At the end of June, my parents made their annual Beach House pilgrimage. Each year, as my dad’s dementia progresses, it’s always up in the air – a question of whether my dad will handle the change of an extended vacation.
After not seeing him in a while, he always looks shockingly old and befuddled. This time, he’d shaved off all his hair, his skull fragile and pale like a newborn’s. He’s also getting Old Man walk, where you can tell, even at extreme distance, that he’s old. Otherwise, he seemed quite good.
Sometimes, my mom will attribute sophisticated emotional statements to my dad (“he knows you’re getting tired, Natalie, and he told me, ‘don’t push it.’”) and I can never tell if Mom’s gleaned this from his gestures and broken language, or if she’s made the sentiment up, whole cloth, perhaps out of a need to have him still there.
After being very close to my mother most of my life, we had a terrible falling out a few years ago. We are still trying to sort our way through it. To tell you about it, I’d have to recount the better part of my childhood, and to name people who would undoubtedly object (perhaps with legal means) to their inclusion. Put in the most bare-bones simplification, my mother lied to me for about 25 years. This lie put me in a place where I got hurt, repeatedly and in a variety of ways. What kills me is that part of me knew all along that it was a lie, but I chose to believe my mom over my own good sense. The part I have to own is that I played the victim long after I was old enough to have protected myself. I wanted her to stop lying and protect me so bad I kept letting myself get hurt.
Mom and I have muddled through the place where I’ve accused her of everything I think she did shitty, and she’s admitted to some of it, denied some, insisted she never intended to hurt me, that she’s only a flawed human being like everyone else. Sometimes she hints that, as a mother myself, I may be just like her — hurting my kids ‘unknowingly’. Perhaps when my kids grow up and tell me how I failed, I’ll be more sympathetic to her. This thought terrifies me.
Currently, we are trying to sort through how to be close again. In the past few years, I’ve put her on the scales and balanced out the betrayals against all the goodness, and I’ve decided to keep her. She is my mother. But it’s very difficult not to fall back into old patterns. After all, old patterns feel like love. Until they don’t. I think from her side, it seems I don’t forgive her, don’t trust her, that I’m continuing to punish her for something she believes she did not do maliciously.
I guess what I’m saying is you might hear more about this as I process through.
Anyway, my parents were here for two weeks, and then my family went up to Seattle for a week to see my husband’s family. Coming out of the intensity of dealing with my mom, into a 15 hour (each way) road trip up the Pacific Rim gave me time to think.
I realized in that damnable shocking way it always seems to happen: I AM FAT AGAIN. Like my mirror fools me into walking around feeling OK about myself, and then there’s a candid photograph someone forwards to me, and I realize that although I’ve come to see myself as a chunky hourglass, in actuality, I am a rectangle. I have the figure of a loaf of bread stood on end. Ugh.
So far, I have been doing pretty great on calorie restriction. Not sure why sometimes being hungry feels like the end of the world and sometimes it’s NBD. Perhaps it helps that my life feels out of control and painful anyway. At least counting calories gives me a sense I’m the boss in any aspect of my life. On the down side, white-knuckled control freak unhappiness doesn’t seem like a great long term motivational plan.
Last time I was in this place (post partum) I put up pictures to keep me motivated. Not sure it’s that intriguing for you all the second time around, since it’s kind of a rerun. Also, I don’t see too many weight loss photos of 40+ women, and the reasons behind that are kinda bumming me out. Guessing I might look like a deflated raisin in the afters. But who knows. I have a mean sense of humor. Perhaps I will post them just to gross you out.