Saturday, August 25, 2012

She lived her life with strength...

This post has been a long time coming.  And yet, some days (like today) it feels like yesterday.   In about 2.5 weeks I will experience the third anniversary of my mother's death.  The first year I mourned each change in seasons, each holiday, and each 17th of the month.  I sat everyday with the knowledge of no longer having a mother, and some days that thought brought me to my knees.  The rest of the time I lived in a fog.  I went through the motions but with muted feelings.  Going into the second year the fog lifted.  The knowledge of no longer having a mother was painful, but that was muted.  I remember a cousin once saying the second year was harder, and I remember living that year in fear of an intense grief moment.  It never came.  For this I am so grateful. The year leading to the third anniversary has been difficult  in ways I did not anticipate.  I have sat with the little moments of what it means to no longer have a mother. And it's the little moments which have a piercing pain.

I will never have a mother to be there when I have a wedding shower.  Or a wedding day.
She will not be with me when I experience motherhood.  There will be no moments of joy, sadness, and humor in trading horror stories of parenthood.
She is not here.

A year after my grandmother died I was able to write about her life.  It has taken me until now to be able to tell my mother's story.

She was born to a teen mother forced to drop out of high school and marry her sort of boyfriend.  She was born 6 weeks early, and from birth needed to be fighter.  In many ways she spent her life fighting to survive.

She was the oldest of 4 children, but lived and died never meeting a sister that was placed for adoption.  With my aunt and uncle she was protective, loving, jealous, and all the things children are to their siblings.  From childhood she felt not as loved by her parents as her siblings.  This feeling she carried into every relationship her whole life.  I used to wonder how much love would be enough to make her feel content.

My mother was not  a great student, and after graduating high school she went right into the workforce.   At her funeral one friend from high school described her as having a big heart, but at times hard in spirit.  This friend was actually worried about my mother having children; she worried about her being cold.  She then went on to say that my mother's personality changed when she had me. My mother was full of love for her babies in a way this friend had never seen.

She was 23 when she met and married my father.  She thought he would be enough to make her happy.   She always felt betrayed that he wasn't.  Their marriage was not something I remember with fondness, and even as a child I wonder why in the world they married.

She had two children by 25 and was separated by 34.  It is a weird feeling for me to be almost 34 with no husband or children.

She was strong, selfless to her friends, funny, and smart.  She loved to read, bake, and watch sitcoms.  She could be fiercely protective.

She was also mentally ill and went most of her life being undiagnosed.  Her moments of frantic activity warred with the moments where I felt a cold detachment in her.  She lived her world in great extremes and I grew up with the idea that people were treated in all or nothing philosophies.  She also lived with strong convictions that others treated her as less than. In many ways this would end up being a self fulfilling prophesy.

My mother's mental illness was not something I understood as a child or even as a young adult. I know it confused me, angered me, and scared me.  I watched her throw friends and family away in moments of confusing irrational emotions.

As an older young adult, her mental illness exhausted me.  I was not the daughter I could have been, or the daughter I wished I had been.  I feared being her caretaker.  I feared her in the moments I would one day experience. I feared her reactions at my wedding.  I feared having to tell her she was not safe to be left alone with my child.  I was not as loving or as affectionate as I could have been.

For the first year I was quietly devastated at the thought that my mother committed suicide. On the day they found her body I knew in my heart and soul that she committed suicide.  I thought it was an overdose in a moment of confusion.  In her last year of life she had been mixing pills to an alarming degree.  It made sense in an awful way that this could happen in a moment of big emotion.  And then in December of the year she died I received a phone call from her medical doctor that no medication at all was found in her system.  And I realized right then my mother consciously chose to stop cold turkey all her medications with the knowledge that doing this would hurt if not kill her.  I know this because before the day she died one of her biggest fears in life was not having her medications on her at all times.  Two days before she died she went to her doctor.  The doctor and all the staff reported my mother being happier that they had ever seen her.  I am glad she was able to feel this joy.

When she died people told me she was in a better place.  That she was at peace.  My life will be spent knowing that she knew of my fears and in a moment took all the choices away from me.  My life is spent knowing that her better place is away from me.

In this time leading up to the third anniversary I sit with knowing that she is in peace, and that she is in a better place.  She is filled with love, joy, and all things good.   My heart will always with a sadness of what she lived through and all the moments she will miss.

Every day I strive to remember the good in my mother, and in the words of Mary J. Blige in speaking of her own mother, "I blame her for nothing, and forgive her of everything."

I have been listening to the song, "Forever" by Vertical Horizon.  Some of the lyrics struck me tonight.

"And I don't know if you feel me there
I can tell you one thing that's clear
I will feel you

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's okay to be gay....

Where ever you are in the world (even if it's Tennesee), it's okay to be gay. 

You are a beautiful child of God no matter your sexuality. It's okay to be gay.

No matter what ignorant people say (or don't say) about you or the ones you love, it's okay to be gay.

One day I hope their hearts will soften, and they will no longer be afraid.  But even if they never change, it's okay to be gay.

And if you live in Tennesee and cannot say gay, then remember, it's okay to be Takei

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Another day of learning new things about myself...

The good:
*I can make an incredible sugar scrub that smells like macaroons. I like smelling like cookies.

*I can force myself to stay awake at work while drugged out on muscle relaxers and ibuprofen.

*I have sweet coworkers who will drive me to Sonic because I took said medications. Diet Dr. pepper with diet cherry flavoring is my fave.

*I have lost 9 lbs going low fat/no carb.

*I found a low fat sugar free ice cream. And I did not eat the whole thing in one sitting.

*My pretty new luggage should be arriving tomorrow.

The challenging:
*I cannot actually work while drugged out on muscle relaxers and ibuprofen. I just shuffle papers around and try not to slump over at my desk drooling. I sent emails out to people and tomorrow I will recheck them to see if they made sense.

*I have 6 weeks until I go on a Caribbean vacation and my body is still pasty, my arms are still jiggly like a lunch lady, and my tummy still looks like I should have interesting birthing stories. And I can't really do anything about my arms or tummy because I pulled a muscle in my neck and shoulder area this weekend. Hence my current medication regime.

*No matter how old I get or how drugged I am, it is hard to let go of negative things people say about me.

*I cannot cook a steak medium rare. But if you want a tough, chewy overly well done steak, then call me and I will share my secrets.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ebates is offering cash back for referrals until the end of the month...

I shop through this and have already earned cash back. And through the end of the month, if you join, and then refer people you get $5.00 for every new referral.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

It gets easier right?

I didn't really acknowledge Mother's Day last year. The day felt like a blur to me. This year I felt better so I decided to send Mother's Day cards to all the amazing moms I know. As I started writing the first card I burst into tears. Not even pretty tears either. I cried the ugly tears I cry when I see a Folgers commercial during that time of the month (in my defense those families are just so damn happy to get a cup of coffee). My weekend is packed full of moms and Mother's Day activities. On Monday I was excited to get to participate in so many activities, but now I think this is gonna hurt a little. Sigh.

Friday, April 29, 2011

"Afraid what you're gonna do, in this phase you're going through." Chosen One by One Eskimo

I spent the evening with a friend's 16 year old daughter. She sees her dads every other weekend, and while visiting I am her lifeline to the female perspective (because of the gay dads). She is also someone who could be my daughter. She's a little awkward, overweight, and she overcompensates by being everything to everyone. Sometimes it's like watching a train wreck. Sometimes it's like talking to the girl I was.

And tonight she was 16, feeling less than other girls, and sad not to have the boy she wanted.

For her and (for myself) I said this:

Your life now will not always be the same. Things will change and hopefully for the better. The very act of change will make some things better.
You deserved to be valued, appreciated, and loved.
You should not speak poorly of yourself. People will make comments your whole life about how you can be better. Ignore that and honor all that is good in you. You do not have the right to hurt your momma's baby girl.
You will one day find a boy (or man) who sees you as you are and loves every darn thing about you.
Take care of your skin.
Boys will do and say dumb things as long as you live.
I am so proud of the person you are.

I remember being 16 and feeling less than everyone else. No one said I would be 32 still struggling. Sigh.
"I don't wanna be a doctor! I want to be a princess!" ---My sobbing niece at 4 years old

True story: When my niece was 4 a very nice lady told her: "I hope you become a doctor someday." This is apparently a blessing Arab women bestow on children. My niece was having none of that. She burst into tears, and the above was her reply. When my sis told me I burst out laughing because there are times I would much rather be a princess than a doctor.

I did not think I would get caught up in the royal wedding drama. All week long I have been watching snippets on the news, but not really caring about it either way. Then tonight I couldn't sleep. I honestly felt like I was missing something if I tried to sleep. Part of this is due to the fact that I am a wedding whore. I love weddings. Every thing about them is fun to me. Except the tanning some brides do (side note: I am on week 2 of the summer tan-a-thon and barely kept myself from running topless from my coffin a few days ago, But I lasted 9 minutes this time so there's hope I won't be blindingly pale for vacation). I just love the pomp and circumstance and the tradition.

Did I also mention I love to read romance novels?

Apparently these two parts of my personality have created the perfect storm. I am sitting here at 2am anxiously awaiting the wedding. It is a fairy tale that someone can wake up a "commoner" and by lunch be a princess. I am pretty sure this will give my niece hope that she won't have to become a doctor to be successful. I keep thinking of my niece tonight, and the thought of how different life would be as a princess. Somethings may be easier or fun, but even if I was promised a 65 million dollar wedding (apparently how much Charles and Camilla paid) I don't think I could do it. I love my privacy, and I think it should be okay to punch someone trying to take a pic of my underwear as I leave a car. But if there are any Dukes out there looking for a good time I am pretty sure I could be a Duchess.

I hope Kate and Wills are happy. I hope that they are able to lead a life full of joy and love. I hope that I don't fall asleep at work tomorrow.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The things you learn about yourself...

Tonight was the first time I have ever used a tanning bed, and in some ways it was the longest 7 minutes of my life. I was told it would be warm and relaxing. From the moment I put the lid down and the eye goggles on I had to tell myself I was not in an oven coffin. I am not usually a claustrophobic person so this was something new I learned about me (yay for that moment of self awareness). I took deep breathes, I repeatedly told myself I was safe, and I focused on not screaming for help or ripping the goggles from my eyes. Thankfully all my psych tricks worked, and the timer went off smoothly.

The whole reason to enter the death trap is for an upcoming vacation to the Caribbean. My poor body doesn't see a lot of sun naturally, so I have to prepare to spend a week at a beach.

I have to go back 9 times. I am hoping the deep breathing gets easier. And I hope I don't come away looking Snooki-ish.

What did you learn about yourself today?