- April 30, 2015 in Columnists
Days with no end
I’d like to extend a special thank you to my friend and colleague, Mr. Kelvin Wade, for his guidance and friendship while trying to write this column. Thank you so much, Kelvin.
The last three months of my life have been a tribute to managing multiple crises. My sister’s husband passed away, my uncle passed away and my mother became ill to a point where she was hospitalized.
It seemed like the days never ended. Every day was a never ending gauntlet in which nothing was certain beside standing in quicksand and holding your breath. It was a constant feeling of perpetual motion, almost like a centripetal force just forcing you into a circular motion and all you can do is hold on for dear life. I felt helpless and out of control of my life.
I really had no idea if my mother was going to be okay or not. My sister had only been married for two years and now she is a widow. My aunt lost her brother. And now I was there to be the lighthouse for many people who felt lost out at sea.
My health also suffered with the constant stress of the last six weeks. I dropped weight and I have had a steady stream of panic attacks after my mother went into the hospital for the second time after we had just thought that Mom was home-free. I used to make fun of people who were on anti-anxiety medication. Now people can lob some jokes in my direction.
Currently, it feels like my life was put into a food processor and finely chopped to be put on top of a salad like croutons. Apparently someone likes their salad topped with bitter sarcasm, juvenile humor and condescension. That does sound like an impressive crouton.
At one point during my mother’s first hospital stay, she suffered from dehydration. One of the unfortunate side effects of dehydration is that you can become delusional and hallucinate. One night, I was visiting with my mother, she woke up out of a sleep, looked at me, and said “Matthew, I am really disappointed in you.”
I felt 13 again. I felt like a teenager again. I felt the old comfort in knowing I was just a fuck-up to everyone. No matter what I did in life, nothing would fulfill anyone. I will achieve nothing — I am nothing.
Suffice to say my ride home was a time warp and reevaluation of every time I felt like I hurt my mother. But that is only my perception of reality. It was only my emotions conquering my logic. Did I really fail my mother as a son? No. However, your mother knows how to push your buttons because she was the one who installed them in you. Just like your brother, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, uncle, sister, or whomever is close to you. They always know how to unglue you.
Let’s keep in mind my mother was seriously sick and hallucinating because of the dehydration. Let’s cut her some slack. She is a wonderful woman who unfortunately said something I will replay in my mind until I am dead.
A few weeks later, my mother wanted to talk to me privately while she was in the physical rehabilitation center where she was staying. She looked at me with a pale face and said “Matthew, I think I said something horrible to you a few weeks ago.”
For a woman who was never big on apologies, this was a biggie. She doesn’t like to apologize for anything, but she apparently remembered the night at the hospital.
I looked at her and said “Mom, you were sick. You were dehydrated and delirious. I am not even thinking about it.” I was lying to her, but I needed her to believe me so she wouldn’t carry the guilt.
She told me she loved me, I know she loves me, however, I will also use what she said to beat myself up when I feel like I am a failure. People like me have plenty of ammunition to keep myself in the space of the substandard and lacking. Sigmund Freud would love me on his couch.
At this point, Mom is home. I am helping my sister transition to the next stage of her life. My life is simply to be good to others. Who knows if what I am doing is correct or the best thing? But I am trying.
All I can do is what I was instructed to do when my parents raised me — soldier onward. Life will always dominate us but we can endure it together.
- April 30, 2015 at 8:25 pm