Last time I wrote about getting engaged; happy news and happy times, of visions in white and planning a wonderful wedding.
Unfortunately, a shadow lies over this time, too, as my mum is in the hospital. Her bipolar disorder has surfaced extremely around summer time, and it felt as if all I could do was watch helplessly.
In these past six months, even before her illness surfaced, I had and have worked hard on setting conscious boundaries with my parents – my aim was to not feel guilty for living my life in Austria, for enjoying my relationship, for not driving up there all the time.
Furthermore my aim was that they learn to accept help from people other than me and my sister regarding the house and garden, and that we are not responsible. Lastly, I felt it was high time they accepted what I have long accepted: that my mother’s illness won’t just disappear, yet that it is crucial to take some steps to prevent extreme phases of depression or mania in phases when the illness is dormant and she is fine. All my conversations regarding this topic had ended in fights, so I had felt it was time to let it go.
Well, what can I say? I have learned I can not change the way they feel or act, just the way I react. Since our engagement, the boundaries have become clearer to my parents, I suppose, and for a time this shift was hurtful to them. How does one set boundaries lovingly???
Additionally, I vowed only to “help” my parents in whatever way if they specifically ask for it – and otherwise listen and try not to judge. My my, how my solution-oriented soul has suffered.
And of course, it makes me sad that she is in the hospital, and that my dad is alone in that big house.
What I have learned in the past three months is that I am definitely not very good at not doing anything. Consequently I have tried to become a good listener, to be understanding and to see their side – while at the same time not acting, not helping, not offering solutions and still stay affectionate. A balance I find hard to achieve…
On the contrary, I have made plans and decisions for my life, I have become quite good at feeling happy instead of guilty and there are times when there is no conflict in my heart between me-here and me-daughter, when there is a balance and harmony and I do not feel torn.
Honestly, how does anyone ever do that? When I talked about this with my life coach, she gave me an image that has since given me peace:
And a friend of mine commented: it might take a lifetime to achieve. Guess she is right 🙂