I am again walking on eggshells. From what my counselor said–and didn’t say–to me today, I get the fairly distinct feeling that my father wants to have a Conversation with me. As usual, there is some Unfinished Business.
Also as usual, I want to know what it is. Not in a Universe-taunting “what next? Ha-ha” type of way, but more in the spirit of an impartial bystander, merely watching the whole thing, with no vested interest and no personal risk.
I’m sure I dropped the ball somewhere along the line. A voice mail missed, a call unreturned, a crisis left dangling. Maybe that crisis passed and maybe it didn’t. It’s my fault that I don’t know for sure.
But I know I didn’t drop the entire ball. When he hinted at the idea that another approach was working better than mine, he was right. But he was right only because he wasn’t fully implementing mine. Hell, he hadn’t even been doing any of it for the past 6 months, because we agreed we’d hold off until he was finished with this other therapy that was supposedly working so much better. And that other therapy was the more drastic intervention that he needed (and still needs, after so many months, I might add) might be the most appropriate option for his bizarre and advanced case at this time.
And I fully admit that. That was not a matter of wrongdoing on my part, nor is his lack of success due to his failure for not complying with my recommendations. A non-compliant patient is not a doctor’s fault; I cannot force a patient to follow directions. To blame me for that part of the equation is akin to holding responsible the waterbearer who leads a very dehydrated horse to kick-ass water when the horse fails to drink enough of the water to successfully rehydrate.
Believe me, I tried. I think I went above and beyond on many occasions, blurring the boundary lines when offering health advice during what was supposed to be a family shoot-the-shit phone call during the evening or weekend, despite my headspace not being in proper “work mode”.
Med school warned us about this scenario. They preached to us never to treat family. Family blurs the lines between personal and professional time too easily. They fail to take you seriously. They don’t comply with recommended therapies. They expect you to be “on call” anytime. They expect extras and discounts and special slack, without the respect for your time, education, and title that you’ve worked so hard to achieve. It’s a painful and heartbreaking scenario, and now it’s coming to pass. It took a while, nearly 4 years, but it happened anyway. I couldn’t outrun it.
Did my father come to me with his beef right away? Nope. He let it fester for a year and when it was finally brought to light, I couldn’t remember enough about my surrounding circumstances or life situations or headspace to even respond. How can you defend yourself when that much water has passed under the bridge? And if it was that important, why wait that long to begin holding a real grudge?
Part of me wants to know what my father has to say; the other part of me does not. Part of me cares a lot, and the other part of me is done. Which side will win? As with most trials and dilemmas, time will tell.
In the meantime, never treat family. And if you’re crazy enough to do so, (my mom has surprisingly opted to stay under my care, and I’m not about to desert her) at least set clear boundaries…and don’t stray from them. And Jesus, if you’re pissed off at someone you love for some reason, freaking bring it up and out into the open and deal with it; in the words of Uncle Fester on “Addams Family Values”, “to fester means to rot”.