Monday, July 16, 2012

shake the disease

for a long time, I believed that my mother hated me, despised me and wished me dead. I didn't make this up, she literally would scream, "I wish you were never born" so many times througout my lifetime. this made it pretty easy to come to this conclusion. On other nights, in a sobby voice, she'd whimper, "do you love me?"

my response was always, "yes mommy, I do love you. of course I do."

the stroke. some early morning in march, I get a call... it's not a surprise I had been trying to reach my mom through a busy signal for a few days. they were rushing her to the emergency room.

my mother was in the hospital in critical condition, and there we were (my sister and I) in her home. in her house without her in it. it felt weird, like she had died, like we were uninvited guests, like her ghost was everywhere. the place was so uncomfortable. looking for answers, trying to find my way I opened a drawer in her room and found an envelope, legal in size with a label from an attorney's office. it was her living will, her proxy and well...

the cover letter explicitly stated that I was evil, harmful, and that I would get nothing. she left everything to my sister and her ex-husband (my father) and a paultry trust for my son which he would get when he turned 23. nothing. her last words to me, embroiled on a page, spiteful, scathing, spitting words that I can see running past my eyelids day after day. she had printed out copies of my blogs (including pages from this one), other things she had googled, such as pages from a novella I wrote as evidence that I was deserving of one thing.. her hatred of me. (she will probably add a copy of this entry as more proof)

despite the fact that I read this document that pronounced me disowned, I continued to care for her day after day in the hospital. she couldn't move, barely speak, communicate clearly. I knew, my job as her daughter, was to keep her in a state of comfort, to wipe her down, feed her food, do whatever she needed to grasp onto bits of dignity and get cared for. yes, her will that explicity said I'm this horrible child existed, but my unconditional love for her prevailed. it still does.

I went to see my mother today, I brought her sumptious bagles and smoked fish, flowers, cleaned parts of her house, did errands. over coffee, we shared personal feelings and I let her know things that I felt were important. we spoke of her relationship to my son, the challenges I face as a single parent, and in that moment, I felt her mommy'ness. she was listening. we tackled a big job of cleaning up her jewelry drawer. I lovingly took apart the boxes of chains, trinkets, baubles and such and organized them in a way that made is easy for her to find the things she can still put on by herself. she gave me things, chunky earings, charm bracelets... much to my surprise. at the end of the organization, I offered to move the jewelry box so that it would be easier for her to reach, and moved a stack of neatly piled tank tops. in that instant, her face grimmaced, she shook and screamed... her emotional state automatically turned from calm and happy to this evil scary yelling mess. she couldn't handle it, I had made an unauthorized change in her wardrobe. while I assured her that I would make the pile perfect on the new shelf, it was too late.. she lost it.

screaming at me, calling me horrific insults, slurring and getting physical... the feelings that are all too familiar began to arise.

normally, I'd fight back, slam the box down on the ground, slam a door, yell back... but this time... I didn't!

mindfully, I completed the task of making her shelves neat as she raved besides me. I watched her, looked into her eyes and practiced metta, compassion and equinimity. I spoke back calmly. once the things were nicely arranged, I contined this state of mindfulness. I could feel the feelings, but I had the strength not to react. I didn't need to, it wouldn't change the fact that my mother is sick. not just physically sick, but mentally. it's not just brain dammage she endured, she is mentally ill.

my mother suffers from deep depression, mental illness, something I never understood before. I learned this while she was in the hospital. of course, to an outsider, this may have always been obvious. to me, I just saw a mother who hates me. I don't think she does, it's more that she is living in such a dark place, she can't be the mother I want, the one I deserved but never got.

you would think while hearing her scream horrific things about my hideious looks, my zoftic size, my lack of intelligence, what a horrible mother I am, and countless other things that roll so easily off her vitriolic tongue that I would react. well, a different version of me would.

because I now have the knowledge that she's sick, I am able to understand that she's in too much pain to know any better. she thinks it is ok to be this way, because that's all she knows. she's never gotten treatment, or therapy or taken any steps to get better. there's medication, a pile of drugs that are and are not prescribed, but this isn't the way out. sadly, I just see her deteriorating emotionally more and more, her illness engulfing her every fiber.

as my mother was physically pushing me out the door and yelling at me, in the way she usually does, I had an awakening... I didn't have to react. I didn't have to let it in. as I walked out ... calmly, I said, "I forgive you, mommy, I forgive you."

4 comments:

Life McCupcakes said...

<3

JeffA said...

What to say, other than that you have an amazing strength to do as you did and to share this story.

Sarah said...

Wow. You are so strong & disciplined. And it's perhaps because of your childhood, not in spite of it. You are right you deserve someone who loves you unconditionally and is supportive of you. If not your mother, surely the universe can provide someone else along your journey.

stefgunning said...

Ah sweetheart. I wish I could be your mommy. But since I can't, I can vow to love you with my motherheart for the rest of our lives.