This past week or so has been so crazy. I know – I’ve already written about that more than once. But tonight I want to write about how old I feel, and it’s BECAUSE of not just this past week (while the majority of it is) but of being my mother’s caregiver in general for the past few years.

In itself, caregiving gets old. But the way it makes you FEEL… Argghh! There are days when it doesn’t feel “like a gift to be able to care for one who once cared for you.” There are days that I don’t feel “grateful for the chance to give back.” Pfft. Let’s be real – it’s emotionally nasty. It’s a nasty, dirty, wreck of an emotional job and it SUCKS a LOT, a lot of the time.

That said, I still push on. As of now, as you all know, I don’t have any other choice.

In updates to my lasts posts about my mom, I’ve gone in to check on her and twice found her in the floor since those posts. There have been a couple of other issues that have come up (financial issues), and all she wants to talk about is going to buy a new computer. She doesn’t even have the Internet right now. She has an iPad. I explained this. She doesn’t NEED a computer, she needs to worry about us getting other issues sorted – namely her CARE. It’s just like she doesn’t NEED, nor can she have, her car.

She doesn’t – she can’t, or she refuses to even meet me halfway and try to – live in the reality that, as sad and frustrating and angering and annoying and depressing and ridiculous as it all is, especially for her, her life is not, can not, and will never be again what it used to be. I know that is awful for her…but it’s emotionally exhausting for me, too…

And you can’t ever make that make sense to them. You just can’t. It’s a losing battle to try, so you lie to them. You tell them, “maybe when you heal from this fall.” Then you say, “maybe we should give it just a couple more months.” Then you say, “maybe once we get the car fixed,” even though the car is not even broken. You make shit up. You LIE to your parent, even though as a child you were beaten for such nonsense. Like, BEATEN. With a hickory switch.

The role reversals are hard. They make no sense to my brain some days. Some days, despite the fact that my mother was never in my life like this for me, I want her to be my mother and hug me and tell me it will be OK and say comforting things like, “we’ll get through this,” or, “your daddy would be so proud of how much you’ve done here, and that you’ve worked so hard to get this back to a working farm.” It’ll never happen. It wouldn’t happen even if my mother didn’t have dementia/mental health issues. But as a child, I DO wish it would.

My life exhausts me. I get up early in the mornings, I take care of mama and the horses and chickens and everything. I come home and take care of my kiddo, we do things, whether it’s school or playing outside or whatever. I do housework and yard work at the neighborhood house. Then, after whatever other running around I’ve done all day (bank, post office, etc.), it’s back to the rinky dinky little farm I’m trying to build and mama’s, to either bring her home or to make sure she still IS at home.

By the time I sit down at dark, I feel like a little old lady who can hardly crochet anymore because of her aching, arthritic hands – and I only have slight arthritis/carpal tunnel – when I try to write or type these things out of myself. I feel like a firefighter who has been battling a blaze all day long in the hot summer sun. I feel like a marathon runner who has been training all day. I feel like a doctor who has been running all day long to go from this patient to that, this hospital to that office to this building to that, trying to make sure everyone is being cared for and check to see how they are and what they need and what changes need to be made, etc.

Yet, I’m nothing so achieved as a firefighter or marathon runner or doctor. I’m just little old me, wearing myself down to the core of my sanity and watching it start to spindle apart backward, one twist at a time coming off the spool and piling up in a big ball at my feet. Then I get tangled up in that ball, and start tripping over my own delusions and disillusionment and exhaustion and the anxiety and panic start to build and then the depression grabs on, you know, just for kicks, and I end up sitting in the pile of sanity that I used to have, having a complete come apart.

Does any of this make any sense? I don’t know if it does or not, if you’ve never been in a situation like this or at least somewhat similar to this. But I have a hunch that most of us have felt this way at least once – maybe more than once – just because…well, LIFE.

Life is a gift. Yes, it is. And I am so grateful to be alive. I just wish I felt it. I do, sometimes…but I fear I’m wearing that escape thin, as well. Perhaps I should just dwell on writing about the life I wish to live rather than chasing after one I can’t have right now…and another one I know I never will have (because some things are just not meant to be and not gonna happen…you know?). I’ll keep making music, and sometimes sharing it. I’ll keep playing with photos. I’ll keep hugging my son and my doggos and my gentle giants. Playing with my chickens, and with fire.

I’ll stay on the outskirts of my own chaos for as long as I can before I let it suck me in. I will make no promises on how long that will be.

5:07AM. It’s been two hours since I opened my eyes. We have a guest staying with us for a few days, and I don’t want to wake them by going to get coffee. My eyes are beginning to feel heavy again, because I barely slept to begin with. But, I can’t go back to sleep. There is too much to do.

Very soon I will have to shower and get ready. I will feed the horses, let the big chickens out, and wake my mother. I will help her shower and get ready to go. At 7:00(ish)AM we will embark on the insane rush hour journey to her primary care doctor’s office for the emergency appointment I managed to schedule.

I will take extra medication so that I don’t panic and lose my mind on the way, but I will regret doing so once we are in the exam room. Taking extra anti-anxiety medication will create a passive me that will not raise the hell that needs to be raised.

I fear I will be too calm – that I will fail to say the things that need to be said. I will probably cry, having one of my emotional breakdowns, as I explain the situation.

Instead of being firm and saying, “THIS IS NOT WORKING, YOU HAVE TO GET ME SOME HELP WITH MY MOTHER,” I fear that I will say something stupid like, “I don’t know what to do anymore,” and just accept whatever is said in response to that.

I will explain that my mother refuses to take her medication. I will be told that somehow that is my fault. I will explain that my mother refuses to eat. I will be told that somehow, that too, is my fault. I will explain that someone needs to explain to my mother that her driving days are over, but even if the doctor does this, she will refuse to listen, and in her mind that will be my fault.

The drive home will be filled with a never-ending rant about how, if she could only have her car back and drive, she would be better, because she doesn’t realize that having her car back and driving will not fix anything and will really only make things worse.

She will sit there and pray out loud when she is not fussing about her car, because she actually believes that praying will change things. Prayer will not change any of this. There is no miracle for this. There is no cure for this.

I will help her in and out of the car at every stop, but I will not be acknowledged. No, each time she successfully enters or exits the car, she will thank Jesus. Because CLEARLY Jesus is the one doing the work. CLEARLY Jesus is the one who is lifting and holding and driving her.

Yes, I am becoming bitter. And I think that it’s fair… I do not want or expect thanks from my mother for what I do. But I DO feel insulted and invisible when each time she needs help and I help her, and even when she leaves a voicemail for me she ends it with, “thank you, God,” or, “thank you, Jesus.”

NO. See? No. Because God and Jesus are not helping you – maybe it’s possible that they are, THROUGH me, but I am the one struggling. I am the one losing sleep. I am the one doing the work. I am the one dealing with the tantrums and the soiled clothing and linens. I am the one taking care of the cats that she doesn’t even allow in her room and therefore doesn’t interact with at all. I am the one who is exhausted but continues on, despite the venom that shoots from her mouth because she blames me for her life not being the way she wishes it was.

I have issues with all of this. Why? Because where IS God? She is so convinced that God will take care of her but where was he when she made the ridiculous decision to try to walk to the store and fell on her face on Saturday? Where was the protection then? Sure, she wasn’t hit or robbed, but where was God when SHE ACTUALLY FELL? Where was the guardian angel to magically float underneath her and raise her back up instead of letting her fall?

In fact, where was God when my dad went into a diabetic coma? Why didn’t he “speak” to my mother and wake her up and guide her to find him sooner, so that he wouldn’t have seized and stroked out and gone brain dead? Where was God when I hit my knees begging for my father’s life? Where was God when I screamed out to him for my best friend? Where has he been when I’ve asked him to help my mother?

Worse than that, where has my mother’s church family been? Where have they been, aside from in the mailbox in the form of a card saying, “We missed you at church, let us know if you need anything,” and then no one ever being available (with the exception of only one person, that I know of – but that person is also taking care of a husband who has cancer) when my mother calls? No wonder she has given up on even asking them for help.

Yet, she still believes God will help her somehow to magically be ok, or change the situation, even though she does nothing to try to change it herself? And the doctors do not see this as an issue? As a sign of at LEAST early stage dementia? Everyone who knows my mother and everyone who is around my mother for any length of time beyond that of a doctor’s visit can see it. They know the reality. And for as many doctor’s visits, ambulance rides, and hospital/rehab stays as we have had, the doctors SHOULD see it.

I am frustrated. I am exhausted. I am becoming faithless when it comes to both God and the majority of people. The only thing I can manage to believe in in this moment is myself, and that stupid, tiny, yellow pill that will keep me from losing my mind for one more day. I am trying to be positive – I am trying follow the heart of my last post… I am trying to stay afloat…but I am drowning.

But unlike my mother, I have the sense to know that the only person or entity that can save me is myself – if the battles ever end long enough for me to catch my breath.

People think I have it all together. They see someone I don’t see – and they don’t see the me that exists in the middle of the night, or is shaking within the majority of the time. I am not sure that I am strong enough or conditioned enough to stay afloat, or to keep swimming. I used to believe I was. But things wear out and people wear down and that is just that nature of life, isn’t it? Isn’t that the reality?

I don’t know anymore. I’m not a pessimist – not by a long shot…but I do consider myself a realist, and I know how I’m feeling and thoughts that go through my head (some of them on a loop).

It is now 5:46AM, and I just can’t do it by myself anymore. And, that really pisses me off.