MIXED EMOTIONS (AND POTTING UP GERANIUMS)

elderly woman gardening

(Photo credit: http://www.healthtap.com)

Ok – so this isn’t a picture of my Mum and those plants aren’t actually geraniums, but to all intents and purposes, both of those things could have been facts as that’s exactly what my Mum would have been doing at this time of year if she were still here. She loved geraniums of all colours and would have been repotting them all into bigger pots as they would have grown after their dormant period in the dark and damp basement of the house. They would have all been neatly arranged on the patio outside the kitchen, making a huge splash of colour in the garden.

In fact, this was actually what she was doing along with mowing the grass, cutting the hedge and tying up raspberry canes just two weeks before she had her stroke last year. She remained in hospital from then until the day she passed away just before the New Year this year.

I miss my Mum. I hurt. I’m still hurting. I don’t when or if the hurting ever stops. I have photos of her in my living room and by my bed and yet, believe it or not, I can’t look at them. I cannot look at my Mum. I just am not able to ‘make eye-contact’ with her. Perhaps, it’s too early. Perhaps it’s the pain of not having her here anymore. Maybe, it’s the shame. Perhaps, the guilt that I wrote about in a previous post is telling me that she would be ashamed of me.

I can vaguely scan past the photos. I know the one on my desk in front of me so well. It was a photo I had which was taken only weeks before Mum had her stroke. It’s a picture of her in the garden which was always a sanctuary for her, with the big honeysuckle rambling up a large trellis covering part of the brickwork of the house behind her and next to that are the peach-coloured, climbing roses clambering up the wooden fence. The patio in front of her, adorned with pots, large and small of her favourite geraniums, orange, white and red, all in full bloom.

But, every time my eyes catch the slightest glimpse of her face or her eyes or smile in the photos, my heart is wrenched from my chest, and my mind is screaming, “Noooooo ….”  I cannot cry – I really can’t. My eyes are prickling from the sheer pressure of my tears building up behind my eyelids and fighting to get out. Maybe, I can’t can’t cry because I’m afraid that if I start, I won’t ever be able to stop. I want to go and visit her grave and lay fresh flowers there, but it’s 50 miles away with no public transport with wheelchair access so impossible. Sometimes, I still feel so close to her and almost forget for a second that she has gone. At other times, she seems so very far away.

All the legalities regarding the will, probate and selling the house are continuing to go on in the background. It’s so hard to think of my childhood home being taken over by someone else. Who knows what will happen to it … maybe, it will house another family for many more years although there is also the possibility that it will be completely gutted and turned into several flats and that’s much harder to stomach. Moving on, emotionally, isn’t easy but I have to remember too, that it was only five months ago that Mum was with us and living in that house.

Mum was a great one for ‘keeping things’, usually followed by, “It’ll come in useful for something”, a trait that I’ve inherited. Amongst all the ‘useful somethings’, we’ve unearthed photo albums, not just of our childhoods but also of Mum when she was growing up and even some of my great-grandmother in the 1800’s … real treasure … a pictorial history of my family on my Mum’s side … fascinating. It’s going to take me forever to sort through all of those photos and distribute them to our remaining family. They’ll certainly provide me with lots of happy and no doubt, funny memories too which will probably eventually get passed down to my grandchildren and who knows, perhaps their grandchildren one day? Actual history in the making. Mum would be pleased.

“OH, WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE”

‘As she weaves herself tighter and tighter into the web, the hole becomes deeper and deeper and she sees no way to escape. She has become desperate to escape, desperate to not be despised but to be loved but cannot find the exit. Surely, reaching the exit is the only way out but then she knows full well that doing so would mean total destruction of her world as she has always known it. It would be complete annihilation of her life as she knows it. She is terrified of the hurt and damage she would cause, both to loved ones and friends and ultimately to herself. Oh, what a tangled web she weaves.’

How do I help her? She has confided in me. I was, and still am shocked. Tears were running down her face as she blurted it all out. I thought it would never end. She is desperate for me not to break her confidence. How do I hold on to a secret so huge? Although I don’t want to break her trust, what about all those who are being wronged and hurt by her and have been in the past. I wish she hadn’t have told me. I have enough heartache and despair going on in my own life without holding on to someone else’s guilt and shame. Or is that just selfish? In telling me, she has deeply wounded me too. I thought I could trust her – now, I can never be sure of this again. I am angry! Am I right to be angry? Although part of me feels sorry for her because she is obviously in so much agony, another part of me hates her for the damage she has done over the years, not just to me but to many others too. Nothing life-threatening I know but so awful, just the same.

They say “you can fool half the people all of the time or all of the people half the time”. Well, as far as I can see, she has been fooling all of the people all of the time. And why? Why for so long? She says that she’s never known anything different, that she just wanted people to like her, to care for her. Well, many of them already did but she says she doesn’t believe that. I did too….will she ever believe me either? Who do I now turn too? I have been holding on to so many secrets of my own for so many years and am just beginning to unravel them in therapy. I don’t want more secrets….I have had enough over the years to last a lifetime. I know she needs help but how am I supposed to help her without her helping herself. How can I be responsible for her problems too. I wish she had told someone else. Why me? Or is that selfish too?

She is a forty-four year old ‘friend’. She is married with a husband and has three teenage boys. If I say anything to her husband, I know it will blow her whole world out of the water! Oh, I do wish she hadn’t had told me. She says she is sorry but sorry hardly even touches the edge of the hurt and anger that I feel.

I always thought she was happy but obviously not; otherwise why would she behave in this way? Half of me feels sorry for her but half of me hates her too. I hate her, not only for her deception and lies but also for want of a better expression for ‘dumping her shit on me’! And yet, I still have love for her – she has been a friend for a very long time and you can’t just wipe that out, at least I can’t although I know many that would. She is hurting but now, so am I. What do I do? I can’t go on like this. There must be a reason for all of this. I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. Help!!

* (Some details have been changed to protect identity) 

THE CLOWN

happy clown

As you see, I am a clown…..a funny ha-ha clown…..a hilarious clown…. a what-you-see-is-what-you-get sort of clown. I even laugh at jokes when they are not very funny, just to please the raconteur of the joke or story. I am perhaps, too eager to please.

However, I am in fact a very illusory type of clown. You see, my smile is not a genuine smile – only a streak of red paint slapped across my face. Don’t be fooled by my beacon-like nose for it is merely plastic and once removed reveals a snivelling, sniffing and rather plain flesh and blood nose. My colourful face gives the illusion of a bright and happy soul whereas, truth be known, the paint hides the falling of many tears. Strip away the layers, the glowing colours and the gleaming red nose and you are left with a totally different picture. Something more akin to this, I would suggest:

tears of a clown

The contrast is  extremely striking; they could hardly be more different. How can they be one-and-the-same person? If what- you-see-is-what-you-get with the latter portrait, it would seem unlikely that there would be a queue of people wanting to be the best of friends. The painted clown would win hands-down in the popularity stakes and understandably so, particularly for those people looking in from the outside.

However, from the perspective of the person on the inside looking out at the world, in this case that just does happen to be myself; ‘all in the garden is not rosy’, in fact far from it. So far from it that you would never guess that I currently have suicidal thoughts and ideas in my head and far too many of them and would go as far as to quote ” If I should die before I wake, Bless me Lord my soul to take”. And as selfish as it may sound, if I could go to bed tonight and know that I would not wake in the morning, then going to bed would be so much easier.

There will be those amongst you who will indeed be thinking that I am selfish, ungrateful, feeling sorry for myself. I am not. Yes, I am well aware that there are many, many people who are far, far worse off than me; that there are people who would give their eye teeth to be where I am now but I am not them, nor cannot be. All I want, all I truly want at this moment is for the pain to end, not the physical pain (that I can bear) but the emotional pain.

“Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord, my soul to keep;
If I should die before I wake,
I pray for Lord my soul to take. Amen”

RANT – PREJUDICE AND DISCRIMINATION WITHIN THE FAMILY

Well……..This isn’t poetry or anything cleverly or attractively worded! This isn’t about my past experiences. This is a rant and about me feeling so p*ssed off!

I’ve just spoken to my sister who tells me that my daughter *Claire* doesn’t want anything to do with me because…. a) I have mental health problems, b) I am disabled, and c) because I choose to have a decorative cross on my living room wall, (pictured here), thereby ‘stating‘ I am a Christian!!

disabled people slogan             My beautiful cross from J & J            mental health

All this time, she’s been making excuses not to come and see with my two young granddaughters and now I found out it’s all about discrimination or being ‘different’! I am fuming…..I am so f#*$ing angry! (And yes, I know that’s not a very Christian word to say and that I should forgive her but at the moment I am hurting too much). She is basically ashamed of me and would rather not have anything to do with me or for me to be her Mum!! She objects because she doesn’t want her children to be aware of such differences! That’s not what I taught her when she was young so where did that come from?! Children needed to be educated about ‘differences’ in people, be it class, race, sexuality, faith, disability….whatever; not being taught how to be prejudiced and discriminatory. How would it go down, I wonder, if I purchased a copy of this book and sent it to her:

kids guide discrimation

…….Not too well, I should imagine!! And  perhaps I should send a copy to my son, *Tom*, while I’m at it as he shares exactly the same views, hence I don’t see my littlest granddaughter and I doubt I shall ever see the new baby due at Christmas :((

For goodness sake, it takes all sorts to make the world and I always say, providing nobody gets hurt, then ‘each to their own‘ and we should respect other people for who they are, not for what their label is…

don't label me

If it hadn’t been for my carers coming early and getting me into my pyjamas, I’d have gone out in my wheelchair and bought a bottle of something but I’ve been clean and sober for more than two years now, so that wouldn’t have been too clever. On the other hand, I haven’t coped with this too well as I have self-harmed, cutting my arm for the first time in nearly three years so sh*t, I’m not exactly proud of myself. And if my children knew; well, that would give them more ammunition.

And just to cap it all, it’s my birthday on Wednesday and I very much doubt I’ll get a card, let alone a phone call from either of them. Fortunately, I am meeting a new friend that day, for lunch so will have a lovely time, family or no family.

I don’t have therapy till Tuesday….how do I deal with this amount of rage and anger without doing myself any more damage?!

CONTAGIOUS?

the darkness

What do I write when I suddenly feel so dark inside;
when a veil has been drawn over my face
so no-one outside of me really knows how I feel?
And no-one seems to want to know.
“She’s just in one of her ‘funny’ moods today”, they comment,
not seeing the tremendous pain I am in.

Everything is black. I can see no light and yet,
yesterday my life was bursting with love and joy
and I was on top of the world. Then suddenly,
I find myself plummeting headlong, back into the abyss.
The sun may be shining outside but I have my eyes closed
because I cannot bear the pain of opening them.

Today, I cannot see the sun, nor the moon or the stars
I want to hurt myself to feel the physical pain
because the emotional pain inside is just too much to bear.
I’d would die for the want of a hug, yet
I don’t want you to touch me
Just in case I am contagious. 

MY SPECTACULAR TUMBLE….DISABILITY RIGHTS

Today, I had a tumble or more accurately an accident! I fell….but it was no ordinary fall….it was quite a spectacular experience (but not funny). I fell out of my electric wheelchair on to the ground with a thud because of negligence on behalf of the council. Was I hurt? Yes, I was – I have hurt my back, hip and leg which is making my disability worse (hopefully only temporarily). Time will tell.

fallen broken wheelchair

I was on my way back from town with my wheelchair, riding on the pavement (not the road) as I am meant to but nevertheless, I have to cross roads like everybody else. I was just passing the railway station and was crossing the entrance which is quite a narrow but busy side road. I came up to the kerb, ready to cross and lurched down into the road with a huge bump, as usual. I have already complained in writing to the council to say that they have not provided that busy road with a ‘dropped’ or lowered kerb; a prime example of a non-dropped kerb is shown in the image below (that’s not me in the photo, by the way!).

wheelchair and kerb

I crossed the road and then approached the kerb on the other side, also not ‘dropped’ as it should be under The Discrimination Act, but worse still, the kerb was broken so very uneven (also previously pointed out to the council). I tried to mount this damaged and rather steep pavement edging. There is no other way of getting home other than this route, unfortunately. My front wheels slammed into the kerb, causing my wheelchair (with me in it) to fall over into the road. I was trapped; unable to get out because of lack of use of my legs, so there I lay, on the ground, hurting, embarrassed, angry and helpless. I was obviously in need of help and would you believe eight people walked straight past me, totally ignoring me as if I were invisible!!

After about five minutes, a young girl, listening to music on her ipod, stopped and asked me if I needed an ambulance and then went into the station to ask for assistance for me. Two well-built men came out and righted my wheelchair and got me a glass of water. I guess I must have been in shock. The ambulance arrived just at that moment and they checked me over, made me comfortable and stretchered me into the back of the ambulance.

ambulance crew rescue

I started to recover from the shock but I was hurting, physically so they carefully checked my back and ‘thank the Lord’, I hadn’t broken anything. I was badly shaken up, bruised, battered and very sore though. I didn’t want to go to hospital so they slowly got me back into my wheelchair and one of the men kindly pushed me all the way home where my carer was waiting. I was so glad to be home.

So, I’d like to publicly thank C. City Council for their negligence in keeping the pavements and kerbs in such good condition, NOT, and for breaking The Discrimination Act which believe me, I’m not going to let them get away with! WATCH THIS SPACE!

IT’S SO HARD TO SAY GOODBYE

It’s so very hard to say goodbye, or at least ‘au revoir’ to your own offspring. My children have broken my heart and continue to do so despite everything. I’ve not heard from either of them since ‘The Reunion’ despite leaving a loving but undemanding message on my daughter’s ansafone. I don’t have a number for my son so can’t contact him! This has been going on for years and years and I don’t know how much more heartache I can take.

I’m considering an option my therapist put to me….to mentally say au revoir to them both for the time being until/if they ever come round to caring about me. Or maybe I have to wait till my grandchildren are old enough to want to come and find me. In the meantime, I have to concentrate on building a life for myself which unfortunately doesn’t include them. But it’s so hard to let go, to give up the hope, cut the umbilical cord and say goodbye (at least for the foreseeable future). There’s nothing left to try anymore. They have me beaten. I don’t want to wave them goodbye knowing they won’t even be waving back.

waving goodbye

I’ve even had to take their photographs down and put them carefully away because it just hurt’s too much to see them. I have started keeping three ‘memory books’, one each for my grandchildren and I write nice things, also what I’ve been doing, that I’m thinking of them, that I never stopped loving them. I find pictures that I think they’ll like, considering them one by one carefully. I wish I knew what they were interested in, what they’re ‘into’ etc, especially my eight and five-year old. Sadly I don’t know my little S, who’s one and a half, at all so have no idea what she likes so just have to choose age-appropriate ideas. I hope and pray that one day, they will want to come and find me, that one day they’ll question their parents, my children, and ask why they don’t see me.

What makes me really sad is that they don’t have anything to do with my Mum either and she so longs to meet her great-grandchildren but she’s 84 and none of us know how much longer she’ll be with us. Hopefully, she’ll still be here in 5-10 years time but who knows when our time is going to be up? But it will be too late for her and that is so, so awful.

This song is about a couple saying goodbye but I’ve added it here because the emotions are the same when you try to say goodbye to your own children. And I will always love them. There will always be a huge place in my heart for them. I will forgive them for hurting me if they come back. I will always love you, T and C xxx

 

 

FAMILY REUNION?!

Families!! You either love ’em or you hate ’em’! In my case both. Those of you who have been following my blog will know of the problems I have regarding my family and for those of you that haven’t, here’s a taster!

My sister is visiting from abroad for three weeks. We get on really well and I will really miss her when she goes back. Because both my children T and C want to have virtually nil to do with me and are depriving me of seeing my grandchildren, my sister, ‘B’ decided to organize a family reunion. When she told me she had arranged for both my children plus spouses, all three granddaughters, myself and her all to meet up and go out out for a meal together, I was absolutely gobsmacked!! I couldn’t imagine it. (I haven’t seen T and C in the same room together for 20 years!) I couldn’t imagine it….all of us, nine in total, seated round a bench table and actually talking to each other, playing ‘happy families’. Me and B went in a taxi, me in my wheelchair, of course. We arrived first and as usual, my offspring were suitably and predictably late. The greetings were so brief as to be almost non-existent. So there we were, all sat round a table which felt very odd, if not a little uncomfortable.

Image  

(photo credit: dogclipart.com)

My family were all very happily chatting amongst themselves and eating good food, and me and B were left talking to each other. My kids are so rude sometimes! I felt hurt that they didn’t even bother to introduce me to my grandchildren. ‘Happy Families’ continued till the end of the meal (good food at least). Then, little S, who is now one-and-a-half (my son’s little one), was allowed to get out of her highchair to have a look around and play in the open area nearby. She was dressed in a white, flared dress and looked like a cross between a bridesmaid and a little princess. She ran straight past me, not recognizing me, of course, not having met me before. I was this strange woman in a wheelchair at the end of the long table, her having been at the other end so there had been no smiles and eye-contact etc.

I looked at this beautiful little girl, running about and giggling and felt nothing but pain. This was the granddaughter I’d never met and here she was, in flesh and blood, running back and forth passing me without even a glance. I felt so, so hurt. My son hadn’t even made any attempt to bring her over to me to tell her that I was, in fact, her Nanny. I tried to catch her attention but she was too wrapped in running about and playing with my daughter’s children who are 8 and 5 now who were too occupied with little S, that they totally ignored me. They were strangers to me and that really hurts. As for T and C and their spouses, they more or less acted as if I was invisible.

The meal ended. S was sat on the floor, absorbed in looking at a book. She looked so sweet any yet I was a no-one to her. I longed to scoop her up in my arms and hug her close to me, telling her that I was her Nanny and that I loved her very much but I wasn’t able to. 

Image

 

After that, T and C and respective families, headed for the exit having said a brief goodbye and they were off somewhere else. That left me and my sister. I looked at the deserted table, still littered with crockery and leftover food, and then burst into tears. What had been the point of this so-called ‘family reunion’ ? I was none the wiser and could have been invisible for all the notice they took of me!

So how do I feel now? Well, to be honest, I feel crap, shit, hurt, disappointed, resentful, angry and mostly devastated that my children could make me feel this way (mind you, not for the first time and I daresay not the last either). That’s my ‘family’ for you in a nutshell.