I have really struggled with what to write about today. I’ve been feeling really down which frustrates me to no end. Sometimes, despite the medicine and exercise and eating right, my arch nemesis ‘depression’ returns on occasion. And fortunately today, even though I’ve managed to fall into the well, I was able to grab onto something before I plummeted all the way to the gloomy, hopeless depths below. How am I going to get out? I still haven’t worked out a plan. The walls are kind of slimy so it’s been tough to get my footing. I can still see the sky above me and planes flying overhead and I have hope that I can manage to pull myself out of it eventually, either through sheer will and determination or with the assistance of others. I am grateful that I didn’t drop all the way down to the bottom. Once you reach the bottom of the well, it’s much tougher to find your way out. It’s especially difficult when the water in the well is so deep that you cannot touch the bottom and have to continually thrash about in an attempt to keep your head above it because you never learned how to swim.
The likely culprit in this situation is my mother. That is generally the root cause. My mom and I have had an interesting relationship throughout the years. I wouldn’t call it a love/hate relationship. It’s more like a love/dislike on occasion one. And I think that one of my life themes, my questionable mental health/depression, is in large part due to her influence or lack thereof. It is amazing how much not having someone’s influence or presence in your life can shape and mold you. When I was in utero, my mom put herself through real estate school and started working as a realtor. She wasn’t getting any financial support from my father, quite the opposite. He was actually making things worse with his spending habits. Collections notices arriving in the mail were not all that uncommon. But my mom had a plan. Get her real estate license, get a job, and find a way to provide for her family with or without my father.
The thing is, once I was born, there was no time for any of that critical bonding. She passed me off to one of the other members of the wolf pack (one of my siblings) and hit the ground running. I’ve heard the story more than once about how she had to put cardboard in her shoes because the soles were so worn down you could see daylight through them. As a brand new realtor, she had to find clients. They didn’t just magically appear. So she set off on foot and started knocking on doors. I guess that’s what they did ‘back in the day’. They walked around and went door to door to find potential clients. She did a lot of walking and a lot of knocking and eventually built up a reasonable client base. It wasn’t long before she realized she could finally rid herself of my father. When I was two years old, she worked up the courage to divorce him. That is actually the only time I’ve seen her cry. Interestingly enough, that decision (to leave my father) had a ripple effect. Almost at once, we were not only excommunicated by the Catholic church but my father’s side of the family turned their backs on us as well.
My mom has never been a real touchy-feely type of individual. I don’t remember a single time growing up when she freely offered a hug or said, “I love you.” She’s not a real emotional person. And as I mentioned earlier, I’ve only seen her cry once in my entire life. That just isn’t her makeup. She’s always been very stoic and practical and not one to feel sorry for herself. But it doesn’t mean that as a child, I didn’t need a hug on occasion or to hear, “I love you.” And that’s probably why I tried so hard to please her, to make her laugh, to make her notice me. I yearned just to get some kind of acknowledgement. I so often felt invisible or dismissed or ignored as a child. I totally get it! This is a woman that has nine children, with barely enough money to feed and clothe and shelter them, let alone afford a decent pair of shoes. It was a desperate situation. I understand why she didn’t have the time to hold and comfort me and see to my needs. But it doesn’t mean that it didn’t leave a deep and lasting scar.
And it’s funny how the things that happened as I developed as a child continue to affect my relationships. Anytime someone isn’t listening or they wave me off or treat me dismissively, I get triggered. Seriously triggered. I know it’s all due to what I was subjected to throughout my childhood. And I know I need to get over it. But I’m not there yet. I’m still getting triggered, especially by my mother. Oddly enough, as I’m writing this, I think I realized what put me in the funk I’ve been struggling with today. I told you a couple of days ago (Facing the Consequences) that my mom went out for Thanksgiving and is now being quarantined for two weeks. I warned her several times what would happen if she did. She was even required by the facility she’s living in to sign a document acknowledging what would result if she went out for Thanksgiving. But she did it anyway. It was as if all the time I spent trying to convince her and help her understand because I didn’t want her to suffer, it was all for naught. It was obvious she didn’t ‘hear’ me. But I shouldn’t be surprised. That’s how it’s always been.
If I could only impress upon you how many times I’ve said something to her to only have her say, “Really? You’ve never mentioned that before.” I used to get all worked up whenever I used to visit her because she’d always offer to make me a lemon meringue pie. “Why would you make me a lemon meringue pie?” I’d ask. “I hate them. I’ve never liked them. I’ve told you 100 times how much I cannot stand them!” “Oh, I didn’t realize that,” she’d casually say. “I don’t recall you ever mentioning it before.” Ackkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk! That’s just one example. There are hundreds. I would blame it on bad hearing but that woman probably has better hearing than Mr. Bat or Mrs. Owl (who both have exceptional hearing). I would say what my mom has is probably closer to ‘selective’ hearing. She hears what she wants to hear. And the worse her dementia gets, the more that trait becomes apparent. And why does all of this get me so down?
I cannot control it. I can talk until I’m blue in the face to save my mother from herself, but it doesn’t seem to make any difference. She didn’t listen before she had dementia, why would she start listening now? Even tonight, despite the very clear instructions from the assisted living facility that she wasn’t to leave her room, she told me she went wandering around the halls and there wasn’t a soul in sight. She was also planning on taking her clothes to the laundry room and washing them. You know what this means, don’t you? I think I do. It means they’re going to be giving her an eviction notice any day now because she refuses to follow the rules. And when that happens, which I have no doubt it will, guess who gets to figure out ‘plan B’? Yep, me and my brother Clover. Oh, great! Cannot wait! Bring it on! The more stress, the better. I’m joking, of course. I have to find a way to laugh because if I don’t, I’ll cry.
Even harder than the idea of her being evicted is the thought of her being manipulated by the people in my family that have never had her best interests in mind. They’ve used her and abused her and she’s totally clueless. That makes my stomach hurt more than anything. I want to protect her but it’s so damn hard. I just wish I had the answers, but I don’t. I guess that’s where the whole ‘one day at a time’ saying comes in. If I think too far ahead about all of the things that can go wrong, I’m going to wind myself up so tightly that I don’t know whether I’ll ever be able to return to a ‘normal’ state of being. Whatever that may be. So I guess I’m just going to try and ‘take one day at a time’ and ‘be in the moment’ even though every part of me is wholeheartedly against it. It’s much more interesting to continually analyze the past and live with regret or look forward to ‘what could be’ in the future and live with fear. But I guess I’ll have to try and live with boring and ‘be in the moment’. Besides, it’s late and I’m tired. And there’s not much I can really do to alleviate the situation with my mother at this hour anyway.
If my mom gets evicted, I’ll figure it out. If I have to have her move in with me, even if that means I lose even more hair (and possibly my sanity) due to the stress and have to wear a wig, fine. If having her here ultimately drives me to insanity and I end up placed in a facility, I guess my husband can figure it out. And if my husband loses his sh*t because of all the stress of having to take care of my mother on his own since I’m no longer available (because I’m currently inhabiting a padded cell), then I guess the kids can figure it out. Beyond that? No idea. Maybe someone can consult an Oracle and he or she can figure it out.