Facing Frailty with Faith

The post I created on November 17, 2015 was about how I finally crossed the line between void and light….though the dimness was about the same but my psyche started leaning more towards the light instead of the dark (and bed).  I started reducing my meds, and then I started putting requirement on me like getting my CNA and HHA so I could get a job with hospice.  The only thing I learned from that course is that being a CNA is not what I want to be.  The information and skill set I learned helped me with Mom, but again, I don’t want to do that again.  Maybe if I were a mother myself the wiping my mom’s nether region wouldn’t have been as traumatizing……I dunno.

I mentioned that I came down on my anti anxiety pills, which is good, and I haven’t gone back up other than as needed for extreme stress/anxiety inducing situations….like the day Mom died.  I think I took 2 Xanax throughout the day instead of just one.  However, I’ve held steady with my other meds for the last 2 years since I wrote that post.  Now I’m unemployed, I have until February 10 before insurance goes poof so I need to get back into the field of being an in home support person.  I just signed up for school, so that’s going to put a strain on me, and I can’t exactly go down on my meds at this point…..

I’m scared.

What if I can’t afford COBRA, or Covered California?

What if no one wants to hire me because of my age/weight/toothlessness? (Mom liked to hammer on that nail all the time and I can still hear her “You’d be so pretty if you just got your tooth fixed” in my head).  We’ll get to this kind of stuff some other time.

I am teaching myself to self-soothe that doesn’t include cookies or candy or shopping.  I remind myself constantly that Heavenly Father didn’t create me to fail.  If I fail it’s because I fail to try.  I have to put my foot out to step and trust the ground will be there.  And though all these sentiments are rather trite they are no less true.  I just don’t know how to quell the fear that I a going to overload my brain and then rush back to the safety of my bed.  Staying in bed is so safe, so peaceful and so not the way to get anything done, but the warmth convinces me not to care……

I guess I sort of went off point, or maybe not.  I’m not, for the lack of a better word, better.  I’m also not back in the void.  I can feel the attraction still, the safety of the known.  I am looking forward to taking the Light-Rail to school, studying in the coffee shop just down the street from the school and how I’m going to study.  (key words, looking forward to)  I have the mobility to go back to the void and look in and choose not to be subsumed, and it can be a big pull some days/hours, or I can walk back out to the shaded sun I’m in now.   Maybe it will break me, maybe I’m not ready but it’s not going to stop me from trying.  Papa always paraphrased Matthew 17:20 to me:

If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed

nothing shall be impossible unto you.

I should be able to muster up the faith of a tiny mustard seed.

New Year, New Dynamic

Mom died.

It’s been about seven weeks since her passing.  Time seems to go buy at different speeds at the same time.  I’ve hit new levels of stooopid I never knew I could.  I’m still not eating right, sleeping well or taking care of myself as I should.  The only thing I’ve been capable of doing is making crochets shawls.  I can count to 8, I can sit and watch it grow and not have to do anything else.  Since December 1, her last time to the hospital, I’ve made seven shawls.  One is my “house hold” shawl because I would rather wrap up than turn up the heat.  I seem to  keep going back to the hook for comfort.  They feel like hugs.  I’m trying to make one for all the women/girls in the family for the boat ride out to skater Mom’s ashes.  Hopefully I will be more back in the world by April.

I  haven’t really cried yet.  Maybe writing this out might break open the flood gates and release the torrent of tears that are just waiting for the opportunity to flow.  I don’t know why it seems so hard to express myself that way.  It could be the general fear of crying; if I start I won’t be able to stop.  Or it could be the medication is still providing the buffer that keeps me from completely dissolving into a puddle.  I’ve gotten the basics down in my journal but not really the emotions.  I wonder if I’m actually going to have any.  I mean, it’s not like this is out of the blue.  I’ve spent the last 12 years taking care of her as she, well not exactly slowly, declined.  The last three to five years have been the hardest, and living with her and taking care of her really tore the wellspring of hope out of me several times.  It did happen really fast, in the hospital on the 1st, back home by the 5th, then dead by the 10th.  There wasn’t  a rally coherent good by on her end due to the hypoxia from the lack of oxygen.

My team of professionals and myself have held the theory/belief that part if not most of my depression and anxiety was due to my environment.  Maybe I’m overmedicated now that the environment has changed or maybe I’m so completely overwhelmed (I had my car broken into after the memorial service and I drove myself to see my sister C. run in the Carlsbad marathon, I lost my job when I lost my mother, going back to school in February, and creditors filing suit).  I’m overwhelmed.  I guess I should stop trying to push myself so hard and try to do things one day, one task, one blog post at a time.

I’ve had some dark days, but in general I still have the light and hope for my future, so I don’t believe I’m back in the void, although, truth be told crawling back into that warm dark place to hide sounds really inviting..  I’ve had more bouts of anxiety than depression, I’m becoming more aware of my desire to take care of myself (like eat, bathe, change clothes, etc.)  In some ways I feel like I’ve been reborn into this world but I’m going to have to fend for myself.  I’ve got to find a job that pays well enough for me to write until the nectar of creativity runs dry.

My nephew gave me the best advise yesterday.  I didn’t want to go home, it felt like a trap so he told me when he feels that way he goes out into the world and tries to find something beautiful.  So, I went home briefly and grabbed Sammy and we took a trip to the coast and watched the boats in the marina and on the way home on Highway 35, I got pictures of a beautiful sunset over the foothills in the valley.  It was beautiful and my anxiety was calmed.

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.