Krissie: Summertime and the Living is Crazy

So. Oh, shit, you know, I was going to start complaining about all the things I have to do, but that’s so bogus. Yes, I’m doing a million more things than I do in the winter, but I’m loving them. There are three reasons I love the theater. I think the major one is that after a winter of isolation (truly — at this point there are no friend here I can ask to go out for lunch or to the movies or shopping – they’ve all moved or developed a deep dislike or me or we’ve drifted so far apart it would be strange) I get to be around thirty or so people, all of whom I like a lot. Then again, I’m someone who generally likes people. I’m interested in them, like talking to them about themselves, about stuff. The second reason is I love singing. For some reason my singing voice for musicals has gotten loud and strong and on-key. And higher than it used to be — I can hit an F without much problem when my voice always used to crack on Es. Plus it’s lower than it used to be too. I don’t seem to have my country or folk voice any more, which was passably good (not professional, but good enough), and I hadn’t been singing in years, so that part’s glorious.
And I kind of like to act. Er … overact. I don’t try to be the center of attention in any circumstance — if someone else wants it I can be very cheery and quiet. Which can be a problem if I’m with someone who always craves attention. It can get … annoying. But I like to act, to fling myself around on stage. In this one I get to fondle a handsome young man and get kicked in the bustle by him. And I’ll probably cry when he dies. (Jesus, just started crying now — it’s so sad). So we’ll see how much I like sad acting.

It’s exhausting, a tremendous time sink, and my favorite thing to do. At least here, where everyone is fabulous and there’s no star-drama etc.

Plus, I love my book so much I take any time I can to write. Some of my other stuff is getting behind, but basically it’s glorious.

So, no complaints. I’m in a lot of pain but I’m seeing the chiropractor today (a holistic one) and I think they’ll help a lot.

The main worry is Tim. Erin kicked him out and said he had to get therapy, which is all good. But I’ve listened to their one way phone calls and she yells at him when he’s trying to be calm and nice. Tim’s ready to try, but he has to go through certain things (the therapist for one) before she’ll let him back. And there’s the on-going problem of where they live (in a trailer right next to her very toxic parents who have always hated Tim and most of the in-laws). And she needs to learn to share the baby — Tim’s fantasy was they’d both wake up in the middle of the night and change the baby and rock her etc. but Erin doesn’t want to let go. She had her first baby on her own and I think part of her wants her second baby on her own.

And I’ve got to figure out just how much I can interfere, which is pretty much not at all. I go down to see the kids and Erin dumps on me and I need to respond, but I try to be noncommittal. In the past when they’ve broken up (they’ve broken up a lot in the last six years) I’ve been very careful because I wanted what was best for Alex, and I couldn’t say whether having Tim in the picture WAS the best. Alison’s arrival changes everything, and they need to exhaust all possibilities before they give up.

But I gotta keep my mouth shut.

I know most of you with grown children have some who are divorced. Any advice on how to deal with this. I know it’s not my business, and I can’t fix it. But I’m not sure how much I can say when they talk to me. I say counseling and the kids and give a little. The thing is Erin’s pretty low on compassion and affection. When Tim’s feeling anxious or blue and asks for a hug she says “Grow up.” Which he needs to, but if someone asks for a hug it should always be given (unless it’s a pervert).

Any advice on how to deal with this mess?


15 thoughts on “Krissie: Summertime and the Living is Crazy

  1. Karen says:

    Please stay out of their business; speaking from experience. Whatever you do will be wrong in someone’s eyes. Just love Allison with all you heart and let her know she is loved by Gran.

  2. Sure Thing says:

    Just give lots of support for Tim to keep staying calm and rational. The second he slips it’s a big “See, see, I told you so, this is why we can’t….”

    (((((HUG))))) to Erin because hugs aren’t just something you have in childhood and then grow out of. I send as much love as I can because whatever makes someone think that must’ve been really hurtful.

    And (((HUG))) to you and Richie.

    I envy you, your musicality. I have a good singing voice which I only discovered after I had sinus drainage surgery. So I mostly don’t know what to do with mine. And singoinf lessons are not on the plan yet (See yesterday’s “all about you” for the plan!)

  3. Hey, Sure Thing, what’s sinus drainage surgery?

    Hope you don’t mind me asking, but I’ve had recurrent sinus issues for a while and curious about options for effective, long-term solutions rather than spot management. Wondered when you mentioned surgery if it was helpful.

  4. Cindy says:

    I agree with the few comments here. You can only stand aside & be supportive of what may come.
    From the get-go with these two I’ve felt they’re both shortchanging themselves by being with each other.
    Whatever happens Tim is the father – Alison is his daughter, your granddaughter & the rights of your family need to be maintained.
    Screaming, bickering, tense, loveless parents around a baby (and Alex!) is not good. Sounds like it would be better for them to at least live separately for now.

    And now for something completely different……I, too envy your musical ability & gregarious personality. And that you get to grope a handsome young man!

  5. julianna says:

    I know you want to fix things, but you can’t. And you only see a fraction of their interactions — you don’t see the entirety of their last six years together to know what patterns of behavior may be triggering Erin’s responses, and you don’t see the entirety of Erin’s life before that, to see what baggage she brings to the relationship. You can’t pass judgment on individual actions, because they don’t happen in a vacuum.

    What you can do is encourage Tim in his therapy. And you can encourage the two of them to get couples therapy. (I don’t know enough about the situation or the people involved to know whether it would be better for them to start couples therapy now, or to wait until Tim has a certain amount of individual therapy done.) And you can encourage them to take a little space, both now and after they start couples therapy. Sometimes after a relationship crisis has calmed down, people jump right back into the same relationship (and all its preexisting issues) before they have built the tools to deal with their problems.

    I understand it’s difficult to remain neutral when you feel like Erin is unfairly maligning Tim to you. It may be helpful to practice some supportive, nonjudgmental phrases you can fall back on. Things like “It’s a difficult situation for everyone,” “That must be very painful,” and “I’m sorry you’re hurting.” And if she specifically asks for advice, you can tell her you think couples counseling could help them, but don’t push it (and only mention it if she explicitly asks for advice).

    Best of luck to everyone involved.

  6. toni says:

    What everyone said — and specifically, Julianna’s comment about if she asks for your opinion, suggest couples counseling. I’ve had to suggest this, and my comment was:

    “No matter how much any issue might be owned by one of you, it’s affecting the other one, and your interactions, and a really good couples counselor can help both of you break through those old communication habits, see what’s going on, and make a plan, together, to solve the problems.”

    And then just keep saying that, if they keep asking.

    However, when she keeps dumping on you, you are allowed to say, “You know, I love you and the kids. I understand the issues, but Tim is my son, so any answers cannot come from me–they have to come from the two of you.” And then reiterate the couples counseling thing.

    Mostly, though, you’re doing all that you can–you love them, you’re trying to be supportive without taking sides, and really, in the grand scheme of things, that’s all you can do.

  7. Jen Wyatt says:

    I have no pearls of wisdom whatsoever but I’m praying for all of you. God knows your needs better than anyone.
    Big hugs to you! xx

  8. Sure Thing says:

    It is helpful to some people but not to others. Mine was successful till I lapsed on the meds and got bronchitis, had to have another done. A friend’s surgery was completely unsuccessful from day 1- she was sneezing as soon as the dressings from the surgery were removed. She feels it was a waste of money.

    You need to get scans/x-rays done. If your GP can sign off on scans before you see your Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) specialist, it’ll save you waiting time. And if you’re considered a candidate, get a second opinion. Never go into surgery without being sure.

    My ENT is a great guy who explained that even the surgery is treatment of the symptom of “excess mucus” and until we strike on the causes of the mucus ALL treatment, including surgety, is symptom management.

    I use a nasal spray daily and take 1 tablet every night for control.

  9. I don’t know Erin, but I’ve refused to give hugs to people before and sometimes I think it’s the only thing one can do. For me I felt like the requests were often emotionally manipulative. It made me the bad guy if I wasn’t willing to make myself emotionally vulnerable (again)or responsible for someone else’s happiness, and it put the other person’s happiness or comfort above my own. “Hugs” sound simple, but even with unconditional love you’re not expected to always put the other person first, and if you don’t feel like hugging someone, you shouldn’t have to hug them.

    Just my two cents.

  10. You know, a lot of it depends on how he asks for the hug.
    Tim’s used to unconditional love from you; he asks for a hug from his mom and he gets it. If he’s transferring that to Erin, I’d run the other way, too. She has two kids, she doesn’t need a third. And frankly, if he keeps talking about leaving, I’d keep all the childcare in my hands, too.
    Look at it this way: He’s left several times and seems to think that’s a solution even though there are children involved, they’re not married, and she’s working full time. She’s a single mother with a significant other who’s not a partner. She doesn’t have time for his whining, which I deduce because any man who complains to his mother that his girlfriend won’t hug him when he asks is still a kid.
    And you have to get out of there. They love the drama of their relationship and they keep drawing you into their play. Tell them both that adults do not discuss their relationships with their parents, that you’ll be there for them and the kids but that you are not their therapist, marriage counselor, or weeping wall. This happens over and over again and it always puts you through the wringer, and I don’t see it stopping any time soon.
    You need to move.

  11. Thanks so much for your reply, Sure Thing:) Very helpful. And good, sensible tips too.

    I had heard similar things about even surgery being symptom management but when you mentioned the singing bit, thought maybe I was missing some info. I already address the allergy triggers & such but only so much in the world we can control.

    So good you have a great ENT–I find those hard to come by…

  12. Terrie says:

    The musical sounds wonderful, and I’m really looking forward to being able (someday down the road) to read this book you love writing so much.

    The situation with your son sounds so fraught and challenging. I agree that supporting him in his therapy is a good choice. Counseling for them as a couple sounds like it would be useful at some point as well. It might be nice for him to have his own for a while, just to get that support while he’s trying to change, but their dynamic sounds messed up and, together or apart, they need healthier functioning for the sake of their children as well as themselves. Meanwhile, I hope you’re getting some good support as well!

  13. Micki says:

    I gotta agree with the couples counselling.

    Coming from a (at one point) four-generation family situation, there is a part for the older generation to play. If you can be an ear and a shoulder to cry on for both of them, that’s extremely helpful (IME). But if you come in there as Ms. Fixit, then you’ll get both of them mad at you.

    Reminds me of the Middle East conflicts — both parties have to want the solutions, and find the solutions. And think about how their solutions (or lack of them) are affecting other parties around them. A therapist without any pony in this race is going to be valuable. (And not available to the Middle East, sadly.)

  14. pamb says:

    (((Hugs))), sweetie!

    I’ve been working to find my own balance with our adult kids (OK, with one of them, but I hate to always see *him* as problematic…), so no advice to offer.

    But lots of empathy & caring for you!

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