My eyes felt like I slept with spoonfuls of sand serving as lubrication. My limbs, heavy and uncooperative. My heart, numb. My soul suffered another scar.
I had my day planned out before I went to bed the night before. Today was storage auction day. It would keep me busy.
I was up before my 6:00 a.m. alarm. As I took a shower, I swear I didn’t feel the water on my skin. I did what I could to cover the swollen bags of flesh that cradled my swollen eyes. At some point, I realized that gesture was pointless.
When I left the hospital yesterday, I knew it would probably be the last time I saw her. I drove to Tyler with intentions of saying goodbye.
Maybe this is what grieving feels like. I’m saying goodbye to the mother I knew as a little girl. The mother who thought I was enough.
The woman I saw yesterday wasn’t someone that I knew. I haven’t known my mother for 25 years.
My mom helped create and often led a support group at a mental health facility in Cherokee County. I don’t know the details. Truly they aren’t important in regards to this post. Yesterday, a person from that group reached out to me via Facebook messenger. I’m not sure how she came across my profile. Again, the point is mute. Just a question I have.
She told me of a “sweet, caring” Suzy that wanted to “help others dealing with mental illness.” She spoke highly of my mom. She “just couldn’t understand what had happened to Suzy.”
What most surprised me was that my mother never told the people in the support group how much she struggled. How many times she had in fact tried to take her own life. “The past suicide attempts are shocking.” The lady went on to say “she hid it from me so well.”
I’ve recently had conversations via social media with many people who are struggling with the guilt that comes to those of us who have to distance ourselves. Let me rephrase that. Those of us who have chosen to distance ourselves. Their hearts are tied in knots. Their souls ache.
I don’t know how to help them other than pray for them and with them. Prayer is the motivating factor behind my series of events that have taken place the past few days.
I’ll be honest with you. The emotions that I’m feeling today are all over the place. Why wouldn’t they be?
Guilt, fear, sorrow, anger, loneliness and envy. I’ve been told that angry and forgiveness don’t go hand in hand. We will have to agree to disagree on that.
Guilt. It will keep you up at night. I’ve felt guilty most of my adult life regarding the distance. Guilt because I couldn’t do anything. Guilt because I seperated my family from the madness. Guilt because I can’t fix her.
Fear. It’s exhausting anticipating everyday, wondering if a memory or specific event is going to flip a switch and poof. My mother battles depression and is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, my mamaw suffered from something, why not me?
E X H A U S T I NG!
Sorrow. I have suffered no sorrow like that of life without a mother. In all honesty, I think it would be an easier pill to swallow if she had physically died 25 years ago. You may think less of me for frame of mind, but sadly it’s true. Sadness because she was absent when my son was born. She ingested a bottle of aspirin the week before. I guess you could say that she left her mark on many momentous occasions in my adult life. Sorrow, because many of my special occasions are cloaked with darkness, marked by suicide attempts and mental hospital stays. Distance kept is coping mechanism. It hurts like hell.
Anger. It’s a valid emotion, even after forgiving. Angry because this illness took my mother away from me years ago. Angry because she doesn’t take her medication and winds up spiraling out of control. I think any reasonable person can understand that emotion in a circumstance such as this. I am reconciling with the anger but it is there nonetheless. It surfaces less these days but does make a guest appearance once in awhile.
Loneliness: Doing life without a mom isn’t impossible. It’s just lonely. I shied away from female relationships for years. It’s not until recently that I am actively seeking female role models. I have many women acquaintances in my life but I am very selective whom I chose to seek counsel in. I deeply miss “my Mary.” In her I found a friend, an older sister and a role model. There Was Just Something About Mary will introduce you to my Mary.
Envy: I am not naive enough to believe that every mother daughter relationship is ideal. I do however find myself envious of several mother daughter relationships in my inner circle. I have to stop dwelling on what I don’t have and continue to use that envy as motivation to nurture my relationship with my daughter. You know, be the mother I so desperately yearn for.
If I really think about it, I owe much to my mother. That’s a tough statement to make.
I’m a problem solver. I haven’t had a mother to run to with all of the typical questions that I’ve had over the past 25 years. How long do you cook rice? Fevers and babies? Did you ever feel like this, momma? How do I this and how do I that? Frustrating at times but I have developed an uncanny ability to solve my own problems. To navigate situations on my own. I get to the same place as the rest of you, I just take the alterrain route most of the time. Unconventional ways to say the least. If you need a giggle, read Pain In The Butt. It’s a story about birthin’ my boy, definitely not for the squeamish type.
I’m a fighter. Through Chiari that almost killed me, marriage problems that damn near broke me, and health issues that interfere with my everyday, I’m fighting. I’m a fighter by circumstances. Resilient in every sense of the word. Just a little bit of skull is a post that explains my diagnosis in 2004. How Did We Let This Happen gives you some insight into a young married couples struggles. Hang in there, that young couple is going strong after 25 years.
I’m independent: I’ve had to be. Sometimes to a fault, but independent nonetheless.
WOW, that was F R E E I N G. I implore you to stop what you are doing and search your heart. What makes you, you? What fostered those qualities in you? Where they instilled in you? Are they derived from adversity? Think about it.
My reliance on Christ: I’m not saying that she is the reason that I was saved. My salvation was a long time in the making and solidified with the death of Stuart’s grandmother. The role He died to play is my story of salvation. My reliance on Christ is in part due to her. I have had to lean on God more the past four years than ever before. The hurt and anger derived from her illness being a partial culprit. Without Him, I don’t know where I would be. What I do know is that, if like me you find yourself without a “go-to person” you aren’t looking in the right place. Jesus has been my “go-to” and I’m making it. Is it easy? Nope. Are we promised easy if we follow Christ? Nope. Is it easier with Him by my side? Yep? When I start doing life on my own, all hell breaks loose. Not because He is punishing me but because my choices are not in his will. And Lord knows, I spend a lot of time out of His will. All I can do is try to better. Rock Bottom is a series of six posts that describe my “come to Jesus meeting.”
In all honesty, I draw strength daily from many of you. Your stories, your soul scars. So many inspiring people. So many stories. It’s not a complete list by any means, but in Strength Of A Warrior you will read about my some of my heros.
In a twisted way, mental illness has made me the woman I am today. Striving to be the mother and woman that she couldn’t be.
If you are thinking about taking your life, please, I beg you, call the National Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255