Thursday, November 15, 2012

A word or two on what's on my heart

I was born into this foreign mess. When I was little, I didn't have my head wrapped around the severity of the situation. My mom worked so hard to give me the life she envisioned for me. She worked multiple jobs (always being paid under the table), took sketchy trains from one side of the city to the other and did everything if it meant she could make a living. In return, she missed out on many parts of my childhood and it haunts her still today. She often jokes (maybe where I get my sarcasm from) that when I needed her the most, she was never available. And now that I'm older and don't" need her" anymore, she has all the time in the world. 

It's an awful feeling watching your parent grow old and become increasingly sick and helpless. It's bad enough that I always felt as if I were my parent's parents, but now it's so much worse. Each phone call I make that goes straight to voicemail automatically puts an awful list of "what if's" in my head. That list on top of all the other things I worry about happening if I'm not at home to come to the rescue. 
Throughout my life, I've watched my mom go from being a strong-willed woman who I hoped to be like one day, to a miserable person that I can barely connect with on any level anymore. It breaks my heart to see this happen to her. I've forgiven so many awful things she said and done because to me, that's not the mom I used to know. That's not the woman that once proved to be so strong, such a fighter. That person is gone. I have to remind myself of that so I don't take all the low blows thrown in my direction too personally. 
I'm not a believer in holding grudges. I'm not a person with any religious beliefs whatsoever. I just believe in treating people properly, being honest, and living your life well. But I can't forgive my dad for what he's done. I'll never be able to. If he would've just done his part in legalizing my mother when they were married, things would be so much different today. It truly was such an easy thing that could've kept the past 20 years of all of our lives from being so miserable. 
My "father" is almost 80 years old and my mother, almost 70 (obviously I was a surprise to them, but I'm beginning to think it was a medical wonder of sorts). My father has never been a constant fixture in my life even though he's always been around. He never asked how I was, never said "happy birthday" (unless pressed to do so by my mother), never had a good thing to say about me. In early court papers, when my parents were fighting for custody of me, he never referred to me by my name. I was "the child". All of these things hurt like hell when I was little, but I've gotten over them long since then. My mother hasn't. She holds herself accountable for "giving me" such an awful father. For me it's the opposite.. 
For me, it just hurts that he was never a husband to her. I never saw him give her a flower or say anything remotely kind or doting (unless he was putting on a front for company we had over). I do remember him dousing her in gasoline when I was 4. It might be one of the first memories I have. I remember her swinging a knife (presumably to keep him from hurting me too). I remember not seeing him for a while after that. 
I believe to at least a certain point, children love their parents just as unconditionally as parents love their children. After holiday upon holiday and year after year, I still kind of thought he's pull through. Maybe he wouldn't ruin Christmas this year. Wrong. Maybe he'd call this time? Wrong again. I gave him so many opportunities to be a dad. He just wasn't interested. 
That's neither here nor there, I suppose. I've suddenly lost track of what I intially set out to type entirely. Especially since this is all from my Blackberry right now and my fingers are cramping.. 
I just wanted to express how awful it is to watch someone you love become so helpless and sick. No citizenship= no insurance which basically makes you a dead man walking. Our health care system in this country, period, is such a hot mess. I feel like I've been a nurse myself at this point. What I've seen and gone through with my mother is something that nobody should ever have to go through. It completely rips your heart out. My biggest fear is coming home to find her dead. My second is her dying without me having tried everything I can in my power to take care of/get her assistance somehow. After all, she took care of me my whole life. 
I know I'm not the only one going through this. I want people to know they're not alone either. Someday its going to be us getting old and needing assistance and we really need to start giving a shit about our futures. Not just health care, but everything. We need to get together, help one another and push through all these crazy barriers. I honestly don't even know what to do anymore. 
In a random ending note to all of my friends with kids: don't spend so much time molding your parenting to whatever crazy standards society presents to us. As far as I'm concerned, I was raised by a single parent. I knew I could tell my mother anything and she'd help me through it in any way she could. Money was an issue, but I don't look back on my childhood and dwell on not having a certain toy. I just miss my mom being around for the good stuff. Oh. And not having a dad. Because I really think he missed out on getting to know a good girl. Even if you're divorced or separated  your kids love you for everything that you are, which is a parent first and foremost. Talk to them, be involved in their life, and care. The rest will take care of itself, I promise. 

Oh yeah, and let them eat cake for breakfast on the morning of their birthdays. That was always my favorite. ;)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


You've beens sitting in the same place for days. Sometimes with headphones on, but usually in complete and total silence. Since it happened, you've seemed to lose track on the hours and days that have gone by. You're not positive what day it is, but it feels like a Friday. It feels like that day of the week where most people are putting work behind them for a bit and are planning a weekend full of fun with friends/boyfriends/husbands/wives/family/fill-in-the-blank. Or maybe, just a much needed peaceful weekend of relaxation is in order. Everyone needs it from time to time, after all. But not you. For you it almost seems like the exact opposite. While you find yourself unable to interact with hardly anyone (as if, at this point, you'd even want to), some part of you wishes that someone would come along and make you feel alive again. Give you the kick in the ass that you need to go out there and face the world that you've been neglecting for hours..days..weeks..who knows.

Every couple days, someone reminds you to eat. Not because you're intentionally starving yourself, or anything, but because it's the furthest thing on your mind right now. Besides, nothing has tasted the same since that day. Nothing has tasted like anything at all, really. Regardless, you eat enough in front of your friend/family to give them a bit of peace. The last thing you need to do is get put in the hospital for something stupid at a time like this. There are so many other people more deserving of that kind of attention right now. Like the family of your friend who passed away. Their mother, father, brothers and sisters who you've wanted nothing more than to get a hold of, but you can't. You're just so far gone right now in your heart and mind. You write them a letter and hope they understand.

After an unaccounted for amount of time passes, the same person who has been reminding you to eat is back again. This time requesting you to just please, please go outside today. Go somewhere, anywhere, nowhere, just not here today. You want to go outside and get some air, do all the things you did before it happened. But where do you go? To the store to buy groceries? If there's anything worse than grocery shopping when you're hungry, it has to be grocery shopping when you're grieving and food has been a non-issue. Maybe you could go see a movie? But you'd be looking at something without ever processing any of it since your mind is somewhere else completely. Regardless of all of this racing through your brain, you throw on your jacket and head for a nearby park. You walk around without purpose or direction. It's almost spring, but it's a cold enough day excuse the fact that no one else is in this park right now. Perhaps it's a good thing. With the way you're walking and staring at trees that hold more life than you feel in yourself right now, you'd probably look like one of those people you see other's whispering about. Crazy people. The thought leaves you even more cold.

Many days..weeks..months go by like this. You slowly fall back into your "normal" routine before that day. More so because you have to, though you wish it was more because you want to.  You feel like you're re-learning everything. How to eat normally, how to do deal with people on a daily basis, how to put on clothes and at least look like you're fucking trying to be pretty. You prepared for much in your head, but you never gave much thought about what it would be like to confront people again. From old co-workers to customers, those are far different than friends. Friends understand where you've been and what you've been dealing with. They understand the suffering and the healing. Customers that usually saw you five days a week haven't seen you in a long time. You go to work thinking that you won't have to mention anything to anyone. You wish there was a way complete strangers could just look at you and know what happened. "Where have you been?! Did you go on vacation somewhere?!" Jesus. Christ. You don't want to know where I've been, lady. I've been to what I believe hell should be if I believed in such a thing as heaven or hell at all. Hell should be the worst day of your life on repeat like the worst pop song of the summer on the radio*. "Vacation.." you chuckle "..yeah". Suddenly that emotion you spent weeks trying to control reappears and you want nothing more than to scream or cry or just have someone there to be frank with you and tell you to stop acting like such a weird idiot. You're scaring the customers.

Two weeks later, the manager sets you aside and tells you just that. "People care about you and are concerned about the way you're acting. You're unusually quiet and awkward to work with. Everyone's worried that you know..hurt yourself." Well, shit. You would have much preferred being fired. You've always been one to look out for others more than yourself. So much so, that many times you forgot about you're own well-being completely. Now you're faced with this new realization that you've become cause for concern to everyone around you. You haven't thought about that part and how you'd begin to deal with it. Suddenly your focus has warped entirely. You need to get better as soon as possible. You need to put this behind you faster than you feel you can because you can't bear the thought of putting loved ones through the pain that you've just been through. You need to learn to be strong again. People you love are going to experience pain in life in many forms (because that's just how life is), but you'll be damned if any of it is going to be because of you. 

You start working more. You've always worked alot because you had to, but you need to do it more now. It's the only thing that makes you happy, it seems. You feel accomplished, somehow. Feel like you're contributing to something. You challenge yourself and your body to how much you can work on less and less sleep. You haven't been able to sleep well since you were a kid, anyways. Sometimes at night, you set out to accomplish one of a million silly projects you have lying around. Half-written, potentially good stories. Half-drawn drawings, paintings, journal entries, songs, stupid fucking art that used to be like therapy for you. Except it was therapy you loved. You try to pick up where you left off, but there is no creativity. There is no drive. You never worried about running out of creativity or ideas. It never seemed possible, But that's precisely what has happened. You use to think that nothing was more painful for you (in terms of hobbies) than loving music so much, but having zero musical talent. But now you learn that this is by far the worst. The artist in you. The thing your mother disliked the most, but complete strangers seemed to gravitate to you more because dead. You are angry at yourself. You don't know how this could've happened. But, whatever. You have to be at work in a few hours. Maybe you should take a nap. 

Flash-forward. Weeks..months..years..

The people that you considered your closest friends have stopped calling. Maybe they understand that you need some time to yourself. Maybe they just have more important things to do than have conversations with you in which you barely put any effort in avoiding the awkward silences your "conversations" seem to consist of lately. Or maybe you were too focused on work for so many years, that you didn't take time to help them through awful situations life dealt them throughout the years. And now. Well, now I guess it's payback time or something. You get to confront all of that now. All the pain, happiness, good, bad, awful, and goddamn heart-breaking that you've suppressed by working like crazy for years is catching up to you. Your friends haven't given up on you, kid. Nobody has. They just didn't know what the fuck to do anymore. They didn't know how to reach you. And you can't blame them. Because honestly, you're not even sure if you has reached you.

Your friends probably value your ability to listen the most. Maybe you don't always have the right things to say for any given situation, but you can sit there silently and listen for as long as anyone will have you. And that's good. Especially because some people (mostly women) fucking LOVE talking. Funny, the older you get, the less you tend to talk about the things that really matter to the people closest to you who would be the last to judge you for your emotional, financial, family woes. We all need to get better as humans on laying it all on the line. "Keeping up with the Jones" is such a bullshit mentality that worked great in the 50's, but let's face it. It's 2012 and we're all fucked in our own little ways. Embrace it, accept it, and correct it. If everyone talked about the bad stuff a little more, I think we'd learn more about how to deal with our own problems, which who knows, might be the same. Sorry, off subject there.

The moral of this whole thing (because I haven't typed personal things like this  in quite some time and I never intended for it to be this long) is that..well..I guess life can be a real sonofabitch sometimes. There are many horrific blows that you're going to be hit with, but the way you cope with them is what makes all the difference. One thing handled the wrong way can haunt you for years, hell, even your whole life if you're not careful. Do what you need to do, but take a step back every now and then and "check-in" with yourself, so to speak. You can spend years avoiding pain and people that could help you. It gets you absolutely nowhere. You can gain so much "strength" and lose yourself at the same time without giving it much thought, but it will catch up to you. And when it does, you have to learn from in and fix the situation. When it catches up to you it's actually a good thing. Like waking up from a nightmare and getting another chance to dream. Not "cathcing up" to you would equal not really living. 

I'm sorry if I ever pushed anyone reading this away. I've destroyed many relationships in my life by ignoring people and realtionship with them and numbing myself by always being busy. I'm pretty sure I lost my best friend because of it. For what it's worth, I'm experiencing the same thing now. I used to think I had so many friends, but I don't know anymore, and I honestly can't say I blame any of them. I stopped being available. I stopped being fun. The phone stopped ringing. It make perfect sense to me. I'm not mad or hurt. I'm just sorry. All those years of work amounted to nothing. I have nothing to show for where I am today except that there is still a roof over my mother's head. I thought I needed to write because, as I mentioned before, it's always been my best form of communicating and kind of therapy too. But, while I keep many writings private, this one is important to be made public. I've never been one to be easy on myself. I wasn't raised like that. I'm well aware of my many fuck-ups and coming clean is important in moving ahead. Which is what I'm trying to do. I'm getting a little to old for fuck-ups. After all, it's been weeks...months...years.

*upon further pondering, I think "hell" would be best if it were modified for each individual. A complete sociopath, for example, wouldn't be phased in the least by the "hell" I described. Shit. Now I want to write a funny story about a group of people that go to "hell" and what it looks like.