He said that she had shared with him that she had forgotten so much of the times, the visitors, the people they invited to live with them (including an immigrant family, a Russian girl who needed surgery in the US, i think some students...). He noted that they have lived together without children in the home longer than my siblings and i were with them. She'd forgotten.
He and i discussed how traumatic for her the last years of her father's life were: how abusive he was to her and her siblings, how he expressed no love or respect but instead criticized and complained. I suspect that was incredibly triggering for her. With my sister's family moving in with them, the impact of that trauma was less apparent than the upheaval of all the extended family dynamics.
It seems, though, now that she has the distraction of my sister's family out of the way, she's both reached a nadir -- a hospital stay just before my father's and my birthday -- and is now choosing to heal. She's agreed to see a therapist. I'm hopeful that she might begin to be able to see the joys she's had in her life as lately she has been very depressed. She told me how if she was in my grandmother's situation she'd want to die, which i thought was a heavy bit of projection. Since then, i've heard she told my father she wants to die. Perhaps, with the guided reflections of therapy and the memory triggers of her photo albums, she might find her way back to some joys.
I'm hopeful for her.
Today Christine has oral surgery. There's a chance that she will have bone removal that will require bone grafting to repair. She's been very distressed around breaking the tooth last week and the prospect of not only the repairs needed (for which this is step one) but also the opportunity that this creates for orthodontics. I've told her i had five or six teeth removed in childhood for my orthodontics, but she's not finding any consolation in that.
I'm hoping that all the pain will be well managed. I fear she is letting her surgery from some years back color her expectations: this is nothing compared to some of the treatments and surgery she's had.
This distress folds in with other Elephant distress: i acknowledge that i am spending time and energy on supporting her in her distress, and i am counting. It's been a year and a half of the deep distress. A certain amount of "where has the time gone" is answered with the time spent supporting her when she is in distress. However, it's getting better. She recovers faster and has far more insight into the distress. She expresses her concern that she's not getting better periodically, and i point back at the milestones.
It seems as if Christine's journey took getting to the point where every coping mechanism learned in childhood and as a young adult had failed, in order to start building new ones. There's an echo with my mother's experience, too, and i hope for both of them that new skills of relating to the world can be constructed so that they can thrive. I know how i shifted and changed with the trauma therapy work i did: the grief, the pain, so raw for so many years, healed. It simply healed.
Now i work on building anew. With the glorious release from the stress and demands of my previous role (both self imposed and required), i think i can build new habits, new ways of moving to the tides of time and energy.
Yesterday's moments of good energy: talking on the deck with Christine, talking with KT about the work i did while she was out and the work we have ahead of us, some final analysis of how the combination of four different request flags should be handled by our system. (From the sixteen different combinations, we want only three major behavior differences.) The analysis definitely took me to a flow state.