One year ago, actually on the 27th, I made the journey to travel to the homeland, to be with family. I arrived on the 28th and Mom was near death. This picture was taken a few days after I arrived, and I was told that she looked better than what she did. Hard to believe and I remember fearing that I wouldn’t make it in time, that she’d be gone by the time I get there. Times were very scary, unfamiliar and uncertain. I had many clues of what to expect, although none could have actually prepared me for what was to come. I had no answers and felt like flying blind. It took faith in huge amounts and trusting, believing, that everything would work itself out. I braced myself for the unknown, asking my soul to be strong, and my heart to remain filled with love and patience. Strong for whatever would come my way, and patience to break through Mom’s stubbornness, while meeting her with a heart full of love. I never had the best relationship with Mom, although I always fought for her love as long as I remember. She believed that I had left her behind as I moved to the states. That I didn’t care about her, and that it didn’t matter what happened to her. This couldn’t have been further from the truth, but it placed a wedge in her heart and I never knew until years later, that she had placed a fair amount of responsibility for her life onto me. She had taken care of me while I was a child, it was to be my turn to repay the favor.
What I learned, was that there were many barriers to be broken, should she decide to allow me within her walls of protection. Walls that she had built around her heart to shield it from ever getting hurt again. Walls that the circumstances of life, and her experiences made her put up. It was a fortress, with walls so thick I never managed to get close, and she never opened up to me. I wasn’t worthy or deserving in her eyes, I had brought her pain without even knowing. Sometimes I felt that she hated me for what she thought I did to her, and I couldn’t dismiss the disgust towards me in her icy remarks that lacked any emotion. From time to time I broke down when all my reserves were exhausted, sharing my shattered heart in pain and despair. Dealing with what I experienced will remain one of the toughest things I had to do in my life. I know things were not perfect, and from the outside it might have been viewed as my own fault for coming back over and over. It might have been discussed with all the emotions removed, a mere story. But I know that nobody can tell me that I didn’t do my best.
I remember discussing some of these worries with my cousin before I actually left for Germany, and she tried to calm me by saying “Just get here for now and the rest will find it’s way”. And it did, not always as expected, and not always favorable, but it did. On unfamiliar ground I was forced having to admit Mom to a nursing home the very next day. She was well enough to be released from the hospital, but not well enough to go home without care. No other choice, right? What was I going to do in one day, unfamiliar with how things worked, due to not having lived in Germany for the past 30 years. Jet lagged and overwhelmed. I felt like a caged animal, frustrated, vulnerable and alone. I guess everybody else had the chance to see what was going on for so long, it was normal and the only way, while it was all new to me, with zero adjustment time granted. I’m not saying to justify things or because of “poor me”, but it was something I couldn’t wrap my head around immediately. It was normality for others while there was a sense of being desensitized and removed. Furthermore it was “my Mom” we were dealing with, and nobody else’s. I think things always hit a little closer to home when they directly involve you, and none of this is meant as an insult or an accusation. Things always look different from the outside, no matter how close you are, and the love of a daughter always applies to her mother, even when things don’t make sense. And if you, as a mother or loved one experience a love anything less than mine, then it would be reason enough to be jealous of the way I cared and still care for Mom. You can’t tell me that if you were sick and couldn’t help yourself, that you wouldn’t secretly want someone to root for you. To be there, to make you feel loved, not alone, and not pushed off like some inconvenience. I think that is exactly how I felt, Mom would view my decisions. She didn’t understand that the nursing home was for her protection. To her, I didn’t want her to be around, I didn’t want to take care of her, and in her mind….once again I turned my back and left her behind. How was I to swallow that pill?
I struggled for the entirety of my ten month stay and things are far from over. I feel my struggles and views have alienated friends and family, and few could understand, let alone support my beliefs and dedication to Mom. My road with Mom was hard and rocky and I’m sure many would have walked away, but I didn’t. I came back over and over to endure more punishment. Things that seemed so unfair and hurtful at times, that I can’t blame anyone for not understanding. But I did have my own guilt of leaving Mom behind after learning about her feelings, and I actually believed that there was some truth to the way she saw things. I felt sad for her horrible life and her losing my Dad so young. I lost him too, but now still missing him, I felt sad for Moms life on top of everything. I was the only one she had left, and the only one who could help her and save her life. It was much, much bigger than me, and I swallowed my hurt and broken feelings. Mom survived and today she carries love within her heart because of it. She has opened her heart to me and the attacks on me have almost completely vanished.
There is no doubt that all of this created uncomfortable moments and a sense of loneliness which was not unusual considering the circumstances of being away from my own four walls, shacked up in my childhood room, away from my own life. This might sound superficial, but there was much more to it and none of my actions were for selfish reasons. The weather was bad for the RA and I was being eaten alive by spiders and mosquitoes. Literally…I have some permanent scars from their bites and being allergic to them. I stayed for ten month while my expenses in the states continued with no income and this is only the financial side of it, not considering the many personal sacrifices I made for this journey. Nothing was ever selfish about it and I still get rallied up about a blog comment, suggesting that I was shoving Mom off to a nursing home for my own comfort and convenience. That one hurt a lot. It was a time of seeing things for face value, to realize that time had outgrown relationships and friendships with little in common left. Life had simply taken us into different directions and it was now becoming obvious once spending more time, other than the quick two week visit. There was so much to deal with, from so many angles, so much to come to terms with, and sometimes I found myself stuck in the middle of things. It was then that I wished I could lay my intuitive empath qualities to rest, instead of being able to read energies and hear unspoken words. It only overwhelmed and I didn’t have room to take on additional battles.
Two month after my return to the states, the journey continues and so much seems to be unresolved. Mom is taken care of in a place she doesn’t want to be, but she is alive and we won’t have to worry about finding her fallen down or in any other dangerous situation like in the past. Some peace of mind right, but how do you deal with knowing how unhappy the person is there and that you have committed her. That she can’t out because of you. In the meantime she is allergic to the detergent from the laundry service and is itching herself insane. Every other call she wonders and worries about her house that she worked so hard for, her memory of Dad, which now is standing empty, which is less than perfect, and which seems so far out of reach for her. She hasn’t seen it in over a year and wonders when I will take her home, when I will come back. She is expecting me to give up my life and move back home to care for her.
Two months have passed and any progress to clear clutter and simplify my life has been difficult due to being sick. At this rate, it will take me a long time. I do the best I can and it’s all I can do. I couldn’t help anyone if I would want to right now, and for the first time in my life, I have to put myself first and remember that we are no good to anyone if we are not well ourselves. I had to tell Mom and she is in denial. At the moment it is too scary for her to look at it for what it is, as my condition shapes her reality and she is dependent on me. Once more I need trust and believe that everything will find it’s way. It sure feels strange to look back to last year as this journey was just beginning. It’s almost making my body cringe, knowing now all that was waiting for me to be battled. I think it’s scarier in memory than it actually was, because while you are amidst the battle you have no time to reminisce and be vulnerable.
Please look after yourself.