I Just Needed to Listen.
|This was my greeting for a few weeks. Happy Holidays 2018.|
I had my car today, because I'm getting ready to go do the cabin in the middle of nowhere and hiking for the weekend, and I had a ton of loose ends to wrap up. I asked my mom if she wanted to ride along, just to get out of the house. She of course said yes.
Since her surgery, she is perfectly content to just ride along. She'll wait in the car while we run in and do what we need to do. I will always take the long way (just like my grandma always did) so that we have more time to visit and chat. It takes both of us a little while to open up, so the long way is always the best way. Today she was hanging out, listening to Fleetwood Mac "Rumors", singing, wearing a pair of (i think) watermelon patterned cat eye sunglasses that she had to have from Zenni.
She eventually started talking about how the pandemic is affecting her mentally. I sat and listened. Nobody ever just sits and listens to my mom, sometimes not even me, depending on whether PTSD has me checked out of the room that I'm in. But this was one of the first conversations I've had with her in a while where it felt like I was talking to my mom, not the capitalized version of that.
There's a lot of baggage that goes along with the title of being My Mom, and for a really long time, the wounded child in me carried that baggage, no matter how much it was crushing my entire soul. I was mad at her because I felt like she never saw me for who I was or for what I was capable of. She was in a coma a few times, and other times, would have bouts of hepatic encephalopathy, where the liver doesn't remove toxins from your blood, and "advanced symptoms include shaking of the hands or arms, disorientation, and slurred speech". So even when I was in a place where I could talk to her, she wouldn't have listened. She couldn't listen.
I finally collapsed in on myself, had a breakdown, lost my job, and floated away into the abyss for a while. I was enjoying my old favorite cocktail for surviving feeling anything: sleeping too much, eating too much, smoking too much, drinking too much. I would be largely blacked out when I would be out with friends, not because I was loaded, but because my anxiety was through the roof.
Eventually, I went to work full-time for myself, going to therapy a couple times a week, and paying the bills with writing jobs and selling shit online. I made time to just hang out with people who made me feel good. I started to take care of my physical health. Everything continued to feel impossible, but I just kept moving through it, and most of the time, doing ok.
In December, I watched my niece being born (which is a story I still need to tell, because christ was it a DAY), and then one week later, my mom went into surgery. While she was convalescing, so was I, mentally and physically. 2018 was a big reset for both of us.
I never expected to spend 2020 like this. Stuck in my house. Figuring out who the hell I am on the other side of trauma. I've spent a lot of time not doing much, because I didn't feel up to doing much. But today proved to me that I have been doing stuff when I'm not doing stuff. Because today, I finally realized that My Mom baggage is not for my mom to carry, either. She's got her own shit to carry. All that I can do is take her out of the house sometimes, and listen to her if she feels like talking about things. I can be who I am now: still a little shaky, but with a bunch of new coping skills, still funny, still smart. Working on the rest, but not worried so much about a deadline that doesn't exist.