“When do you think you might be ready to come?”
That’s the question G. posed me. A question I don’t know the answer to. I can’t even identify what I feel. It’s a mix of everything. Anxiety. Panic. Anger. Frustration. Sadness. Abandonment. Desperation. It’s all compressed inside this body which got sick again over the weekend. Since last September, I have been with some sort of cold at least once a month. Before I would get sick once a year, worst case scenario. Now I don’t remember what it is like to live healthy for more than a month.
I don’t know if I’m ready to return and worse I don’t know if I have the energy to finish this endless chapter. I know now that my panic and current PTSD reactions are not exclusively about returning to the UK; they are instead the result of my inability to stand up for myself and against my supervisor. They are repercussions and a mirror of the relationship with my parents, one that has been based in codependency all my life and only now starts to heal.
For more than three years, I have been the caring, take-it-all-on-me person. Can’t make the meeting? Alright, another time. Can’t be present for my presentation? Alright, maybe another time. Can’t read my chapters? Alright, I understand. The problem is that there was never another time in more than three years and I took an entire PhD project on my back with no guiding lines or on-time corrections. Now that the time is running out, I’m being pressured to deliver more than what I’m humanly capable of at the moment.
The relationship with my supervisor has been just like the relationship with my father and mother. I tried to be tolerant, “compassionate”, and hopeful, putting their needs first and believing they had my best interest at hand. None of them was ever present in the most important moments and decisions though. None of them really knows who I am and none of them really acts like I’m made of flesh. Then I get frustrated. Frustration leads to anger. Anger leads to sadness. And sadness to numbness.
I already care less about what my mother and father think, feel, or do. I still haven’t applied the new lessons to how I relate with my supervisor though. It’s time to let her know that the dynamic between us didn’t work out for me and that I will need her to stop pressuring me. She can’t really demand anything after being so dismissive for more than three years. Now that I’m writing this I feel like saying I actually hate her and I guess I have been suppressing that feeling because in my head “a good person shouldn’t have such feelings”.
I also know I’m responsible for the situation I am in. If I had established healthy boundaries from the very beginning, I’m sure my reality would be lighter now. Maybe she would had done her job and I would had finish it by now. Instead I have lots of data to analyse and write. Plus, I have no clue about how I’m going to analyse or write them down. If I could, I would scream right now and say out loud “F* this shit!”. I feel like I want to punch everyone too. Since I can’t, I just hope to get some sleep and wake up feeling better tomorrow morning. I can’t even describe how tired I feel… and yet my brain doesn’t switch off.
I feel tempted to fly back next weekend, but I also feel guilty about missing my sister’s 11th birthday. The truth is that I could do with some homemade sweet potatoes and a glass of wine, a couple of good laughs and a wander around town at night. I could be happy in that house, although I don’t feel totally comfortable with G’s feelings for me. That worries me a lot too, but he is the first one telling me that I worry too much about how others feel or react. Why can’t we rationally choose who we love? And when will all this healing be complete?
God grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the Wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time.
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as he did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would like it.
Trusting that he will make all things right,
If I surrender to his will.
That I may be reasonably happy in this world
And supremely happy in the next.
Reinhold Niebuhr, German Theologian