The world as seen through the eyes of an exhausted, caffiene addicted, homeschooling, atheist mama.

Posts tagged ‘family’

Self-Indulgent Whining

Hubby left for Dallas last night. He’ll be gone for nearly a month. I know that’s a blink of an eye, hardly a moment, a nano second compared to how long other husbands are gone from their families.  Did  you know there are some military families who are separated for months or YEARS at a time??? That would be way worse.

But this…This is hard for me. I didn’t make the choice to marry a military man. I never expected to have to be away from him for so long at one stretch.  Holy hell, I am so sad. I feel self-indulgent and petty, but I’m just sad. Really, really, really fucking sad.

He’s out there for work. And when he comes home in a month, it’ll be to load up our house and move us. Move us away from everyone and everything I love. Everyone and everything I’ve worked so hard to get over my personal shit to let in.

When I was in high school, I had a couple of boyfriends. Nice boys who were afraid and confused like me. Nice boys who were able to see past my shit and try to insert themselves into my life despite the Roger Waters-esque WALL I built around myself to keep them out. They kissed me, they gave me tokens of their affection, a few brave ones even told me they loved me…Poor boys. I wanted nothing to do with that. I wanted nothing to do with “needing” and “loving” and “forever”. Oh hell no. Life was too unpredictable and scary to let someone take me from me. No flipping way would I let some boy in and let him have access to me. No way.

When I was in college, I had a few boyfriends (and not boyfriends) proclaim their love for me. I had a few suitors express how I was the awesomest awesome chick who ever was awesome. I even loved a few of them. And when those relationships ended, it hurt.

But this…This is worse than anything I’ve ever felt before. It hurts like my soul is being pulled out of my bowels. It hurts like my heart is being yanked through my eyeballs. It hurts like my stomach is being  pulled through my toes and then up through my nostrils before finally being ripped from my body.

I love my husband. He’s the other half of me. I know that’s not exactly cool to say, but it’s true. He makes all the other love I ever felt before feel like swimming in a tepid, plastic, wading  pool. He makes all the feelings I’ve ever felt feel like a sneeze. Sure, they were satisfying, but in the end, they were fleeting.

Hubby is bigger than that. He is more than that. He possesses more of me than that.

My husband is gone for a month and I feel like part of my brain is gone. I feel like part of my soul is gone. I feel like part of who I am is just gone.

I love you, Hubby.  I love you, I miss you, and I don’t even care how uncool I sound when I whine about you being gone.

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It’s the Little Things

This whole grief thing sucks. No, really. It sucks incredibly bad.

When my dad died eight years ago, that hurt. It hurt more than I thought something could hurt. But this…this hurts even worse than that. Maybe it’s because I just always expected that my brother would always be around. Everyone expects to outlive their parents, but outliving your younger sibling seems wrong somehow.

There are whole days where I feel fine. I feel strong and competent even though I feel sad. I go whole days where I don’t even cry. But then, out of freaking nowhere, I start to cry. And I’ll cry and cry and cry and cry. I’ll cry until I think there are no more tears left–then I cry some more.

I try to take notice of things that make me feel better. Little things that nurture my heart or make me smile just a little bit:

Walking barefoot through the clover we planted

My big-ass dog, Harvey

Little Tippee (with two Es!) looking over the wall

Our dumb-ass cat Sofe with water all over her face

My beautiful kid laughing

My handsome hubby

My wonderful, handsome husband wearing kick-ass sunglasses

On Being a Mother and a Daughter

Four years ago, I cut my mother out of my life. I have mentioned that I talked to her while planning my brother’s funeral. Of course, I had to. Stuff needed to be done and I had to have some of her input. Her son had just died and she needed help planning things. My brother had just died and I needed to take care of things in a way that I felt would honor him. I went out there to lay my brother to rest, not to mend fences or re-hash the past. I drove 12 hours through barren dessert for a reason that was much bigger than her or me. I went out there with the intention of putting all of my own baggage and shit aside for a few days so that I could focus on the task at hand.

But I hadn’t spoken to her in years, and I’ve spent those years agonizing over whether or not I did the right thing in telling her to back off. I spent those years mourning for the mother I needed but knowing I’d never have her, no matter how many chances I gave. I spent those years fighting the demons of my childhood–trying like hell to be the kind of mother she wasn’t. Trying like hell to be the mother that my son deserves.

When you grow up in an abusive home,  that abuse is always inside you, just looking for a crack in the armor so it can get out. As a mother, I’ve struggled with finding appropriate ways to deal with appropriate childhood behavior in my son. The appropriate reaction to a kid who doesn’t want to eat his salad is not to throw him into a wall or force the food down his throat. Hell, even toddler could tell you that. But that reaction is in me and it takes a lot of work and self reflection not to let that reaction out. When you grow up hearing that you can never count on anyone, that everyone will eventually let you down, that you should never get your hopes up because you’ll always be disappointed, when you you grow up hearing  “get the fuck outta my sight” , “you ruined my life” and “it’s your fault”, you start to take it to heart; you start to believe “it” is your fault, whatever “it” may be. You start to believe that since your own mother felt you ruined her life, then clearly you must not be worth much to anyone else. You start to think you are worthless, ugly, stupid, unlovable, unloved. When you grow up knowing these things are truth, it’s hard to back up enough to realize that what you know as truth is nothing but a pack of lies that were spoon-fed to you so that you wouldn’t struggle, so that you wouldn’t question, so that you wouldn’t complain or cry. They were lies that were spoon-fed to you so that the one who was really and truly responsible could absolve herself of responsibility.

It has taken years of anguish and hard work to realize that I wasn’t at fault and that putting up clear boundaries wasn’t selfish or wrong, it was a necessary step in becoming the mother I want to be–the mother my son deserves.

While driving through all that barren land, between calls to the funeral home and family members, I was trying to wrap my head around seeing my mother again. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared shitless. I didn’t know how I would feel or react when I saw her. The ball had been in her court of a long time and she never bothered picking it up and tossing it to me. God, I was terrified that seeing her would make me feel like a small child again. I was so afraid that I’d just fall right back into the role of trying to please and appease, knowing perfectly well that I would fail.

As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. Apparently, all the agonizing I had done over the years since I cut her out had been part of a healing process. I saw her, I hugged her, I let her hug me, and I took care of business. But I never felt that rush of guilt I expected to feel. I also didn’t feel an overwhelming need to mend the fence, either. I pretty much felt…empty. I felt like  the desert that I drove through–capable of sustaining life, but just barely.

A desert landscape

I was capable of being gentle with her, I was capable of  being kind and compassionate as she dealt with her guilt and grief. I was able to be patient as she tried to find the words she needed to express her wishes or thoughts concerning my brother. I was capable of keeping things on task as we sorted through his stuff and chose clothes for him to wear. I was capable of holding my tears back so she could shed hers. It turns out, I was totally capable of being a wonderfully decent human being.

But I was incapable of falling into those old patterns. I was incapable of just forgiving and forgetting. I was incapable of pretending that my brother’s death was the thing that would make me see that life is fragile; life is tenuous and unpredictable, so I need to patch things up with the only mother I’ll ever have, before it’s too late.

My brother’s death helped me to see that by letting go of my mother, I have become a better mother. His death has showed me that I am a strong and healthy woman in part because I was able to put up boundaries with my mother. My brother’s death helped me to see what my son and husband couldn’t: It’s not my fault. I am not a horrible, vile, evil person for making the choices I have made. I am a good mom, I am a good wife, and I deserve all the love my family has to give me. I deserve to be happy, I absolutely deserve everything she taught me I didn’t deserve.

I wish her well in her life. I wish her happiness and love. I wish her health and friendship. And if or when she can do the things I need in order to have her a part of my life, I will be here. The ball is still in her court, I’ve just stopped caring whether or not she throws it my way.

The Things That Matter

We have so much freaking stuff. This weekend we had a yard sale and got rid of a fair amount of stuff. That will make packing a bit easier, but there’s still so much stuff that we actually need. Or I think we need it. It’s hard for me to tell the difference between what we need and what we don’t right now.

I guess I can see why it is generally recommended not to make major decisions after a death. Grief blurs the lines between what matters and what doesn’t. As we sorted through a bunch of crap that we don’t use, I just felt like everything could go. I mean, Hubby and BB are alive and well. What else matters? My logical mind said “Okay, you’re not going to sell your cast iron. You have to feed your family. And obviously, we all need clothing, so clothes stay…” But it was really, really, really hard for me to discern what really matters and what doesn’t.

In the end, I suppose I had it right. We have clothes, we have food, we have each other. The rest is just frosting.

A whole lotta BB

My handsome hubby

my handsome hubby

Happy pets

awesome cookware

Goodbye, Little Brother

My little brother died yesterday.

He wasn’t really little. He was less than two years younger than me, but I practically raised him. We went through hell together when we were kids. My parents would disappear for a day or two at a time when we were little and I had to figure out how to scramble him an egg when he was hungry. When he had a bad dream, he woke me up and I helped him go back to sleep. When I was about ten, he developed a fear of the boogey man after we had been  home alone for a couple of days. I was afraid of the boogey man too, but I didn’t tell him that. I told him that the boogey man was called the boogey man because he carried a boom box into kids’ rooms and boogied the night away.

He said I helped him be brave and strong. The truth is, he made me  brave. I couldn’t have faced the demons of our life if I hadn’t had him to help him face them.

He gave me a nickname around that time: Little Mama. He said I was more a mother to him than our mother was. The nickname stuck and eventually our parents started using it. At the time, I took it as a badge of honor. I was a good person. I was helpful. I was responsible and I was grown up. Looking back, it breaks my heart that I had to take on that role. And it breaks my heart that the only kind of mothering he got was from a sister a couple years older than him.

Don’t get me wrong. We fought. A lot. Siblings do that. But we also depended on each other. Siblings do that, too.

As we hit puberty, we started to get on each other’s nerves, but we were still really close. All the moving, all the uncertainty, all the fear bonded us in a way that seemed unbreakable.

When I went away for college, I cried for the entire first year. I felt so much guilt for leaving him behind, but I knew I had to get out of there. I knew I’d die if I stayed where I was. We started to drift apart. Bad shit happened to him and I wasn’t there to help him through it.

He told me he resented me for abandoning him.

How could he not? I was the only mother figure he had, and I left him with a strung out mother who dragged him half way across the country to live with her drug smuggling boyfriend.

I had BB and we tried to reconnect, but I think he was too far broken to ever let me back in all the way. We fought. A lot.

Apparently grown siblings do that.

I abandoned him again. He was so angry with me and we couldn’t have a conversation without fighting, so I just stopped contacting him. He stopped contacting me. We just let each other slip away.

I didn’t expect him to die. In the back of my mind, I always thought we’d come around again. I always thought that’d he be there for me to bounce my memories off of. I thought he’d be there to help me make sense of everything we went through together. I thought he’d always be a witness to our childhood.

But the only person who could attest to what we went through together is gone. The only other person who has the same memories as me, the only other person who can validate my past, had a seizure and died.

My brother is dead and I’m alone with my memories. The good ones and the bad. I’m alone with nobody to understand-nobody to laugh when I sing “Pour Some Sugar on Me”. There is an entire lifetime of memories that are only half-memories now.

Jer, I’m so sorry for all you went through. I’m so sorry you felt I left you, and I’m so sorry I didn’t get to tell you goodbye. No matter what you may have felt or thought, I always loved you, I always worried about you, and now I’ll always miss you.

Love,
your sis.

Goodbye, Old Friend

Pnut and a baby Sofe

Meet Pnut. He’s the oldest of our pets. What can I say about him? He’s 16 and he’s seen a lot of change in his life. Good old stable Pnut with the milk mustache and the ability to see shadows has been as much a part of our family as BB has.

Two weeks ago, he was diagnosed with cancer. He’s had a good life and the pain of chemo would likely be too much for him to bear. So, since he’s 16, we decided that we’d let nature take its course. We brought him home, fed him some salmon and told him he could go any time  he was ready.

In the two weeks since his diagnosis, he’s lost an unbearable amount of weight and the tumor in his back hip is growing out of control. His leg has become paralyzed and he can barely get around. He’s in pain. But he’s had a good life, and  he doesn’t want to let go of it.

So we had to make a second impossible decision in two weeks: we are going to euthanize our cat. We found a vet who will come to our home and she’ll be here in about an hour.  One hour. Sixty minutes. How does one deal with that? How do you look at your cat and know he’s going to die in an hour and just be okay with it? It’s impossibly painful. He’s not just a cat. He’s a valuable and loved member of our family, and now he’s on death row. It’s enough to make me want to drink. A lot.

My heart is broken. My husband, who has had him since he was just weeks old, is crushed. And BB is at a complete loss as to how to say goodbye. He can’t even think about it without crying. And as a parent, that’s just another thing that makes this so hard. I can deal with my grief, but helping my son deal with his is more painful than I could have expected.

What else is there to say except:

Dear Pnut, we love you and we are so, so sorry. You will be missed by all of us. Thank you for all you have brought to our family.

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