The Aftermath Part Two: A Disastrous End

This is the second of two posts describing what happened while my parents were visiting me and L last week.

OH SHIT

It’s no secret in Blogland that L and I are having difficulties lately, a lot of it related to things outside of our immediate sphere of control (e.g. structural racism). The last two months we’ve not had any fights – largely because L has pulled himself together. Me, well, I’m not sure yet whether I’ve managed to unlearn all the bad habits of the past 6 months…the screaming, the smashing, the whole-body trembling, the reactions so physical and so violent L almost thought I was possessed by demons.

I’ve been through three therapists in three months trying to sort myself out. It hasn’t always helped. But one message that has come through consistently is: It is normal for him to lapse. Lapsing is a process of learning your limits and learning your boundaries and pulling yourself together with the knowledge required to handle whatever comes your way. In this sense, lapsing during recovery is “good” (as long as you don’t relapse into another destructive cycle).

Oh, and it’s most likely to occur in emotionally turbulent times.

So there I am sitting in the counsellor’s office – got it, don’t lose my head during a lapse.

But it’s been going so well for two months and my dad at least likes him so far and is happy for us and did I ever in the name of anything consider the possibility of a lapse while my parents were visiting?

God no.

I got the panicked call from L while my parents and I were hiking on our fourth day (the morning after we’d had a massive fight). I was surprised I had reception because we’d been out of range the whole trip, but fortunately he called me just as I was standing on top of a hill. I’m the kind of person who freaks out after an emergency rather than during it (as in, I’m kinda freaking as I write this…), so we quickly came up with a plan of action and a story to tell my parents. All I can is, the situation was bad. I was due home with my parents that night and there was no way he wanted them to see him in that state, so he arranged to stay a friend’s place.

My parents believed my story (lie) the first night but when L was off the scene again the next day and night (completely inconsistent with our original story) so that he wouldn’t even be there the night they were flying out, they really smelt the fish.

You’re hiding something from us, aren’t you?

To make matters worse, my car battery went flat because it hadn’t been used in 5 days (we’d hired a larger car) and it all just added to the stress as we were catching buses everywhere and running around.

Plus there was obviously some bad omen in the air because as I went to sit in a park trying to evade my parents’ ears and discreetly talk to L, the stitching at the back of my shorts completely split. A few hours later Mum got a massive tear in the back of her skirt. Great.

Despite all this, I did my best to distract my parents that last day. Took them on a breezy ferry ride and to a stunning pub right on a beach on the edge of the peninsula. But they were worried. My story morphed into: I don’t really know what’s going on, I’ve never seen him like this before (that’s kind of true, my parents have never visited before), I guess I’ll find out when I see him.

To my parents’ credit, they never once came out with, “See, we told you this black boy is trouble” (not even Mum). Instead, they gently let me know I have their support if anything goes wrong, and the decision is up to me but I have to think carefully about my future. Do I really want to be with somebody who can be emotionally unstable, even if it is because of unfortunate circumstances he has experienced in the past?

Needless to say we had a long talk: them doing their best to get me to open up and me doing my best to hide the painful truth. When Mum went to the bar Dad said to me, “You probably don’t want to tell us everything, because we’re your parents and you think we’re just going to oppose him no matter what. But that’s not true. I know your mum can get really angry and upset without saying properly why she’s upset, maybe that makes you feel like you can’t tell us things”. He gave me a deep look. “But you can tell me.”

It took so much not to cry.

Dad continued, “I don’t think either of you have done the wrong thing by being together. In life some things work out and some things don’t. We’re your parents, we’re concerned about your happiness, we’re not concerned about judging you or telling you off. But we expect you to be honest with us. If you’re honest with us and it goes wrong, that’s ok. If you’re not honest, if you’re hiding the truth to save him, then that’s not ok”.

Jesus Christ, how does he know what I’m up to even at 25? (If you’re not aware of the complex I have at the suggestion that I’m with L just to save him, read this).

Even Mum, when she came back with the drinks, said, “I get angry easily with you guys and I probably shouldn’t, maybe it’s menopause” – certainly not, I remember you having a fearful temper since I was a toddler! – “but when I worry about you it’s from the bottom of my heart, I really want you to be ok”.

They also somehow picked up on the fact that I don’t have too much support up here, because they kept asking how many friends I have and how often I get out of the house to do something fun.

The worse thing about all this is how my parents have given me all the room I need to open up completely and honestly. But I can’t. Because to do would require me to describe the intimate side as well, why I’m still with him. I’ve never been that close with them (I could barely look Dad in the eye when he said that he was happy I’d found a life partner), there is no way I could delve into such intimate details to give them the full picture.

But if I have any duty as a good daughter, isn’t it to let them be good parents?

The ball is in my court and by hiding the truth I am betraying them as parents. For Dad I know that being a good father means being there for his kids, giving them the space to be completely honest without feeling like they’re going to be judged. He would be so hurt if he knew the actual truth. Or more accurately, the extent of my lie. Mum is much more suspicious and much more on the ball – she knows and expects that I’m hiding more than I’m revealing.

It was a long day made longer by their 2 am flight. Only after I’d seen my parents through the departure gates could I drive home, lie down, and finally cry out all the tears of the last 3 days like a baby.

Do you know that beautiful song Shelter Me by Australian band the The Waifs? That’s how I’m feeling right now.

19 Comments

Filed under About, Family Acceptance, Parents, Race, Racism, Western Privilege

19 responses to “The Aftermath Part Two: A Disastrous End

  1. Sweety, your story is really emotional. While I’m sure no one that reads your blog knows exactly what you are going through I could feel your heart breaking just through the words you typed. I just wanted to offer what help I could and hopefully somewhere along the line it will be useful to you.

    Yes, you do have an obligation to your parents to communicate with them when something is wrong – like abuse you are suffering – or to come to them when you need advice because they are the best advice givers in your life. However, you are not obligated to tell them every problem you and your bf have because they won’t respect him the way they should (they can’t …he’s upset their daughter) and they won’t accept him as easily if they get any indication that he has the slightest of issues. These are things you really have to find someone else to talk to. I know you said you’re in therapy, but I hope you can find someone (online or offline) that you can bitch and moan to until all this hurt/anger/stress/sadness comes out of you. Keeping that stuff in is not good and even though you don’t like to have the reactions you do (the shaking/screaming/etc that you mentioned), those are your way to get things out of your body. You may be able to find new ways. I know a personal favorite of mine is throwing unbreakable objects. I keep a few teddy bears around because I can squeeze the life out of them before throwing them if needed and nothing gets broke. Your therapist should also be suggesting more ideas for you as well that are more constructive than destructive.

    Another tip, you know in your heart you can’t save him. You’ve probably always known that. I know your therapist told you that but I don’t mean it like she did. Therapists tend to be too clinical and non-emotional and they really don’t get situations they haven’t been in. What I mean is you know in your heart you can’t save him. It’s a big part of your frustration because you don’t want to see him suffer. What he’s going through is beyond you and while you want to be his support system you don’t fully know how. But you are still doing the best you can. This isn’t a charity case to you otherwise you would have given up long ago. It’s a very rare few who stick with one charity case when the going is this tough, UNLESS there is a serious emotional involvement. You even mentioned how long you waited to get involved with him just to be sure, so I’m sure nothing I said is news to you.

    My only other piece of advice is for you to find something/someone online that can support you. There are support groups, forums, chat rooms and more online these days and often they are better than therapy. You get real life answers from ppl who have been where you are and there is no clinical distance to the situation. Just genuine heartfelt ‘I know how you feel’ help. (I know, there will be trolls too but that’s just par for the course and they don’t matter…you do.) I recommend though, if you go this route, create a whole new identity just for this type of chatting and don’t share personal details like your real name. Use only your fake handle/ID.It has done wonders for me in the past and I made a few keeper type friends that I eventually let into my real life and they are still there for me now. The ppl you meet can help with your parents, they can help with L, they can help with you. Its free to try, you will never have to look them in the face and you have the anonymity of the internet to make you feel less restricted by who may find out.

    You’re obviously a strong woman. You will figure this out and find your path through this. Here are some links to get you started:
    Desi/Pardesi FB Group (it’s secret so if you can’t see it with this link, add me on FB and I will add you to the group. You don’t have to keep me as a friend after you get in if you don’t want, it’s just the only way I know of to get you in there if this doesn’t work.)
    http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/groups/230633033619078

    Another blog that may have information you could find useful:
    http://blindianlove.com/

    I know those two links aren’t much but hopefully you will know what to google and you’ll find something more specific to your needs. Good luck, with everything!

    • Hi White Bhabi thanks so much for your kind words and advice. It makes me feel better already to have my feelings (and all the physical reactions that stem from them) acknowledged 🙂 And it means a lot to have somebody understand why we’re still together, why we’re toughing it out…that there is so much positive feeling keeping us together.
      I do badly need to express my feelings in a non-clinical way, and I’m going to try the sites you’ve suggested, and google some forums (Thanks for the Facebook offer, I will add you as I couldn’t see the group). This blog itself proves that writing helps get a lot things off my chest. But another great idea (and one I hadn’t thought of) is having unbreakable objects around! You’re right, a lot of my frustration comes from not being able to do anything, and not even knowing exactly what he’s going through in the first place. May have to go stress-ball hunting this weekend 🙂

      • Stress balls are nice! So are exercise balls since they are unbreakable objects lol. Just be careful where you throw them and how hard you jump on them hahaha. You can throw your stress balls up against a wall and they bounce back to you as well. It’s actually kinda fun.

      • My walls are set to get a battering 🙂
        I think I just added you on Facebook I’m not sure…was going to add a message but it all went a bit quick. There are two people in my profile pic, I’m the one on the left.

  2. I’m concerned for you my friend. I am with White Bhabi – you need to get all this emotion out – and not necessarily with a therapist – with someone you trust and love. I think your Dad is giving you an opening. Granted you haven’t been close in the past – but this could be the chance to get close to him. He’s being very reasonable and conciliatory and understanding. If I were you I would ask your Dad to keep the conversation private – don’t include your mother in this yet. Whatever you’re dealing with you need to get out.

    I’m not sure what L is dealing with, but you need to completely understand that you can never save him. You can never save anyone. In fact no one can save another person. I can’t save you, I can’t save my wife, my kids no one. If he has emotional baggage like this and its causing this much strain in your relationship now – let me tell you – it’ll get 10x worse after marriage – believe me sister. This is not my way of saying you should leave L. It’s apparent that he’s not emotionally there yet – and you are an emotional ball of fire right now.

    Please take some time to talk to your dad – be honest with him. As a farther to THREE daughters I can tell you how much his heart is breaking. As a Nepali man I can tell you his heart is burning with pain. Put aside your past – put aside the distance of the past and reach our to your dad. Please forgive him for the past – and ask him for forgiveness – and just talk your heart out.

    • Hi BB thanks for your concern and advice, and of course for a father’s perspective. As I said, it helps so much to have my feelings acknowledged.
      “Emotional ball of fire” sums up perfectly how I’m feeling – so firey I feel vulnerable, like everything’s burning up.
      I do need to reach out to my dad in some way or another. The thought of it scares me, but even reading and writing about it makes it seem more possible now than just two day ago.
      Thanks again 🙂

  3. Taswin, im sure this was a really difficult post for you to write because i can see how much this is hurting you. i wish we were closer in Australia so we could go out and chat about this over a glass of wine! Anyway if you want to inbox me privately you are welcome to- you have my email.

    I am not sure if this comforts you in any way but Rabindra has also suffered racism and it also affects our relationship. The instutional racism he has suffered has come from immigration, in trying to find work and in general has caused us problems. Sometimes in the heat of the moment he says “your country did this to me (immigration)”, “your great (clearly sarcastic) culture doesn’t accept brown people” “your people pay us lower wages because of the colour of our skin”. He apologised after because he knows that it’s wrong to say that- im clearly not one of those people. Even though I am white and have “western privildge”, i say to him please treat me separately and dont put me in the same basket as them. So i can understand a bit about how you feel in that regard.

    Is L getting counselling regularly for what he’s been through? I hope so.

    Take away what everyone else (L, your parents etc) are saying and ask yourself how you feel. Are you happy in your relationship? Are you happy in your day to day life with L? If not, can it be overcome? Or do you think you two are just too different to make it work?

    There were so many times in my relationship that I didn’t know if i would see the light again in regards to all of our differences. Somehow we managed to get through it but that took effort from both sides in the relationship. L needs to realise that you have feelings too and he can’t ignore that. If he is making improvements, I’m sure there will be light at some point. But don’t destroy yourself in the process. At the end of the day, it’s your wellbeing that matters.

    HUGS. P.s. i also love the waifs.

    • A glass of wine would be so perfect but inboxing is great too. Thanks for your offer of support 🙂
      I’m really touched that you shared your experiences with racism and its affect on your relationship…I empathise so much, and respect you both for having worked through it.
      For the first few years of our relationship a lot of this stuff went us unsaid between me and L. He’s only said it explicitly since he’s started going through this rough patch about 6 months ago. Then it was “you’re too privileged to know what it’s like” almost everyday. I took it and took it and took it until one day, the counsellor pointed out that he was externalising all his anger and hurt onto me. I felt so betrayed by that, as if he was in this relationship only because I provided some sort of convenient psychological relief. I stormed into the house absolutely livid with anger and screamed so much I couldn’t stop my body from shaking (it was from that day that all my responses became much more physically violent…). Once I’d calmed down L apologised and acknowledged that he was unfairly taking a lot of things out on me, and since then he has stopped doing it. If there’s a light in all of this, I think it is that we’re both honest enough to acknowledge our wrongdoing, and to change certain aspects or our behaviour. Or at least try to change…I am still working on that temper of mine!

  4. *hug hug hug* Others have already given so much support…so mine will be small:

    You sound so isolated and alone right now. Your father is clearly supportive, and has left an open door for you. Would it help if you could think of one thing (however big or small) that you can call him and get support from him on?

    No one wants to just flip the switch in the middle of a crisis and let someone in completely who has been hovering on the outside all this time. Even he knows that, I’m sure. However, he seems to genuinely want to be able to help, and having one positive support experience might open the door for more support…and even if you never get to the point that you want to discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of your relationship with you father, you might be able to count him as a real support in your life.

    • Thanks Sara. Your supporting words mean a lot 🙂
      I like your advice. It was kind of where I was headed (talking to Dad, but only saying a bit) but I would never have been able to put it so clearly. And once I’ve jumped that hurdle I’m hoping it will be easier to reach out to friends – as they’re at least not as emotionally involved in my relationship as my parents are. At the moment the only person I can really talk to about all of this is L. That’s never going to change – nobody besides me and L is going to know everything – but sharing little bits with different people is so so much better than isolating myself. It will be a huge relief.

  5. americanepali

    I second Shreeman’s advice. It sounds like your dad is really reaching out to you. I know not everyone feels comfortable getting everything out in the open, but it can be very cathartic. We are here for you too. Many *hugs*

  6. ally

    Im sorry things went so badly for you and L. My SO has some significant issues relating to an incredibly difficult childhood and even though its completely understandable why, it doesnt change the fact that when he’s struggling, it effects me too, like a drowning swimmer who drags the person under whose trying to save them.You need support from someone who is on your side because you love him, youll want to defend and protect him and sometimes thats not always in your best intersts. Its understandable that with the issues youve had with your parents you’d want to protect L, but in my experience you cant hide a problem from your parents no matter how hard you try and their imaginations must be running wild. Hope things get better for the two of you.

    • Hi Ally – thank you. It is definitely difficult when you understand why your SO is going through hard times but (at least in my case) this understanding doesn’t really translate into a supportive response (I just get aggressive).
      I’ve realised this week how much I’ve isolated myself over the past 6 months. Not very smart looking back, but at the time I just hadn’t wanted to speak to anybody. I guess the challenge is to find the support I need.
      My parents’ imagination is definitely running wild! It’s going to take a lot of time and effort now to rein in…

  7. Bharatiya Nari

    You mentioned before that L will not talk about the war in his country. I think he must have seen and directly experienced some terrible things. This of course will affect him. He needs to open up about this and get therapy for it, just like the shell shocked and PSTD war veterans.

  8. H

    Your parents seem to be really supportive people. It think your mother’s comment about menopause was her way to say “sorry” about her earlier comments. It’s good to know you cant count on them.

    About being with L to save him, I see you are relating this to race/economic issues. Have you ever heard about this book ” Women Who Love Too Much: When You Keep Wishing and Hoping He’ll Change” by Robin Norwood ?

  9. Pingback: Goodbye 2011! | taswin12

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