This isn’t the easiest blog entry to write. I feel guilty. I feel embarrassed, but what did I say about this blog? Truth. We have to be honest. Believe me, I know how to write a talking point, I know position a story so the subject sounds like a victim or a hero. I’m a writer. I could make myself look like a saint and yes, it’s a tempting tale to tell. After all, do I really want to come across as the bad, impatient daughter? Not really — but here’s the deal: When you’re the only person who can actually get through to this person, the only person she calls with her woes, fears, and anxieties, you are put in a pretty lousy situation and you will never, ever win. You have to say no. You have to try and explain why things are the way they are. You have to set down boundaries. You have to emotionally detach yourself in order to play this role. You have to watch your mom have a meltdown like a terrible two year old.
As many of you know, I recently started a new job. At home, we’ve been forced to find extra help — my mom has gotten in the habit of waking to the supermarket or 99 cent store, then asking men, strange men, and only men for a ride home, on top of her other demented behavior (think stealing money and asking strangers for money so she can buy bird seed and rum). She also fell down over a week ago, slammed her face on the driveway, and was rushed to the ER so, needless to say, the last week and half has been incredibly draining… physically and emotionally for my entire family.
Well, last Friday was yet another challenging day at the house of dementia. I walked into work completely frazzled after talking to my dad, the new aide, and my mom… still exhausted from the prior weekend spent at John C. Lincoln hospital and cleaning the house top to bottom — I would like to take a moment to thank STARBUCKS for their solid support and caffeine — I knew I had to say something lest my colleagues think I am an insane, dramatic mess. So I did… and good thing. More chaos erupted and I decided to take a long lunch to make sure everyone was still alive.
When I arrived home, of course, everything was fine, calm… finally.
I, HOWEVER, WAS FAR FROM FINE. I was so angry at my mom. I was mad that I had to leave work. Exhausted. Filled with rage… there is always something, always something. Afraid I could lose a job I like in this terrible recession/depression. Livid that she just looked at me and smiled. Resentful that she is sick and doesn’t get it. She never gets it, no matter how many times I repeat it. God, she even asked me for a ride to the supermarket! “Um, mom… I am here to make sure you’re alive, not to take you to the supermarket!!!!!” I was livid, so frustrated, so hurt… the list goes on. I could barely look at her… meantime, she smiled at me, tried to hug me and instead got her bright red- Made-in-China-99-cent-store-brand lipstick on my Banana Republic sweater.
Why is this happening? What lesson am I supposed to take away from this? What is the point? Yeah, GOD, I’m talking to you! And are you going to pay for my dry cleaning, GOD!?
I get that as caregivers and children of demented adults, we are going to have our moments. Many moments. Face it: We are going to lose our shi!t and that’s OK as long as we don’t behave violently.
And yet, knowing this… well, I still feel guilty. I feel like a bad daughter. I think I am a bad daughter. I didn’t move cross-country to lose my sh!t. I came home to help. I am disappointed in myself. I want to be an advocate for young adult caregivers, and yet here I am raising my voice at her. Telling her to listen to what I am saying. Rebuffing her hugs. Threatening to not stop by on Sunday if she doesn’t do what I ask, and yet knowing this empty threat is both empty and pointless — she doesn’t understand and I will indeed be at the house on Sunday
So that’s what happened.
I lost my sh!t
I think I love my mom. I must love her or I would not be doing this. My feelings about her are so clouded. She isn’t the same woman. She isn’t the same mom. It’s a weird, confusing dynamic. A part of me has mourned the woman who was my mom. Another part of me sees a little piece of her trapped inside this messy, demented brain and I want to reach out and save her, but I can’t. It’s a twisted web of emotions and I don’t always understand my feelings when it comes to this…
But that’s another chapter.