Losing My Sh!t

3015953269_e46ceedbb1_bThis 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.

5 Comments

  1. Keep losing your sh!t. Keep blogging. It’d be more worrisome if you didn’t feel a tornado of emotions. Anybody who judges doesn’t know – noone is walking in your shoes but you. None of these situations are identical. If you didn’t care and weren’t thinking about others (your dad, your mom) – you never would have moved back. This is a huge sacrifice on your part and you can’t help but be grieving the loss of your own life, aspirations and dreams for being there in the “madness”. I wish there was something I could do other than to say I’m sorry. It’s like you’re stuck in a nightmare and can’t wake up.

  2. Hi, I am reading your story while i am crying. I am going through a lot of the same guilt you are. You tell it like it is. I tried to put myself in my mom’s place. It must be awful for her. She is not the mom i knew. I have to watch her enjoy others while all i do is try to be good like whe i was a child. She blames me and my dad for making her the way she is. She is turning my house upside down at least 4 days a week. We bicker constantly and my dad takes a lot of things he doesn’t deserve. I really wish i wasn’t doing this so i could have the best of my mom like my brothers do when they make their once every 6 month visit! It is like a nightmare! That is a good analogy. By the way, my husband renovated our house so we could take care of my parents and I should be spending time with him, but she makes sure that she is getting attention or else something starts up with her, my dad or myself. I feel your aggravation. Thanks for listening.

  3. thank you for sharing. its such a challenging situation and it’s difficult to connect sometimes to this new person. its a struggle for sure, but this will pass… may not be the most comforting words, but its all i got and its true… stay strong. the guilt is a heavy burden and you have to cut yourself some slack. i have no doubt you’re doing all that you can do… we are our own worst critic; we need to give ourselves a break! thank you, kat

  4. Thank you for replying. I need to do that. I still feel that i am a kid and i have to do what i am told. My mom was strict with me being the only girl. Isn’t funny how those feelings never go away. My husband told me to just make an effort to pull myself away and do things for myself no matter how she tries to make me feel. I will make a real effort to stay strong! I really miss how my mom was before this. Thank you so much for caring. Sincerely Kathy

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