My mom is now in hospice care. And the pain has hit me full force, in fact I can barely type this through the tears flooding my face. I stop and calm down but as soon as I start typing and see the words I start crying all over again.
I thought I had more time.
I’m working furiously on myself, to heal, to recover to a more stable ground. I needed space from my mom and brothers after my suicide attempts last year and they granted it to me. I have not seen or heard from my mom, no visits, calls, not even an email in so long. Because I asked her not to.
Because I thought I had more time.
I withdrew from everyone this past year, went deep into myself, into my fortress of solitude where I regroup, lick my wounds, and learn how to go on. I’m doing that now. I’m starting to open up again, bit by bit, as the world appears safe and I test the waters with each wary step.
With complex PTSD comes complex grief. Even though I more clearly understand my mom’s role in raising me in the chaotic, traumatic world, contributing to my feelings of shame and worthlessness, allowing me to be abused and feel unloved and unlovable…as I heal and go through this recovery program I’m better able to feel and identify my emotions in the moment. I don’t hate or resent my mom. I am disappointed that we were never close, never had a strong supportive relationship. I do appreciate the times she tried, and the times she apologized. I don’t think she intentionally caused me pain, I really don’t. I think she wasn’t strong enough to stand up to my abusive father, herself also being a victim. I can understand all of this. It saddens me. I feel she did her best with the tools she was given.
I forgive her completely. I truly do. I had hoped to have a limited relationship with her again at some point.
But I thought I had more time.
So now I am forced to make a choice. I don’t feel ready to visit her, not out of the blue. Plus my brother has told me she looks terrible, the cancer has really taken its toll on her. I’m not sure I can handle seeing that, my brain will fixate on that image forever.
I’m trying to get up the nerve to call her. I haven’t heard her voice in years. I got her phone number from my brother. I keep staring at my phone. All I have to do is push the button, but when I try I start shaking and crying. I don’t want to talk to her like that. I want to let her know I care, that I’m sorry this has happened, that she is suffering, that I’d never wish this on anyone let alone my mom, and that I wish we had more time.
I wish we had more time.
But here’s the thing. My brother said mom is at peace. She is relieved to have an exit plan. She has wanted out for decades. She’s been living like she was dying for as long as I can remember, so she has finally gotten her wish. Is this better than being distraught? To happily give up and have no fight in you? I don’t know. She never had any fight in her. A victim of life for life.
I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to welcome death. I want to fight. I used to fight.
I keep thinking of a song by Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dying” because of one line in it. I’ve been hearing this song in my head, endlessly since I got the news about hospice.
“Talkin’ ’bout the options and talkin’ ’bout sweet time.”
I’ve spent an entire year in my bed or recliner. Like I already died. Partially I was healing, but partially I had given up and was only going through the motions.
So I’ll keep trying, and eventually I know my finger will press the call button. While I keep trying, here at home I’m looking through photos of mom with my kids, going over some memories together. My daughter asked if she could have a locket to put her Grandma’s photo in, I said yes we would get her one.
And then I saw how social support networks are supposed to work – when you don’t isolate yourself. My daughter said she told her friends at school and received comfort and sympathy and many questions. This generated more discussion here at home and we hugged and cried together.
My daughter made a beautiful card for my mom, in her favorite colors, full of flowers and butterflies, and poetry. My son painted a picture. We are going to mail her a care package along with some photos of us since I don’t think we can visit.
I have this gnawing feeling of guilt like I SHOULD visit, like I HAVE to visit, but my counselors say I don’t, and that those are shame gremlins speaking. If I WANT to see her, then maybe I should try to manage it, that is if mom even wants to see me. But I don’t have to operate out of that place where I’m the good girl and satisfying urges to squash feelings of guilt and obligation.
This is so complex and each day brings up more powerful emotions for me. I wish I had more time to sort it all out. I’m doing the best I can with a difficult situation that I can’t control. And I’m doing it moment by moment. I might change my mind once these feelings settle down.
I’ve included Tim McGraw’s song here in case you don’t know the one I mentioned earlier. I’m going to listen and cry again. You’d think my well would be dry, where are these tears all coming from??