A few weeks ago, when we first found out that LaLa’s living situation was not good and that she would be needing a new place to live soon, Jerry was very gung ho to tell her she could come stay with us, despite the fact that the three of us living under the same roof has never been a healthy thing, especially since Luna was born. He loves her and wants to be the father that she needs, but can’t seem to realize that his idealization of what he wants their relationship to be is never going to match reality, primarily due to his own choices and actions towards her. Knowing both of them, and myself, I knew it wouldn’t be a good idea and I discussed that with her. She agreed. We love each other, but recognize the reality is that we love each other better when we aren’t living together. She was working on alternatives and had some options in place. I explained that to him and everyone was on the same page, for once.
Then, last week, she spent a few nights here and hung out with Luna and I. I found out more about what had led up to her needing to move out. I also heard about what options had closed and that the possibility for the final option was on a vague and indefinite hold, but she was dealing with it. Suddenly, the day before Jerry was supposed to get home, I got a text from her stating she would need to come stay with us, ASAP. We live in a tiny two-bedroom, subsidized apartment. No pets are allowed, but LaLa has a cat and we have a nosy neighbor. There are still boxes and crates stacked up from when I moved in here two years ago and Luna’s toys and possessions are in the second bedroom, that used to be LaLa’s room until she moved out in January. So, the only place for most of her things is stacked up in the living room.
Jerry needs structure and order in his living environment. He’s almost ocd in his need for organization and order and when there’s too much clutter his agitation and irritability rise. Factor in that LaLa is a night owl, an insomniac like myself, (I honestly believe that a lot of her symptoms resemble what I was going through when I was her age before I got the fibromyalgia diagnosis) so, she can’t go to sleep until her brain shuts down of it’s own volition, which often means she doesn’t get to sleep until well after 3 am, then she will not wake up easily for a long while. Generally, if anyone tries to wake her up and she responds, but doesn’t actually get up and move around, whatever communication occurred may as well have not happened.
In Jerry’s eyes, she stays up all night, sleeps all day, and isn’t responsive to requests and generally lacks appreciation for what we are doing for her. However, he puts a personal connotation on it that isn’t true. As much as he wants to love unconditionally, everything he does for and gives to her, has invisible, emotional strings of unvoiced expectations attached. Therefore, whenever conditions are not to his liking, he assesses blame and turns that blame into a personal affront and sees it as being disrespectful of him. In this instance, the blame for his agitation was her clutter and the fact that she was sleeping on our couch, while we were up and about our business, and then didn’t fulfill his unvoiced expectations of what she would be doing, instead of realizing that a) she didn’t want to be here anymore than he wanted her here but it was better than being homeless and losing all of her clothing and belongings, b) she’s 19 and is trying to figure herself and her life out and that has little to nothing to do with either of us, and c) it was temporary and dependent on other people letting her know they were ready for her to move in.
Jerry also has a tendency to layer his stressors and anger. What I mean by that is that everything is attached to everything else. All the stuff he went through with his job over the three weeks before he finally got home, the fact that the money he had set aside to do something special for LaLa for her birthday when he came home wound up going to other things, piled on top of his agitation over the crowded and cluttered conditions in our apartment. In addition to that, he’s very much caught up in literal end times “Left Behind” thinking and completely buys into conspiracy theories and stories about the invalidity of Obama’s legal right to be POTUS. So, he’s got a lot of anger and anxiety around those issues as well. These are things I am not able to engage in a rational discussion with him about, without it escalating into something I don’t want to deal with. So, I acknowledge his beliefs and concerns, but try to avoid expressing my own opinions about these issues. It becomes something he feels compelled to show to those of us in his vicinity, which included LaLa this past week. So, when she barely feigned interest and allowed herself to be distracted onto something else, he felt disrespected and ignored, which just added fuel to his fire.
Basically, every day that Jerry was home, he found, manufactured, or rehearsed a reason to be angry, resentful, and anxious. The emotional fall out was such that for the first two or three days that he was home, just about every time he would speak to me, or anyone else, and Luna was around, she would admonish him to, “Calm down daddy. You need to be calm.” Which actually, upset him more. In his first 24 hours home, it was so bad that in his inability to cope he isolated himself and shut himself away from everyone, while he was seething in his frustration and anger. During this time, he got a call from his mom that wasn’t news he wanted to hear and he wasn’t able to listen to her explain the situation and he yelled and hung up on her. She wound up calling me.
This is turning into much more that I expected it to be. To be continued.