“You’re not yourself,” two people had told me yesterday. “You’re just not acting like you usually do.”
“I’m fine,” I said, thinking I was. But it made me start wondering why they thought I was being different.
Yesterday when I got home, my mom’s caregiver exploded. She didn’t know if she could take my mother much longer.
“She is difficult,” she said. “She questions everything I do. I never doubted my intelligence before but now I am. I tell her what time the store is open until and she questions me 5 times. What if I’m wrong? How do I know? I tell her I know but she doesn’t believe me. This is really difficult,” she said.
I just stared at her.
“Do you think this is why I feel like I’m going crazy?” I asked quietly.
“Yes, for sure. She is very difficult. I told your daughter that you are a survivor to have been able to stand this all your life. She is tough. She is never wrong and always argues. She questions everything.”
Wow. Something opened up inside me. It’s not me. I’m not losing my shit. She is just tough. I felt validated. I could breathe again. I felt free. All of a sudden I knew what my friends had been talking about. I have not been myself since I moved back in with my mom.
I talked to another friend who’s mother had also had dementia. “I told Mother (that’s what she called her mom) that she had to stop being mean to my sister. I told her when her behavior didn’t work. I was harsh with her when I needed to be.”
“Yes. Her caregiver was also going to quit. But something happened after I gave her the talking to. Mary, the caregiver, and her started loving each other. Mary cried when my mother died. They had gotten very close.”
“I don’t know if I could do that,” I said. “I guess I feel sorry for her. I don’t want to hurt her feelings. Actually I can see that that’s a limit to my being able to speak. It’s a barrier. When I feel sorry for someone I don’t want to hurt them. Instead, I hurt myself by keeping everything in and causing myself WAY more stress than I need to. I lt sorry for my dad, my ex, and my mom. I don’t want to hurt them.”
I thought about it. I went inside and I was different. I asked my mother if she was trying to piss me off. I told her that not everybody asks so many questions.
“I just want to know you and your children. What is wrong with that?” she asked innocently.
I don’t know. I don’t think anything. All I know is that I felt free. Because I spoke up. And said what I didn’t think I could or should say.
I was telling some people about it this morning.
“She just wants to connect,” one woman said. “I do the same thing. I ask questions so I can connect to other humans, especially during this pandemic. It’s all I want right now.” She started crying.
“Wow,” I thought. “That’s all my mom wants to do. She doesn’t mean to be annoying. She just wants to connect.”
I think that’s why I felt so bad. I knew she wanted to, but I just couldn’t “handle” it because I was so annoyed. I wanted to run away from her instead of towards her.
Today I will connect. AND, I will speak up and see what happens.
Thanks for listening.