Monday, December 12, 2016

her sister died.

my mother's sister and i had a troubled relationship. i loved her so much as a child - she was the "cool" aunt. she had the nice house, and the good snacks, and her kids were the same age as me and my brother. she was the one who let me sleep over, and had the pool in the backyard.

i got a phone call in mid-october that she had been in a serious car accident and suffered a brain clot in her brain. the whole thing was so surreal. i didn't believe it was as bad as they told me, and held out hope, even as she clinged to life in a medical coma. she couldn't die. she just couldn't. she was 61, and a new grandmother, and she was always there. always. a pain in my ass, but always there.

a few days later, she was gone, just like that. the bleeding in her brain hadn't stopped, and her children had to make the decision to let her go. the same day, i had tickets to go out of the country on a vacation that was pre-paid and couldn't be rebooked. i did the dick move and went on the trip. i knew it meant i would miss the funeral, and i tried to cope with that fact. you see, i'm always the one in family to do the right thing. i am usually the first one to cancel all the plans and go help. it felt awful to not do that this time.

but this was so complicated.

this woman, this aunt, whom i loved so much as a child, had hurt me so deeply as an adult. i've written about her on this blog before - she was the one who scolded me for not keeping in touch with my mother (even as she had an order of protection.) the one who helped my mother "kidnap" my brother and i the night before our parent's custody decision was announced by the judge. the one who constantly berated me for my weight and for always being single. she made me feel like shit pretty much every time i saw her. and we hadn't spoken in almost a year.

but i wept. oh how i wept for her.

i couldn't decide at the time if it was for her, for her kids, for me, or for my mother. you see, her kids didn't want my mother to know. she hasn't been in touch with my aunt for years, and the concern was that telling my mother would cause some sort of reaction. no one wants to deal with my mother. no one.

but my aunt was always the one who explained her to me. no one knew my mother quite like her, and somehow in my mind, i had always assumed she would be there as my mother aged and my brother and i had to make decisions about her. now she's gone, and i have no idea what she would have told me.

i wish i had asked her more questions. asked her for more stories to get to know my mother better by proxy. i should have called her more often. i should have... i should have...

even now, a month later, it doesn't feel real. her birthday and my birthday are two days apart, and she always called me. it's hard to imagine her not calling this year. i took it for granted she would always be there. it makes me feel more alone in this burden of my mother's illness.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

healing takes a lot of time

i've been working on a project where i am archiving all of my family's photos. it's been intense - a journey through their lives from the 1890s up until now. i just got through the end of the 70's, and it took me 7 months to work up the nerve to really start scanning the year of my parent's marriage. seeing photos of them together is still weird and it leaves me wondering more and more about what my mother was like back then. it's so much easier to imagine my father in his late 20's. my mother is such a more difficult puzzle to put together.

she was so beautiful, and young, and fresh. these photos don't remind me at all of the woman i knew as a child or as an adult now. it's so obvious that my father loved her to distraction. how hard it must have been for him too...

mental illness is such a beast. it steals the ones you love so completely if they go untreated. i would have loved to know this woman in the photos - i bet she was amazing.

but that's the thing about photos right? they only capture the good and the great moments. they rarely catch the beast within, or the fights i knew my parents had. photos can lie.

Monday, May 9, 2016

mother's day #10 without her.

i've survived the day.

slowly, over a lot of years, this feeling of survival has become more difficult to detect. 10 years ago, when we were in the middle of her spiral and her eventual (and sadly temporary) incarceration, it was raw rage. grief. sadness. i couldn't make it through the day without drinking or going fetal on the bed for the afternoon.

over the years, it's taken different paths. i'd work the entire day just to keep myself busy. i'd spend it with my grandmother, who spent decades filling in for my mother in my life. the last few years have been the "easiest", i guess. i've found it harder to remember exactly how many years it's been since i've seen her, or how long it's been since we had a conversation.

but i know this is absolutely mother's day #10 without her.

it's so strange to watch people's Facebook messages on mother's day. it's hard for us motherless daughters. maybe if i had kids of my own, i wouldn't hate this fucking holiday, but i don't. i have nothing to distract me other than the thought that i'm a heck of a cat momma, and my employees are my kids in many ways. my job has been my sanctuary for all these years, and today i wasn't there.

no, today was a different routine.

i spent mother's day with my boyfriend and his mother. i bought her a bracelet. i couldn't help myself. it was the first time in a decade where i felt like i had someone to do that for. (looking back on this, i should've sent my grandmother a card. tomorrow.) i was almost giddy about it. this overwhelming thought of, "i have someone to celebrate this year!" and even though she is not my mother-in-law (yet, at least) and we still don't know each other well, she has taken me into her arms and hugged me so hard that i almost cried. she has texted to see how i'm feeling, and made me feel like a part of her family. and every bone in my body is just praying so hard that someday i will actually be her daughter-in-law. i had always hoped that someday i'd meet the right guy, and that he'd have a mother that i could love as my own. i know that i have. i am so in love with him, and all i dream about anymore is our lives together.

i'm so terrified it will all go away again. i'm praying so hard that they never go away.

i made it through most of the day without talking about my mother. my boyfriend brought it up and i shrugged it off defensively, as i usually do. we took a nap in the afternoon, and he had me in his arms, and i started crying but he didn't notice (thank goodness.) i didn't want to explain why. it was a private thought. it was a moment i will always remember - because i felt so safe, so lucky, so happy, and so heartbroken over her.

look at how strong i am. look at how much i've grown in 10 years. would she even recognize me? would i recognize her?

this guilt just never goes away.

my brother put up a photo of his wife and mother-in-law today and said that they were the most important mothers in his world. isn't it funny how we both have latched on to our significant other's moms? not funny. not the right word. i can't even put into words how unfair it seems to me. we have been cheated out of a life with our mother, and the fact that we do everything we can to fill that void with women who mean something to us just shows how hurt we are. hurt little kids missing their mommy.

i wonder what she did today. who she was with. did she go out, or stay in? i have no idea. i don't really want to know.

i just want my boyfriend here and his arms around me so i can feel safe again. i don't feel safe right now. i feel scared and lonely and sad. i can't believe it's been 10 whole years. it feels like a lifetime.

being motherless - not by death, but by choice - is a special kind of torture, and it just never seems to heal up right.

Monday, February 22, 2016

she's still in my head today.

you did not break me
i'm still fighting for peace

well i've got thick skin and an elastic heart
but your blade it might be too sharp

and i will stay up through the night
let's be clear, i won't close my eyes
and i know that i can survive
i walked through fire to save my life.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

emotional crossroads.

my brother and i talk about my mother sporadically. tonight was apparently one of the nights that we had a sorta serious discussion, even though it lasted for about 5 minutes. it went something like this:

him: "i haven't heard from mom lately."
me: "i haven't either."
him: "i'm starting to feel really bad about it. like it just feels so wrong."
me: "i know what you mean."
him: "it felt wrong 5 years ago."
me: "yeah but i was a lot angrier 5 years ago. i needed the space."
him: "well she's getting older. she's too tired to keep up with the antics. yeah, there's risks. but she doesn't even know her oldest grandchild."
me: "at some point, one of us is going to have to go up there. probably me. i mean, she's just going to be a nuisance if she's back in our lives."
him: "yeah, but i can handle it. you can handle it. the kids can't."

and that was kinda it.

i think we are realizing that she is truly aging. the raw rage that we had is fading, and it's coming to a point where we are going to have to make some kind of decision.

what in the world are we going to do?

neither of us want the financial or emotional burden of dealing with her shit. but neither of us want her dying alone and unloved. and i think that's what i'm coming to terms with. i do love her. i always have. it hasn't always felt like it, but it's the love that can't be broken between a parent and a child. i really don't want her back in my life. it's so peaceful, and so nice, without her.

what in the world are we going to do?

we are at an emotional crossroads - two healed little kids, who were once so broken, heartbroken, and angry, are now coming to terms with the reality of cutting their mother out of their lives. did we truly mean for it to be forever? did i? did i really mean it?

are the risks as bad as i think they are? or have i healed enough to test them? i'm scared. i'm really scared to let her back in.

would i rather live with guilt, or regret? either way, it feels like shit. and either way, i can't fix her. if i let her back in my life, it would be solely for her benefit. not ours. not mine. is that enough of a reason?

Monday, November 16, 2015

whirlwind romance.

i'm in love. in love, in love, in love, with a wonderful man. he came out of nowhere, and creeped into my life and my heart like a thief in the night. we were set up by his sister, years after she had first told me about him. out of stupid fear, i had said no before. he lived too far away. he probably didn't like curvy girls. he couldn't possibly like me. how could anyone?

and now he's such a huge part of my life.

he makes me want to be more. be better. heal and grow. take on the world. embrace a new chapter in my life.

i'm terrified he'll disappear. i had a dream the other night where he left me for another woman. someone older, and uglier. i woke myself up crying.

i've never been so scared, or happy, or grateful, in my life.

i want him wrapped up in every part of me. i want his heartbeat next to mine all night. i want his arms around me when i come home. i want hazel-eyed ginger children.

my life suddenly feels so full of possibility that i feel impatient. my therapist has told me to stay patient, stay calm, and enjoy this ride. but the little kid in me, so abandoned and so lost, is screaming for stability and control. i'm having trouble telling that little kid to listen. i just want to start my real life already.

Monday, July 27, 2015

there and back again

i was free, i thought. i had banished so many demons to the past. i had felt like i conquered the world. i was on the right path. i was careful in the goals i was setting.

i fell back into old patterns. i overwhelmed myself back into sleeping all day. she sent an email invite to see her photos online, and i barely dealt with it at all... let alone dealt with it well. her face started to haunt my dreams again. i started to call my father all the time.

i ate like crap, and gained weight.

and inch by inch, nail scratch by scratch, i continue to pull myself out and away from the abyss. i've fought too hard to allow this. i've done too much work to let myself say "fuck it" and fall back.

i'm not where i was. but i'm holding on. i'm holding on so hard.