If I ever give up living even though I'm still alive,
If I ever hit rock bottom, then dig deeper down instead of climb,
If I ever search for numbness in a bottle of cheap whiskey,
If I ever push away each and every soul who might just miss me,
If I ever lose myself to the point I can't be found,
Send me out to sea, set yourself free, and let me drown.
As I'm working through the red tape and decisions that need to be made to ensure that my Mom is not homeless in 3 weeks, I've been processing a lot of emotions. Tonight the most prominent of those emotions is heartache unlike any I've experienced before. If I could draw my feelings, it would be a series of messy swirls, in all shades of blue, and it would invoke the physical sensation of standing outside in the cold air with just a light jacket to protect you from the elements. It's the sense of having a small bit of warmth, but not quite enough to fight off the bite of the wind.
Replaying yesterday in my mind, I keep thinking about one moment in particular. I keep thinking about the moment my Mom wet her pants. Standing there on the sidewalk, her pants darker in the inner leg area with the obvious signs of a recently emptied bladder, no way to hide it or deny it, and yet not a single bit of embarrassment or shame......how does someone get to that point? What happened in her life that set about this series of events? What synapse is misfiring in her mind that prevents her from recognizing her rock bottom?
When your parents age, you expect that things will progress to a point where they can't care for themselves. But when your parent has never fully functioned as an adult without some sort of addiction or toxic and codependent relationship, your benchmark for being a grown-up is skewed. It's hard to tell when they reach the point that they need intervention and assistance because they've always skated through life relying on others. What you don't expect is to have to consider assisted living, adult diapers, and 24 hour care options for your 54 year old Mother. These are things you're supposed to consider 20 years down the road, after a long, well-lived life.
I want to be angry with her because I know her past and current addictions have played a major part in her rapid decline. But more than that, I'm worried those addictions are clouding the view of something more going on inside of her body. You can't overlook a tumor the size of a baseball in someone's brain. The pressure of a mass that size most certainly plays a part in her current state of being. Add to that mass a cyst that could never be drained due to the hard consistency of the outer layer. The fact that she wet herself on the sidewalk while stone-cold sober tells me that her alcoholism isn't the only factor to consider. I can't keep looking at her as "just an addict". I have to consider the rest of the contributors and understand that she is legitimately disabled and, frankly, terminally so. And I have to advocate for her with that in mind, to prevent other people from mistakenly treating her as if she is just an addict.
On the flip-side of that, history doesn't lie and her history is riddled with addiction, abusive relationships, and poor decisions. My anger has given way to sympathy. I feel sorry for her because she never felt valuable enough to fight for herself, to stand up to the challenges she faced, and overcome them. She doesn't have any great accomplishments, no stories of beating the odds, and nothing she can truly be proud of. When I write her eulogy, what am I going to say? How do I honor the memory of someone who never really lived? There have been very few times in my life where I ever felt like I didn't deserve better when I was in a bad situation. With the exception of a very dark period of time in my teens and early twenties, I never felt hopeless. Even when I was at my lowest, there was always something to fight for. Some driving force to keep me going when everything in me wanted to give up. Why doesn't my Mom have that same motivation? Where is that inner champion, pushing her to do more, be better, clear those hurdles, climb that mountain, and be proud? Did someone else steal that light from her or was it never there to begin with? It's a sad thought that anyone is born without ever knowing their worth or potential. It's even sadder when that person is your parent.