Over a year ago, I did something I never thought I’d have to do. Because doctors were not helping me with my mother (who has dementia and is getting worse), I contacted adult protective services on my own to beg for help. The state came through, albeit an extremely slow process. They sent a wonderful man by the name of Mr. Hardin out to my mom’s home to evaluate things and he immediately agreed, upon meeting my mom and seeing the state of what I was dealing with (alone, as an only child), that I needed and deserved help in dealing with her.

That day back in January of 2018, I started a process of trying to get guardianship of my mother. Not something fun. Not a responsibility any human being really “wants” to have, but one that I knew in my heart was necessary. Now, we have reached a point where I need conservatorship, as well. And this is posing a problem at a number of levels. Alas, the doctors have all finally come through and given the state the information, documentation, and support that was needed to start a court case and here we are.

Except, today I found out that there is a thing called a “conservatorship bond,” and it’s something I have to not only pay for myself (which is hilarious because the reason for filing for legal guardianship and conservatorship for my mom is mostly financial – or the lack of finances, rather, for being able to put her into a better living situation with round the clock care or even in home care) but also something I have to qualify for based on my credit history. My credit history is not perfect, I’m not ashamed to say, because of student loans (which I have recently managed to get out of default, but still…). This could easily put a cramp in things, depending on the judge who hears the case.

I am anxious, I am stressed, I am worried, I am just almost at a loss. I have fought for so long to be able to legally care for my mother in the ways in which she needs care but refuses to allow me to care for her on my own, and in ways that a simple POA will not effect. And here I am, at risk of not being able to receive the legal help I need because of student loans and credit history and my disabilities due to mental illness (major depression, PTSD, extreme anxiety, etc.).

I just want to be able to take care of my mother and the law says, “you may not be competent.” Well, I’ve been competent enough for the last three years since my dad died to do so. And nothing has changed about that, except I am stronger and have learned so much about taking care of someone with her issues and illnesses. I don’t know what to do anymore.

I just want it to be over.

Hopefully within the next month I will FINALLY hear from a state appointed lawyer. Hopefully by the end of the year, I will be given my day in court with my mother to plead for the ability to care for her properly, make decisions she can’t, and make sure her bills are being paid (which they are not, at least not regularly, now).

If anyone reads this and has been in this situation or has any words of wisdom, I’d really appreciate reading them. I’m slowly coming to an end with my ability to see any positives about any of this, except keeping my mother alive…

We’ve been going to the dam pretty regularly lately, almost always on a Sunday, it seems. Obviously I spend a lot of time at my mom’s these days, what with being the only child and the primary caregiver for her. On Sundays, though, my mom rides the church bus to Sunday school and Sunday morning worship/preaching. She rides the church bus because of all the things I refuse to compromise on during this current journey of elderly care, my spiritual beliefs are the one thing I protect at all costs. If you know the history between my mother, religion, and I, that probably makes sense to you. If not, no worries. It doesn’t need to make sense to you. It’s just what it is… Hashtag CPTSD.


I find my church – and myself – in nature. Lately it’s been a difficult feat to get out in it, but I do try. It’s a wonderful opportunity for my son and I to chill and to talk, to explore and to have a good time…and, there’s almost always a good homeschool/unschool lesson involved. I don’t get to spend a whole lot of quality time with the boy these days, just me and him, so I treasure these dam Sundays and just being with him. We’re making new memories, and while we continue to build our relationship I’m continuing to rebuild me.


The boy is very into photography and cinematography – in fact, he’s the reason I’ve started trying a bit harder with film/editing lately. I always want to encourage his interests and passions, even though they seem to come and go for him. He’s interested in so many things, and is passionate about so many things… Alas, currently he is obsessed with camera gear and video creation, so I’ve handed down a GoPro Hero+ to him, along with our old point and shoot that we used to use for rugged outdoor adventures and camping (it’s an Olympus and I think “rugged” is a part of the model name, ha). We make that part of our Sunday adventures, and I get to teach him the few things I know about shooting, and have a fun time with him… I’ve grown very fond of Sundays again.


On this particular Sunday I wasn’t sure I would make it. Due to a couple of ongoing health issues I struggled to be present or to have very much fun, but at some point mid-morning I got on board and got in the truck with the man and the boy and before I knew it, there we were at the dam. Man went off on his own, as he tends to do, and the boy and I shuffled off in the other direction together for a shore walk and short shoot. After what seemed like a long time but probably wasn’t, the boy wandered back the other way and walked with the man while I continued on with my usual trespassing/searching for a good image/collapse and rest in peace and quiet and hide for a while shenanigans.


All in all, it was a good day. My mother got to see her precious savior in her favorite man made building, I got to enjoy mine in the original church. Everybody had a nice day, and once we arrived home I was able to happily collapse onto the couch and try to further mend my physical body whilst feeling my soul continue to heal as I played with the footage and images we captured and savored the much needed time to just relax with my little family (human and animal alike).

Here’s a little InstaClip from the outing:

 

 

I hope that whoever is reading this had a lovely Sunday (and weekend) doing whatever it is that brings you joy and healing, and I hope that you have a wonderful week ahead.

Much love…

C.

Deep morning thoughts:

My health isn’t good. Earlier this week I was made aware in a much more realistic way that my body is unhappy. Tests were done. More (very scary ones) have been scheduled. And for a moment I found myself frozen in fear. Utterly terrified. This is how people find out worse news. “Well, we see your problem with this area but whilst scanning for this problem we found these nodules or lesions and we need to further test them.” Then, a week later, “we’re sorry, it’s cancer.” That’s how it happens. Almost every time, that’s how it happens. At least this was true of both my daddy and Dorie. 

My therapist calls it irrational fear. I don’t see what’s irrational about it. First of all, the fear is not of being sick or of dying. It’s of not being able to take care of my son or my mom. These people NEED me. I don’t have time to be sick – no matter how trivial the situation is, no matter how quickly recovery from (possible) surgery might be. I don’t have time! Besides that, rational fear versus irrational fear is simple: a fear is rational if you’ve experienced a bad thing or result, or death has occurred (if fear of death is the issue) with the same or similar situation in the past. I have. Multiple times. HELLO? Same with my fear of driving in the rain. What an idiot, right? No, just a person who has experienced multiple bad things in that situation and has a very valid reason to fear the situation. 

Anyway, none of that is the point. The point is this. Lately, but especially yesterday, I have felt alone. I haven’t been, but it’s how I’ve felt. I’ve felt very distant and disconnected; from friends, from my family, from LIFE – just separate from everything. And then, this morning, it suddenly hit me. I’ve outgrown it. Maybe I’ve outgrown my life. I’ve outgrown it and I feel like I don’t belong anymore. Especially since the election, and living in America, I feel like I don’t belong – more profoundly and painfully than ever before. 

Perhaps it’s just my life in general. I stretch myself transparently thin to meet all the requirements of the roles I have to play and I’m tired. Exhausted. That’s what’s wrong with my health. It’s not that I don’t take good enough care of myself, it’s not that I stress too much or can’t emotionally handle it, it’s not ME AT ALL. Nobody – NOBODY – was ever created with the ability or the expectation of their creator to deal with this much weight on them. We just weren’t. 

Our bodies have limits and no matter how emotionally flexible we are, one can only bend their body so far (or push it so far) before it breaks. In my case, the doctor says I’ve done it to myself by mismanaging my stress. In that case? “Screw you, therapist – what am I paying YOU for! You’ll be receiving my medical bills as they pile up.” Ha! Admittedly stress is a factor but in this case, in a general sense, it’s not about how well I’m handling the stress. It’s just about being literally stretched between homes and people and being exhausted, and having only one of me to go around isn’t likely to change soon since cloning humans has yet to be made legal. 

In the end, there’s no one to blame. It’s just what happens. So, we fix it. People who believe in a Christian God will say that he never gives us more than we can handle. I think that’s BS. I think that’s a crock and a fairy tale that helps some people keep love and hope in their heart when their subconscious knows that otherwise they might fail, so that when they do (like I have), they have someone to blame. And if it helps them, that’s ok. But it doesn’t help me. “It was all part of God’s plan.” Pfft. What plan? To make you miserable? To make your loved ones miserable? To cause suffering in the world? To teach you or someone a lesson? OK. Maybe so… Or MAYBE, just maybe, it’s just the way the cards fell. The way the cookie crumbled. The way it was meant to happen. 

Maybe there doesn’t have to be a reason and it’s time to stop looking for one. Maybe you just feel what you feel, desire what you desire, need what you need, and want what you want, find beauty in what you find beauty in, are hurt by the things hurt you, are too sensitive or not sensitive enough or are too deep or not deep enough (labels often applied to me) because it’s just who you are. 

I’ve outgrown this rampant and cancerous behavior of society in general to constantly blame and not grasp the concept of personal responsibility, or to require an explanation, or to have anything make sense. At a personal level I’ve outgrown this ridiculous need I’ve always had to be accepted and to be a part of something “bigger than me.” By default, we will always be extremely small beings in an extremely large (immeasurable) universe, and that’s the reason I suppose so many of us long to feel like we belong… But I’m beyond it. I do belong – to me, and to the universe. Why are we so afraid to go it alone? Why have I been? I don’t know. I think religion and indoctrination into this idea that “the universe is a scary thing” is the reason. 

Since she died, I’ve outgrown a lot of things but the main thing I’ve outgrown and dropped off at life’s thrift shop is religion. I’ve completely shed my skin. I’ve shed the skin of my past and the skin of my captors – both secular and religious. I’m done with it. I’m me, and I’m ok even when I’m not ok. I have a handful of people around me who have outgrown their own versions of these things, or who are on their way at least, and the rest of it…well, I just don’t have time for it anymore. 

I’m almost literally barely surviving right now. My life is extremely heavy. It has been since she died. I mean, after daddy it was bad enough but then her…and I’ll be damned. You’d think that there would have been relief, and initially there was, but mostly? There wasn’t. It was just a whole other, different burden. At the end she said I’d be just fine and she accused me of being the strong one. In honesty, neither of us was. Nobody is. We are not strong or weak – we are just us. We do what we gotta, somehow. Strength and weakness are just labels we create and then give some sort of modifier to so that we can judge each other and tell ourselves whether we are doing ok or not, when in reality, we’re always ok – even when we’re not, as I’ve said so many times before.

She loved tulips – in fact, I took all these photos of tulips (including the cover photo for this post) to send to her while I was in New Orleans a couple of years ago. Tulips were her favorite. They’ve meant many things to me, especially since she got sick. But now, looking back at these photos, they remind me that, “why?” is not the question I need to ask. The question is simply, “what’s next?”

This’ll be a better blog someday, and maybe then it will make more sense. For now…the ideas and thoughts are just fuel for tears born of exhaustion and expressing them is the quickest and easier way of relieving the pressure on my heart. 

C.

Today… Ugh. I wasn’t going to even waste my time writing about today, privately or publicly. The truth is, I threw my journal across the room and knocked the antlers off the table, which made a loud and scary sound and freaked out my poor Echo dog…who is supposed to be my emotional support dog. Ooops. These are the unpleasant effects of stress on my environment. I rarely throw things now that I’m a mature adult, but today… All I can do at this point is chuckle to myself and say, “ooops.” 

Now, I can’t sleep, so here I am…
Today has been the hardest day I’ve had this year. I have kept it to myself, really, all day. I am getting good at (or worse because of) that. There were the obvious challenges with my mother, and there was bad news financially, and there was the inauguration, and all the obvious tension in the country; but the real struggle was that I had one of the worst flashbacks I’ve had in a while. I suppose it’s built up between the hospital triggers, financial strain, and being in my parents house so much lately… It was a hard day to begin with and then…

Today I came across a very old photo of me and Dorie at my mom’s and I completely lost it. I made it about something else, and I just excused myself to the outdoors and found myself hyperventilate-crying and forcing myself to stare up instead of down, somehow, because the sky and the trees calm me. I didn’t want to appear weak, or unworthy, or incapable, when I was meant to be in caregiver mode. It’s so hard doing this thing now without her. I know I can, and I have no choice but to. But it is so hard.

I share this not just because I can’t sleep with it hovering over me, but MOSTLY because I want to remind you (& me): It’s OK to lose it, to have a bad day, to break down; to admit your reality and to struggle with it. IT IS OK. Your internal struggle is yours – honor it by doing and being and feeling however you need to do and be and feel, as long as that doesn’t involve hurting someone else… Tomorrow is another day. 

Here in Alabama tomorrow is forecasted to be about severe storms and flooding. Suitable. We’ll see if they got it right, but either way I approve. A nice book, some nice music, some puppy cuddles, a water fast, a soul purge…that’s my plan. I think (hope) it will be good. I definitely approve. 

I hope you have a nice, beautiful, relaxing weekend, friends. You deserve it.

💙❤️🙏🏼

C.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. -Arthur Ashe 

That’s all I can do, at this point. 

Today I walked my mom to her mailbox with my grandmother’s walking cane. It was iffy. I was terrified. It was very strange to feel the same “fear” for her safety as I often feel for my son’s when I’m the “responsible adult in the room.” It’s very disorienting to have such a very clear role reversal. It’s been semi- like this for a while now, but at this point we have crossed that line very definitely. It’s no longer a sort of blurry line or a dotted line. It’s a very solid line and we have very realistically crossed it. 

Tomorrow I have a meeting with the home health nurse about getting PT out a couple of times a week and having a social worker assigned to the case to help me to make sure I have access to all the resources I need. My mother is gone. As tumultuous as our relationship has always been, I’m still really sad inside, which was unexpected. I don’t know who this woman is. Neither does she. 

I saw a side to my mom when my dad died that I’d never seen – I saw an independent, capable woman emerge, brave and strong and extremely adept. Within months I saw that woman begin to fade away. In the last year I have witnessed (and fought against) the slow decline that has led to this sudden, extreme decline we have been facing over the last month. And the only thing I can say with truth and with compassion is that for her sake, not my own, I hope that dementia is a swift journey for her, like cancer was for Dorie. Because even when you have very little of a good past with a person, this is a very difficult thing to witness. 

It is hard with Granny Dot. With my mom…it’s beyond that. Maybe it’s because it’s not just compassion, but the nitty gritty caregiving I am responsible for with her. I don’t know. I never really liked my mother (because she wasn’t and never has been “my mother,” though I suppose I’ve always loved her, if that makes sense) until now – and it’s because now I’m seeing the mother I always hoped she would become…and I’m seeing that mother, in me… 

C.


Good morning… ❤️ I am here at my mother’s now, waiting on the home health nurse to arrive and looking out over the field where in my youth I would surely find myself on a warm winter day like today, doing upkeep and spring gardening preparation with my beloved Mama Kay. What beautiful, cherished memories I have of my home place and of my childhood with my grandmother. Yet, today I find myself in a very different phase of life. As I recollect a childhood passed I realize even more how grateful I am to have been prepared so well for this particular time in my life. 

I am in that phase of life where it’s all about everyone else. I don’t have the time or resources for all the self care fantasies that people (especially women) go on about – bubble baths, manicures, beauty shops (anxiety on fleek in places like that, for me), shopping trips (who can afford that anyway?) – but I take care of myself in the ways I know how, and have available to me, and know are right for me. 

For me, it’s walks in the backyard (or at my mom’s when I’m there), reading a book before sleep, watching space documentaries (or listening) while I clean, taking photos randomly and editing them because I enjoy it so much, ALWAYS listening to and sometimes making music, writing down thoughts in the notepad on my phone (if not a napkin or scrap of paper shoved into my bag) during those waiting moments (in line at the store or over morning coffee). It’s always in nature, and it’s always in self-reflection and self-expression.

You can’t always make time for yourself and you can’t always make yourself a priority. All the self help psycho babble bullshit that puts pressure on people to do that is detrimental. It’s not humanly possible for me, or many people, to be on a daily basis what truly feels to me like being self-indulgent. To be perfectly honest, I don’t CARE about my appearance that much. It does not make me feel better to have fresh hair or nails or perfect makeup or a “style.” My style is just me, as I am. It’s pretty simple – clean self, clean clothes that are comfortable and that I like, a little eye makeup just because it makes me feel awake in the mornings and I really love my eyes… LOL

I’m a simple person. Being a simple person is OK. My self care habits include the things I mentioned above, and I eat fairly clean(ly). I stay hydrated. I take my St. John’s wort and vitamins every day. I wash my hands a lot. I keep my home and the environments I’m in clean. But most importantly, what truly makes me feel better about my life and about myself is that I love. I give hugs to people and I show concern for them – especially my son, and all the animals. I try to smile even when I don’t feel like it or am on a rant somewhere inside myself. 

Loving and caring for and trying to conscientiously be kind to others is the best way for me to love and care for myself. It promotes self-growth and self-love at off the charts levels to simply put others first. How convenient that I’m in that stage of life that daughters and mothers, both of which I am, often face during the mid-life years. It’s a BEAUTIFUL phase of life, even as ugly and dirty and exhausting as the tangible bits of it can be. At least 95% of the time, I feel…privileged to have the opportunity to touch people’s lives and to be a part of making them better or at least more livable than their situations might make them feel. I wish society would stop promoting self indulgence or putting such pressure on people that they only love themselves if they do it a certain way. 

I do get down, and especially in exhaustion I rant and carry on but it’s not from a negative space. It’s from a real space. I wish people would see the beauty in just being who they are and in just loving and helping each other. Anything else – anything more or less than that – is what makes life seem so bad, when really, it’s just…what it is. Not inherently good or evil – just life… Even I, in my darkest moments, know that even when it doesn’t feel or look or seem like it and even when it’s impossible to truly understand, life is a gift – but it’s only a true gift when we share it with those we love. That is what makes any human being’s life worth living. That is the only thing worthy of the pain and heartache and struggle life can be. Just love – any kind. Love, and kindness. I have to muster it from the depths of me some days lately, but I do try, always. Ultimately, I know that it matters. We matter. Please remember that, always… We all matter and we all have something to offer. You – whoever you are, whatever you’re struggling with – are loved…by me…

C.