Monday, August 22, 2011

When self-preservation creates more chaos, it's okay, and to be expected

Someone reminded me today that times of transitioning are when we need to have the most patience and compassion for ourselves. I tend to be rather hard on myself about "handling" things in these times. I have high expectations of myself when it comes to managing life's little dramas. I think I was conditioned by the Drama Queen herself to anticipate the daily dose of crap and now I'm on high-crap alert status all the time. Which doesn't make much room for experiencing the joys of freedom!

So recently I've been making efforts to dial back the contact with my remaining parent. Some might think this cruel and not what a "good daughter" would do. People who think like that were blessed with a normal childhood and loving, normal parents. Yes, all five of you out know who you are! Don't you go projecting your blissfully drama-free relationships with your parents on me!

Anyway, non-contact is not a viable option. She's almost 83. It's obvious that some form of dementia is setting in. And she's royally pissed about it. She needs someone to help her keep house. (We hired someone for that and she's awesome!) Her home is aging right along with her and Dad isn't around with his handy duct tape, wire ties and Super Glue to keep it all together. (We've hired gardeners, who seem to be on the cusp of getting fired every other month. I don't think they get paid enough!) It costs money to maintain her life as in the manner to which she was accustomed, and she doesn't want to pay for it! She's acting more and more feeble, but we can't tell if it's real or something she's invented because she thinks being feeble gets her something, mostly our attention. She seems to be okay with gardening and walking down the driveway to get the mail, doing her laundry, light housekeeping and cooking. And then, she suddenly quits doing it because she wants someone to do it all for her, but she wants it done her way, and for free.

Her narcissistic tendencies won't let her admit that my sister and I can't help her the way she wants to be helped at this stage of the game. We can't give up our children and our own homes, our jobs and our relationships just to hover by the side of her bed to usher her into the beyond where our father waits for her. First of all, she's not physically sick! She's just decided she's done living, and she really doesn't care to participate in life any longer. She's mad that God isn't doing His part to help her out of this situation she's in.

My sister and I keep telling her, "Maybe God wants you to live! To participate in life! To be happy!" She completely ignores that kind of talk. It makes her angry. She can't seem to articulate what she wants, at all, but whatever it is we do for her is always, ALWAYS, grossly inadequate.

So, I'm done. On Saturday, after spending the afternoon shopping for her, and after spending the week taking her to two medical appointments, running down new prescriptions for her, other errands, paying her bills and managing all her financials, working things out for her home health aide (Mom stiffed her! Paid her with vegetables from the garden. Don't know how PG&E and the telephone company would accept that as a form of payment, but apparently, the housekeeper/helper should?!)...after all that, plus daily phone calls every day except Friday (I had appointments), I was told that I hadn't spent any time helping her all week. And that if I really cared for her, she shouldn't have to tell me how to help her feel better (medically speaking), that I would already know what to do. Then she insulted the work that I do and she's mad at all my clients too. (Would that be the only one client I barely have time to work for because she's taking up all my time and creative energy? Or was that the client I had to drop because of her?)

So I told her I guess I didn't really care for her, and I am acting accordingly. I'm not calling her. I'm not going to visit her. I have to go over tomorrow to meet with a someone about my father's estate. Her next medical appointment isn't until the following week, and I don't have to take her anywhere else. My sister is going on Friday to run groceries over to her. She won't listen to reason about anything. She won't make decisions about her own life and tells me that I'm now in charge of everything, but when I do make decisions, they're all wrong. She's insulting and toxic. She's a manipulative liar. She marginalizes me, my sister and our families, keeps tearing us down. This behavior started years ago and has only increased with time. I will no longer subject myself to this abuse. I am one of the executors of my father's estate, so I have duties there and I'm performing them. Beyond that...DONE!

I'm also done talking about her. I'm done writing about her. I'm done rearranging my life for her. I'm done taking time away from my children because of her. I'm done feeling bad for not being a good enough daughter to make her happy. I don't want her to know anything about me or my kids. She's not invited to my home. And I'm not taking calls either. If she leaves one of her messages about how she's dying and she needs help now, I'm calling 911 and sending the ambulance to her house. There will be hell to pay for a while. She is going to do something really drastic. She is going to really pour on the drama. And I'm not going to respond to it any longer.

I'M FREE-I'm free,
And freedom tastes of reality
Tommy by The Who

PS) I just got a phone call...the summons to drop everything to put Icy Hot on her back because she's at death's door. I called the home health aide to help. I love that woman! Not sure why she wasn't called to begin with. It's her job!