I had lunch with my mom on Thursday, October 15, 2015.
We had only really seen each other a handful of times since our last big hoorah in March of 2006-
and on that particular St. Patrick’s day we both ended up in adjacent jail cells.
Fast-forwarding to our next big hoorah, that happened on February 16, 2014,
1 year and 8 months ago.
That was the day of my late grandmother’s visitation, or celebration of life; and we had quite an afternoon. (It was terrible, but you can read more about that visit HERE)
That day could have played out much like our past encounters, except that last time, things were different. Mostly due to the fact that I was sober. Also because I had one of my children with me, and something about working a Recovery, growing, learning, and forgiving, had really tweaked my soul.
In February of 2014, I experienced one of her episodes – and I reacted a little bit different from I had in the past. Even though I was left a tiny bit traumatized and it really almost triggered a legit panic/anxiety attack, I managed to not react.
I guess it was the first time I had really experienced an episode while I was sober and not utilizing one of my cognitive escapee techniques.
That time I lived the moment, I processed it, and moved on with my life.
So our most recent visit was uneventful. Well – it was definitely not boring or quiet, but it also wasn’t violent or threatening, so, I guess I consider it a major win for us.
Judging from our visiting patterns, it seems that we see each other on average, once every year or so, depending on the severity of drama encountered at last visit.
After each experience, I do try to reflect.
This most recent visit I took away a few new things, and I am okay with what I learned.
I can appreciate that I am not sitting here writing about my anxiety as a result of the visit. This time we both managed to end the day feeling pretty positive.
Here are 2 things that I took away:
* I have to accept what is, for exactly what it is.
She had no recollection of our visit from last year, nor did she understand why we hadn’t seen each other in over a year.
Yes, I recognize this.
The memory loss, or loss of time, phenomenon is one that I talked about in support groups for years. For a long time, much of my deep-rooted resentment stemmed from my anger toward her for this very reason. How in the hell does someone treat any someone, more specifically, someone who you spawned, in the way that she has acted toward her children, and manage to not remember any of it?
I had to learn to apply what I know. What I know is that I am only responsible for me.
Change in this situation, or in our relationship, will only happen if I am the one making moves.
It has come down to doing my best to understand even more, and educating myself about her personality, condition, traits, and patterns.
I have had to force myself to accept that her dissociative behavior hurts, but isn’t personal.
It seems like it is targeted directly towards me, but in reality, it isn’t chosen or intently thought out -it is impulsive and triggered by things that don’t have anything to do with me.
In and in a perfect world, she would hold herself accountable and her brain would understand that she cannot hurt me with her hands, or with her words, but this isn’t a perfect world.
Our visit last year was one that seriously re-damaged my bandaged up wounds, and threw me off my game; however, it was not on her radar, whatsoever. Didn’t happen. No ill-feelings for her to do with or handle, just the confusion over why I disappeared again.
An incident that nailed our relationship coffin tightly closed until I came around to feeling safe around her, didn’t affect her in the slightest.
But utilizing what I know, has really helped my healing process this time. I am not trying to change anything but myself, and how I choose to deal with things as they stand.
I also understand that when I put myself in certain situations, I need to be ready to accept what happens. I know what the possible outcomes are, and I am able to make a conscious decision to cross certain boundaries, or not.
*I am learning to appreciate that she is different, and possesses good qualities that were drowned out during the more chaotic years.
She isn’t afraid to do everything under the sun, that is considered socially unacceptable; and something about it makes me smile.
So what use to mortify me as a child, is now pretty entertaining.
The older that I get, and the more that I learn about myself, the more I see why it isn’t so bad that she goes against the grain.
(Like all the grains).
-She isn’t afraid to wear exactly what she wants, despite season or color. If she likes it, screw it. She’s wearing it. It doesn’t matter if it is a child’s tiara from the thrift store, with a matching wand,coupled with a denim purse, or a very sparkly lanyard, and lots of costume jewelry. She is not afraid to express herself with what the mood suits.
Maybe it isn’t the fact that she is bold in the fashion department that I like, it is the part where she doesn’t even notice people staring, nor would she care if she did.
I need more of that.
-Age is nothing but a number. It really makes no difference to her. She laughs too loud, she yells in what other adults have deemed ‘quiet places’ (like the bank lobby), she skips through parking lots, and she gets really excited when she see’s shiny things and birds flying.
Yes, it is funny and I give her crap about it when we’re together, but I like the freedom that she feels.
Maybe it isn’t so much that I like that she sometimes deliberately breaks what adults have adopted as ‘typical’ behavior, but again, what I like is that she is herself, no matter where she is or who is watching. I think I can always use that reminder; something that I learned in Recovery. It is always alright to be myself, and I am okay with who I have to offer the world.
-Even in her situation, she thinks of and gives to others.
She talked and talked about others. Praying for other people, trying to do her part to give what she can to others, and had a bag full of things for my kids.
Granted, she has little to give, and the things for my kids weren’t gender specific or age appropriate, but her heart meant well, and her motives were loving.
It isn’t really that she gave silly things; it was that she isn’t really in an ideal position to give, by my standards, and she gave anyway.
I think that is something that I can learn from.
This visit was perfect considering alternatives.
I want to learn to do things more unconventionally, and radical. One-hundred percent…
Maybe not on her scale, but a smaller, more muted scale
that rests on the same fundamental principle:
We should live life and be exactly who we are, authentically, and unapologetically.
This isn’t really me praising her for perfection, or erasing all that has been done.
This reflection is really about my learning to take what she does have to give, and trying to pluck out hidden positives that may not stand out.
This is much better for me, and my own mental health, instead of focusing on all of the typical & traditionally passed down things, that she simply cannot offer.
Ultimately, I guess I am excited that I am making progress in this area. It is not easy loving someone who isn’t mentally well, who is suffering in many different ways. It has taken me a long time to forgive her for her actions that affected my childhood, and it has taken just as many years of learning about mental illness and the after effects of long-term drug use to understand more of who she is today.
I have a feeling it will take more than one positive visit for me to see more of her and less of the illnesses, but I will take the little bits revealed here and there. I also have a feeling that as the years go by, things will change as all things do. I can only try my best to handle what is, right now.
Thanks for reading, lovelies!