“I just want to spend all the time I can with you…”

Raise your hand if you don’t think is a guilt trip…..

Yea, that’s what I thought.

Accentuate the Poisitive

There is the quote by Emerson or someone famous like that:

“Your attitude determines your altitude,”

My attitude, then, has me tunneling through life.  I know I’m tired, I know I’m a little burnt around the edges, but I don’t need to be so negative/nasty about they way I describe taking care of Mom.  For example, people ask how I’m sleeping, and I tell them I’m getting used to hearing Darth Vader on the baby monitor…..again, an attempt at humor with the intent to let people know just how put upon I am.  I wonder if this is something I do for everything?  Do I make sarcastic and caustic jokes about things that I have committed to because I’m regretting the promise and not liking the work load?  I don’t want to be seen as a victim, but when someone asks how I am, ‘fine’ doesn’t quite cover it.  I want to warn them if they are younger than me to move close to a home where you can visit your difficult older parent daily, if you have always had problems being in the same room with him taking in your parent will not magically make you and her get along together.  That is the mistake I made.  You can’t make anyone change, you can only accompany them on their road and support them love them and be present for them.  I need to stop telling people to move as far away from their parents, in an almost too small house or in a house close to an old folks home.  I can refer them to read “Coping with Your Difficult Older Parent“.   It helped in getting that aspect in my life put in it’s place so I could work on the anger, low-self esteem, eating compulsively, anxiety, depression, and everything else that I’ve been dealing with.

Okay, so changing my attitude with Mom should help me…. will help me.  Even if it’s just adopted the words when someone asks how I’m doing, “Fine.  Really, I’m fine”  No snarky comments about Darth Vader, no side remarks about her attitude or her roid rage.  Maybe I can shine up my personal reality by “Eliminate[ing] the Negative”

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.

The Best Laid Plans…….

Okay, here’s the sitch with not going to school this semester.

After Mom’s little tirades and big tirades about how I wasn’t earning my keep, how everyone keeps a 40 hour a week job and comes home and cooks dinner, does a load of laundry or two and then cleans and picks up after themselves……then swinging over to I’ll be too scared with you sleeping in a camp site with a knife for protection, they’ll just take it away from you and slice you open.  They enjoy stuff like that…..You don’t care about me.  I’m afraid I’m going to die alone and even with you here, you can’t even be helpful to me for that…..  I’m going to stop now, my head is starting to hurt.  Even with all her blustering I was set on going to school.  I figured if I could work from home on Thursday, my sister coming in the evening to take care of her I could skip the traffic and nap before class and then with chemical aids like 5 hr. energy and soda I should be able to stay awake on the way home and not have to stay at the state park.  Easy peasy.  She wasn’t going to talk me out of going to school because she was scared.  I was kind of looking forward to being that close to the beach to hear it in the morning when I got up.

I talked to my bestest friend in the world and she just simply said “There are too many moving parts to that plan to work well,” and I realized she was right.  I think if she said the exact same thing as what my Mom said I probably would have listened to her.  Yes, that sounds like an immature reaction on my end, but I know my BFF wants what’s best for me whereas my Mom just wants whats best for her, so I don’t trust any of her advise.  I realize that is part of her narcissism, and I know in some ways she can’t control it.  She has to realize something is wrong with herself before she can start changing, and she will never see the error of her ways.  So after more thought and prayer and thinking as to what I could do to move my plans forward if I didn’t attend school.

So here’s the plan:

  1. I pay for my Continuing Education Credits
  2. I study and pass the test
  3. I pay the money and fill out the form
  4. I get my certificate back

With my certificate in hand by January, I will be able to look for a blood letting job and sign up for the online course for medical terminology and put on my resume that I know my education wasn’t very accredited but I am going to an accredited college that will teach me the right stuff, and by being so proactive in my education it will make me look like a good egg.  Everyone wants good eggs, bad eggs smell to high heaven, and even if you get rid of them their odor lingers for days/weeks/months to come.

One thing I found out while researching state parks for California.  They have a special pass for the disabled.  You pay $2.50 for the form processing and then you get 1/2 off your cost for camping and day use of the park.  I looked at there definition of “disability” and depression is one of them.  I realize that as things are getting better for me in that arena I will need to apply for it soon while I’m still in this maelstrom of emotions.  I want to start camping.  Glamping for longer times in the wilderness, but camping for weekends anyway.  I can afford that, it might be all that I will be able to afford for vacations in my life so I might as well embrace it now and get the stuff that I want and need for the wilderness experience.

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₵.

 

The End is Nigh….or not.

The diaphanous veil between the living and the dead is getting thinner.  I can feel my father closer, my brother.  They are waiting.  I can’t really say this to my family because we’ve been saying “Mom won’t make the next XYZ” for the last 24 years. It’s gotten to the point where we won’t believe it until we see it.  And who knows how long a person can.

I want her to have a good end of life, but I don’t know how to bring that about.  She has a DNR, C. will make the final judgment if we need to turn off her machines and pacemaker. (there will be mighty discussions between the three of us girls before hand, it’s not just hers alone)  Her cremation is paid for, our plan to have a boat take us out to the Golden Gate Bridge or beyond to allow her to travel the way she never could in mortality.   I guess now it’s just a matter of all the family to make amends with their own soul and forgive grandma/great grandma and let her go being loved.  She wasn’t trying to hurt us, not consciously anyway.  She wanted what was best for us, even if what she wanted was skewed towards what she needed more, but truly is that her fault?  She relied on the way she was raised, and the pain she experienced on our side of the conversation must have been worse as she believes she wasn’t loved or wanted.  Mom wanted us, she loved us to the best of her ability and with the few tools she was given, and isn’t that all what we can do?  Holding someone to a standard you hold yourself to is just as unfair, lacking compassion and sincerely extremely selfish to the point of narcissism.  True narcissism isn’t something you choose, it’s not like fat where you can go on a diet and emerge a shadow of what you used to be….Narcissists don’t believe the need help or to change, the rest of the world should.  I wish I could take this understanding, acceptance and love and share this enlightenment I’ve been given to my family but I can’t, and even if I can will they have the frame of reference of the months past to understand it with.  Or the desire to truly forgive her and let her go?
The depression and the tentacle like grip the other accessory ailments has robbed me of the ability to feel a lot of feelings.  Well all feelings except anger.  With the containment and proper placement of that merciless flame  the other emotions are coming to the surface and I can say something I never thought I would be able to say.  I love my mother.  I started this journey hating her and silently planning her funeral like a mother plans her daughters wedding.  My biggest fear was that I would hum “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead” in my pew at her funeral, now I’m not afraid to loose her, or my reaction to it, but mostly that I will be unable to take care of myself without her to remind me to eat, to wake me up when I fall asleep on the couch, to guilt me into cleaning up the house. (I know, I’m a grown up, for heaven sakes, I should be be doing that for myself already).
This feeling of love for my mother and the spiritual lifting I’ve had over the last several weeks makes me wonder if that’s why I am able to feel the veil so close.  The only thing you really take with you is your knowledge and your love.  Love you give is the silken strands that weave your body for the next life and the love you receive is the decoration.  Or so is my belief.
(I’m not saying my Mom is in the throws of dying, she’s not.  I do know her body is starting to give up and betray her in ways she never thought it could.  I’m just saying there are people waiting for her and I can feel their presence.  It could happen today (better not it’s my birthday and her sister already died on my birthday) or it could happen next week/month/year/decade etc.  My nephew J has a saying “At the end of time there will be Dick Clark (rip), Grandma and cockroaches.”  There are days when I look into her eyes and see the steel will to live and I actually start to believe that he isn’t far from wrong.)

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