If you read the article I posted earlier this year with my dad talking about his struggle with mental illness you’ll see that it’s where my desire to share my struggle to forgive my mother (and likely some of my other struggles over the years) originates, an unfettered fearlessness about sharing something that has cut me so deeply, because there are people who read my writing and know us both. I take this risk because I know that I’m not alone in this situation of struggling with a loved one. I do this constant dance between the strong urge to forgive my mom and forget the past so I can enjoy the last years of her life with her, and feeling the anger over her behavior, actions and consequences throughout my life and the lives of my siblings and my father.
I’ve also been contemplating some of our oldest stories, like the Odyssey and the Iliad and the Aeniad and how I really think these stories are allegory and metaphor for how we have to conquer ourselves and our inner demons to live a full life. How we fight Cyclops and Minotaur and Harpy and Siren but in reality we fight the seven deadly sins and incomplete child rearing and fucked up societal ideals and unspoken traumas that we pass down generation by generation. If you look deeply at Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and some of the tenets of Buddhism you can find the key to unlocking those dark, hidden and ugly parts of yourself and revel in forgiveness and acceptance and self love, even if only for two-steps.
Yesterday I gave my kid a new medication and it made him feel weird and not himself. And as a consequence of the new medication and a long wait time at the doctor’s we experienced one of the most challenging behavioral days we’ve ever had together. It made me think about a few things.
1. How very far he has come since all the events of 2011 leading to the loss of both his parents, and the move from cross country to my home.
2. How his behavior triggered me because he was doing shit that could hurt himself or damage expensive equipment at the doctor’s office and I didn’t sit well with either of those options.
3. But that letting him see that his negative attention-seeking behavior get my negative attention falls solely on me. I let him get under my skin.
4. When I am stressed and tired I become scatterbrained and easier to inflame.
5. Ultimately my emotions about an event are up to me.
6. I like to over analyze EVERY emotional event.
7. Sometimes I get stuck analyzing shit that’s long over and not happening in my present and not likely to ever happen again. It’s like back to the future only it’s my past and my brain won’t shut up.
8. I want my mind to be a clear blue sky like Andy Puddicombe describes in Headspace.
9. I like lists.
10. I enjoy central coast wines.
11. I am flying to SEATAC tomorrow for a knitting retreat I haven’t attended since 2010 when I was still married, I still had my sister, her husband, they still had Dmitri, and I possessed a totally different life.
12. But still the most important thing to me is the love of my children, which I earn in part by caring for myself in a way that allows me to provide them with love, stability and security.
13. We say that love should be unconditional but that ideal is not practical or a reflection of reality.
14. In all my reading on pop psychology, meditation, buddhism, and self help, somewhere I read that our first thoughts in reaction to something in our environment come from the programming of our mothers, but that the second thoughts are up to us.
15. I’m really focusing on those second thoughts.
16. That I can trust myself and my decision making.
17. That I can jettison what doesn’t work for me.
18. In general I make the claim that I want to be present in the present moment but I really enjoy daydreaming and lint picking with my head in the clouds.
19. I can meditate the eastern way, but I LOVE to meditate laying down and finding relaxation enough so that I can fall asleep even if only briefly.
20. I don’t like to attempt things I’m not good at yet, but I can attempt them.
21. If something is making me uncomfortable I should lean into what ever it is that I don’t want to do so that the feeling will go the fuck away.
22. I can hold two types of feelings in my heart about a single event and or person.
23. Sometimes I give my kids convenience foods and I’m not perfect (or even close).
24. I think dysfunction that leads to a false self and a need to please is a lot like the Trojan Horse of Troy.
25. Polydorus died from the spears we inflict on ourselves.
26. Odysseus’ greatest sin with the cyclops was pride (ego), and it came back to haunt him.
27. Never try to interfere with fate or destiny.
28. This is a really long list.
29. And I’m not sorry at all.
30. Coffee after 5:30pm is probably a bad idea.
31. But I have to pack for tomorrow.
32. I try to call my Mom every day but sometimes I take a couple days or week off and that makes me feel guilty as hell.
33. I feel sad when she thinks Thursday is Saturday.
34. I feel sad that we’re both in a difficult set of circumstances.
35. My main responsibility is to my two kids and sometimes that hurts like hell.
36. I’m trying to shut out reliving the past again and again so that I can enjoy the wisdom and funny things she says now.
37. I’m glad she embraced humor after a lifetime of being so serious.
38. I’ve seen her change, even just a little.
39. Perfectionism is a dirty rotten liar and will try to ruin your life.
40. So is anxiety.
41. Ultimately it is all up to us. No one else.