up the fact that I had forgotten to buy her cottage cheese (it wasn't on the list and we had just bought two huge containers a week before), and ended up hanging up on me.  It's after 1pm now, and I still haven't heard from her since then.

This is what she does - she gets pissed off, lashes out at me, and makes me wait for an apology - knowing it drives me nuts to have unsettled business that lasts any length of time.  Usually, she calls me within a few hours, but I guess she wants me to suffer.  I haven't done anything wrong - I'm 37, my daughter is 14 and very trustworthy, and she was well-chaperoned.  I refuse to call her and ask what is going on, because this is the game she plays.  I absolutely HATE games, to the depths of my being.  So, when she calls and pretends like last night didn't happen, I have to play along or she'll go right back into her snit and hurt me again.  It will continue until I concede.  I've obviously been down this road before.

A while back, one of the people I really looked up to turned her back on me because I was venting on my Facebook page about the daily dealings with grandma.  She called me a drama queen and admonished me for complaining when I should just love my grandma.  Sure, she just saw the venting....but it was crushing to know what she "really" thought of me.  If I don't vent, I can't handle her calmly and lovingly.  Honestly, it's so hard to love her tolerate her (as a good friend just told me) when she's trying her damnedest to hurt me.  I will always love her, she's been a strong influence in my life.  It's my turn to be strong for her, but I'm not made of the right stuff to withstand what she doles out.  I hate that she can't just go peacefully in her sleep some night and avoid all this horribleness.  I can't imagine how awful it must be to be trapped in her mind and body like this - she's always been so independent, so chic, so beautiful that it's heartbreaking to see her decline.

I'll leave you with a pic of how beautiful she is.  This was taken on her honeymoon with husband #4 (before he revealed his psychosis).  This is how I will forever remember her and I'll do my best to push out these bad years.

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