Family: isn’t it about time?

In the latest round of ‘disposable people syndrome’, instead of lying down because sitting at the computer hurts in the crying-and-try-not-to-scream kind of way (it spiked this morning, with a tender spot just below and to the right of my navel, and escalated to radiating down my right leg in an excruciating, non-crampy kind of way), I have to wait here while my mum eats her tea and then we get to spend two hours discussing absolutely nothing on Skype.


I finally normalised my schedule – go to bed between 4:30am and 6am, get up roughly at 2pm – which will all be shot to shit in a week or so when my parents come to visit, and go to bed in the lounge room at 11pm, leaving me without my television, easy access to the kitchen, and most importantly, a non-bed place to lie down. That’s not going to be fun.


I got to the computer at 2pm, and my dad was like ‘oh we’re getting a coffee’. They do this – leave me sitting here waiting for them to come back while they laze around in their lounge room, drinking instant coffee. Mum has arthritis, so she won’t have drinks near her computer, and I get it, but if I was on the phone, Dad would get the coffee and Mum would drink it while talking to me. Instead, there’s gaps where they just wander off to do things while I’m there, waiting, sitting, in pain. Excruciating, crying-and-try-not-to-scream pain, and today I failed at the not screaming. Today, they didn’t come back from coffee for three hours.


Except my dad got the notification that I was there, didn’t tell Mum, and Mum was sitting at the computer thinking I was in bed still, and I was doing everything really quickly so I could leave the computer and lie down and not die from pain (I’ve also had a fever for the last four days; it’s gone from half a degree to a degree above normal. It’s cyclical, so I know it will eventually go back down and the pain will abate back to normal discomfort-mildly-ameliorated-by-opiates-for-an-hour-or-so, but I don’t know when). And now I can’t really do that, because part of living in my parent’s investment home while I can’t earn money to pay my own bills _and_ my Mum’s collection of DVDs (which is an investment for me, because I get them all back when she dies), is that I be nice to them. It is required that I talk to them every day – in part, because Mum and I are each other’s security, since my parents live halfway out of town and if she doesn’t check in I have to call the police, and if I don’t check in she has a panic attack and ends up passing out on the floor, which she did he first time my brother didn’t email for three days – and that when they come up here to do their shopping and other things that they can’t do in a country town with 3000 people like go to the doctors without the entire town knowing why, they stay with me.

Last year, Mum sat down on the couch and started screaming. “I never get a break! I am sick of cooking tea every night! I am sick of deciding what to eat every meal!”

So now I also have to cook for three people. This is partly for my own peace of mind, as well, because I am vegan (and transitioning to gluten-free, because the only constant thing prior to periods of constipation is when I have a cheat week and eat frozen schnitzel, which has gluten. And flaxseed. But it’s the gluten, because it’s also bread, and the bread doesn’t have flaxseed. I just don’t like flaxseed. Or chia. I am a terrible health food person, and I don’t care what anyone says) and when they were responsible for their lunch they would do things like get deli meat, eat it off my plates, then wash it all together with my never-touched-animal-products cutlery and appliances. Then, they would wonder why I was more sick, because I didn’t eat any. I’m the kind of person that gets a reaction from ‘may contain traces of’ and I can tell unlabelled dairy from the tightness in my throat after one bite. If my mum obeyed the meal plans I make, it wouldn’t be as much of a problem, but if I make myself something to have separately, she has to have some. If I start making something, she hovers – either she gets in the way because she wants to learn new things, or she doesn’t want very much and has to micromanage, because she doesn’t know how to not cook. And they still insist on doing the dishes, so I have to supervise, otherwise my dad puts things in logical places, even though I snapped and labelled every thing with which drawer and whether it was animal-free or not. It’s very stressful, and the physical cost for me is immense – I normally cook twice or three times a week at most, and eat leftovers (or nothing) the other days, not twice a day.


And, of course, I’m meant to continue my life with no interruptions from them, or they feel bad, and threaten not to come back. (Which is, in a word, ideal.) When if I sit down and play a video game, or put on music, they sit there and stare because ‘it’s so fascinating!’ and ‘it’s so educational!’ and ‘I didn’t know things like this existed’…

Yeah. It kinda feels like they don’t come to see me, but a zoo version of me. Then I get yelled at if I mention anything about needing recovery time or rest afterwards… not to mention how I need to rearrange half my house for when they come. I don’t have the room to keep a space just for them, so I need to put away all my yarn, packed and sealed so that the smoke from Mum’s cigarettes doesn’t get in it; I need to pack away my next, which is a large cat bed with a lumbar pillow in it so I don’t get pinched nerves from lying in the least-pain-position, because they need to sit on the couch and I sit in front of couch. I used to lie on the couch, but they replaced my comfy one with a rough, hard one that I can’t fold out on my own. (There is a trend of them treating the place I live in perfectly well by myself for 11 months of the year as their own, rather than behaving like guests for four days every few months. Can you tell?) I have to clean everything because if it is not 100% clean I get yelled at. If it is clean, they will clean it anyway. (Mum destroyed a vegan mink blanket in the washing machine. Mum yelled at me for not having the dishes done when I was in hospital after the first operation. She claims not to remember, because she would never do that. Except for when she did.)


And right now, I really need my space, my routine, and to not get yelled at for not talking. Because it’s so hard for them.



Mum’s just left now because she asked how long I wanted to stay and I said I needed to lie down two hours ago. “I thought that,” she said. So why did she keep me sitting here for an hour to talk about television shows she knows I have no interest in and what she had for tea? Goodness only knows.


But today I have to clean the kitchen and the bathroom so the rubbish can go in the bin and the bin can go out, and now I can’t stand long enough. I’m also working to a very tight schedule on commissions, which I had to put aside for a month while I worked on things for her. I don’t have time or spoons for this.


I also need a place to live.


And the other day, she wanted to discuss when they were coming up. We haven’t yet. And I need to know, obviously. Preferably so I can sell something and use it to pay for a hotel room for them (since I can’t leave them unattended here or I’ll come home and everything will be contaminated and I won’t know, then I’ll be sick, and I’ll get yelled at for it in the same way I get yelled at for opening a window when Mum decides to smoke inside, knowing it makes me and my dad sick).


I don’t know a way out of this situation.