Happy Birthday to Me...
Traz in General
When things change...
I thought I'd write out some of my thoughts and feelings here because... its therapeutic? Plus if anyone doesn't want to read my drivel, they have the freedom to scroll on by!
I have never been good with change. Whether it's moving to a new location, starting a new job, meeting new people... it's difficult for me and as I've gotten older, I find it even more challenging.
As the people I love have left my life, the dynamics in our family have changed drastically. I know this can happen in families after a singular death or multiple losses and I've heard it often from other folks going through similar situations.
My Dad was the first to pass away in my immediate family. He was my hero, my mentor, my friend... I can't describe the closeness and love we shared. I was devastated when he died but I had 2 toddlers to look after, a husband and I went back to school. I grieved the loss, I don't want to say 'better' than my mom's death, but... differently. I was so busy and I still had my mom, brother and two sisters so that helped. There were difficult moments and deep grief but I was able to move through it and find joy again.
Fast forward fifteen years and my brother is the next one to pass away. Years of addiction to cigarettes ended his life prematurely at 51. My brother and I were estranged at different points in our lives, so I wasn't super close to him. I had deep empathy for his suffering though and it was still difficult when he died. In Hospice, the image of my Mom sobbing and kissing his forehead after he died is burned into my memory cells. His mouth had fallen open and with his balding head from the chemo, reminded me of a frail baby bird. My Mom lost her child. It didn't matter that he was 51 years old, he was still the child she carried, gave birth to and nurtured.
Mom was never the same afterward and losing my brother hastened her own death I think. She was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and that really took a lot out of her. She also had macular degeneration to the point of where she could hardly see anything. This was devastating to her and she lost her independence because of it. Having to sell her car and no longer being able to drive was such a blow to her self-esteem and left her feeling weak and helpless. My Mom was always the one fixing stuff around the house growing up. She'd rewire lamps and fix things on the car (not my dad, lol) she sewed beautiful clothes for all of us, worked full time... she was go, go, go all of the time. Even with my children (when they were little) she did so many things with them.
Seeing your parent age and become frail is really distressing. I knew she needed help and I was fortunate enough to be able to lend a hand with driving her to appointments, getting groceries and just being a friend to her. I left a job I was miserable in and took care of her instead. My husband had a better paying job than me so that's how we were able to do it. Five years of helping my Mom and then she died in September of 2019.
There were a lot of things going on in my own family during her illness and a lot of changes happening that were difficult - my daughter moving to another country, our other daughter having surgery and I was extremely angry with my oldest sister who had always been my best friend. Our relationship is deeply damaged because she treated our mother badly during her illness and left everything to my other sister and I. I was beyond hurt- I'd always been there for her but she was not there for me when I needed her the most in my life.
So, I felt like I lost my sister too when my Mom died. Something shifted and I saw her in a completely different light. Her behaviour opened my eyes to the depths of her selfishness. I can't describe or even fully understand how this changed things between us. I tried talking to her about her behaviour during Mom's illness but she wouldn't listen. She blamed Mom for a lot of things. They'd always had a tumultuous relationship but nothing that justified my sister's treatment of her.
I ended up not speaking to her for over a year. Things are now superficial between us and we exchange texts, but that's it. I still love my sister, but it will never be the same as it was between us. That breaks my heart profoundly and it feels like another loss. It's all been a lot to process.
I know people would say, "but she's your sister, you should try to make amends." I get it, but its complicated. My sister has always been challenging (severe ADHD) and I think out of the whole family, I was the most patient with her. I helped her out countless times when she would get herself into situations that frustrated everyone else. It was always "what would I ever do without you?" I realize now that it was a codependent relationship and that it wasn't healthy.
So anyway, I'm having a lot of trouble dealing with how everything has changed. No more family gatherings, no more Christmases together... all gone and in the past. My kids are grown up, I have no job or focus - then I start dwelling on other people dying (my husband, my sisters, or God forbid my kids) and I'm a mess. Thinking about the future and being alone scares the hell out of me. Yet, by dwelling on it I'm squandering precious time with people while they are still here.
Maybe the pandemic has made me more introspective and depressed? I know I'm not alone that way. I try to count my blessings always and I write in my gratitude journal often. Things will always keep changing. That's just a fact of life. I guess I have to keep working on accepting it.
Traz in General