Disconnected

Challenging.

That’s how everything feels lately. Like something that must be tackled. I don’t remember ever having felt so overwhelmed in life before. I don’t remember feeling this … uncertain, anxious… even when I had a house full of babies. If ever there was a time I would have expected to feel that everything was so precarious, it was then. But if I did, it wasn’t like this. At least then I remember there being a lot of space in my brain for possibility. Lately, there seems to be no space for possibility. Just a lot of have-tos and worries and a total sense that life is too frail, time is slipping away, and the world is passing by without me.

This is as good as it gets. And right now, that’s a depressing thought.

I blame my age. As a woman who turned fifty half a year ago, that shouldn’t be too hard to figure out. I blame this time of life. Plus caring for an aging parent. And also an extended family that is gradually and certainly breaking completely apart like a tree limb that’s been split from its trunk.

I have spent years practicing positivity and trying to deepen my faith. As someone raised in an environment that wasn’t always the happiest, I once felt I’d made leaps and bounds through those practices. They are still the things that keep me sane sometimes.

It feels rather defeating to so often feel so … defeated.

I was comparing notes with a friend last week, telling her how much I dislike where my head and heart are at these days. She’s a few years older, and she described her experiences. There were some relational challenges in her life at the time as well, and she referred to it as her dark ages.

“I felt so sad all the time.”

YES.

“And lonely.”

YES.

“Just … unhappy.”

YES. Me too.

I have worked hard to stop dwelling on negative things, and people I cannot change. But lately I can’t seem to help it. I once was a morning person, and though I still wake up at a ridiculously dark hour, I do not welcome the morning. I have to REALLY talk myself into it. Once I leave the bed and force myself to do some physical activity, I feel a little bit better. I just don’t like having to fight myself so hard for it.

Of course, there are reasons beyond the physical for my difficulties. It would be one thing if I was just a fifty year-old woman struggling with being a fifty year-old woman. But it’s more than that.

On top of this stage of life, I’ve never experienced such deep family hurts before. And as much as I’ve often thought I wouldn’t care that much if some of them just walked away… I do care. I don’t want to, but I do. I’ve written about it endlessly here, and there just seems to be no end in sight. There are moments of hope … just enough to make it hurt that much more when I realize nothing has really changed. My extended family is SO broken. And what’s to blame? My dad’s passing a year and a half ago? Mom’s failing health and need for care? Sheer selfishness? There have been so many words spoken in anger and hurt feelings, as well as an enormous lack of communication, empathy, and willingness to forgive one another.

It is all of the above and more. We’re supposed to love and support each other, but instead there is only resentment and apathy. I have to wonder if there’s ever any coming back from this, or if at some point when Mom is gone from our lives, we’ll all go our separate ways.

Me personally? I’m guilty of bitterness. Buckets and buckets of it. I feel like I’m losing myself sometimes amidst the cycle of life. And it all just makes me so sad.

I don’t understand the abandonment, not so much my own sense of it, but of our mom. I feel like I’ve been battling with this anger and hurt for ages, and lately I just feel a sense of hopelessness. I tell myself I’m going to let it go. And I might, for a while. And then it comes back and I can’t help myself. I wrap my arms around it and inevitably … darkness.

In my defense, the most recent bout of this was brought on when Mom cried, telling me how forgotten she sometimes feels by other family members. It killed me to see her cry. Something snapped inside of me. When they came around again recently, for what I’m sure will turn out to be one of their quarterly visits, she got all giddy about it. Inside, I worried that her expectations had been built up once again, only to be crushed when promises to come by and have dinner with her  “one day next week” fail to transpire again and again.

I think there are only a few who really know how much I’m struggling and I’m grateful for their support and willingness to share their own experiences. I was relieved when one friend supportively said that she still sees me as a person with goals and a sense of humor. When I said that I just so often feel that I’ve left myself behind, that I don’t do so many of the things that used to be important to me, she suggested I start writing again.

“I don’t have time,” I said.

“Wrong,” she replied. “You don’t MAKE time.”

“No, but I …”

“Just make it a goal to write down some goals each week, even privately. You don’t have to write for others or spend hours doing it. Just make some goals and hold yourself to them.”

“I suppose you’re right,” I agreed. “I used to write weekly, but couldn’t help typing out paragraph after paragraph. Maybe I can’t create an extra hour in my days for writing, but a few minutes here and there … maybe.”

She made me realize that part of my sadness is that I’ve become so disconnected from everyone and everything that fuels me. For a good reason, maybe, but disconnected nonetheless. I need to reconnect in healthy ways.  (Cuz let me tell ya, scrolling through the FaceB00k highlight reel isn’t cuttin’ it.)

So maybe I’ll try to get back here more often, make a few minutes here and there to speak words of encouragement to myself and others instead of wallowing in self-pity. I need to reconnect.

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6 thoughts on “Disconnected

  1. Great advice from your friend. And good for you to make the time to do what you enjoy. (Good for me too. I’ve missed you.)
    I know it really bothers you that your extended family doesn’t make the time for your mother. It would bother me too, especially since you see her heart break when they don’t come by. They’re the ones who will live with the guilt after she passes, and you’ll have your “I told you so” moment. (Even if you don’t say it out loud.)
    You’re a great daughter, a fantastic mother, and a terrific wife. Don’t let others ruin your mood. Spend time doing what you love, enjoy the moments with your mom (that you will never regret), and surround yourself with people who care about you.
    And don’t forget about your blog buddies! We’re all here for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can relate to this ~ my 2 sisters did the lion’s share of the care-giving for Mom before she went to a Nursing Home – I live in another country and could only “visit” — One sister understands it but the other is very bitter and no longer speaks to me. She sometimes speaks to my other sister, but begrudgingly. I think she used Mom’s passing as her “out” – she’s no longer connected and that’s her choice. I feel your hurt and what’s helped me is letting go of the vision of how it’s “supposed to be” — in my heart I wished we all got along well but, truth be told, we haven’t in years. I’m still very close to 1 sister and we are taking trip together soon. Celebrate what remains – that’s all the choice we have, the rest is just torture. Hugs~ MJ

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  3. You DO need to reconnect, ma’am! All of us need to uphold one another, and sometimes the best support we get is from friends, not family. Sad to say, huh? I feel ya here, though. It’s hard enough turning “that certain age,” but caring for an elderly parent makes things double-hard. And having to do the lion’s share by yourself makes it often feel very depressing. Hang in there … one day, you’ll be glad you honored your mom the way you’re doing!

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  4. Journaling helps. I have a tiny magazine called DailyWord. This is something where, no matter how busy I am each day, I take ten minutes to read and say its affirmations in the front. Every. Single. Day. I start my day with it. I’d buy you a subscription myself, if I had your address. The daily readings are at the following link. The affirmations are at the front of the magazine, which I don’t see showing at the link. Hugs and blessings to you, Terri.
    http://www.dailyword.com/
    P.S. I sometimes put a reading from the mag up on my blog because it was good enough to share.

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  5. I, and my own mother, and probably even some others in the generation before hers, ended up with the caregiver role for the generation preceding ours. It just kind of seems to happen that way in many families, no matter the size and distances between. I agree with Debbie, then, that in the long run it will, or at least it should, make you feel glad, or at least better about yourself in the end, to know that you stepped and did for your mom what and when other family members wouldn’t. I say it should, because my mom, even after both she and Dad had done this for both of their moms, his and hers, still carries a lot of guilt for not having treated her mother or appreciated her more earlier than nearing the end. I try to tell her that the past cannot be changed and she did the best she could at the time, which is what I also have to tell myself sometimes in relation to my own children, though I did hear something similar from one of them just last night.

    I’d also suggest that you consider seeing a therapist, which I believe is one of the recommended actions for caregivers when they start to experience depression, as it sounds to me like you are. I think that sometimes we hear better and more easily accept “attaboys” from objective third parties than from those closer to us. If you don’t have time or don’t want to consider doing this, I hope that writing will help you again as it did in the past. Bottom line, you need to get it off your chest.

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