I was planning on writin' about 19 other topics that've been on my mind and showing up a lot lately, but especially with today being the Winter Solstice 'n a time for letting go... Ima get real personal 'n talk about my night last night. (I mean, when do I NOT make it real personal who am I playin...) This year has just been...incredible...and exhausting. I'm pretty sure this is my 3rd or 4th post on letting people go... 'n I really hope it's my last haha.
When Joe 'n I drove away from my moms house a few years ago I cried and prayed the whole way home to not cary guilt when she hurt herself or someone else. I'd done everything I could, made every phone call possible, but my health couldn't handle much more. She'd stood next to my passenger window as we pulled out of her driveway letting her hands slide down the car pleading for me not to give up on her.
I pleaded with my angels the whole way home, "Please please please remind me I've done everything I could." In response I heard gently, "You have felt such pain so that you may sing it for others when they cant yet find the words." 'n I thought, "Then it's all ok."
She had taken pills while Joe and I were on our honeymoon, and even from Dublin, we woke up at that exact moment with the horrible sinking feeling that something was wrong. She'd become not only suicidal but homicidal before our wedding 'n I had made calls to a friend I knew she was targeting, being as vague as I could, "Hi honey, this is Barbara's daughter....you know mom's not been in the best mental state lately. I just wanted to let you know it would probably be best to give her some space for a while until she's feeling better." She didn't.
When I'd asked mom why she would wanna hurt her friend she calmly replied, "Rebecca she's everything I'm not."
Before mom had said she was having thoughts about hurting someone, I'd already been having visions for months I didn't want to share with anyone. I didn't wanna make it anymore real. I kept seeing her standing in her kitchen covered in blood with a blank look on her face 'n I'd cry saying, "Mom...what have you done." 'n then the police lights would start showing up in the driveway. After I shared the vision with my sister, she told me, "Uhhh everytime she stayed at our house I was scared we'd wake up to her standing over us with a shot gun." "Sissy these are not normal thoughts!!!" I hollered. I had pleaded with a woman over the phone one day at the wellness center, "I know how HIPPA violations work 'n all that jazz so I'm just gonna talk 'n you fill in the blanks where you can ok?" I could hear her shoulders slumping over the phone, "Honey," she said after my speech, "I wish there was something I could do, but until someone is actually hurt or they hurt themselves...by law in this state there's nothing that can be done. I can give you the number for an emergency suicide unit. I'm so sorry."
There had been enough time and distance put between us while we were living in Mooresville, that I could send her a bouqet of flowers and really mean it. Not sending them out of responsibility or guilt. I felt good about my decision to take care of myself first.
My mother's birthday has always meant the most to her out of any holiday, so December 19th the past few years, my sister and I take her out for dinner. It's never really been a joyous thing, but after she over dosed we wanted to make a real point to celebrate her birthday with her and not just send a card or flowers.
I can feel when she's not doing well, when she's dropped down a few floors again. My husband knows when she's been sendin self loathing texts because I start crying at the drop of a hat. My heart just becomes overwhelmingly exhausted. Before leaving for the company Christmas party last weekend she'd been sending message after message, her last one read, "Bebe stay close ok." "Mom we're leaving for a Christmas party, I won't be on call all night."
I feel like I can put it in the back of my mind pretty well, but from the nausea I've had the last two weeks and the dark circles under my eyes when I've slept 10hrs a night, I know it's no where near the background. I've just learned to tune it out so I can continue on with what I need to get done, but some days it feels like running a triathlon with my legs tied together.
I sat across from her, just the two of us last night at dinner. We usually take her to a nice restaurant downtown with great seafood, but she had her heart set on this place that may have been a step up from Huddle House. (no disrespect to the huddle.) For a few minutes I feel like it's still my mother I'm speaking to, but then I remember its the facade she's used my entire life. Nothings changed. It's the same conversations we've had since I was 12. She recounts every bad decision she's ever made, every wrong someone's every done to her. That if only she'd been smarter, she wouldn't be ending up homeless. If only people would help her, completely omitting the years of help countless people have poured on her. It's never been enough. I try to shift the conversation and ask if she's still considering getting a roommate to which she replies, "...no...no I don't think so. people have too many problems." She asks what I'm doing and I overflow with excitement while she just blinks and pokes at her mashed potatoes and fried oysters. I smiled and thanked our waitress from the bottom of my heart when she brought me another hot water with lemon. She was the angel I needed last night as I sat in that booth looking at my mom for what I knew may be the last time. Tony Bennett was singing Christmas carols over the speakers 'n everyone chatted around us about decorations and plans. I kept watching her; frowning, shaking, and sipping her Pepsi thinking, "Rebecca do not lose your shit in the middle of this restaurant under some fake ass Christmas greens 'n plastic dinner plates"
I sat with her as long as I could, holding onto my hot lemon water like the pope himself had prescribed it to ward off demons. I payed our tab, tipping the waitress extra and praying she meets the love of her life and wins the lottery next week. It was so dark on the way back to mom's house 'n my GPS picks up nothing around there so I was relying on her for directions. She got us lost and 20 minutes out of the way within the first 5 miles. She was distracted and kept commenting on how nice the car handled, my North Face jacket, my Doc Martens, Joe's job... she may space out on everything else but if it has to do with brands or money, she's smart as a whip. I thought about her cornering me in the kitchen like a bully when I was in Elementary school, "Me and Katherine have been talking...'n we think you're high maintenance." "What?" "High maintenance. It means you need to wear expensive name brands and status symbols, things like that...not like me and your sister. We're low maintenance." "oh...but Dad buys us the same clothes..."
I told her at dinner trying not to let my voice shake, "I don't know what else I can do for you mom. If you wanted to go back to the hospital I mean I'll take you tomorrow, but this if your fight. Every option we give you is never good enough so I just...I don't know." "I just need you to love me", she said. Like I haven't been doing that my entire life.
I've been paralyzed for so long, disconnected but still waiting in agony for the phone call or the next text from the Riverbend Police Department. The friends I've walked away from have all been different reflections of this one relationship, and steps toward my own freedom. I've dealt with this level of stress for so long, I can't imagine what it would feel like to no longer live constantly bracing for impact. When someone doesn't know how to receive love, they conjure up ways to attract pity, attention, and praise instead. Something they can see and touch; something they can calculate and posess. Something they trust can't be taken away. They don't know how to sit into compassion and joy comfortably; they don't trust it will hold their weight. So they continue digging for more until they've dug themselves deep enough no one can reach. It's their choice alone to begin climbing back out, or to stay.
This time of year it's so important to think about the ones we love and share our joy with everyone, but it's also just as important to remember how important it is to love ourselves, and that we deserve to enjoy this time of year just as much. It's hard to even discuss this point but I feel sometimes it's not discussed enough as no one wants to sound heartless or uncaring. I've been grateful that I've been able to comfort the people that've quietly admitted they feel guilty and ashamed for giving up on someone. For enjoying their wedding day without inviting a family member. For getting excited over an achievement that their closest friend had failed at. It's a touchy subject to say the least, but I have no doubt it's something I need to speak about. I'm saying to it to myself just as much or more than anyone else:
It's ok to hang it up.
It's ok to hand back the full responsibility.
It's ok to be joyous and grateful when others around you are not.
It's ok to say I love you but I'm done.
It's ok to live your best life even when those closest to you say it's killing them.
No one is yours to fix. Not even your mother.
" To truly serve others, you have only one task: Shine the brightest you possibly can. Whether it warms their soul, or blinds their eyes is beyond your control. "
-Dr. Rebecca Garifo