An anniversary…of sorts

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted a blog entry.  I’ve been busy in schools and with poetry (and zombies), but deep down … I’ve been avoiding the page.  Last year at this time, I was battered at the bottom of a dark hole and have been avoiding its ledge ever since.

This past April was an ‘anniversary’ of sorts.  Last April (2011), after 15 years of care-giving for both parents, Dad was gone (about a year) and Mom was entering a facility better suited to her level of necessary care.  Instead of feeling a sense of relief, the very next day I finally allowed myself to fall apart.  It is hard work to be the ‘strong one’.  It is unhealthy.  No one has all the answers (or all the right questions) and no one should.  Too many of you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Even with a supportive family and friends, most care decisions were mine to make and I never took that lightly.  The weight was often staggering.  Again … many of you know how that feels.  And you know how much I loved both mother and father.  I often joke and say, “I hope my kids are paying attention!”  Actually, I hope they love me, but will not be faced with the same situations.

The other day I was asked to speak at a 3-day teacher’s conference in Florida in late June.  I looked at my calendar, checked with my husband and said, “Yes!”  This would not have been possible in the past many years.  There would have been several phone calls to make, other schedules and lives to check and most importantly, Mom and Dad to consider.  I would have probably still gotten to “Yes”, but the path would have been more like a maze and taken much longer.  It was a revelation to me to be able to confirm within minutes.

Of course, this is not to say I wish them gone.  Maybe it is more like letting go and allowing myself to breathe again.  I’m still on the Lexapro the doctors prescribed last year (though now at half the lowest dose available) and understand extreme anxiety up-close and firsthand.  I know how a panic attack feels and no, you can’t “just get over yourself”.  You instead, puddle on the floor of Super Stop & Shop because you can’t find key lime juice.

The therapist I’ve been seeing says it is okay to fall apart, as long as you put yourself back together … differently.  It took 53 years to get to that point last April, so I do not expect to finish rebuilding anytime soon.  This is okay though, since I am enjoying the process along the way.

As always, be good to yourself-
Elizabeth

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About hereisakiss

Daughter Writer Art's Educator
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4 Responses to An anniversary…of sorts

  1. Reggie Marra says:

    Hey there, Elizabeth,

    Thanks, as always, for your post. I appreciate your honesty and openness around falling apart. I believe falling apart is waaay easier at times than owning it, working with it and putting our respective Humpty Dumpties back together again. So, good for you. You’re way ahead of all the king’s horses and men.

    Don’t know if you’ve come across Brene Brown’s work, but while it’s not specifically about elder care and caregiving, it’s on-the-mark around vulnerability, shame, and imperfection (not that any primary caregivers would encounter these). At any rate, she’s a teaching/researching social worker (PhD), who after years of qualitative research, had her findings quite literally change her life.

    I find her work reassuring and affirming. Here’s a link to a TEDx talk she did on vulnerability (there are two more available as well): http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html.

    Keep up the good work.

    With love,
    Reg

    • hereisakiss says:

      Thanks, Reggie…Yes, falling apart isn’t hard to do and many friends are steps away. Several are taking care of aging parents. Some are just nuts to begin with 🙂 I love TED and will check it out…Hugs

  2. hereisakiss says:

    This was sent to me from a friend:

    my father just died at 99–what a ride. I was the strong one, no news here, always was, did everything, talked to the doctors and nurses, gave the eulogy, wrote the obituary, planned the funeral, signed the papers, cleaned out the apartment (with my sister’s help of course, my son and husband too) though my sister had been the major carer since he had dementia(he had a full-time aide and lived in assisted living)-the other sister totally uninvolved in anything, did nothing but cause problems–now my mother is having issues–she is almost 95—heart valve leaking, articular fibrulation–your situation is very different since you were so close to your parents, a lot of love there, dysfunctional families have different issues, painful ones in another way—no one talks about the relief when a parent dies—a parent who had little for you but criticism and absence—someone should—

    your blog was great, thanks!
    a friend

  3. hereisakiss says:

    All families have dysfunction, but yes…my mom and dad were blessed.

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