Hulk Smash

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

Anger.

Coursing through my blood.

Irritated.

Through every fiber of my being.

The whole day just snowballed against me. The littlest things setting me off.

Except, it was all internalized. Nothing was said other than a quick “I’m grumpy today.” But beyond that, the anger just stayed in my head.

Spinning round and round, like a tornado, finding more things to suck into the vortex. I just wanted to scream and lash out, but I also knew that wasn’t rational. I knew it wasn’t actually anything that was happening around me.

I was just angry.

The inside of my skull was so so loud. Scripting fights, scripting explosions, scripting a loss of control.

But I controlled it, kept it deep inside.

We got home and I climbed in bed.

I kept trying to think of DBT skills that would help, and I could feel them, just outside of my reach, just beyond my grasp.

I was afraid to get up and go for my book, because it felt like the anger would eat me alive. It felt like I would lose the battle to keep it all inside.

So I stayed in bed. Fuming at everything and nothing.

Finally I dosed off, powerful angry dreams haunting me in my sleep. I woke up a few hours later, Wonder Woman asking if I wanted to get up so that I could sleep that night.

I opted to get up long enough to take meds (mother fucker, they had to be put together again), take a few ativan and a meletonin, and go back to bed for the night.

I slept straight through.

Today I’m not so angry. Today I can look back from a place of calm and see what went wrong.

The Abilify is totally out of my system now, a few weeks after I stopped taking it. And for the first week or two, I was smoking medical marijuana. It did a great job at lowering my reactivity off of the medication, but then I realized it was making me eat the house. Which was the whole reason I went off of Abilify.

So I stopped that too.

And now I’m left wondering if this anger could become my new normal.

Anger makes people die.

Today I’m tired, melatonin and a higher than normal dose of ativan will do that.

I’m tired. But I’m not angry anymore.

Anger is the most likely to make me lash out. Anger pulls me apart. Anger feels like it’s going to split me at the seams.

Anger is wrong. Anger is the one emotion I wish I could stop feeling, forever.

Anger.

Well damn.

This is a Really Real Health post.

Well, it’s a Really Real Mental Health post, too.

And for that matter, it’s a Really Real COVID post.

And it’s a long one (really, a long one, but important).

I got a text from my sister earlier today.

“I just got the call that Dad tested positive.

He’s being moved to the COVID unit tonight.”

My response “Well damn.”

You see, I’ve been waiting for this. Almost holding my breath. Last week 7 employees tested positive in the physical rehab hospital where he’s staying. I knew it would make the rounds, even in an environment where everyone is being more than careful.

But this is COVID. It spreads like wildfire.

And my feelings on him being positive are so so mixed. So so hard to weed through. And there’s so much guilt and shame wrapped up in my thoughts.

But I’m not sure there should be guilt and shame.

Even before COVID, Dad was dying. A slow miserable death from a neurological disorder that I can never remember the name of. It’s been taking his speech and reasoning for the past year, taking his ability to walk safely and care for himself, all the while he was refusing any sort of help.

And through a lot of this, he’s still been in there, just unable to communicate clearly. Phone calls would be long and difficult, with 90% of it consisting of “umm” and “uhhh” as he tried to find the words to say what he called to say.

He’s been falling a lot, while still trying to live his normal life. A month ago, give or take, he went to mow his expansive lawn on his tractor. He ran out of gas. Trying to walk home he fell into a ditch,

where he spent the entire night.

When he was found the next morning, he still refused help, other than a ride back home.

He fell later that day and spent that second night on the floor, unable to get himself up or get to a phone.

That’s what led to his stay in the hospital. That’s what led to him being transferred to rehab.

That’s what led to him being transferred to the COVID unit.

He’s dying, a slow, miserable death. He’s living out his worst nightmare, trapped in a body that no longer serves him.

I remember a conversation awhile back, either with Dad or my sister, about how much Dad hated the idea of being restrained. The idea of being arrested and put in cuffs for drinking, was enough to make him quit cold turkey, after years of alcoholism.

He’s being restrained by his own body now.

And he’s being transferred to the COVID unit later tonight.

His response, when he finds the words, is to insist that he doesn’t have COVID, that the test was bullshit.

Of course that’s his response. That’s the hill he will die on.

And he will die.

If not from this, than from that. One just prolongs the suffering.

I hate seeing him suffer, even though my relationship with him has been strained for most of my life. I hate knowing that he’s in there, mostly aware, at least some of the time, and watching his body fall apart around him.

No one deserves to live that life, no matter how they’ve treated me and everyone around them.

But I feel guilty for wanting this to be quick, for hoping that this is the thing that helps him walk out of this world with at least some of his dignity left.

It feels shameful to hope your parent dies sooner rather than later.

But I have to wonder, is he even living anymore?

“I just got the call that Dad tested positive.

He’s being moved to the COVID unit tonight.”

Now we wait to see if he ever makes it out of there alive.

Wear your mask, wash your hands.

This is kind of personal now.

They grow up

This is a Really Real Parenting post.

I’ve been sitting on this one for awhile.

Mulling it over and under and around. Letting it float in my head. Taking undefined thoughts and turning them into words and sentences, so that I can put fingers to keys.

I miss my son.

Not just because I haven’t seen him, but also because he’s growing up, and growing more distant.

It’s developmentally appropriate of course.

“This is developmentally appropriate behavior.”

That was my mantra while he was growing up. As frustrating and annoying and difficult he could be, his behavior was always exactly what it should have been, even when I didn’t like it. (My son?!? Noooooo, not my son! He was a constant pleasure to be around, of course.)

And now is no different.

I was incredibly lucky that for his first 2 years living so far away, we talked almost daily via Messenger. He called me every week, often reminding me that it has been a whole week since we talked last.

We were close before he left (even though we fought horribly) and we were closer after he left.

But time has passed, the world has changed, and he’s settled into his life out there.

And it felt like overnight we went from chatting daily, to chatting every week or two. From weekly phone calls, to monthly phone calls.

This is developmentally appropriate behavior.

And still, that doesn’t make it easier.

I had a dream last night, that I was in the basement where I lived pre-parenthood. I remember how fun it was to live my life without the constant oversight and judgement that came from my parents.

Of course, I got pregnant, and there went the carefree life of early adulthood. (Don’t worry, I’m making up for it now.)

He’s living out that time in his life. That carefree life of early adulthood.

And I have no interest in holding him back.

It’s hard though. I’m always afraid that he’s realizing how much I fucked up while he was growing up, and that he’s distancing himself from me because of it. I worry that I’m becoming that obligatory phone call that he dreads.

I don’t believe that he owes me phone calls. I don’t believe that he owes me anything, honestly, because I brought him into this world and it was my job to raise him. He doesn’t owe me because I put that time into raising him.

It’s a type of grief, a type of loss, as he grows up and our relationship changes.

This is developmentally appropriate behavior.

He doesn’t need me in the same way anymore, and that’s good stuff right there.

I raised an adultier adult.

And when this is all weighing heavily on me, and I miss him so much that it hurts . . . I get a random text message. . .

A song that made him think of me.

A song that brings tears to both of our eyes.

He ends the message with, “I love you, Mom.”

Of course, I respond, and he never replies, but . . .

This is developmentally appropriate behavior.

Parenting is hard when they’re little. It’s hard when they’re growing up and fighting against you with everything they have.

But I feel like it’s a different kind of hard when they are grown.

And I guess my feelings are developmentally appropriate too.

Still a Widow

This is a Really Real Widow post.

Widowhood is weird.

Like, it’s no longer really a noticeable thing every day.

Well, I mean it is, because it profoundly changed me, and this version of me only exists because of it. But it’s not something where it is in the forefront of my mind on any sort of a regular basis.

And then some anniversary rolls around. Her birthday, her death day, our wedding anniversary.

And these next two.

The anniversary of the day we celebrated her life, and the anniversary of the day we met.

Each anniversary brings with it different memories. Memories of when she was alive, memories of that whirlwind year after she died.

It’s so strange sometimes, the way I end up with a foot in each world. One world where I wonder what would have been if she was still alive. One world where I’m so happy to be. A world surrounded by chaos and a world where there is stability.

Somewhere in the basement I have a scrapbook with her recollection of the first time we met. It was a book she planned to add to, giving me her side of our story, because I was the one who normally told the stories.

At one point, after she died, that book was always on the coffee table. I read it often, it felt so comforting to have her words to hold onto.

And now, it’s packed away in a box, probably along with my baby book. Things that I can dig out and look through, but not anything to concern myself with on a regular basis.

Sometimes there is guilt in this. Did I really love her if I’ve been able to pack those memories away? Did I really love her if she doesn’t have a predominant space in my home? Did I really love her if I’ve been able to more forward?

I know the answer is that I absolutely love her. Not only in the past tense, but now, still, always and forever.

The Parker sized hole in my heart has smoother edges, and I’ve learned to live around it. Her death forever changed me, I see her influence in things that I do every day.

Often I have some grand point in mind when I start to write these posts. And with this one, there wasn’t really an ending in mind. I just felt the need to put fingers to keys.

She will always be a part of me.

I miss her.