Last month I was literally chased out of my grandmother’s funeral.
Technically, I was ran out of a ‘celebration of life.’
I think that this could have been avoided if the genius who planned it chose a beautiful, historical location that meant something to our family, WITHOUT the open -bar that was posted up alongside of a large table full of a variety of lovely finger foods.
That decision didn’t make sense to me, considering that many of our family members are taking psychoactive drugs and shouldn’t drink. Some attendee’s were alcoholics and struggling with drug addiction, and we can just say, unequivocally, that an open bar at this event was inappropriate on so many levels.
But I’ll go ahead and take responsibility for this incident.
I knew I shouldn’t have gone in the first place.
I went against my better judgment and my husbands strong recommendation of privately grieving at home and cutting out the possibility of something exactly like this happening.
Since my mom does not have a car, I offered to pick her up and take her to the celebration.
Death had never been an experience that she handled or coped with sober and I didn’t expect her to this time. She lost her mother and I knew it would be a hard day.
She and I had already had a rough morning.
My mom had already screamed and yelled at me when I showed up to pick her up to pick her up.
She had already started the day out using, and I quickly became the closest target for her. She threw the necklace I loaned her to wear. She ripped off the sweater that I bought to go with her dress.
I didn’t take it personally, because without emotional regulation, people tend to overreact or misdirect emotion.
But I knew I should have just left right then.
And I didn’t.
I chose to put myself in harms way just because my grandmother was really important to me, and I knew that once I got there I would be surrounded by a huge venue full of my grandmother’s oldest friends, and my mom would be outnumbered, and hopefully, preoccupied with someone else to hate and torment.
When we got there she and I parted ways, and I helped distribute pictures on each table full of guests.
She made a beeline straight to the bar.
I made small talk with various people about our memories and the fun that we all had with my grandmother. I was able to watch a group of her old cast mates from the local theater sing a few songs; a performance I won’t forget.
But I kept my eyes peeled for my mother who was lurking around, shooting me dirty looks.
Then, things went really wrong.
I was talking with my uncle, reminiscing about a shared memory.
Out of the corner of my eye, I caught her staring at me, circling around me slowly like a shark tends to do when stalking prey.
I made a very discreet comment to my uncle:
“She is going to hit me, stand right here.”
As she circled away from me I walked quickly out of that room into the adjacent room,
grabbed my purse and got out the front door of the building.
And she followed close behind me.
As I walked faster, she began to pick up speed.
I started to run, and she ran right behind me.
No one was helping, no one was holding her back, but everyone was watching. I began to ran as fast as I could (in the cutest purple wedges that I have ever seen that my grandma would have loved.)
There was a long walkway to the parking lot that felt like it was on another planet.
I could hear her screaming behind me.
“Bitch you better run!” “You think you’re better than me, little girl!”
“You are a hoity toity little b*tch!”
This was familiar. I wasn’t surprised or caught off guard.
We had been here before many times throughout my life.
During my childhood I would just hide or leave the house.
As I got older, I began to fight back.
The last time that I did, we both went to jail.
I had my car in sight, car keys out and I was almost there.
All that I kept thinking was that I hadn’t been in trouble in so long, I was finally off probation for our last incident and I was not going to let my anger take over despite the fact that it took everything that I had not to just stop, take my shoes off, and whoop her mouthy little as*.
But I knew better.
I had made the mistake of going in the first place, but I truly felt like I had a right to be there too.
I chose to take the chance knowing the risk involved and the probability of something like this happening to me or to someone else.
I also really loved my grandmother and decided that I wasn’t going to let my mother rob me of yet another moment in my life that I wouldn’t ever be able to get back.
It is so difficult to have a parent who is unhealthy and suffering.
That day was a terrible day and I still kick myself for ignoring the boundaries that I know work for us.
The part of the story that should be surprising but isn’t is that the guests didn’t think anything of the situation. The large majority of them knew my grandmother for years and had watched or heard about her concerns and happenings with my mom for a long time.
Here is what stood out to me after I had some time to (calm down) and reflect on this day:
Not everyone will understand or welcome your lifestyle change and that’s okay.
Live well anyway.
People who judge me for cutting her out of my life and not offering her support are out of line.
I will keep doing what works for me, for my sobriety, and for my own mental health.
Change could mean a number of different things for you as an individual, do what works for you.
All of your change is to benefit your new life in Recovery, even if that means cutting people out.
You should expect resistance from unhappy people when it comes to you making positive change.
Not everyone wants to understand it.
Not everyone will respect it.
Not everyone will want to support you, and that’s okay.
Do better anyway.
What is right for you or your new life, or your best self, are not always the easiest things to apply.
My boundaries are necessary and are the right thing for me, even though I have spent a considerable amount of time questioning myself for sticking to them.
Valuing your own progress and your positive change is okay.
It is why I kept running and didn’t turn around. I refused to react in the way I use to. I refused to give into anger or to resort to being impulsive. I chose to stick to who I had become and what I knew was right.
As hard as it has been over the last 8 years, I have chosen to stay committed to my path toward my own personal health and journey to wellness- free of substances. Free of toxic people.
It is so hard to love someone who struggles with addiction. For me, it happens to be a parent who I think I love, but who I have never really had the chance to know. I love the idea of her and having to sit by for that last 30 years watching her chip away at her soul, dying pretty damn slowly, has been a hard thing to process for me.
I haven’t always made the most wise decisions, (evidenced by my decision to put myself in this situation) but life isn’t always so black and white, you live, you learn, and you allow yourself to move on.
I definitely took a few things away from this experience, most of which, are things that I already knew.
It is possible to veer from the norm. It is possible to make a healthy life for yourself, despite the odds.
Please don’t let anyone tell you different, not even yourself.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power
God is our refuge and strength an ever-present help in trouble.