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I know, I know....

It's been a long time since I've been here. In all honesty, life has been busy at best, crushingly so at worst. And I've found myself in this wordless place--probably because I've found myself in a place that has had life and circumstances swirling so madly around me that there has been no space to think a thought, let alone craft a sentence worthy of anything but a Facebook status update.

It's been awful, frankly--and something that I've come to realize I can't continue, because without contemplation, without awareness, without making space, there is no real life.

Not one that I'm particularly interested in living, anyway.

....which is one of the many reasons I called the EAP and set up five more sessions with Frank. Because I need a quiet room where I can go and just BE--where I can go to try to sort out the mess that is my mind.

The most difficult thing, I think, is that life had been pretty wonderful for several years--and then a lot happened that was so excruciatingly NOT wonderful that I had gotten out of practice as to how to handle the not-wonderfulness. I tried a lot of my new-found weapons against the suck in order to overcome it--optimism, fortitude, forgiveness, positive thinking...and those things did indeed ward off the worst of it, so that I didn't drop as low as I could have, considering the tsunami of horror in which I found myself. But not entirely--not as much as I was hoping for. There were times when, in my secret heart, I indulged in a despair so complete and so overwhelming that all I wanted to do was hop into my bed and stay there for several years--when I almost HOPED that my brain would visibly snap right in half and the decision to either stay in the real world or be shipped off to some tiny theraputic island somewhere to lounge on a beach and sip prescription cocktails would be taken out of my hands...

Of course, there was my mother's sickness and death to cope with, and all the myriad sediment that kicked up in my mind. One of the more disturbing aspects of that was stirred up when people would come to me and, with all kindness and sympathy, tell me what a sweet woman my mother was--how wonderful she had always been to them. Which should have been comforting, right? Which should have brought back good memories of the wonderful things she had done for me, right? But all it managed--and manages even now--to do is make me think about all the strangers that my mother was wonderful to at the very same times that she was being a pure-d bitch to me. How she managed to pull together a modicum of kindness and sympathy for people who, in the grander scheme, really didn't matter, when she was incapable of doing the same thing for her firstborn. And the longer this went on, the angrier and more bitter I became.

These people smiling at me and telling me that she was wonderful, while at the same time I was remembering that her last semi-lucid words to me were, "You're a LIAR!", when I tried to calm her and tell her that the doctors were trying to help her.

Then there was that whole Aunt Clara thing to cope with, too.

After awhile, my father's condition deteriorated to the point that he stopped eating and stopped taking his medicine, and he would call me at 6 in the morning to tell me he had shit the bed because he just didn't feel like getting up to go to the bathroom, and he needed me to come and clean him and everything else up in the aftermath...

There was one night, I had a car accident--a stupid accident where some asshat woman hit me from behind as I sat at a red light. It was just one more thing, yanno? So while I'm standing in the Wawa parking lot, trying to sort things with the cop, my cell phone rings and it's my Dad. I tell him what happened and that I would call him back. After the administrative sorting with the police and a trip to the doctor's office, I call him back. And he wants me to come over. Going on 8:30, with no dinner in my belly, I ask him what he needs, and he says, "Nothing. I'd just like to see you."

And so, like an idiot, I go. And he spends most of the visit watching the television and not letting me fix him anything to eat.

And not once did he ask me anything about the accident, or if I'm OK.

This went on and on--and most days, I found myself waiting for a phone call, with my Dad on the other end, telling me what was the next thing he needed me to do for him, and to let me know that whatever it was, it wasn't nearly enough. I got the distinct impression that nothing would be good enough, short of my quitting my job and leaving my husband and my home and coming in to take over where my mother left off.

Christmas was coming. My house was full--Jobe and Leahanne are still here, waiting on the bureaucracy. Work was still demanding more and more attention, wrapped in the stress of impending layoffs and the disaster that such a thing happening to ME would entail. And on top of all the things I needed to do, there was a building resentment over the fact that everything that needed to be done was eating away more and more of what I wanted to do. And I'm not talking about frivolities here--I'm talking about things like spending time with my husband and taking care of my own house and my own friends and the people who were important to me. My personal priorities were completely overthrown, devoured by the imaginary needs of an old man who had lost every sense of decency and kindness and who became a giant sucking ball of willing and stubborn dependence, enslaving a person he couldn't see as a human being, let alone an adult child that he cared about.

My own life diminished to Facebook status updates, because I didn't have enough time for anything more than 140 characters.

And this all kind of backed up on me one afternoon, when I found myself unable to stop crying.

My first call was to the EAP, where I scared the shit out of some poor shmoo who answered the phone and heard me say, "I just want it to end. I just want it to STOP."

And the next call was to my father's doctor, to let him know, "I need help. I need it NOW."

And the next call was to my father, to tell him to get his ass out of bed and get ready to go to the doctor, because he was going RIGHT NOW.

He went to the doctor. The doctor sent him to the emergency room, with malnutrition, dehydration and a fecal impaction that was likely MONTHS old. ALL of which, I can tell you now, were direct results of his own stubbornness and his own insistence that he was going to become as ill as mother had been, so that he would get that same level of attention.

I'm not being mean here--he has said those things himself. He was manipulating me and life itself to get attention paid to him, and he didn't care what he had to do to get it. He didn't take care of himself because he didn't WANT to--he has said as much. And he got rewarded for that with getting my attention, no matter what it cost me.

He went to the hospital for a week, where it took TWO rounds of Go-Lytely to get the impaction cleared, and where the poor nurses were the ones who had to clean him up as he lay in bed and shit himself, and now he's at Manor Care, where he's getting attention paid, but where he still asks me, every day, when next I am coming up to see him.

And I had my first talk with Frank on Thursday.

And when I told him all of this--the stuff that happened when mother died, the stuff that Aunt Clara said, the stuff that my Dad has been doing--he said, "You have grown up, all your life, in an environment of conditional love. And it's clear you have spent a good chunk of the last six months, if not your whole life, struggling to get the love you DESERVE, but in the only way you know these people will even think about giving it to you--on the basis of what you do for them. But in the end, you have worked this hard, and you still haven't gotten it--because you are NOT a Christian, and you cannot BE who they want you to be, for all that you DO. And so it isn't good enough." He paused. "But it's only not good enough in their eyes, because they are the ones who don't know how to love you. That's not your fault. But what is your fault is depleting yourself in your delusion that one day, you will be good enough for them to love."

And the penny dropped.

It is my delusional idea that someday it's going to dawn on them that maybe I'm deserving of their love, if I dance fast enough. But the thing is, there is nothing that I can do that is more important than the fact that I cannot--I CANNOT--be a Christian. It isn't even a question of will anymore--it's just something that I cannot do. It is easier to think about their rejection of me than it would be to give in and play the game and sit my ass in church every Sunday and pretend.

But that doesn't mean that the rejection isn't excruciating, on so many levels.

It's excruciating because it causes them to treat me this way--but it's also excruciating to think of what it does to THEM. It's excruciating to see them so wounded and so crippled up by this virulent and hateful belief in the bleedin' freakin' Jesus. It is excruciating to see that this belief--this hateful, horrible belief--twists and bends and crushes every human relationship they have, including the ones they have with their children, who they're supposed to love. And THEN they're told to "be fruitful and multiply", so that the damage spreads far and wide, and infects more and more children with this absolutely killing and painful attitude that they are always, ALWAYS deficient, unless they completely subvert everything they are and submit to the system.

And you know, I can't remember one single verse in the Bible that commands parents to love their children--only that children are commanded to honor their parents. Which means that every child born into this sickness is born into slavery. And that is a horror to me, because what I know--I KNOW--in my heart is that this is the exact opposite of how things are supposed to be.

So the deal is that I've spent all this time trying to function within this sick paradigm by my own rules--the rules that tell me, in my own logic and in my own system of ethics, that you treat people well and as lovingly as you can, and you can open up a love in their hearts, not just for you, but for everyone.

But those rules don't apply when Jesus gets dragged into the picture.

Jesus tells them that they are right to shun and hate the very people who love them, so long as they don't toe the line and submit to The Book, which is what is to be loved above all else--even your own blood.

And the longer this goes on, the angrier I get.

So Frank says that my assignment for the week is to do as much good for myself as I can, and to love and defend myself the way I would love and defend a friend who is in the same position. To give myself the kind of advice as I would give them.

It's harder than you think.

Because, you see, I have been very carefully taught.


Jan. 10th, 2010 01:35 am (UTC)
I remember telling her one time how much I liked Jobe, and she said, "Of course you do--you're his mother." And I said, "No, I have to LOVE him because I'm his mother--liking him is purely on the basis of who we are as people."

She looked at me as if I had sprouted antenna. She just didn't get that at all--the idea that you could actually choose to like your child.

And how ironic is it that she didn't get that, and yet CHOSE not to like/love/trust you because she couldn't get past her religious blinders. Is it amazing how those rules only applied to YOU and not to them?

I also read the exchange between you and saavik. Charlie (and his friends, and hell, my family) sometimes could not understand why I stayed throughout the years of his illness and disability. No, I didn't have that romantic "twue wuv" every minute of every day, but to me love is doing what you need to do even when you don't feel like it. It helped that Charlie understood that my steadfastness was a strong expression of love, and that he was overtly appreciative.

Oh, and word of warning, probably unneeded: once it becomes apparent to your family that you are no longer desparately seeking their approval? They will scale new heights and plumb new depths to pull you back into that old relationship because you've plucked the reins out of their hands.
Jan. 10th, 2010 12:10 pm (UTC)
And how ironic is it that she didn't get that, and yet CHOSE not to like/love/trust you because she couldn't get past her religious blinders. Is it amazing how those rules only applied to YOU and not to them?

You know what's sad? I don't think that she felt she did have a choice. I think that she had been so thoroughly brainwashed as to think that she had to reject a child who had rejected her beliefs. I think she believed that that was what her God expected of her--just as Abraham was expected to take a knife to Isaac because that's what God told him to do.

I think that story points out, very succinctly, what their God expects of them--to murder their children, if that's what God wants them to do, and he certainly WOULD want that if the child is "rebellious".

And you know, in this story, to me, God is the bad guy. Isaac didn't do anything wrong. Abraham was willing to obey to the point of murder. It was GOD who suggested this disgusting thing. But the way they tell it, God was the great big hero, because he's the one who stopped it before Abraham carried out the deed. Well, he's no hero in MY book, because if he hadn't suggested it, Abraham would have gone on being a loving father. It was GOD who was the senseless murderer, with Abraham being nothing more than the weapon of choice, just because the horror factor, for both Abraham and Isaac, would have been so much more exquisitely tortured.

And can you imagine what Isaac must have felt about his father after that?

Maybe a lot like I feel...;-)

This story, though, is a clear picture of what parent/child relationships are supposed to be like in a "righteous" family. And my personal opinion is that it's no fit situation, for either a parent or a child.
Jan. 10th, 2010 01:10 pm (UTC)
Oh, and yeah--I'm expecting a shit storm. I've already had a few shit-drizzles with some of my family members, from the confrontation with my most wonderful Aunt Clara to being lectured by my 21 year old niece about how shitfully I'm handling the situation with Dad, and a pervasive silence coming from my brother's faction of the family. So, yeah--at this point, things are tense. But you know what? I really don't give a shit.

Anyone who isn't here, doing the work, can shut the fuck up. And as far as their religious beliefs are concerned--they pretty much already know that they can cram those up their collective asses.
Jan. 10th, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry you are getting gnawed on by gnats in this manner (or maybe blackflies are a more apt analogy; "Ouch!}.

I've gotta' say that I hope you told your niece that if she doesn't like how you treat your Dad, she is welcome to take over. Then *she* can clean up his bed and his body whenever he "can't be bothered" to take care of himself.

I read that in your post and I have to admit, that it was a huge relief in my case when we realized that Dad had to go into a supervised facility because it was getting to that point with him. He would not bath or change his clothes. Mom had made him take care of himself while she was alive, but, well, she passed away first.

It is just *not* appropriate, mentally or emotionally, for a daughter to have to attend to her Father's intimate needs. Not unless there is absolutely no other alternative. Especially if there is a male relative (ex. your brother) available.

But as you say, men are given a pass in these situations. And I'll bet none of your relatives allowed themselves to consider the details of what they were expecting of you. It probably offended their delicate sense of Christian propriety (read sarcasm here).

I can even imagine that if any of them did consider it, secretly and privately, they might even convince themselves that it was probably no big deal for you because, "She's Pagan, and doesn't think like us righteous folk."

Sorry if I'm getting carried away, but this is one of those injustices that bring out the avenging bitch in me. In fact, if I had a sword of nettles, I'd whack them in sensitive places and not stop the itching until their minds turned to helpfulness and kindness. Though I suppose that would just make them even more crotchety as I they'd probably be itching for a very long time. {:>DD

Jan. 10th, 2010 03:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I didn't even address that point, but you're right--I am horrified with dealing with all those things with my Dad. And I can't ask Paul to do it--I don't want to do it. It's just...disgusting. But yes--he won't bathe, he won't take care of his toileting, he won't do any of that stuff when he gets into that mood, and I'm his daughter--I'm a freakin' PAGAN, and I see the inappropriateness of it. The psychological trauma of it notwithstanding, most of the time it just makes me want to puke.

There was a reason why I never aspired to be a nurse.

Considering the fact that he would never change OUR diapers when we were little if the diaper was more than wet, I really don't see how we can be expected to do more for him than he was prepared to do for us.
Jan. 10th, 2010 04:14 pm (UTC)
Squickiness is only a part of what's wrong with this picture.

If your Dad 'gets into that mood', there are serious problems with him, mentally, I suspect, in that he would be wiling to do this to you in the first place. I learned about that during the time we were dealing with my Dad. It may be a result of PTSD, from watching your Mom decline and pass, but I fear it is more likely a sign of increasing dementia - not necessarily Alzheimer's.

One characteristic of this failing judgment is that on a good day, he may seem perfectly reasonable, and even when he is 'in a mood' he may be reasonable on other topics. But a professional asessment will take into account not only the physical harm his behaviour will cause, but the also the unreliability and unpredictability of his 'moods'.

One of the hardest realizations for us, for me personally, was to accept that even though Dad could be treated for his physical illnesses, and his depression, there was no way any of it was going to cure what was wrong with his mind. It would never make him independently functional again - our Dad was gone forever.

I'm so sorry to say, speaking from my experience only, that I think your Dad may also be at that point. *sadness*

Edited at 2010-01-10 04:21 pm (UTC)



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