The stages of Alzheimer’s are so difficult and complex to try to explain to someone. I know hearing someone say “you just wouldn’t understand” almost sounds aloof, but it’s not even like that. It’s more just like–where do you begin? It would be like trying to explain something like city trash pick up to someone–it’s shit that’s so commonplace background noise that you don’t even know how to dissect it from what the rest of “normal” life is supposed to look like.
I never really know what to say when people ask about my mom. I don’t know how much detail is fair to give, or really necessary. It’s a kind gesture on their behalf to acknowledge that they care and recognize this thing happening in your life, but it also makes you feel like you’re always exposed and vulnerable to this fact, especially on the days you’re feeling particularly exposed and vulnerable about it.
It’s funny because I always think that I’ve gotten over it to a certain point–that this shit has been reality so long that there’s no reverting to complete sadness about it anymore because how can you legit cry over something that you’ve been carrying around that long? But then something happens–I smell her perfume while I’m out running errands, or for a brief second, some brain glitch makes me think that she’s just at work or reminds me of what it felt like to sit in the passenger seat while she drove to the mall. Suddenly I actually remember that these things were once real and happened. I used to have a mother. She used to know who I was.
These moments are easily the hardest to deal with because for a second there is so much happiness and hope and then suddenly everything snaps back into place, like some shitty reality rubber band, and it’s back to remembering that point and time is Over.
It’s kind of amazing how scarred up I feel these days–though I attribute it to a culmination of all things, not just from stuff with my mom. I can’t really explain what I feel–or don’t–it’s not bad, exactly, not necessarily depressed, but just…numb? Hardened? I don’t know–all those words feel too harsh/one-sided for how I feel. It’s not necessarily a negative, but… it’s just different. I realized this even more when I was trying to work on one of my pseudo-New Year’s resolutions (i.e., to actually finish some of the projects I’ve been talking about/half working on off and on for years). I’ve been going through old writings, trying to glean stuff for this one character I want to do something with and I realized that none of my more recent writing works for him because his voice (i.e., my voice/narrative/POV) from 6-8 years ago is just so damn different than it is now.
But these things–these changes, these feelings, this sorting through scar tissue, it’s all going toward good things–at least I’d like to think so. I feel incredibly focused and productive these days. I feel like I have my head down and I’m ready to get my fucking shit in order, in a way I don’t think I ever have before (because I actually believe/am set on doing it), but I’m also a little overwhelmed and a little emotionally spent still.
For example, I am fucking TERRIFIED about Iceland. Terrified. But I am trying to get past that by planning out everything in steps: Last paycheck it was getting my passport updated. next month I will finish paying off the cost of the residency. March I will buy my ticket. April I will enough aside so travel expenses. I’ve also been trying desperately to find a little side freelance work (shameless plug)–even just one or two decent-paying gigs would be awesome/helpful.
I spent a lot of tonight researching the trip/working out logistics. This makes it feel even more Real, which in turn, makes it even more terrifying. But, unlike other times in my life, I’m using my terror to propel me further. I have this little collection of moments in my life that have been marred by my fear–my inability to believe in myself or to look past the feeling of panic. Truth: I am internally panicking about this trip. I am stressed about pulling it all together, and being able to cover all the costs, and being able to adjust while I’m there, and having to rely completely on myself. But I’m also excited about it. This trip is not about proving anything to anyone other than myself: I can rely on myself. I can push myself through the fear. I can make shit happen.
And really, I think this trip is the culmination of the last few years–I need this thing for me. I’ve been feeling a bit selfish for feeling this way, not just about this, but about other things going on in my life, but the bottom line is You are your own biggest advocate. You need to be the one to stand up for yourself, to realize what it is you really need, what you really want. I know that sounds motivational cheesy, but it’s Real Talk. Although I’ve found a lot of tremendous support for my decision to go away for 5 weeks, I’ve also been met with the eye roll/”There She Goes Again” response more times than I care to remember. And you know? That definitely used to bother me, but these days… eff that. I have learned what happens when I don’t listen to myself, when I allow someone else’s doubts in my decisions to become my own, and it never ends in an ideal way. So I’m taking my ish back, and I’m getting things done, one goal at a time. I can say for certain this has not been an easy trek, but I can’t tell you how much stronger I’m already feeling, and how much I’ve come to appreciate my own inner strength. Without a doubt I could not have gotten to where I’m at without the tremendously gracious and generous people in my life, but I also know I wouldn’t be here without my own hard work, either. And even with all the extra scar tissue, that’s a pretty incredible feeling.
Damn, this was a random blog. Now y’all know what life is generally like in my head