Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bad Habits

I'm feeling a little growly this morning. And I think I've figured out why.

I'm angry with myself. Really bothered, in fact, by some bad habits that I seem to be developing lately.

It seems that I'm getting into the habit of inserting certain things into conversations where they don't need to be. I'm adding information that does nothing for the recipient. What is it doing for me?

Think back to the days when you were early in loss. Or think back to posts you may have read here circa January 2009. Those days when all you (I) wanted was a bright orange shirt that said, "my babies died" to remove me conversations and give me a free pass from any social obligations. To explain my awkwardness. To justify my moods. Think back to the moments in line at the supermarket or Starbucks when someone asked you if you wanted soy milk with that and it was all you (I) could do NOT to say, "my babies died!" as if that was the answer, or lack of an answer, to anything and everything that someone could possible ask of you.

God dammit. I'm doing it again.

On at least three occasions, this week, someone has asked me "how are you?/can we meet on..../have you had a chance to...." and my response has been this:

"My dad's not doing so well."

True? Yes.
Essential information for this person? Probably not.
Does it have any bearings on the actual question being asked? Yes. No. Sometimes. Not really. Kind of?

I hate that I need people to know this. Why? Why???? What am I looking for? Empathy? Sympathy? A free pass? Am I the only girl who's dealing with aging parents? Fuck no.

I'm bothered that it feels like I'm using this situation like a crutch. I'm annoyed at the way I find myself speaking about my parents lately. Both of them. I'm embarrassed at my lack of emotion. My seeming callousness. My "I'll handle everything attitude." Who the hell am I and do I really think they couldn't make it without me and the horse I rode in on? Please.

I'm not asking for an "it's ok" here. Because it's not. It's just not. That's what someone said to me yesterday when I said, as usual, "My dad's not doing so well."

She said, "I am so, so sorry."
I said, "It's ok."
She looked me in the eye and said, "It's NOT ok. And I am so, so sorry."

And that's when I realized, that here I was, finding a need to tell everyone and anyone my dad is dying and yet at the same time not able to process any kind of response they might give me. What am I doing here?

I am sure part of this is a defense mechanism. Coping mechanism, whatever you want to call it. But there are other ways to move forward here. Like I said, I'm not asking for "it's ok." I'm writing this here not for absolution, but to Name it. Change it.

Stop it.

m, stop it. Handle your business. Be private about it. Share what needs to be shared. Leave other people's parts of the story out of it unless its essential. Stop playing a martyr, or "good daughter," take off whatever ill-fitting wardrobe this is. Death and dying bring drama. Don't add to it. Take those lessons learned about abiding and DO THAT. Just be there. For chrissakes, just shut up and be there. 

All those things you wanted/wished for when you were grieving? Remember them. Do them. Be that. Say that. 

Ok. okokokokok.


I'm leaving work early. I'm walking home now to a (hopefully) clean apartment and bag packed for the weekend. Hospice is now fully in place. Delaware during any spare days becomes our norm. And that's ok. It is. It is ok. We have the ability to be there. So we will be. And I will quietly abide. And then I will go and run and cry and walk with M and sit in the sand for a few hours and then go back. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Breathe in. Breathe out. And be thankful for those breaths.

First ultrasound is tomorrow.
Day 18 of running streak.


halloweencouple said...

3 years ago I was in your shoes, I flew home to be with my dad, 7days by his side before he left this world, I cried, I screamed, I told people, I didn't tell people, I had so many emotions, just as you have/will, let it out anyway you can, there is no right way to be when facing the death of anyone close to you, losing our dads the heros of our childhood is by no means something we can prepare for.....

Carla said...

Isn't it crazy how life throws these things at you?! Such sadness with your father losing the fight and such joy in celebrating a new life fighting to thrive/grow. I hope these coming days, there are moments of peace found. Hugs to you and your loved ones.

dana said...

I'm so very sorry you're going through this; I can't imagine it is easy nor is it something one can truly prepare for.

and yet, exciting times on the other side of the coin. hoping for a great u/s report.

sending you peace and love and light.


Heather said...

You've got a lot going on. I'm hoping for a fantastic ultrasound, peace in Delaware (as much as there can be), and good running weather.

Gil said...

I am very sorry to hear that things are not going well. It's a tough position to be put in (understatement, I know) because in a way, his illness does colour everything about you and your life right now. It becomes all consuming and it is one of the most important things going on in your life.

I can relate; after a mere 6 weeks of being ill (from the date of diagnosis), we just lost my cherished aunt, who is essentially my second mom. And it cuts me to the core that I didn't make it home in time to see her. I am grieving the fact that she is gone from our lives and the fact that Petite will never remember her. Thank God for photos.

I don't think you're using his illness as a crutch; it is a fact. It affects you. And you're human. Hiding it or trying to bravely go forward when you might need to just withdraw a little is tough. All I can advise is hang in there and do what you need to for you and your family.

Thinking of you.

Clare (smiling scar) said...

Oh M...

... my initial response is to write to say, yes, it is okay. We do these things. This is one very valid way of convincing oneself that very big and real changes are a foot. Changes with no cntrl Z. People say such things aloud... we blurt out new realities and the unbelievable things that fly in the face of a huge fact like a parent that has been here and alive every day of one's life will not be. Years of evidence counters this new reality, and it's hard to make real in one's mind. I for one would be fine with you speaking details out about such an event in your life, and saying them out loud. I still remember a high school boyfriend saying "um.. sure, I'd love to, but just have to call my PARENT to ask if it is okay with her" even though he'd always just asked his mom, but in the weeks after his dad died he'd say the word parent (never parents) like this over and over again. We'd survive the awkward silences together.. and somehow it just felt more right than talking without acknowledging the hidden tectonic shifts happening in his personal world. It's weird to not talk about them if we know about them.. and hard to find out later than we accidentally ignored them when we find out about them later. And no one wants to bring them up up without the person losing someone mentioning it first.

I know I am guilty of doing this myself myself -- both for good news and bad news. And I hope i have never begrudged someone's need for announcing they are a new mom, doctor, grad etc (or sadder announcements too) and all the little details in their life that change and they have to process with such moments. And more than anything I hope I didn't say the wrong things to you.

I am sorry you are going through this tough time, because i am sorry for the pain and emotions you may or may not feel.

Totally cool that you are angry with yourself. I'll totally back your wishes to be private about things. You have every right to change things and shape who you want to be. My appologizes for reading that you didn't want someone to say its okay, and then basically saying -- its okay with me if you do and its okay with me if you don't, but for people like me please don't beat yourself up about it if you don't have to.

You don't need to process our responses. If all you need it to say things out loud.. that is a fine use of friends in my book.

If three conversational blurts let you get closer to a place where you can abide and be there, all the better.

I hope you get to do all the abiding and the being present you want to do. I hope you have all the love and support, in the forms that work for you, at your disposal.

and a little quiet YAY! for the last two lines of your post.