A few months ago, I started keeping a journal called The Daily Mom. Designed mainly to be a document for keeping dates and details straight, as well as tracking progress, it’s also someplace I record more personal things – my own feelings and shortcomings, issues that arise and so forth.
Also, in the last few days, I’ve begun recording some of our conversations and activities on my Droid, especially those activities like vision therapy, so later on Mom can hear what she used to be like. I suspect her memory of these times will be foggy at best.
The voice recordings should be interesting in months down the road. Too, they keep me accountable; if I am being recorded, then I am more likely to be on better behavior, to be more patient and to demonstrate the qualities I strive for but sometimes fail to achieve. If I am being recorded, I am less likely to be snappy or overtly impatient – sort of a failboat self-policing measure, I guess. If I force myself to model those behaviors, perhaps they will become more natural. It kind of amazes me how alike our voices are as I listen to them.
In the few weeks I’ve been with Mom a minimum of five days per week, I have seen life-long issues crash to the surface, things that have kept me from being happy, things I hate about myself and about her, things I have never quite been able to overcome. Most of the things I dislike about myself stem from her. In some ways, she has been able to move past them in her own life, but I am still stuck, dragged down by all the baggage. It’s impossible to ignore it in her continual presence.
Friday of last week, we had just a terrible day. I was cranky and exhausted, she was frustrated and feeling hopeless, and we weren’t getting along. I recorded the following in Friday’s journal:
On the way to the salon, Mom was increasingly irritated and ready to give up on me taking care of her, instead wanting to hire someone else. I was tired of repeating myself about how this is going to be an ongoing process of getting adjusted to each other. She went off toward the self-pitying end of the pool. “If you hate the sight of me, if you can’t stand every second you’re with me, I’ll just hire someone else.”
“I don’t recall saying anything like that.”
“It’s just obvious. I’m going to hire someone else.”
“With what money, Mom?”
“I don’t know, I’ll find some.”
We drove on in silence. I tried explaining again that I was just having a bad couple of days, that it would pass, that we would both have days when we’re grouchy or feel like shit. I can’t remember what led up to this remark from me, but I finally said, “You didn’t raise me to be a happy person. You raised me to be judgmental, nit-picky, reactive and sullen. I’ve been unhappy for my giant swaths of my whole life because of behaviors I learned from you.”
“Because of me?”
“Partly because of you, because of how you raised me. I’ve never been able to get past all the miserable crap, all the behaviors I learned from you.”
“Oh, look – Beggar’s Banquet is still open, I didn’t know that.”
And that was that.
Literally not a breath between me trying to tell her why I’m angry with her and her subsequent comment about a restaurant we were driving by. Make no mistake – this wasn’t a case of her forgetting what we were talking about. This is how she has been her whole life. We simply don’t talk about things – we ignore them. It’s how I was raised, and it’s an avoidance behavior I still struggle with to this day.
Part of an entry from last month:
I realized yesterday – now that she doesn’t remember a lot of the problems and issues we had, I’m alone in the burden, alone carrying the resentments. On the one hand, it makes me want to cry and I feel really frustrated. On the other, it’s more in my control to let it go and move on. Wish I had the first damn clue how to do that.
Thus, I have decided to find a therapist, preferably a therapist who has never heard of my mother. This might be difficult, as she has been a practicing psychologist in Lansing for over 15 years, but I’m going to try. The small issue of not having health insurance for this process looms large, but I’m going to see if a.) the county health plan has any allowance for mental health, b.) if an old high school friend can find me an affordable plan, or c.) if I can find a therapist who will do a sliding scale.
I can’t go on blaming her and feeling like it’s all beyond my control. It’s not. I just need to learn the tools to get past everything she imparted.
Another leg of the journey.