Boy, I blew it today – but I also realized more clearly the way we influence each other now.
We’d been having a good, calm week – pleasant and well-balanced with activities and rest. The morning had been friendly and easy; we went grocery shopping and to the adjacent farmer’s market. I had thrown in a small load of laundry with 3 new items that needed their initial wash. When we got home, I went to pay some bills upstairs, and when I came down realized that I heard the dryer going. Uh-oh. Before I could stop myself, I was laying into J, “DON’T put my laundry in the dryer without ASKING me first!!”….about the fifty-seventh time I’d said this in the last two years.
It wasn’t actually a tragic outcome – all three garments tolerated the dryer just fine. What set me off was knowing that J had not assessed this, that she had forgotten that I prefer to deal with my own clothes, that she thought she was being helpful, and what IF the dryer was too hot for those particular garments, and they were ruined as a result….etc., etc.
J immediately burst into tears, but pulled herself together quickly, as did I – I offered a sincere apology for barking at her. The storm subsided. For a while.
As the time came for J to get ready for the afternoon respite group session, she told me she didn’t think she’d go today, her skin was irritated and it would bother her too much. Monday was a holiday and there’d be no group that day, so I was most eager for her to attend this afternoon’s (Friday). So, I proposed that she go to group and see how it went, that it was going to be a long weekend, etc. She was adamant, and started to cry again. I pointed out that if she stayed home, she’d just worry about her health and be bored – if she went to the group, at least it would give her something else to think about for a while. More tears.
So now I felt like a total heel, having pressed her when she already felt bad, as well as feeling angry myself about being robbed of the little respite I would have in a five-day span. But, I called the group and told them she wasn’t coming today, and she went to lie down and I went to do a quick errand and to get my head together to deal with the rest of the afternoon.
What I have realized, I think, is the connection between my barking at her and her having a flare-up of skin inflammation. It’s almost automatic – has happened many times, and I knew it had to do with stress, but I didn’t connect it with my behavior quite as directly.
I also realize – over and over- that she CAN’T remember these things, and that she is very eager to do helpful things, but almost unable to initiate or complete them adequately, if at all. A really, really tough position to be in. For both of us. But the more relaxed I can be, and the less easily triggered by what once would have been an accountable lapse, the better things will go.
We have some light structure for the next few days, fortunately, all involving a few friends or close family, for a few hours each day, and the activities are flexible enough to re-draft as energy and attitude require. This’ll get us through.