Should I work abroad whilst family is in crisis?
THANOSMARVEL - Mar 14 2023 at 16:30
A lot of info to cover but I'll try to keep it brief. I have been thinking about working abroad for a summer (most likely at a US summer camp) as I have always wanted to have the experience and develop myself as a person in addition to being a much needed break from everyday life. Aside from the obvious worries about travelling abroad for the first time on my own thousands of miles away from my home in the UK, there has been a lot going on at home.
Firstly, one of my older brothers has a multitude of issues including profound learning difficulties, epilepsy, autism, scoliosis etc. He has always had these problems from a young age but over the last 5 years has deteriorated quite significantly losing the ability to walk from a long hospital stay and the ability to breath unaided (now has ventilator support most of day and night). The doctors have been saying for many years he won't live much longer which is very upsetting and in this recent hospital admission he may be moving to a care home about an hour and a half away from our home.
Secondly, my other older brother is getting married in the summer in the UK at a registry office so if i was to go I would be missing this. However, there will be another much larger ceremony in Italy (where his fiancee lives) the following year which I will definitely go to. He has said to me that he wouldn't be upset if I were to miss the smaller registry office wedding but I know all the other family will hold it against me. After the wedding he will be moving to Italy with his fiancee.
To put it into context I am in my early 20s whilst my two brothers are each a few years older.
From first glance most people would probably say there is too much going on at the moment and that it would be cruel to go away at such a turbulent time for my whole family. However, over the years I have missed out on so many opportunities as my brother with health problems goes into hospital for many months almost every year since 2017, sometimes twice a year. I haven't really progressed much in my life and feel like I'm stuck helping out my family whilst my mental health declines. I am very shy but really want to improve myself and be happier as a person. I feel like my other brother (one moving to italy) has has so much more life experiences and has done so much more interesting things with his life. I, however, have never had a gf nor a good group of friends- I know not having a gf is not the be all and end all but I just want to be more happy in myself and have better relationships in general.
Anyway, if anyone has any advice or pearls of wisdom to give I would be greatly appreciative. Sorry for unloading!
Aren't you such a sweet and conscientious young man!
Let's get this into proper perspective - no need to panic...
You're your parents' Baby of the family, aren't you. Their 'last son/child'. Already your brothers are mid-flying the nest so they may be panicking at the thought of you flying off (or at least doing a test-flight). The hearbreak and grief it can cause is hard-going. But this scenario would be the case even if nothing turbulent were going on and your family life had been relatively tickety-boo - fact.
After all, on any practical level, your staying put isn't going to make a blind bit of difference to your middle brother's situation. And neither are you needed as, say, the Best Man at your brother's English ceremony.
So this is purely emotional, about the fact your OBVIOUSLY-reassuring physical presence won't be to-hand "if" this happens or that happens. You do sound VERY grown-up, emotionally intelligent and wise for your age so I'm not surprised if your parents, even without realising, have come to depend on you being there with them.
Does this sound correct to you? Or are they just being unfair and unreasonable when it comes to you, as well as always putting too much adult stuff on you?
Let's think of some solutions/pacifiers/negotiations you could propose...although, really, you might just be being impatient for a Yes too soon, and it's that their hearts and minds need time to get used to the scary and insecurity-making idea...calm down a bit....bit more...bit more, until the idea feels far less threatening, and then be capable of giving you a more - shall we say, PARENTAL, balanced discussion and agreement?
Otherwise, a softeners selection could include one or all of these:
- Shortening your trip if possible or punctuating it with a planned visit back home halfway through ('at their expense, please' (obviously))?
- You promise faithfully to 'be there' at your brother's ceremony by video link or live phonecall? (And my advice would be to send them an international Interflora wedding bouquet with a note from you for your brother to read out - people do this sort of thing all the time when they can't make it in person)
- Ditto promising faithfully to have a routine 'ringing/facetiming Mum & Dad day' at least once per week, every week (until they relax and tell you, you needn't ring so often if it's difficult, Son)? Or better yet, to text goodnight every night at first (so they know you're safe? They're already 'not in their right minds' with stress and worry so they know that worrying about whether you're safe every day/night will be just TOO MUCH angst on their already 'on the edge'
- Promising that if they suddenly need you because middle brother starts to fade, you'll catch the first flight back to be with them (if they can pay, obviously)? Trust me, if your brother dies, they WILL need you, not least to comfortingly remind them that they're NOT losing ALL of their children at-once.
Or could you agree to postpone until next year on the firm, concrete understanding that they will not just agree but also HELP you to get there next year?
You're not powerless, you know. They need you right now, even more than you need them, but, that doesn't mean you (and they) can't find things that make it easier and more pleasant for them or everybody as well as you?....as good a Win/Win as possible? They must be suffering terrible-TERRIBLE grief and anxiety already. They "can't lose you too (waaaah!)", their hearts "won't take it!".
Be very gentle with them. Keep your cool and discuss & bargain like a grown-up. Seeing how in-control and mature you are will impact them and bring them up-to-date with ACTUALLY, how grown-up you are (they haven't had time to notice you're an adult now, that's what it is....didn't have the time or head-space so right now, you ARE still their "baby"). Impress the pants off of them. Then they will have the confidence to know you'll be sensible and stay safe on your travels which will go a long way to calming them down.
"Slowly, slowly, catchee monkey" is the famous, old saying....
It is difficult, though, because normally I'd say, it's your life, you've sacrficed enough of your life/schedule already. But we're not in normal times - there's stress, frighteners and pressure out there EVERYWHERE right now...bloody everything that used to work (including people!), now doesn't or takes too long (meanwhile you're worrying). Everyone is anywhere between too worried and utterly petrified about whether they'll be able to ride this horrid, messy, chaotic, Broken Britain storm. Even parents who DIDN'T start this, having your parents' load are suffering now.
As for your agegroup....PFF...they're frozen on the developmental spot, haven't a clue what to do with themselves! Virtually all back living with their parents, can't afford to go anywhere or do anything, having to sell their first cars that they've only owned for '5 minutes', no job (not one that pays more than bloody Universal Credit, anyway!), no prospects, lacking the capital to start their own little businesses...they can't get married because their minds aren't even remotely there yet...what CAN they do? Probably a lot of you are deciding to travel, if they can just about afford to.
What's this summercamp all about, btw - what do they offer?
PS: You daftie - 'sorry for unloading'. You're SUPPOSED to unload! LOL Unload all you like! :)