Sunday, 8 February 2009

To be grateful

I admit that lately I've been one ungrateful witch. J timed me during our Skype date this evening, and it took 43 minutes before I stopped whingeing about my house buying (though that should be our house buying) and asked him how he was doing.

Shame on me.

But this stuff is really stressing me out. I think one of the reasons I am finding this so tough is that I have always kind of assumed that my parents helped my brother out more simply because I was geographically further away and they couldn't buy me washing machines and the like.

I realise now that actually it was not geography that separated us, but simply the fact that my brother has the same level of education as them and does a job they can understand and has done things they approve of, such as to breed. Their common frame of reference with him is actually existent. Between me and the rest of the family, it is sadly not so.

I am the only one of my family to go into higher education. Although my mother is a very clever woman, she simply has never been educated to think outside the box and to think "scientifically". My brother, although he finished high school, did so on a vocational course. Both my siblings hated school, my sister also had social problems, and my mother spent most of her free time tending to their needs. I was always left to my own devices because I could be and still performed well.

This hurts me. I know they are proud on me on an almost abstract level, because I've always got top grades and been no trouble and earned my keep since I was 15. But on a more concrete level, they have no idea what I do all day. I got a First on my initial BA. They asked me if I was satisfied with that. I got into a really competitive clinical psychology course. They didn't really congratulate me. I got an A on my first essay. My dad nodded and said "oh, OK". It isn't that they don't care, it is that they have no idea that any of these things might mean anything to anyone.

Like a child, I really just want to be seen, appreciated, engaged with. There is still a little girl inside me that wants my parents to see that I love them and to be proud of me.

When I question courses of action that they take as irrational and uneconomical, they, and especially my father, feel as if I am attacking them, personally, although this genuinely is not my intention. Tonight, again, I had a lengthy conversation with my mother which I think will have ended in her crying in front of a rerun Heartbeat afterwards. Of course I feel really bad about it.

J says this situation of experiencing a chasm between me and them is quite common, that I should actually be grateful for the support I am receiving from my family and that lots of people have it worse, which is very true. My self-absorbedness in this issue reaches the dimensions of someone severely clinically depressed, it really does.

Sometimes I wonder if when I left home, I just pushed all these late adolescent issues ahead of me, and I never had to deal with them because I was home so rarely that seeing me in itself was a treat for my parents and differences were forgotten about. But of course, these things, they don't go away.

And meanwhile I've of course lived in other places, done other things that they have no concept of. My father has literally speaking lived in one house his whole life. He has had the same job, with promotions, in the same shop. He inherited that house from his parents, he has never had to fend for himself in any way. And of course, crucially, he lacks the intellectual framework it would take for him to realise that things might be different from other people.

I don't really see a solution to this. I just want this house buying business to be overwith so we can go back to pretending that everything is OK.

Meanwhile, I did some positive thinking on the way home today. I should be, and am, grateful because:
  1. My friend spent years in therapy to come to the conclusion that she simply can't expect her parents to understand or appreciate or be interested in what actually goes on in her life. Now they talk about gardening instead, which she hates but her parents love, and everything is OK. In other words, she learned that as an adult, you have to be the adult and come to them on their terms, like they did when you were a kid. Hopefully I can learn this from her as I can't afford the therapy.
  2. My other friend told me he is very impressed with my knitting. I liked that. He is the kind of person who genuinely can give someone else 100 per cent of his attention even if it is something he is not remotely interested in, and it makes me feel seen and special.
  3. I have made an effort to like a third acquaintance of me that I fell out with when we were 18 (I told you sleeping dogs just stay, er, asleep, while one lives abroad... though it is a bit pathetic, I know), and it appears to be going quite well, even when he is at his most pretentious.
  4. J is being really supportive and didn't even complain about the 43 min thing I mentioned earlier. In fact, in general I have a very loving boyfriend that I care about and whom is coming to see me next week.
  5. It is snowy outside, and though I am loath to admit it, I kinda like it.
  6. I think I know everything I need to pass my exam next week.
  7. My teacher friend helped me put together an efficient but easy to teach class for me to give in the substitute teacher job I will be doing after the exam when I could probably better be put to use as a floor rag than as a teacher. So that's that off the to-do list.
  8. I got on really well with my friend that stayed with me this weekend, that I haven't gelled with very well for the last year or so.
  9. I have almost finished the baby bolero I am knitting.
  10. I got my first comment on my non-anonymous blog today. From another blogger I both like and respect! Yay!
So in other words, lots to be happy for. And tomorrow is Mother's Day. I shall ring my mum, say I love her and mention not a word about housing nor money. Scouts honours.

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