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LIstening ear needed

(29 Posts)
Silverbirch Sat 20-Oct-12 14:47:58

I have Chronic Fatigue and live on my own since my husband died 7 years ago. My energy varies from day to day, but I more or less manage well providing I pace myself and lead a fairly simple life. A lot of my energy goes on supporting my 40 year old son who suffers from depression who also lives around the corner, and enjoying seeing my daughter and two lovely grandchildren once a week, keeping my home going and seeing friends. I also enjoy when I have the time gardening and painting. Earlier this year my brother who lives in Spain, with his wife invited me to go for a visit and it was a wonderful adventure. He travelled over to see my family and we travelled back there together where we had a wonderful time and all got on like a house on fire. He kindly flew back with me and I felt very supported. He was hoping I would visit again this year and this time travel alone. I did decide to go and we fixed a date for this month three weeks ago. Maybe its the time of year but having said I would go,and having even started packing, it just didnt feel right, as this time of year is when I wind down, consolidate. get some things done in the house hibernate a bit. I am also 70 in january and i also felt I wanted to be thoughtful and prepare for that. Another factor is that I found it quite hard to settle back on returning before, into life on my own again, missing all the companionship, and with the long dark evenings coming up didnt want to feel unsettled at this time of the year. I just couldnt motivate myself or raise enough enthusiasm for the trip so I emailed my brother apologising for raising his expectations and disappointing him, that it just didnt feel the right time to come and why. I got a mail back saying he was disappointed and hoped I derive some positives from what I was planning. All well and good. However a couple of days later I received another one saying my reasoning didnt make sense to him. he would have thought that anyone with a brother in Spain would jump at the chance of visiting this time of year and regarding being 70 he didnt view it as old, and intended to live till 90, talking about what our parents did when they were 70 etc. This completely missed the point as I don't view 70 as old either. Then urging me to go and saying that life is for living etc and please come. I emailed back saying I very much valued having a brother in Spain and if I could get in a tardis and be beamed there like Dr Who I would go like a shot and that I was sorry to disappoint but having tried to set it up, I didnt feel I had enough stamina to organise myself. and that it would be much better for me to come in the Spring, new life and new energy. I sent this two weeks ago and havent received a reply. I would like to think that although disappointed he can accept my decision. I know I made the right decision for me but am having to cope with my own disappointment about not seeing him and knowing I have disappointed him without his reassurance that he understands or at least respects my decision. I guess he is still working it through! Its hard when you live on your own not having anyone around to say all this to. Thankyou for listening.

Barrow Sat 20-Oct-12 14:54:43

Having a brother living in another country myself I know the difficulties it can present. I am sure your brother would only want you to do what you feel is best for yourself - I am sure he is disappointed that he won't be seeing you but perhaps you could arrange to go later, say in the spring.

Only you know what you are able to cope with so take care of yourself flowers

JessM Sat 20-Oct-12 15:37:10

It is a pain I know having relatives who are so far away. All my closest blood relatives fall into this category. Travel does require a lot of energy as does, re-settling. It is a difficult lesson for all of us to learn that asserting what some other adult "should" or "should not" do so often leads to problems.
I would be inclined to email him and say something along the lines of "hope you are not still feeling fed up with me." and do your bit to keep the lines of communication open, and amicable. And not beat up on yourself.

MargaretX Sat 20-Oct-12 15:57:36

What struck me was what you mentioned about being upset for a while on returning home and that you wanted to avoid being depressed with winter coming on. This always happens to me when I return from a visit to the UK. I have lived in Germany for 4O years and actually prefer a continental way of life. I have just come back from a stay in England with my brother's widow who I have known since I was 16. There is something about staying in her house -the warmth and the fact that she has known me longer than anybody I know in Germany has, that I miss when I am back. The return is always followed by a couple of weeks feeling low. I can imagine that with you being alone and suffering from Chronic Fatigue that you quite rightly feel you have to protect yourself from that feeling by not going to Spain until a time when the season of the year is more upbeat.

Somehow he has not really understood what Chronic Fatigue is like. How can he? He thinks 70 is still young but that maybe true of most 70 year olds in good health but as soon as you fall ill you realise that you can't bounce back at 70 like you could at 40 or even 60. Have you spoken to him on the phone? Perhaps you could book a flight for next year to prove that you intend to visit and then cancel it if you are ill. It may cost you the flight cost (but not the airport taxes which will be refunded) and you would have peace of mind and your brother could look forward to your visit, and not feel let down by you.
It seems you are a taste of home that he is missing but as yet has not owned up to.

Mishap Sat 20-Oct-12 16:44:19

I think that CFS is very hard for people to understand - those who have no experience of it either personally or professionally, so it is likely that this would account for some of his reaction.

It is lovely that he wants to see you and welcoome you there and I am sure that it will happen in the spring.

It is hard to go from having daily compaqny to being on your own again - it is not necessarily to do with the distance.

Send him some chatty emails - keep the link going. Tell him how much you would have loved to come and how much you are looking forward to a visit in the new year.

CFS is a total pain that is compunded by others' inability to understand what it entails - a double burden.

Only you know what is best for you at this time and the winter is a hard time for those who live alone and are not totally fit - it feels like a hurdle to jump.

Good luck with it all.

annodomini Sat 20-Oct-12 17:25:29

I do know how you feel, silverbirch. I had thought about going to stay with my sister in NZ this winter, but I am finding travelling increasingly tiring. Having polymyalgia doesn't help, but I also find myself feeling very low when I have to leave my sister who, of all the family, understands me best. I also think that Christchurch in its earthquake-stricken state would depress me, though I know that sounds selfish when my sister and her family have to put up with it.

Bags Sat 20-Oct-12 17:54:44

I know exactly how you feel, silverbirch. It is very hard for people to imagine what chronic fatigue or related syndromes are like, and it is very hard to explain the effects too. Try to tell your brother it is the illness that is the problem, not you. He perhaps doesn't realise how it affects you. Good luck [flower]

Bags Sat 20-Oct-12 17:56:37

I mean flowers

FlicketyB Sat 20-Oct-12 21:37:11

I think what many people do not realise is how CFS slows down the mind. I have had something with the same symptoms, but it only lasted six months and it was the mental paralysis that I found most taxing.

DH was working in Egypt for a couple of months and he was used to ringing me from abroad with any problems with credit cards, or mobile phones and I would get everything sorted out in a day. He was having problems with his mobile phone and it took me three days to ring his provider to sort it out. He was going frantic because he couldnt use his phone and realised that there must be something wrong with me but couldnt contact me as I hadnt got the mental energy to even check my emails.

Perhaps your brother could be persuaded to log into Gransnet and read this thread!

Bags Sun 21-Oct-12 07:05:29

He can read the thread without logging in.

Silverbirch Sun 21-Oct-12 12:32:49

Thankyou Barrow for your understanding. I will try and go in the Spring
and in the meantime take care of myself. take care tooxx

Silverbirch Sun 21-Oct-12 12:38:56

Thankyou Jess M. Sorry your relatives fall into this category too living away. You are so right that only we ourselves know what is right for us, and shoulds and oughts only put on pressure. I will e mail him again xx

gracesmum Sun 21-Oct-12 12:44:48

The main thing is not to beat yourself up about it. You must do what is right for you and trust that he will understand that he cannot "jolly" or even (kindly) "bully" you into doing something which makes you unhappy or causes extra stress. I feel a similar guilt about not driving to Scotland to visit elderly uncle and aunt for a few days in early November. My arthritic wrist/hand has been playing up and I find driving in the dark or heavy rain extremely hard as my hands tend to seize up and as DH no longer drives, I would have to "keep calm and carry on" so the thought of it was making me unhappy. It was such a relief to say so and agree that we will go up in the Spring, when in any case, the weather will be better and the days lighter and longer.

Silverbirch Sun 21-Oct-12 12:50:49

Thanks Margaret X for this and for your understanding about the resettling again after the warmth of another's hospitality especially if the ties go back a long way.Am sorry you find this hard too. I do agree that the Spring would be a much better time to go and did indicate this in my mail. Thanks for understanding about how low energy can effect one too. I feel encouraged
and will email him againxx

Silverbirch Sun 21-Oct-12 13:00:24

Thanks Mishap for this. I agree that CFS is difficult for others to understand
so compounds what can be a challenge. It is lovely that he wants to see me and I know my energy will be a lot better in the Spring. I know I have made the right decision xx

Silverbirch Sun 21-Oct-12 13:15:47

Thanks Annodomini. Am sorry to hear you have been in two minds about travelling too. I think travelling when one isnt very fit can be very tiring.
I can appreciate what a wrench it would be returning after staying with a lovely
sister who understands youxx

petra Sun 21-Oct-12 13:16:07

Hi Silverbirch.
Do you have Skype. If not, download it. It makes such a difference when you can speak to someone face to face (so to speak) instead of things being misconstrued in an email.

Silverbirch Sun 21-Oct-12 13:26:49

Thanks Bags you are so right it is very difficult for people to understand about
CFS or to explain the effects to others. Sometimes bewildering to oneself too!
He has found it difficult to accept it and has in the past believed if I just tried harder I could do anything...... so have found this judgement challenging but he has become a lot more accepting of me in the last year and my lovely visit there
in the Spring helped our relationship. I know he finds my vulnerability sometimes
difficult to accept xx

Silverbirch Sun 21-Oct-12 13:34:47

Thanks Gracemum for your empathy. Well done for making the decision not
to go to Scotland and to go in the Spring. Am glad you are feeling relieved. Its so important to listen to ourselves isnt it, only we know what we can manage
and the Spring with its longer lighter days is so much more enticing for you and me! xx

Silverbirch Sun 21-Oct-12 13:35:44

THanks Petra for suggesting Skype. I will look into that a very good ideaxx

MargaretX Sun 21-Oct-12 17:02:03

Thanks silverbirch no wonder your brother is so fond of you!

Silverbirch Sun 21-Oct-12 18:08:20

Thanks Margaret X what a lovely thing to sayx

Silverbirch Sun 21-Oct-12 18:14:29

Thankyou all you lovely caring people for taking the time to respond to me. It feels wonderful to be listened to and so encouraged and supported, very, very much appreciated. Thankyou this has given me the motivation to have another go and email my brother againxx

Silverbirch Sun 21-Oct-12 18:34:12

Thanks Flickety B for your understanding response and am so glad for you that your spell with CFS only lasted 6 months. I agree it does slow down the mind and I am so sorry you had that horrid challenge when DH was in Egypt of trying to phone his provider regarding his moblie phone and it taking three days, and him not being able to contact you because you were not able to read your emails. It is very scary when ones energy goes can feel overwhelming. I find if I spend a lot of time doing something mentally, or am dealing with an emotional issue it effects my energy physically. So its best to pace myself.

Thankyou to you and Bags for suggesting my brother reads the thread. I somehow don't think this is a good ideax

Silverbirch Mon 22-Oct-12 15:00:14

Hello just to let all you lovely people that gave me support that I mailed my brother saying 'I was hoping for a response to my mail, was sorry I had disappointed him, and whilst he may not get my reasoning it would be good to know he respected my decision...... I got a response back saying not to panic he had just been very busy (no mention of my trip or mail etc). Still the lines of communication are open and for that I am grateful. So moving on! With thanks
to you all againx