Grief cycling

I didn’t realize it has been over a month since I posted here. I was doing fairly well up until a week and a half or so ago. I was just working on other things and occupied with other life events. But, then, the same old things started happening which always seem to happen around this time:

Chaos and upheaval in family life and relationships with unemployment, bills piling up, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I’m so tired of writing about it and talking about it. I’m so tired of living through it. I guess that’s the way a lot of folks feel through. Life happens, sometimes the way we want and wish and work for, but, often, things (people) happen outside of our control and knock us for a loop.

We found out about a month ago that LaLa and her SpiritLove are going to have a baby.

Yup. . . I’m going to be a grandmother. Sometime in late April 2014 the next generation will be born into my family line.

The melancholy started around the time the pregnancy test was confirmed. It’s been deepening and growing inside of me ever since.

I have to say, it is an odd space I find myself in, right now. I’m feeling like a metaphorical octopus with eight hands. On the one hand, I feel hope and happiness that this new life is being welcomed and loved from the very beginning. The second hand is holding onto the mundane concerns about how unprepared we all are for this new life and wondering how are the basic necessities going to be met. A third hand keeps patting that harried, worried second hand offering reminders and assurances that a) I’m not the momma of that baby and it’s not my responsibility to figure it all out and b) God is in control. Underneath those hands are the others that hide: One which holds onto fear: fear of not being involved in my grandchild’s life and anxiety about how to be included without invading my daughter and her lovers’ lives; then there’s the codependent fixer hand which is busy ticking off and calculating all the variables and telling me that trying to pursue my own identity and interests at this point is pointless. This one is holding hands with the harping, critical, bitter, resentful, critical hand that tosses out the short-tempered, irritable, and defensive attitudes and words with increasing frequency. Finally, there’s the hand which holds onto the grief so tightly that it has never had a chance to be fully experienced and processed and put to rest.

I’ve been crying at so many things lately, you’d think I was the one pregnant. I’ve been hiding the tears though, as much as possible. Mostly because there isn’t anyone I can share them with who has the time or the space to help me figure out what the hell it is that I’m really crying about. Yesterday, the tears got worse. Then I figured it out.

I think today is my mother’s birthday, or it would have been her birthday. She’d be 60 or 61 years old today.

That’s part of the grief – I don’t even know her actual birthday for sure.

Approximately 32 years ago, the last words I recall saying to her were that I hated her and didn’t want to live with her anymore. She left me with her brother, returned to Texas, and a few months later, we got a phone call stating she’d killed herself. For the next 29 years, I lived with the belief that my mother committed suicide while believing that I hated her.

I got the police investigator’s report and the coroner’s report. They concluded suicide, but it was quite evident that there was no actual investigation performed and the description of the wounds seems a little off. So, it’s possible she didn’t commit suicide after all. At this point, it doesn’t really make a difference one way or another.

The facts remain that I didn’t have a mother after the age of 12 and barely had a relationship with her prior to that point because of her depression and the chaos of our lives – a pattern that has been repeated in somewhat different circumstances with my own children. The major difference being that I’ve lived an additional 16 or 17 years more than she did.

I used to think I wasn’t affected by this or at least that I had a handle on it. Now, it seems like every September/October, I slide into a depression that I can’t stop myself from going into.

A friend of mine shared this video yesterday, and, yes, it triggered tears.

Whether my mom committed suicide or not, she shrunk so much that she completely disappeard by her own choice or by the choice of another.

My grandmother, her mother, died in February 2009, and had shrunk from her own life and the lives of her family to the point that in her angry, paranoid, sometimes abusive, state of dementia, she died in the midst of non-related people in an adult foster care home.

In my line and my branch of the family tree has become so diminished and disconnected that, if it weren’t for Facebook, I wouldn’t know what was going on in the lives of the other women in my mother’s family.

I still struggle with knowing how to be a mom to all three of my children: the son who is no longer my legal son, my adult daughter who is becoming a mother herself, or my four year old daughter who tells me she loves me so much one moment and that she only loves her daddy the next moment.

I ache with the inner conflict and tension of who I am, who I want to be, who I think I should have been, and who I believe others need, want, and expect me to be.

Another friend of mine posted a link to a survivor’s tale, “When Darkness Falls,” and said this:

When I hear someone tell another or me, “you must value yourself!” it strikes me as odd now because I know self-value doesn’t come from just the person in question but the host of people constantly surrounding them with the reassurance it’s true.

The fact of the matter is we don’t find healthy self-value by ourselves, it takes community and constant input. If anyone is wrestling with their worth, I can shout all I want across whatever divides us how loved they are or how much they’re worth but until I cross the divide it means nothing–even to me.

I don’t think my grandmother or my mother knew how to love themselves. I know I don’t know how to love me. I KNOW that I love my children, but I also struggle with knowing how to act on that love for them and that it’s a constant struggle to show up enough to let that love impact my choices and decisions.

It will get easier again, for a while. I know it will. It has before and personal history tells me to trust that it will be so in the future. For now, though, grief is cycling through and it is what it is. I’m not feeling sorry for myself, but I have to acknowledge the pain and grieve the things which have not been allowed to be grieved.

I grieve the loss of a mother I never had to begin with. I grieve the fact that I have been a motherless daughter most of my life and it has, in many ways, caused me to to create a sense of motherlessness in my own children.

I am grateful that I am still here and available to mother my children, all of them, even if it is painful, sporadic, and difficult.

I wish I had a mom to turn to and for my children to turn to.

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6 comments

  1. i am 32 years old now. female. since i was a teenager i have had numbness in the left hand when ever i get stressed. (i.e. stress in family, office , confusions in life etc). it usually goes off once the reason for the stress is sorted out.

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  2. I have a decent life and I have a family that loves me. I have the things I need yet I am never fully happy. I don’t know if it’s depression because some days I’m okay, and there’s nothing major that could have made me depressed. My life hasn’t been totally easy, I’ve moved around a lot, had a lot of social anxiety, been to counselors. I lost someone close to me a year ago now, that still hurts. At home, there were a few fights now and then but it’s not bad. Compared to what other people have to deal with, it’s not much and I really should quit my whining. But still, I can’t help the sinking feeling I get at times. It hits me suddenly and then I cry until I can’t breathe. It’s been happening for years and years now. I just feel lost. As if I’m drifting day to day. I don’t go to classes, don’t hand in assignments, I don’t do anything really. I go out with friends now and then but I am not so keen on doing so anymore. I can’t be bothered replying to anybody’s messages. I don’t want to talk to anyone about it because those who I would feel comfortable talking to are too busy and I don’t want to get in anyone’s way. I feel like I’m a burden if I complain. But to be honest this is eating me up and I don’t know what to do.I fail at life because I’m letting my emotions affect my life in a negative way and I’m running away from what may be closeted depression.I just don’t know what to do anymore.

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  3. ((Hugs)) You’ve had a lot going on in a month.

    I totally get the ambivalent, conflicted feelings you have about the coming baby. It’s gotta be more than a little terrifying. I’m here if you need me.

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