If I had to choose one word to describe my week long visit with my mother, father and my in-laws I would choose: Silence. Because I didn’t say much for most of the trip. And even DH seemed to be more silent than usual – he talks more in group situations than I do (in general).
Our trip started with a few days with my parents in Chicago. The visit with my mother and father was nothing new. She didn’t ask anything about me, barely spoke to me, didn’t look me in the eye. My cousin was there – she barely asked about us (DH and I) and we had to do all the question asking. At one point I stopped and felt good about doing that when I saw that she wasn’t inquisitive into my life as I was in hers (We haven’t seen each other since we were kids). I let silence fill our conversations. Silence was my friend. When silence usually can feel awkward, it felt like my new best friend and it comforted me. It gave my mind time to think. And I thought about you guys in these periods of silence. I thought about things you guys had said, advice, support and specific posts you have written*. And it brought back the things that can easily be forgotten when dealing with Ns. You and silence stood by me in my parent’s apartment. It felt really good when all this toxicity was coming my way.
My dad (who is very ill) looked better actually. It was great to see him and see that he was looking a lot better. He has trouble speaking and so we don’t really get to talk and we went for a walk since it was nice outside that day. It was good to see him and when I left I wonder if it will be the last time I see him.
Then, came the in-laws. Perhaps, I am just used to my mother’s behaviours – in some ways, I have her figured out. And it feels easier to deal with her. My in-laws are so subtle, there is still a lot of ‘figuring’ out I have to do. However, I realised that even if I can’t see stuff in real time I still have Silence and with Silence I found the answers with your help.
Most of the time was spent with BiL and FiL. SiL flew in for one day. BiL was the same – behaved selfishly, self-centredly and I found that I didn’t speak that much with him. I decided – he doesn’t ask about me, I don’t need to ask about him. I found that I just didn’t care enough to ask about SiL either. And I realised that I actually don’t care about the answer – I had come to the point of true acceptance with them. That is how they behave all the time – nothing is going to change except me.
FiL deserves a separate post. For the first time I was able to see what he was saying that was so terrible. I could see all this toxic behaviours in real time. Silence let me see them. I stayed silent until there was a question asked of me. Which there never was – so I remained silent. And the silence allowed me to hear his very toxic words, his dangerous words. (I’ll write a follow up post)
And then SiL came. I noticed that DH wasn’t in any hurry to get over to FiL’s apartment from the hotel that morning. His behaviours said more than his words. I can tell you exactly the kind of conversation we had – none. When we first saw her, DH asked her how she was and I thought, great, I don’t have to ask because it would be fake – I don’t care how she is doing. Then, DH asked her a few questions about her flight that morning, etc. I remained silent. She didn’t ask anything about us. DH even stopped with the questions, he (I imagine) was starting to realise he was doing all the asking and the answers never led to conversation.
In my monkly state, I began to see things in SiL and BiL I hadn’t noticed before. BiL would say something and then immediately contradict himself. I started to pay closer attention and I saw that there was communication going on between BiL and SiL – the use of slight head nods and shifting eyes she was telling him if she disliked or liked what he was saying. If he got the ever so slight head shake of NO he then would change his opinion. (I tape recorded our conversations – I have to go through it and type up the transcripts, so I will post on this later)
I did take a break from this vow of silence with true friends. We did have time to relax and have fun with them. The highlight of the trip no doubt. I played with my friends’ kids and just caught up with the people I love and the people that I want to hear their stories and they want to hear mine. Because life is great because of this?
Overall, the visits went better than how I thought they would. Their behaviours were the same but mine were different. The one thing I’m beginning to notice is that although I change how I handle Ns in my life I still need a recovery time after it. There is still toxicity after all – I just don’t crash for as long because my behaviours didn’t play into their scripts for continued toxicity. But the toxicity is still there and my body was exposed to it for 8 days. It felt the beating.
Thank you for your continued support, it helped so much during the visit.
*Here are the posts that I scrolled in my head when I was silent:
The Project: Me by Judy – Stand on the Rock on FB – this picture represents how I feel when dealing with them and reminds me that it is real.
Brave New Kitty – Reactivity
Caliban’s Sisters – Passive Agression, a Primer
Through the Looking Glass – Don’t Panic: A Guide for ACoNs
Hugs to you all,