Not just me

It is more and more apparent to me that sooo many people have a burden similar to mine. Or, in many cases, a heavier burden. Their own health crisis. Or a sick kid. Or two sick parents. Whatever. The more people I tell about this blog, the more circumstances I learn about that are similar to mine in some way or another. My younger brother is a lawyer who works on estate planning with clients whose parents have dementia. One of my younger sisters has a coworker with both parents diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. One friend’s mother’s dementia dramatically worsened after she broke her hip, and she was immediately moved into assisted living. I read listserves for caregivers and come across so many difficult family situations and unimaginable sorrow. So what makes me so special?

This awareness of the universality of this issue – basically middle-aged people with sick parents – seems to be influencing my own attempts to work through my emotions. I can be very self-absorbed. That’s not very hard. But I also seem to be deflecting something. I can’t pinpoint what it is. I want to appear tough, focused, able. I think I can pull that off. Sometimes I feel very vulnerable, sad, and completely scattered. Totally unable to concentrate. And I just sort of quietly suffer through that stuff most of the time. What else is there to do? Display my misery for someone else to see? The thing is, these moods can change rapidly, whether I have contact with Mom or not. I guess what might be at the heart of my dismay is that I feel no sense of control. I can’t control what Mom might do. I can’t control, as much as I want to, how I’m going to react to her next small crisis. I obviously can’t control my emotions and thoughts, as their comings and goings make no particular sense. I’ve never considered myself a control freak. But I do like a routine – and when my routine is disrupted, I lose control and I am out of sorts. And just about everything involving Mom is disruptive to my routine, even the routine things I do for her every week. I’m not even really making sense right now. But I have had these kinds of rambling thoughts for a couple of days.

So very much of my life is good. So many people experience suffering beyond anything I can imagine. What makes me think being a caregiver to a Mom with Alzheimer’s is so damn taxing? Or not even what makes me think that, but what makes it so? I have to function, and I am functioning. I can do my job. I can keep my house and finances (somewhat) in order. I can be attentive to my husband. Maintain friendships. I have fit this caregiving in with all of that. So all is well. Right?

4 comments so far

  1. IcedLatte on

    Speaking as an obsessive-compulsive, anal-rententive, hypomanic control freak, I get a little whackadoodle in situations in which I clearly don’t have control. Please do not remind me that “control” is merely a figment of my imagination, because I know that an am medicated for it, thank you very much. Occasionally when I have the presence of mind to step back for a minute it occurs to me that I it’s not the roller coaster ride through the unknown that is bothering me, but rather the fear that I’ll finally reach my coping limit. When will that happen? This time or next time? Or should I just get a book and go to bed? That’s what I usually do, hypomania notwithstanding.

  2. Gemma on

    One of the nastiest things my mother does is to tell me about someone more worse off than I am. Migraine? Someone else has brain tumor. Knee pain? Someone else had an amputation. I finally have concluded, I am ENTITLED to my own pain. So please don’t fall into the trap of comparing to others — and conclude you don’t deserve to grieve. Your situation is pretty f–king awful, and dammit you are allowed to feel that way.

  3. momsbrain on

    Thanks, Gemma. That’s a very interesting perspective. I am entitled to my pain. And I appreciate the support!

  4. albamaria30 on

    I agree with Gemma.

    Also, I think it helps to have it “out there”, have this blog. It gives other people one of two things (I think): perspective and/or a feeling he/she is not alone.

    I forwarded your blog to my mom, who is dealing with a mother with dementia, too. Listening to her tell stories about visiting with grandma is like reading this blog. I hope she reads and finds some comfort. It helps ME to know that my mom is not alone, if that makes any sense.

    Plus, as a “mommy blogger” I know how you feel. Sometimes I’m bitching about my kids and I think, “Dear God, rpm, some people are struggling with cancer or infertility or death, and you’re worried about potty training. Get a grip!” But my kids are not all I write about, and my blog helps me.

    Keep it up.


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