Things are not good. Or maybe they are, and I’m just not seeing it. I’m probably not seeing it. It seems to be a recurring theme.
I am, at this particular point, more frustrated with myself than I am with anyone else. And, believe me, I am very frustrated with everyone else. Imagine then how frustrated I must be with me.
What I am going to tell you now is not intended to elicit sympathy, empathy, antipathy, comments, suggestions, criticism, encouragement. I am simply going to state facts that might, perhaps, help me figure out why I am so very upset lately. Even if you know me outside of this little world, please, don’t come forward with anything that you think might pass for a positive response. I’m just talking to myself and hoping others will listen so they can realize there might be someone in their circle who feels the same way, and that might lead to, I don’t know, something good elsewhere? Is that stupid?
Look, my mother was mentally ill all my life. She was mentally ill all my siblings’ lives and during her marriage to my father. Her mental illness touched many lives; people who worked with her, who were in a car next to her’s while she drove down the freeway; people who were in the grocery store while she shopped, or who made the mistake of attempting small talk at a gathering. It affected doctors who treated her, her children, her husband, her mother. My mother’s mental illness traveled quite happily in the genes she passed down to four of us, and we have, somewhat diluted, passed down to our children. I am sure, however, that she wasn’t the first contributor because, somewhere in the mists of far-gone history, there is another unknown ancestor who started this ball rolling. Mental illness is a thing with every family, but not every family admits it’s there or accepts it’s never going away.
Every single day of my life I struggle with “feeling sane.” I have a lot more good days than I do bad ones, but I still struggle. Our family life, our home, is a minefield of stressful situations. I am a happy person in general, but I cannot lie and say that it comes easily.
Talk to any of my siblings and they will tell you a story about me. They have very clear memories of my life. They all view my narrative as something very definite, and this has fostered resentment over time.
I could tell you a story about me, but it would mean dispelling everyone else’s version. I am tired of doing that, and I can’t, regardless of how much effort I put into it, change people’s minds when they are so convinced of what they “know” to be true. Every story has several sides to it, and I am sure my version of who I am and how I got to be here is heavily seasoned with a desire to justify myself.
I am a happier person than I should be is my take on it. I grew up knowing about myself, my mother, my family, things that children shouldn’t be aware of because it can break them. I was raised with a marked pathway towards optimism because – I realize now- pessimism is more my thing. My aunt, bless her sweet resilient soul, mounted an all-out attack on what she must’ve known was my inclination towards depression and gloominess. If I was a happy baby and a cheery toddler, after a certain age I was brimming with a combativeness and a sadness that I could not possibly explain to you. To me, outside of the four walls of my blissful little home and the company of my beloved aunts, the world was bleak and unfriendly.
It is, as the British would slangily say, indeed a cock-up that I find myself NOW in my little home and with beloved family members, and I feel combative and sad because there are so many things I want to fix, change, help with, improve, work on and I can’t. I reach the end of every day thinking “what did I do today? I did nothing!”
Again, don’t turn around and message me to say how much I accomplish. This is about me actually voicing the things that I feel, not about getting patted on the head, back or butt for it. I just get tired of smiling and being cheerful all the time; I’m exhausted by the whole “Little Engine That Could” act because, right this very minute, I CAN’T!
Yes, I know it will improve, and I know we hit slumps. I know we all face obstacles, and I have to keep the faith. I know. I know. I KNOW.
I am not looking for recognition, but it would be nice, lovely, heartwarming if my son knew who I am. Don’t say “oh, he KNOWS in his heart.” No. No, thank you. That I am his mother is not something he knows. What he knows is I’m the person who dispenses medication, cooks meals, bathes him, cleans his butt, brushes his teeth, loses her patience, consoles him, encourages him, loves him, hates him, celebrates his successes, stands in front of his PECS board trying to make sense of what he wants, cannot hear him clearly because her hearing is failing and loses her patience again…
I am The Presence. I am The Constant. My name is a mechanically spewed term for calling for assistance.
My mother spent her whole life trying to fill a void she couldn’t clearly define. She was so worried about that void that she didn’t really bother with anyone else’s. The one thing we all learned from her was that voids happen. The problem with my particular void is that it goes largely ignored by those around me, and also by myself. I notice myself on the hamster wheel; I feel my legs powering that thing, and I cannot understand what makes me do it until I think of the void, and I realize how complex it is.
Once in a while, I pause to think about it, and it immediately sparks my need for constant movement on that hamster wheel. I am the child of a mother who never really “clicked” with me, and I am the parent of a child who will never “click” with me. It is the kind of realization that one cannot marinate in, or it will drive you nuts.
So…there you have it. Another horse. So many horses. Wild horses…
Things can only get better, my aunt used to say. I really hope her voice becomes louder than my worries and my frustration. I hope I can channel all she ever said to me, and figure out a way to find my way back to not being so upset all the time…