I don't feel brave. Not at all. I feel scared.
People tell me I'm brave for writing about my therapeutic journey. Sometimes it's not hard. Those days I guess I do feel kind of strong. But days like today, times like now, I'm just a scared little girl. I'm afraid someone who knows me and knows my parents will read this and tell them about it. I'm afraid of getting in trouble with my dad. I'm afraid of hurting my mom. I'm so, so afraid.
But I do it anyway. Not because I'm brave. Just because I'm so desperate to heal.
I'm fighting that deep, dark place again. Because of my seventy-year old parents and my own co-dependence.
Eight months ago I wrote about my mom and her struggles. I'd been out of touch and when I checked back in I'd found her much worse off than I was prepared for. I thought it was horrible. I thought it was unbelievable. I thought it was as bad as it could get.
I was wrong.
She is much worse than she was when I wrote that. And my life has gotten so much harder.
Things are really ugly between her and my dad. I've listened to both of them tell my why so many times I don't even listen anymore. At this point I don't care. They can't seem to stand each other. Which would be fine if they could just go their separate ways and be okay. But they can't. Because she's deteriorating. And he's trying to take care of her (I admire him for that). And she only wants him to do what she wants and leave her alone, whether it's good for her or not. Whether it's a rational request or not. Mostly, give me money and go away. And since she wants nothing to do with him, I've found myself in the middle again.
She doesn't have her driver's license anymore. It expired. She didn't know. Now she has to take the written and driving tests to get it back. Could she pass them? Maybe on her best day. Maybe. But she doesn't have many best days. So she can't drive. But she also can't stay home.
She was practically living out of her car before she lost her license. She had been for years. And without her license, the car wasn't going anywhere. But she refused to stay home. So before long, her car was parked in front of my house. Every morning she would walk a mile to my house, get into her car and do her makeup or sleep or whatever, and leave for the day. She's learned to ride the bus. She's learned that we actually do have taxis in our area. And she's done a lot of walking.
But she also gets stranded a lot. She finds herself two or three towns over after the buses have stopped running or she's run out of money. And then she calls me to come rescue her. And spends the next two or three hours complaining to me and holding my life hostage. This was probably happening three or four times a week.
Which was a hard enough situation to deal with, but it gets worse.
Memorial Day my phone rang. It was my dad. He asked if I'd seen or heard from my mom recently. I told him I hadn't for a couple of days. He said she'd left in a huff on Saturday saying she would never come back to that house, and he hadn't heard from her since. He said he was ready to call the police. I asked him to give me a few minutes to try to contact her. I called her phone; straight to voicemail. I sent her a text; no response. I let my dad know. About fifteen minutes later she sent me a text. She was in the next town over and said I better come and get her. I let my dad know and left to pick her up.
Once in the car, she started in on how awful my dad is and that she won't go back there and if he would just move her small motor home somewhere else she'd have somewhere to stay until they move this weekend. I really thought my patience and my nerves were completely depleted before this episode. I really thought I had nothing left. Apparently there were reserves, but they were very shallow. I had no idea what to do. I was not in a strong place. And I needed her to have somewhere to be other than my front porch -- talking non-stop about her horrible life and how awful my dad is. Still. So I did the only thing I could think of. I told my dad he could park her little motor home at my house until the weekend.
It took him about two hours to bring it down. We sat on the porch and she talked to me the entire time. There is no way for me to express what it's like having her talk to me in a way that you can understand, unless you've dealt with someone in the middle of a breakdown. It's like a bad, non-productive therapy session that just goes on and on. Like I am her therapist. And she never runs out of things to talk about. And it doesn't matter if I'm listening or not. She just keeps going and going. It's emotionally exhausting.
She eventually walked to the nearby grocery store to get something to eat so she wouldn't be there when he brought it down. It's now parked in my driveway, plugged into an outlet in my carport. She hasn't been much trouble out there, although she has called me from various other locations to pick her up a couple of times since. And to bring her home. To my house.
And I am struggling. A lot. Having to deal with him and his rants about her and her and her rants about him while trying to help and be kind to both of them has me at my absolute limit. I've broken down in tears multiple times these last few days. It's all so ridiculous and pathetic and sad. And I feel so selfish for not being happy to help. I feel so selfish for worrying more about how she's interfering with my life than worrying about her well-being.
But today was therapy. My therapy. With my therapist. A real therapist that I pay to help me. Not some friend or family member who feels trapped and helpless and taken advantage of. My therapist.
It was a good session, even though it was incredibly hard for me. We discussed lots of options. I can laugh it off and just keep going. I can do nothing and keep complaining. I can tell them both the hard truth (which isn't going to happen yet in any way, shape, or form). Or I can do what I need to for my own protection: I can learn to lie and fake helplessness. (Let me just say, those two things are so completely not a part of my personality -- which might have something to do with why I always find myself taken advantage of.) Little white lies like, "I'm sorry. I can't come right now. My daughter who just had brain surgery needs me" -- even when she doesn't. Fake helplessness like, "I'm sorry, dad, I just don't know what to do" -- instead of doing everything possible to solve their problems for them. I'm supposed to be less available and more helpless than my dad. So he has to start taking care of things again. One way or another.
Because this isn't taking care of my parents. This is enabling. This is prolonging an unhealthy situation. This is hurting them more in the long run than confronting them would now. Even though my heart is struggling with it.
My dad doesn't know what to do. But that doesn't mean it isn't his job to figure it out. My therapist thinks it will take a crisis for him to find his way. It might take a ride home for my mom in a police car. From a stranded situation I didn't rescue her from. And when she tells them to bring her to my house, which she will, I need to be ready to tell them she can't stay and they need to take her back to her house. Whether she wants to go there or not. This was about the time in the session when I completely lost it and started sobbing just thinking about her face when I tell her she can't stay and how her heart would be breaking. I'm letting this idea simmer for a while. I'm not capable of doing this today. I don't know if I ever will be or if it will come to this. But I'm letting the idea simmer because in my therapeutic heart it feels like truth, even if in my tender co-dependent heart it feels like the worst thing I could ever do to her.
For now, I am going to be less available. And I'm going to work on differentiating between routine care, urgent care, and emergency care. If it's not an emergency, I am going to work very hard to make myself put it back on my dad. Because this is his job. Not mine.
And, come heck or high water, that motor home is leaving my driveway this weekend!