About 10 years ago I was awakened by a phone call from my mother. It was not a particularly pleasant call…it was one in which I was called a variety of names. It was the pinnacle of what I consider the end of my already strained relationship with my mom. I remember thinking as I sat in bed after she hung up on me that mothers aren’t supposed to treat their children in that way, ever. Ever. Today my mother lives in an assisted living facility. She is 67, which I think we all can agree is too young to be living in a home. She has had a multitude of health issues, including small strokes and some sort of dementia, or so we’ve been told. I tell the story about the phone call because I think it’s important to the end of this story…I have not seen my mother in five years.
No one tells you what it is going to be like to not have a relationship with your mom. How, when mother’s day comes around (or any holiday for that matter) no one makes a card to fit the situation. No one tells you what it will feel like to hear your friends discuss their own mothers as you all sit together around the dinner table…you won’t know how to participate in that part of the conversation. No one tells you that having your own daughters will only complicate all of these emotions. No one tells you what a tug of war you will continue to play between what you should be feeling and how you really do feel. This is a struggle I have constantly. I hated my mom. I hated her for everything she did, or did not do. I hated her for choices she made when her mental capacity was normal. Now I don’t know how to feel…and I hate that.
I haven’t been writing for myself for a number of reasons. The first is that I’m just too busy. Between my family and school and work and just trying to keep my head above water there is just no time. And yet, when I don’t write, I lose a bit of myself. I process things through writing, and lately I have had a lot to process without the outlet of putting it down on paper. I battle anxiety. Huge amounts of anxiety. Anxiety that comes like a tsunami and sticks around the pushes its way into the deepest corners of my being. Probably that is in my genes, too. In the past weeks the anxiety has been nearly too much to bear. It is sparked by stuff I can’t control, and then it just hangs around, weasles its way in, and makes itself comfortable. I hate it and I am working hard to control it.
Tonight as I was talking to my mother in our weekly scheduled phone call (don’t ask) I began share my experience with anxiety with her. It was quiet on the other end and I continued to tell her what I’d been feeling, thinking maybe she might give me some insight into how my genetics play into what I’ve been experiencing. Despite my mother’s dementia diagnosis, she is always very lucid and clear-headed when we talk, sometimes remembering things I can’t, which can be very confusing for me. When I got to the last part about how I’m finally going to talk to a therapist about my anxiety, she said, “huh.” Just like that. Like I had told her that I was wearing a blue coat. Huh. I ate Cheetos today. Huh. Tomorrow it will be sunny. Huh.
I honestly don’t know how to end this. Everything I’ve written, I have erased because I just sound like a giant asshole. Maybe no one tells you how it will feel when you just don’t want to care anymore, either.