Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Coming Clean

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Inanity Is the Clearest Sign That More Is Afoot

OK, almost whenever I blog briefly or superficially, there's a volcano of writing simmering...not that Irving Berlin or John Lennon are inane, of course, but my blogging about them was so that I could blog about *some*thing, use my voice *some*how because I wasn't prepared to use it to say what I was really feeling.

My friend Richard's encouragement that it's the things we're most ashamed of that are most interesting about us comes in handy now:

My mother's car accident, at this time, has made her alien to me. I have the same shame as I felt at 17 when my dad was dying of bile-duct cancer for six months; die already! I used to think to myself because it was just such a trial to drag through his illness with him. I wanted clean grief.

Please, God, don't listen to this blog entry. I'm just talking to everyone other than you right now...clearly.

This grief is messy. Very. My mother was not felled by the accident, just physically incapacitated. Tomorrow, it will have been exactly a month since it happened. She has two more months to spend in the physical rehab facility.

Speaking for myself, which is most of what I do here, among other kinds of grief, it's a grief that I'm suffering at her diminished mobility, at her decline. End-of-life issues are what I'm facing, according to the employee assistance program counselor I finally called during my commute home.

When I told a classmate about my mother's accident on Monday night, she said, "I feel like I'm going to be sick, like I need to throw up."

I looked at her and said, "You're not thinking about my mother right now; you're thinking about your parents, right?"

"Yes, and I'm sorry to say it, but you're living my worst nightmare."

I wonder if my worst nightmare's worse than hers. My worst nightmare is that I lose my mother, either quickly or slowly, and then become an orphan, since my father's been dead since I was 17. My very worst nightmare is that my death is no one's worst nightmare, by the time it happens.

Cheery Subject Continued

This issue of "The New Yorker" features a story about people, aiming at longevity. I stopped reading it because I thought, I could read this or I could blog. Any of us could die at any time, of course, but odds are that my partner, Pat, who's 15 years older than I might die before I do. My death would be Pat's worst nightmare, but if she were gone, it would be no one else's, unfortunately.

Is it a paradox or completely understandable that I want to do something self-destructive right now, like eat sugar and destroy my hearing potentially (I've written here before about my otosclerosis and the experimental food regimen I'm on); spend money on something just to spend it; or even walk off a ledge? I commit to all of you, whoever you are, that I won't do any of those things tonight, but I feel super-lonely right now in this grief, and if I could leave before my mother or Pat, then I wouldn't be left by myself ultimately.

Literally, I'm alone now, since Pat's out with her friends, seeing an opera; one of the friends she made at the soup kitchen, where she volunteers, was able to get free tickets for them, since the friend works at Lincoln Center. Could I turn this into the darkest blog entry I've ever written so far?

Have I already? I could go much darker than this. More shame needs to be warded off if I'm to do so. Funny how a swipe of peppermint Chapstick across my lips brings me some relief right now, but not for long. It's making my eyes sting, too.

"Joy and sunshine and rain," I've talked about that song here before. They're always a combo; the Chapstick is soothing my mouth and hurting my eyes.

What's the Worst That Could Happen?

What's the worst that could happen if I really named my feelings this publicly right now? I could lose positivity points, I could yield to a depression, I could embarrass myself with self-pity, I could seem like a monster, rather than a daughter, I could become too mortified to return here to share any feelings after sharing these, I could isolate myself from the world.

Those are high stakes, especially the idea that I might not come back here, particularly because this has been, for nearly a year already, the place I come to relax. If I lose this relief outlet, I'll have to figure something else out, and chances are that it'll be a lot less artful.

Right now, I want to mention that Erica Shaffer is appealing. I just diverted myself from this blog entry for a good seven minutes, flipping through the gallery section of her site. Over the weekend, Pat and I saw a rented DVD of "A Family Affair," in which she co-starred. Both of us found her lovely. Erica Shaffer, with her most often sunny-and-inviting face, is a lot easier to think about than my grief right now.

The grief -- what's it made of? I'll pretend that Pat and maybe Erica a bit, too, are petting my hair soothingly as I tell you; add "God forbid" to the front of or at the end of each item:

  • My mother could die relatively soon
  • My mother could live on for many years, needing increasingly more time and attention
  • I could die soon
  • Pat could die soon
  • Pat or I could become incapacitated, mentally or physically
  • I'll lose my vacation, helping my mother move back to her, or to a new, residence
  • I'll keep sleeping poorly
  • I'll go back to therapy and it won't help
  • I'm losing my loved ones
  • I'm having scares and can't keep up with them -- last year with my mother's breast cancer and Pat's colon cancer scare, the year prior with my sister's survival of breast cancer, Stage IIa
  • Since I'm squarely in my forties, now at 42, and my mother's squarely in her eighties, at 82, neither of us will grow spiritually much further than we've grown by now.

Oh, God, I *am* a monster. The phone just rang, I saw on caller ID that it was my mother, and I did not pick up the phone. I have not called her since yesterday morning, and that call didn't go well. I don't want to interrupt my sadness and, yes, even partial equilibrium.

I want to be able to sleep properly tonight. I could not have imagined ever being this way with my mother. It's as if something in me has snapped since the accident and a blame-flare went off -- like I'm furious with her for it, like she should have been able not to have it....Oh, boy, I do not want anyone making a comment here on how I need to stop with my self-absorption and come to her aid because after all, she gave me life and isn't it payback-time?

That, actually, might be my worst nightmare -- being lectured at self-righteously.

The only reason I have the guts to write this at all is -- well, Richard's truism helps, but -- that the employee assistance program counselor, a trained psychologist, said that events like this bring out all sorts of reactions and that mine isn't uncommon.

"Are you saying that because that's what you're supposed to tell everyone who calls?" I asked.

She said, "Every caller is different, so, no...." Oh, God, I'm reminded of conversations I read in Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater...or did I imagine that that book was about a suicide hotline? I just went to Wikipedia to double-check and there's no such reference in association with that book. Well....

I didn't answer my mother's call. How metaphorical. I cannot explain my rage fully because I want to retain some shred of "Honor thy mother...." Maybe this is one of those many entries, where no one comments at all, but where maybe I'll feel better just for having aired what I felt like airing. I'll just allude again to what I tucked into an earlier entry, that my mother was as often, or more often, my child, growing up, as she was my mother...and now that, in my adulthood, I have a choice of whether or not to parent her, I am perhaps the sternest of all parents, and for now, am giving her the silent treatment.

1 comment:

Sarah Siegel said...

It must be poor form to comment on one's own blog entry, but so be it:

I want to report that last night, after posting this blog entry, I had the best night's sleep I've had since my mother had the accident.