Today was one of those lovely Autumn days that Melbourne does so well.
I was helping out at the Farmer's Market as part of the Oxfam fund raising. We did the same thing a month ago only this time we were much more organised.
I was up at 6:00 am. Honestly, early morning is HELL. It did not help that I had been awake a lot through the night. But up I got and rushed around looking for clothes to wear as I had not organised myself the night prior. I then ran out of time to have breakfast.
If I don't eat breakfast within a reasonable time of getting up I feel too sick to eat for hours. I ended up eating only one lovely biscuit at about 10:30 am and then nothing until I got home about about two. I did have a cup of coffee kindly bought for me by my therapist who happened to be there.
It was funny to see my therapist in a non therapy room. If you know what I mean. Once I saw my gynaecologist at the shopping centre and he stopped and chatted briefly to me. I suppose chatting to your therapist "off site" is easier that chatting to your gynaecologist. I mean, one has been digging in your head and the other in your twat. Which one would render one more uncomfortable? Hmmmmm.
Anyway, the day was nice and we don't have to do it again. Well, until next year if we do the walk. Ha!
I had a little episode on Thursday that I think I may record because I need to see it in writing.
I was getting ready for work when I was sent an sms from one of the project manager's asking if I would bring milk in. I replied that I would and then continued doing what needs doing when getting ready for work.
But I had woken up in a very unsettled and grey sort of mood and took ages to get dressed, ages to organise myself and rushed out of the house feeling very rattled. On the drive to work I remembered I had to get the milk and decided for some insane reason that I would stop at my dad's bakery and get milk and also pick up a Danish pastry for work. I figured he would not be there.
So after making that decision I took a deep breath and pulled up near the shop. I saw that my father's car was parked in front and I was very hesitant about going in but felt that I was there and that was it. The chance of him seeing me was quite small as he is out the back working. Besides, I had to get the milk and there were no other convenient stops on the way to work where I could get milk.
Sure enough a young girl served me in the shop. As she got what I needed I could see my father through the glass doors of the pie warmer. He was working away. Talking to someone whom I presume was his partner.
He looked so neat, as always. Shirt with long sleeves neatly rolled up. Just looked the same really. A bit older perhaps. I moved across to my right to pick up my purchases and I could see him through the open section in the wall. I watched him for a few seconds and he looked up and made eye contact. I doubt he recognised me. Over the years I have changed enough that he may have needed more time to register it was me. But I was not interested in his recognition of me. I only wanted to have a brief look at him and then get to work.
I got back to the car and then drove to work. Did I feel unsettled? I did but once I got on with work I was okay. But I did replay the moment in my head over and over for the rest of the day.
Then today my older sister dropped by with her husband. She has not been to my place for years. We have had periods of time where we had no contact but she has made great efforts to reignite an ongoing relationship. I think I am a bit resistant because, for me, family issues have carved an ugly emotional road in some deep place and I am always very, very reticent about getting too involved again.
She has seen our father a couple of times and says that he is the same but, you know, he is her father and she does not want to have any regrets when he dies.
So I got the update on his life. He has had a bad run with his health. He recently had two steel rods and screws put in his back because he could not walk. His body was worked very, very hard in his life and has broken down in various ways.
The biggest thing is that a few years ago he had prostate cancer. It had spread to his stomach and he had to have surgery to remove whatever needed removing. As a result he has problems with his bladder and has to wear incontinence pads. My sister said he handles it very well. Better to be alive wearing a nappy than to be dead. That is his attitude to life in general.
After his surgery on his back he had to have extensive physiotherapy to walk again.
Considering his age (79) he is a work horse. He is still working at the bakery. Nothing will keep him down. He is the sort of person who will work until the day he dies.
After my sister told us about all of this I felt terribly bothered by it all. I said that it upsets me that dad has to, well, amongst other things, wear incontinence pads. She said not to worry as he just deals with it. But you know, he would be really pissed off about that. He always loathed getting older. He hated the inconvenience of it. The prospect of being dependent. The physical changes. I just know that no matter what he says about it all, he would be gutted. He would be angry and he would use that anger to fuel his determination to rise above it all.
We talked a bit more about dad and touched on a few things and I felt even more anxious about it all but kept it to myself.
Then I said something that, in hindsight, I think was a way to deflect my discomfiture about it all.
"Well, really, all he is now is an old man wearing a nappy," I muttered.
"Oh, Linda. That is not very nice," my sister replied. Her husband laughed.
"I know. I am sorry. That was not funny. That was very mean spirited of me," I apologised. I genuinely felt a ashamed.
Then I noticed that my sister was laughing.
"You are laughing. I thought you said it was not nice. You're the one laughing. I only smiled a tiny bit when I said it and you are laughing," I pointed out to her.
"I know. It was just the way you said it," she said.
We changed the subject and talked about lots of different things. She recently broke her shoulder mountain bike riding and had to have surgery on it. Three plates and 13 screws later it has been repaired. That was about two weeks ago. She then found out that she has an enlarged heart and has to have a stress test. So we are hoping all is well with her.
As they left she said that we should get photos and make a photo book of our lives and give it to dad so that he can see what he missed out on. I mumbled some vague reply but later on I told K I did not want to do that. I did not want my dad to see anything about my life. It's my life and he has chosen to be out of it for the past ten years. Why should I share what he chose to miss?
The afternoon visit drained me mentally. There is something about my family dynamics that I can do without. I felt anxious, unsettled and conflicted and, even now hours later, I still do. I feel like some ugly little hole in my head has opened up and all those things that were dealt with have come to visit.
I know it will pass but I am reminded of how easy it is to feel like the rug under my feet can be tugged at enough to make me feel unbalanced.
Another thing I felt was jealous. Jealous that my older sister, once again, was daddy's gal.
Doesn't matter if you are 8, 18, 38 or 48. It won't even matter if I am 108. That whole family shit will always stir up the worst feelings in me no matter my age.
The good thing is, I can always go to therapy to rejig my thoughts. Whereas prior I would have just been unable to contain things enough to feel okay.
I personally have no wish to reconnect with dad.
Just seeing him reminded me that it is better the way things are.
But I am happy for my sister.
Jealous but happy.