Friday, September 12, 2008

Mommy Daddy Thoughts Today

I met a co-worker this morning that was born in 1947. She’s 61 years old, the same age as my mom. It struck me a little sadly seeing how vibrant and put together this woman is when my mom, the same age has become so frail due to the ravages of prescription pain medications and massive quantities of vodka. A part of me nearly wanted to cry because there it was, in my face, the health and viberance my mom should have and doesn’t at her own hand. I wish I could make her see that life is worth living real and up close instead of distanced by alcohol and drugs. I wish I could take away the pain she holds inside but know that is not possible. That emotional pain has now defined her, become such an integral part of her psyche and she’s so entrenched in the “poor me” persona or control drama that I fear there is no turning back for her.

She’s losing her battle with life a little every day and although somewhere she knows the answers, the substances keep her from making choices that might really help her. It’s so difficult not having her in my life. I get so angry that my efforts to help her didn’t work and the only way I could keep her in my life is if I became a submissive dutiful daughter that took her continual emotional abuse day in and day out, catered to her every whim, kept giving her money so she could spend hers on alcohol or suffered her wrath. I just couldn’t do it. I was too weak to sustain that position for long and yes, although I shouldn’t, I carry a fair amount of guilt over my failure to reach her. I know guilt can sometimes be a counter-productive and pointless emotion but I can’t help but think maybe I should have tried harder. But another part of me definitively knows that I did try and try hard but I just couldn’t take it. I can’t support 3 kids on my own, financially support a fourth and be emotionally, physically and financially responsible for an adult who is potentially capable of pulling her own weight if only she had the guts enough to try. I grew weary of being the bank of Jaie, being my mother’s doormat, listening to her slurred words, delusions of grandeur and hallucinations. I was so in over my head trying to care for her, I just wanted to help…I wanted to do what I could but I just couldn’t help her without her willingness to engage in the things that would truly make her well.

I had to give her a choice, tough love so-to-speak and she took the low road…the easy road in her mind which was actually the most difficult path she would ever take. A stint in rehab would have helped to bring her health and vitality but she was not willing. She chose homelessness and lived in her car, begging for money. I had to see her on the street with a sign one day. A part of me died that day but taking her back meant enabling her behavior. I set forth the terms of assistance I worked with Older Adult Services to establish but she was not interested. Now she blames me for the miserable state her life is in. I didn’t put the bottle and pills to her lips and did not make the deadly decisions that forced her into dependence on the state, on men and on family. She did that all on her own. She’s done that her whole life completely unwilling to go the distance for herself. I’m so frustrated at this loss. It shouldn’t have to be that way.

Those thoughts bring me back to the very same ones I felt with my dad who died 15 years ago. He shouldn’t have died at 48 years old but he climbed into a bottle of Bacardi and could never pull himself out. I hate that stuff today. The smell makes me sick although it’s more of an emotional reaction. My mom said to me once that she and my father were never the adults in our relationship, I was. She told me that I never once needed them and always took care of myself, raised myself and became who I am from some design our Maker had in mind because my parents sure did nothing to lead me to the path I’m on. That wasn’t the life I can ever think I wanted. I was always so timid, observant, and quiet…watching the adults around me, understanding things I couldn’t articulate with my immature mind but feeling everything with a very big heart. Sometimes I feel this heart of mine is just a huge liability but I made it this far in life with it in tact so perhaps I should use it to encourage others in my way, if I can.

It would truly be an honor to do so. I haven’t done everything right and there are those who would condemn me for not doing more for my mom or my dad. Although I loved them, I never had that sense of family with them that maybe I should have. I have fond memories of friendship with my father in the years before his death…that time period when he finally accepted me as an adult no longer trying to keep me from growing. Those were the best times of my life and I’ll never forget them. I can only imagine what I must have put my parents through with my secret psychological experimentation on myself, my self-destructive jaunts down darkened paths but I always pulled myself out without their help. Maybe my mom is right. Who knows but there is a part of me that tries to reconcile all of this…my parents taught me so much by doing nothing but living their lives. I remember my mom teaching me never to lie, how to play chess and how to read the tarot cards. I remember so much and yet I’ve blocked out so much. I don’t want to remember times either of them held me close like they loved me. There’s a part of me that knows they did and there’s a part of me that feels I was competition for them both in someway…I was something to stamp out and be jealous of. Lord knows they tried to crush my independent spirit with their own emotional distress but it just wasn’t going to happen. I suffered years of emotional abuse at both of their hands but I refused to succumb to it and be like them in any way.

For some reason I was too strong for them to reach…but they did affect my heart. I don’t trust. Every relationship I’ve ever had has gone wrong at my hand…either by failing to see what I was really dealing with or walking in without showing people who I really was. All I ever wanted was love, all I ever wanted was people who should have understood me but that was not meant for me. Don’t feel sorry for me, I absolutely do not. I channeled those feelings into work, my writing and doing my best to raise my kids. I love them so much and I tell them often but it’s hard for me to show it as much as I should. It’s hard for me because I don’t know how, I had no role models there but I do my best in my own way and I hope one day they know that it wasn’t them, it was me who was unable to show emotion as well as I could have. But they do know they are loved…I make sure they know, I take the time to teach them, tell them about the world, warn them about experimentation and the deadly path that might lead them down. I work to give them that sense of family in that no matter where there are and what they are doing, they are in my heart and I would die for any of them in a heart beat. Although my parents were too caught up to give me what I needed, I can give that to myself now and when I give that to myself, I learn how to give it to others, especially my babies.

My heart has always been open and I’m struggling to learn to trust, learning to see fantasy from reality, challenging those who try to tell me the sky is green and the grass blue…I won’t tolerate self-doubt any longer and will gently and lovingly speak my peace always. I just wish my parents could have fought harder…I wish I could have instilled in them the need to fight. I wish they could see me now, see how it’s possible to win this game of life. It’s not running away from pain that keeps you ahead in the game, it’s learning how to love and stay connected to others despite the pain, not running to a bottle, pill, man nor woman to bury your troubles…It’s about lifting yourself up from a bad spot or a fall and realizing that although it hurt, you’ll be all the wiser the next time.

So, although I’m sad, I realize my parents choices were that “their choices.” They had nothing to do with me although they affected me and to the extent that negatively impacts my life today it’s my responsibility to change. I will not be like them in any way ever because whether they are here or beyond, they’ll know that it is possible to heal and grow in life despite the pain. They’ll see me do it and I will succeed and I’ll teach others how to do the same one day. I swear I will. I choose to be alive. I choose to be well. I choose to be balanced. I choose to work hard for myself and my family. I choose to be happy. I choose to heal. I choose love.


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