Entitled to Surrender

I’ve been looking for a definition that encompasses my meaning and feelings for the word entitled.  Microsoft wasn’t helpful, nor were the additional sites it sent me to.  Merriam Webster Dictionary  was accurate but didn’t quite go far enough.  I went to the Urban Dictionary and it was almost spot on but the language used on the site isn’t as refined as I would prefer it for my use here.  So, I’m going to give you my definition:

Entitled

The belief of when you are doing something that benefits the whole you should be compensated, taken care of and/or relieved from your efforts from time to time.

That said, I’ve been fighting with this concept all through the holidays.  It really hit home when my nephew gave his 18 month old nephew an iPad mini.  I’ve wanted one for like ever but I never have the money in hand at the best time to buy so I’ve just made due with my iPhone and my Kindle.  Honestly, this almost brought me to tears.  It shouldn’t but it did.  I feel like I’m completely forgotten by the outskirts of the family.  The Grandkids know what a handful their Grandmother is but as long as it doesn’t impact their schedule or cause them any hardship they deign to visit for an hour or so or call once every eclipse. [Don’t get offended, I’m not done yet.]  After I wiped the tears away about the give before anyone could see them, I started to get angry.  I’m doing all the heavy lifting both emotionally and a good portion of the time physically but the 18 month old is entitled to an iPad to help him learn his ABCs.   (I’ve got an opinion on that but it’s not suitable for this forum….I’ll have it on Psyche-Stew soon.  Then on top of all of this, my sisters have been pulling back and recognizing I need a break but only willing to dole it out in one to four hour increments.  I need a Freaking Vacation….one that doesn’t include Mom, or a massage, or even just a weekend away so I don’t have the constant static of the baby monitor hissing in my ear while I’m trying to sleep.  But mostly the recognize it but are too busy to do anything about it.

So, for kicks and giggles I sat down and figured out just what I feel I’m entitled to.  We have someone during the day to take care of Mom, which is very helpful for me. However, that leaves me with 18 hours a day M-F and 24 hours per day for the weekend when Mom is all mine.  I would want the three of us to rotate the weekends, for the sisters to come three to four times a week to spend time with Mom so she’s not completely glommed onto me all the time, help with cleaning the house and cooking [because, honestly, I suck at both]. send me to a spa on a regular basis and understanding when I reach out to them for help and/or support I don’t get a litany of the things they’re doing and a bright “Hang in there” before I hang up.

To sum it up, I want them to take over preferably all of the work and leave me with the praise and accolades I receive when people see me and I tell them what I do. Not much, really.  😉

NO ONE IS ENTITLED TO THAT.

The only thing I am entitled to is my life and my free agency.  Beyond that, if Iwant to be entitled to something Ihave to find it within myself to provide those accolades and care I crave.

That said…..

I surrender.

Merriam Webster got it right this time defining Surrender as:

Surrender

: to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc., because you know that you will not win or succeed

: to give the control or use of (something) to someone else

: to allow something (such as a habit or desire) to influence or control you

I’m not talking about backing away from my commitment to my mother or to my family.  I’m not going to quit anything that I am already doing,  that is not an option unless I plan to surrender who I am entirely.  No, I mean I’m going to stop fighting with reality and waging a spiky-word warfare with unsuspecting siblings.  My life, for now, is to be here for Mom, and I can’t do that fully if I’m allowing unhelpful thoughts discourage me and distract me into thinking that I’m being taken advantage of by the whole family.  I surrender the  illusion of entitlement.  I realize everyone is doing the absolute most they feel they can do and I can’t ask, demand, or whine about them giving more.  I’m the one who volunteered for this, to be the caregiver, and I will continue to give until my service is complete  My choice.  My free agency.  And that is how it is for every persons life.  I know that kind of has an over tone of I’ll-show-them, but I’ll assure you it’s not.  I’m anxious to live my life, to get out and meet the oncoming trials head on and ready to wrestle them to the ground.  For the first time I think in ever I am going to put my needs (writing, meditation, mental health, etc.) before anyone else’s.  I will be my next caregiving opportunity, for that, I believe, I am entitled.

Miracle & Milestones

Miracles abound when you have faith enough to welcome them.

Last Thursday I took a trip up to visit Sammy (the parrot) as my sister spends time with Mom on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings which gave me the freedom to go.  (Sammy didn’t want anything to do with me other than take a chunk of flesh out of my fingers, but that’s another tale of woe.)  I called to check on Mom while I was there, as I’m want to do when I’m not home to make sure she knows that I worry about her and she said she was anxious for me to come home because she needed to talk to me, but she was soooo apologetic I wasn’t sure if I should believe it to be good or not.  The last thing I needed after a long drive back from one valley to the next is to have another “talk” in *that* tone of hate, disgust and disappointment.

I guess I should back track at this point.  The day before, Wednesday, it was written on my calendar that I should put her name in the temple for prayers.  They rotate out the names ever two weeks so I call and put her name back in.  I didn’t want to.  I fought with myself because of the way she still talked to me after we had our fight over Sammy and the lock on my door, which in her mind was the greatest betrayal I could have ever perpetrated against her.  She doesn’t have boundaries, so no one can have boundaries.  I asked her a few days after the bird was moved to my sisters if she would ever like me again, she told me it still remains to be seen.  And from that point on she has tolerated me, sniped at me every chance she got.  I remained happy and chipper and trying me best not to flinch at her tone.  There is some sort of dark hollowness that you feel when your mother treats you like you are the worst person in the whole universe.  Needless to say, I didn’t want to, I didn’t think she should have it because of the way she treated me on a regular basis the anger started to push everything else aside to pour salt in my wounds.  I had to stop, redirect the anger out some sort of internal overflow spigot and rethink my position.  She can treat me how she wants to treat me, I can’t do anything about that other than not let her hurt me but I made the decision not to let her behavior dictate my actions so I put her name, a friends name and my name in the temple.  (who couldn’t use extra prayers)

Okay, back to last Thursday….

She apologized, she was terribly sincere.  She wanted me to know that she loved me, appreciated me and was truly proud of what I have accomplished in my life.  She didn’t relent and let Sammy back in the house but the air purifiers haven’t come in by that time, so hope still spring eternal on that front.  The other portion of this was she realized she can’t keep trying to make me secure a happy end of life for her.  She has to make that choice, and she has to make the efforts to do so.  Now THAT is a miracle and a milestone for her.

My milestone is unemployment….again.  Only this time I have a plan, I have hope and faith and determination to make it worth while.  I also have someone to take care of Mom during the day so I’m not the only one with her.  I’m going back to my post The End Is Nigh…..Or Not.  Mom is afraid of dying alone, without someone who loves her there for her.  She’s having more and more problems in the night sleeping, or rather breathing well enough to stay asleep.  I’m thinking during this time I will do more watching at night, so if she needs me, I’ll be there and then sleep while the other caregiver is there with her.  I do want Mom to have a good end of life, I don’t want her to be alone, that said, I don’t want her to do it during the holiday season.  My father died on Fathers Day, and now I associate both days….actual death date and the holiday….with him.  I can live without two death dates for her as well.

It’s amazing what happens when you walk in faith and hope for the best by letting go and letting God.

The Bluffers Rebuff

I miss Sammy.  I miss the way she says ‘Hello’ in the morning, or says “By by” when I leave but mostly I miss knowing there is one living, breathing person* in the house that loves me unconditionally even when she bites me.

Mom and I have plastered over the dings in each others walls, though I didn’t hurl anything heavy, she took asserting my boundaries as a direct hit and then taking Sammy away so she wouldn’t breathe in her feathers as a killing blow.  Covering the wounds works like turning off the lights instead of doing the dishes….if you can’t see it, it never happened.  I was told that I was breaking a dying woman’s heart by taking Sammy to my sisters, but if Mom truly is allergic to her feathers then taking Sammy out of the house was the only recourse.  It’s not like I would allow her to live outside even if she could.  It is still seen as an intentional, malicious action against my mother, which was not my intent, and I tell her I don’t intend on having Sammy stay away forever.  I’ve ordered air filters/purifiers/cleaners for her room and the family room and once she can breathe okay I will bring Sammy home as a test.  Mom on the other hand feels she will never be able to be in the same room with her again.  It is her way of bluffing my bluff, to see who could last the longest without her.  Well, not to be too macabre or put too fine a point on it, I’m the one that can live longer without her.  That’s not why I’m not going to buckle to her will, or maybe it is, I dunno sometimes what is going on in my head.  In a lot of ways I’m still very angry at my mom for the way she treated me, talked to me, acted towards me, and yet knowing that it’s coming from a place of fear and her interpretation of everything as pain she doesn’t know (or want to know) any better.  I can’t change her, I can only change myself so she can no longer hurt me.  But she made me cry this weekend, and honestly that seems to be the worst thing that she could have done.  That was the start of her treating me better, she thinks she broke me.  What happened was I didn’t have all of my social meds for the day and I crumbled a little but she’s taking it as a victory.

To help me overcome my loneliness and the fun in watching her, I bought a wifi camera that will allow me to log into it and I can watch her all day if I wanted to.  I won’t, hopefully.  But when I’m at home and in my room I can put it on my 24″ monitor and it would be like she was in my room with me.  It just can’t get here fast enough!

*Sammy is a feathered person….and yes, I’m one of ‘those’ pet owners.

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys.

Mom and I hit the rocks, then the reef, then the iceberg over the weekend.  One realization that came from it was startling, sorta dream-crushing and it needs to go through the journal process before I can share coherently.  Sorry.  The other realization is that I can’t make my mother have a happy end of life.  I can’t do it for her, I can’t ease her from her dystopian state into the station where she believes she belongs.  It’s not my job to make those choices for her.  It’s like trying to have a pet polar bear in Phoenix, just isn’t going to end well.  I will be there to help her with her choices, of course, but I’m no longer going to foist them on her.

The fight was bad, things were said, apology made but we’re still dancing around each other not sure when the other one is going to launch the next salvo of words to try and destroy the other.  Neither of us willing to admit we love the other, and there are moments when she talks to me and I wonder if I still do.  I guess I do, I haven’t called the Shady Pines to come and take her away.  She hasn’t called the police to report me for elder abuse, so I guess we are still on an even keel.

What I don’t really like about myself in this fight is the war in my head of how to behave.  I don’t want to be mean to her, yet I think bad things, and wish I had the wherewithal to do what I imagine.  I get too much pleasure out of calling her bluff and watch her try and squirm away from the consequences.  For example she believes I don’t love her because I won’t dust my room or clean the birds cage on a more regular basis because of her allergies.  So, I’m sending Sammy away to my sisters to live for a while.  My reasoning is two fold, I want the feathers that stay aloft in the air for hours, the one she breathes in, to settle down and to see how well she improves and to, mostly, call her bluff.  I won’t let her use my parrot as a wrench in her manipulation toolbox.

It’s those words, the mean words, that I want to get away from.  I know I’m angry right now and I’m working hard to keep my head from swimming in the anger and frustration.  When I start getting angry I start deep breathing and chanting in my head, but that’s ameliorating the symptoms, not ripping out the foundation of them so I can build anew.  I’m at a loss of how to do this though.  How do you plug the holes and snip off the pour spout of the venom in your brain in favor of peace, love, and …YIKES…I sound like a hippie!!  I don’t want to feel the bile bubble up or the desire for revenge or strut the I’ll-show-you posture any longer.  Part of me is hoping this declaration will be enough, that making the choice to do so will be all I need to do to become that loving, peaceful zen-like person…..I guess that is my circus and one of the many monkeys that are on my back.  Reality sucks, and it’s hard work.  Maybe I should rethink the hippie thing.

Once Bitten…..

There is a scripture that talks about a child being able to put his hand in the den of asps and not be harmed.  This of course is Isaiah divining the peaceable kingdom to come.  I know we aren’t living in the time of peace and harmony so why do I still stick my hand out to be bit every time I talk to Mom?  She is convinced that I truly do not earn my keep, at least not the $12.33 an hour I’m supposed to work for her.  I’m working from home today and she’s already planned blood draw and then her social worker is coming over which will more than use up the allotted time I’m supposed to work per day to “earn my money”  but it’s not cleaning house, it’s not doing her laundry, it’s not feeding her birds, it’s not slaving for her.  She wants unconditional love, unconditional devotion, and unconditional willingness to be kicked in the gut when she needs someone to hurt as much as she does so she has the illusion of control and doesn’t feel alone.  Where I want to hurt myself in those situations she wants to hurt other people.

I know that, I’ve know that she’s angry and scared and is having problems adjusting to the inevitable.  I know this then why is it it hurts and tears at me when she says things like “Well, it’s not like you’re earning your money.  I could probably cut your hours back so K can work full time”.  I know she needs and wants to keep me on “the payroll” because she’s afraid that if I didn’t need my medical so desperately, I would quit her and leave her alone to die.  I think that’s what she has always expected her whole life, that she would die alone because her family doesn’t love her, that she is unlovable.  She’s convinced herself her parents and siblings hated her, and if even half of what she has told me is true, it is probably the root cause of all this, her husbands have abused her, cheated on her (or so her expanding memory keeps telling her), her grandkids (except for one) hate her and she doesn’t know why, I’m only here for the money and benefits.  I can’t seem to change her mind on that.

The bright side to all of this is the medications are working.  I know they are because I’m not ranting about her, knowing that if I keep going on and on about how I do my job would send me into an emotional maelstrom and I would dwell on it for hours if not days.  I might still pick it up from time to try to figure out what do but I’m able to divert my thoughts when I realize I’m starting to spin before I’m out of control.  Amazing what happens when you take your pills every day.

The angry person that I am wants to tell her what she can do with her $12.33 and comprehensive benefits and put them somewhere the sun doesn’t shine.  But honestly I couldn’t afford to pay for COBRA and also lose the pittance of a paycheck that I get from my second job.  Heaven knows I’m not able to afford everything else with my first job.  Pushing the anger aside I’ve been able to think clearly enough and realize that going without medical is no longer an option in the US, and ways have been provided to help those of us who can’t make their ends meet.  So, what this means to me is that I don’t have to work for her any more, I can be her daughter, do what I am emotionally and physically able to do for her and take back the control I need for my own sanity.  I know, I know, control is an illusion, no one has control.  Despite that, I need to protect myself as much as possible as she starts to deal with her own end-of-life issues I want to be there with her and I want to help her and prepare her but not at the expense of my own sanity.  If anyone is going to drive me over the crazy cliff it will be me.  I am the mistress of my own fate.

So this gives me a whole new list of things to do:

  1. Contact Covered California for help in figuring out the system (done)
  2. Get the cost of COBRA
  3. Sign up for VHP but not on Medi-Cal.
    • Medi-Cal patients are treated differently than VHP participants.
  4. Assign my hours over to K and then quit my job as Mom’s “caregiver” and then start taking care of her as her daughter.

I doubt she’ll stop trying to hurt me, but at least she might have to think twice because I’m not getting paid to be her personal walking and talking Damnit Doll.

The Avoidance Obfuscation Sublimation Observation

Mom was busy yesterday.  She met with her Hospice nurse today, she had a large job of instructing someone how to make her famous potato salad and yet still carved out time to accuse me of being lazy, slovenly and piggish.  Okay, the piggish statement was a joke, though knowing the comment “Don’t eat it all” makes me see red.

I can’t get mad at her, well, I can, I just can’t let it blow out all over her.  She knows she’s pushing my buttons. She even admits to it.  I don’t know why.  I’m not sure I want to know why, it would probably make my head implode.  I know my emotions are in a snarl as well so I think any kind of joke or button pushing will hit me so totally off center that there isn’t really any hope for me not to walk away and keep walking.  I can’t do that, I don’t want to be that person.  I won’t be that person.

I have noticed when I’m angry, really, really angry I stuff it down with inappropriate behavior, like Mega Stuff Golden Oreos (the absolutely most perfect Oreo in the whole universe), I avoid coming home by “researching” things on the internet and sorta stretch the truth as to why I was late “Traffic and red lights all the way,”  Never mind that I left an hour or so later than when I got off.  The last few days I’ve been sublimating my anger by buying stuff for her.  Not horribly expensive, but expensive looking.  Well, expensive looking on a monitor.  Trinkets, baubles and tea.  I signed her up for Tea Sparrow, it’s a monthly tea delivery site out of Canada.  It’s going to be delivered to her without my name on it so she thinks she has a secrete admirer.

Though the goal is to make her feel loved, in truth it’s to help me assuage the guilt for feeling so irritated and angry with her.  I did this in MTC 150 years ago when my companion and I didn’t get a long at all.  I would have Elder Kelsch pick up something from the book store and post it from the outside.  It didn’t change the way she felt about me, but it did make me not liking her….well…hating her….more justifiable to me.  In my mind it took the power I thought she had over me, actually the power I gave her over me, and magically transformed it in my mind as me having power over her.  Power is a lot like control: It’s an illusion.  It was before I realized that the only power I have in this world is the power over myself.  I’m doing it again.  I’m trying to supplant the anger, frustration and emotional distress in my heart and mind by buying her things she really doesn’t need, so I can make her feel better but in reality I want the power over her, in my mind anyway.  Luckily for me, though she hasn’t changed much…… well ever……..but that shouldn’t deter me from doing my best in making her last days loved and as nice as possible.  Even if it means staying up and extra hour or so to do the dishes so she doesn’t think I’m leaving all the work for the morning person K.

But seriously, if I don’t do a button-ectomy  soon she is going to drown in chiffon scarves, packets of tea and crystal watches.

Lucy is an IDIOT…….5₵ Seriously?

I don’t really see how Lucy kept her sanity while counseling people for 5₵.  Maybe chasing the ever aloof Schroder is her release from the cares of her patients.  5₵ is not nearly enough, $5,000 an hour doesn’t even intrigue me.  I am as interested I practicing psychiatry or participate in the mental health profession about as much as Charlie Brown liked Peppermint Patty “that way”.  Yet Mom seems to insist on using me as a one-stop-shop kind of therapist where she can drop off her cares and troubles and have me just happily take on the vitreous she spews about me, about my sisters, about how horrible and unsuccessful her whole life has been.  She is hurting in so many ways because the prednisone seemed to have ripped off the rose-colored glasses she used when looking backwards at her life.  With clearer vision she, of course, begins to compare hers to the people we know now in Saratoga California and they are successful and well moneyed.  She feels that she is entitled to having money because she made bad choices that really hurt her, if not physically then emotionally.  I just wanted to grab her at one point and tell her to get over herself and stop dwelling on what you don’t have and on what she does…..but that too, would give her cause to call someone and accuse me of Elder Abuse so she could add to her cadre of horrors.

My portion of her raving comprised how I don’t do my work here, and what I do do isn’t worth my hire.  She wants me to put in at least 45 minutes a day, because most people in the world have a full time job AND come home and fix dinner.  Heaven knows she did.  Though the kindness I show her is nice, it’s not what I am hired to do, and I need to put more of an effort in to make sure we don’t lose the new care giver.  Apparently she wasn’t happy with the three or four things I left in the sink.  So, I did the math.  52 hrs a month works out to be about 1.75 hrs a day.  So, I will do my hours and then be done with it.  There!

Making that decision seemed to end the conversation in my head until I started to peel back my motives and her motives behind everything.  Even before she got on the steroids she was hinting that I wasn’t living up to my end of the agreement.  I was feeling overwhelmed with work, church, family, OA, and now school.  I’m both excited and scared for that.  But it means that she will be seeing less of me, she is scared that she will be left alone, or whatever it is in her brain that makes it hard for her to let go and let me be out in the world.  It’s the “I don’t feel well, can you come home early?” instinct that she doesn’t say outright but the actions are there.  Yes, I’m inferring a lot of this from her body language, and from past behavior I have nothing specific and recent to present.  As much as she wants me to fly and to reach my goals, she doesn’t want me to because she is afraid I’m going to quit her and go to Oregon.  I’m not, I’ve told her I’m not but because of how many times she’s been hurt in the past, because of the abuse and the feeling she isn’t worthy to be loved, because the only tools she has to express herself is anger and venom she doesn’t have the wherewithal to not only be open and honest with me let a lone herself.

So, what does this mean to my future as a phlebotomist.  Am I going to quit and stay home with her….HELL NO.  I need to do this, and I need to do this now.  I need to push myself until I can’t take another step.  If I can’t do it, I’ll add more medication to the pile until I can.  (Yes, I know, drugs aren’t the answer, but they are a tool).  I will be conscious enough to put in my 1.75 hrs a day, which will be even less per day if I have to give some hours to the new one to stay, but I won’t just be her employee, which is the true meaning behind the “There!”.  I was going to work for her and then go to my room and go to bed.  That’s not who I want to be, that’s not who I’m meant to be.  A fully mindful person doesn’t allow her own anger from seeing the thorn in the side of the person that bit her to begin with. 

The one thing I need to never, ever do again, is to be Lucy, my own sanity is worth more than 5₵.

 

Previous Older Entries