Looking for No Regrets

I wish I was that person that had no regrets. They exist, don’t they? I have regretted things that I have said and chances I did not take both personally and professionally. But if there’s anything this past few years has taught me, it’s to try and have fewer and fewer regrets in life. I am striving to have more integrity, to do what I say, to do what I think is right. I don’t always succeed, but it’s a goal.

Most of my weekends are filled with familial obligations. I visit my mom each Saturday, hang out with my dad for half a day on Sundays every few weeks, take my boy to various sports activities, attempt to clean my house, and cram in a few precious hours of family time with my husband and my son. I used to get pretty stressed about all of this. It’s not a lot of down time, and I am a person that needs that time away from people, even my own family, just to decompress and unplug from the world. But a few months ago, I had a brief conversation with a colleague about our weekends, and she told me that she understood the stress I was feeling, but since she lost both of her parents she’d rather have those stressful times with them than not have them at all. And just this week, my dear friend lost her mom after a few stressful years of rehab and nursing homes…and her heart is broken.

I don’t want to have any regrets when it comes to my parents’ final years. I’ve been to hell and back with my mom this past year and have felt every emotion there is about her and her situation, but right now I know she’s safe and ok and I’ve mostly stopped beating myself over the fact that she has to be in a home. When I went to visit her today, she was so sweet, not just with me, but her fellow residents. There’s one woman I know Mom doesn’t like, but Mom was so kind to her today. It’s something I haven’t seen in a long time. Later, we went to Mom’s room to chat, eat cookies and drink coffee (three of Mom’s favorite things to do) and after we sat on her bed, Mom dug out her brush and started to brush my hair. I’m not sure why, but she had the urge to do so and I let her. It was really quite lovely. I’m not sure Mom has done that since I was a kid. My sister brushed my hair or helped me with my hair more times than Mom did, so this was a bit of a treat for us both.

Then I thought of my dear friend and her mom. So I closed my eyes and just tried to live in the moment.

And I did.

So no regrets today. I hope you had a “No Regrets” day today, too. ❤

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Stress is a Killer

Let me begin by thanking all of you readers and your thoughtful comments and suggestions when it came to my mom and her care. As of 5 days ago, she is finally in a safe place. Unfortunately, it was after an incident where “Jack” had to be asked, by the police, to leave Mom’s house.  This was followed by two weeks of me stopping by every other day, checking on Mom, giving her meds, watching to make sure she ate, and horrible conversations with her about moving somewhere where she could be safe and taken care of.  You can imagine how those went, right? Not good.

After talking with Mom’s nurse and social worker, and having them tell me that it was really ok to lie to Mom and tell her she had an appointment when, in fact, she was moving, I ended up doing just that. The facility Mom has moved to also knew what was happening and they’ve had to do this type of thing before. The move is for the safety of the person. My emotional health was irrelevant but Mom’s safety was the most important thing I had to keep focusing on. And I did.

Once we were inside the facility and the director told Mom she was staying there for a while, Mom first got angry and headed for the door. Eventually she followed us to her room, sat on a bed, put her head in her hands and sobbed.

It was absolutely fucking awful.

In many ways this was worse than in January, when Mom moved to a different facility. Maybe because I was by myself this time? But in other ways I knew in my heart and soul that this was the best we could do. She would be safe from herself and at least one other. She would be eating 3 meals and 2 snacks a day. She would have other people around to talk with and to. And she’s only 25 minutes from where I live and much closer to other members of the family.

After driving back to her home that day and getting many of her things, then visiting a bit with her after placing family photos around her room, I left her in a good space. She was listening to music with other residents and was enjoying herself.  Then on the ride home, I had a sudden pain in my pancreas.

I’ve had pancreatitis twice now and I know what it feels like. I wondered if last year’s bout was stress-induced, and now, I really think it was and is. I didn’t think I internalized my stress. I talk about it, commiserate with those in similar situations, and attempt to exercise most days to relieve my stress. Obviously I’m doing something awful to my body and I have no idea how to handle my stress. So, to avoid going into the hospital, I’ve drastically reduced my food intake. I’ve lost 4 pounds in 4 days. As much as I’d like to lose a little weight, this isn’t the way I wanted to do it.  But it’s worked so far in keeping me out of the hospital. (I really think this might be some bad karma coming into play. I’ve tried to keep my weight down for my entire adulthood, obsessed over it for too many days to count, and now, here I am, losing weight and not really wanting to. It’s like the Gypsy from Stephen King’s Thinner is after me!) Not sure I can keep up with it for many more days, so I’m slowly increasing my food and testing how I feel. This doesn’t mean I’ll stay out of the hospital, but I have hope. I’m also running a mile a day thanks to Runner’s World “Summer Run Streak” challenge and my friend, Sonya. It might not be the wisest thing to do on such little food, but it gets me outside and out of my head for those few minutes. (Make that 12 minutes since I am definitely running slowly.) I’ve also attempted meditating (that helps get me to sleep) and have tried to take LOTS of deep breaths.

 

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Stressed much?

One of the most difficult things about Mom being where she is are the phone calls. Yesterday Mom had such a great day and told me she was “happy” to be there. That was pretty amazing and something I never heard when she was at the other place. And yet at 8:30 this morning I got a phone call from Mom, asking me to pick her up. I told her she needed to stay there. When she asked why, I told her because of her dementia. She then denied she had it. I should have known better. I never should have brought that up and just said she needed to stay for her health for a few days. Today I learned that this is called a “fiblet”. It is a “necessary white lie to redirect loved ones or discourage them from detrimental behavior.” The term “geriatric fiblet” was created at the 2000 World Alzheimer’s Conference. Who knew?

I went back to see Mom this afternoon since she asked me to visit during that awful phone call. I said I would. My husband told me I didn’t need to go. We had already had an eventful day, going to Mom’s house and taking care of a few things there, as well as dealing with the stress of having to meet “Jack” and hand over the cat. But since Mom is only 25 minutes away, I decided that I needed to do it for me. So I did and it was a brief but lovely visit. So tonight I can sleep well (barring no pancreas pain) and not worry.

That is the hope anyway.

 

End of Summer

Typically, this time of year fills me with happiness. The nights are just starting to cool down, a few leaves have already turned a lovely shade of red, and school is about to begin. The smell of new sneakers lingers in our home, pencils are sharpened, the backpack is filled with notebooks and folder and my kid is excited to see his friends again.

Yet this year? This year I am completely filled with dread.

Fall means school and school means homework and schedules and getting up early to make supper for that night and begging other parents to take my kid to soccer practice and squeezing in running so I don’t have a complete mental breakdown. Arguments will begin over me feeling stressed and not everyone pulling their weight at home and more arguments about homework and bedtime and Oh my god I already want to tear my hair out and school hasn’t even started!!!

Goodbye-Summer

*deep breath*

*breathe in and out*

Ok. Let’s start over.

Hi. I had a pretty damn good summer. Did you?

Are you sad summer is nearly over?

Me, too!

Now let’s go get a drink and dream about NEXT summer!

Cheers!

Losing Myself

It’s come to my attention that I do *not* deal with stress well.  Even when I think I’m handling everything just fine, my body tells me otherwise. For the past 4 years, running has been my stress reliever. I’ve pounded the pavement like it was littered with all of my problems and I could obliterate them with my running shoes. Once my run was done, I felt like I could handle just about anything. I was more relaxed throughout the day and slept well at night. Currently, though, my body is unable to run more than once a week. I’ve walked more miles in the past few weeks than I typically run, but it’s not the same. Walking is not as difficult, which in turn, makes it not as satisfying for me.

I used to eat away my problems, which created so many more. I’m happy to say that I don’t do that anymore, or very rarely.  I would occasionally have a drink, especially on Friday night after a particularly exhausting week.  Yet now my pancreas tells me that I can’t do that anymore either. I did a poll on Facebook to see what my friends do to relieve their stress. The answers ranged from healthy (exercise, meditation, talking to someone) to unhealthy (eating, drinking, smoking) to just plain fun (dancing, singing, fucking).

For the past few months, I think I’ve tried to deal with all of the crap in my life by reading excessively.  Living in someone else’s world for an hour or two, seemed better than living in my own. Often the fictional world was not a fun place to be (war zone, poverty-stricken home, nuclear plant explosion), yet within those pages problems were solved and lives were changed. I could read other people’s thoughts and ideas about situations similar to my own. How did Alice handle her own Alzheimer’s Disease and what did her family do to help her in Lisa Genova’s book, Still Alice? (And what will we do when my mother’s dementia advances?) What did Allison do to help cope with work, home, and family in Jennifer Weiner’s All Fall Down? (I found out why Percocet is *not* the answer to my problems.) All of these dilemmas and their solutions may have taken years to happen, but I got to see it all pan out in a short amount of time.  It’s a form of “instant” gratification that I need. If my own troubles cannot be resolved in a timely manner, then at least someone else’s can.

But perhaps because I’ve immersed myself so often in other people’s worlds, I’m not dealing well with my own.

At all.

I’ve lost much of my inspiration at work. I don’t care if my house is that clean. I’ve made little effort to see my friends. My body seems to be getting squishier, and I don’t even give a damn.

This isn’t me.

I love my work, yet lately I dread going.  I *hate* this feeling. I used to feel this a lot at my old job, but not as a librarian. I love what I do and I’m good at it. So why not go to the place where I’m needed and feel like I make a difference?

And not cleaning  my house? I used to have a cleaning calendar, people. Having a clean house makes me feel….I don’t know. Proud maybe? And accomplished, I think. But right now I just don’t care.

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Typically I love to see my friends, particularly my Ladies in Red. But I’ve stopped trying to get together with them. I’m fortunate enough that one of them set a date with our kiddos, so I’ll be forced to go. (Thanks, Tiff.)

 

And my body? Whatever. It’ll never be what I want it to be, so why keep trying?

 

I have to stop this. I want to care again. I want to *want* to clean my house or lift weights or go to work. And my god, I really want to want to be with my friends.  I think I’ve just tried to numb myself from the stress I’ve encountered over the past month–my family’s health, my son’s well-being, our finances–much of the same types of things you’ve all had problems with.  If you can deal with all of it, why can’t I?

I *need* to stop feeling like I have the world on my shoulders,  that it’s my responsibility to take care of everyone. Trust me. I suck as a caregiver. I do. I think I’m too selfish. I like to have time to myself, to read or run or walk or dance in my kitchen. I hate when my life is completely disrupted and that little bit of time I have is taken away.

Maybe the solution is extra Vitamin D or yoga or a counselor. I know I won’t stop reading. That bit of escapism is necessary for me. But I need to stop using literature to deaden my feelings. I need to use it to enlighten me or inspire me or to just bring me joy.

And maybe all I need is talk to you more. Why pay for a therapist, when I have you? 🙂