confession, family, gifts, holiday, journey, marriage, parenting

One foot in front of the other…

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To my right a thousand little lights twinkle. Armed with my second cup of coffee, this morning, I open up this page and begin. I have not been spending much time with this blog of mine for a hundred different reasons, many based upon heart issues. I am sure someone reading this can understand issues of the heart. The heaviness, the frustrations, the aches, the loss, the less, the more…

Two thousand and sixteen has been my least favorite year and one of tremendous growth. Every time I admit this truth I am reminded of the nights spent in agony, in my bed, from leg pains. On a scattering of those evenings, my mother would be there massaging them to bring me relief. Those were among the good childhood moments, fighting through pain and not alone. While I was mostly a normal child, I did have a disorder which caused the pain to be a bit more than that of a typical childhood growth spurt. Growing hurt just a bit more. Even through the pain, which at times felt unbearable, those times when my mother was there comforting me and validating the pain I was in where among the small list of happier childhood moments. It took me decades later to realize that growth will always hurt, but people do have the ability to make it beautiful, despite the pain.

During those seasons of my life there were hospital visits, hotel stays (the most magical bits of the journey. Even as a small girl, I understood the sheer wonderful that was a hotel room.) painful exams and my mother. It was clear to me what a burden, in every sense of the word, I was to her. And the massage nights, they would likely be the kindest things she ever did for me. It does not matter that for every 25 pain ridden nights, there would be one with her sitting there helping me. Somehow, for as far as I could remember, I knew to be so thankful for that one. (I also knew never to ask her to do it, but that is a different story.)

Throughout my young years, my mother often told me to massage lotion into her feet. I hated doing this. Of the two things she asked me to do the most for, (foot massage and dumping her ashtray) thoughts of both still have me recoiling. As an adult I now live with my own feet which ache more often than not. (sidenote, my mother went on to have some serious foot issues needing multiple surgeries and there are moments when my own pains lead me to fear that is my fate as well,) Despite the tumultuous relationship I have had with my mother, i was flooded with something like peace and relief to know that maybe I had brought her something good. Maybe in those moments, with Vaseline lotion in hand, I brought her the comfort she was mentally/emotional incapable of bringing to me.

A couple of weekends ago I went to visit my mother. I had not seen her for one week shy of a year. I was wary of how it would go. Sitting down for a visit with a severely bi-polar woman who is in the early stages of dementia can be unpredictable. The 120 minutes were filled with ups, downs, confusion (hers), empathy (mine), guilt (also mine) and a precious 10 minutes where I grabbed the bottle of lotion from the table which sits next to her lift bed, and gently rubbed her feet. She argued at first, but in time she relaxed.

My mom has dementia and is in a home 45 minutes from my apartment. This is the closest I have lived to her since I was 12. Between us there is so much and it has been very hard on me, in a complicated and layered way. My dog, who was my closest companion, died. This broke the tiny piece of my heart which was still in tact and, three months later, I still miss her terribly. My marriage was in shambles and felt irreparable and hopeless. While the word felt is truly appropriate here, past tense and all, I won’t lie: it still feels that way sometimes. (I do appreciate that sometimes is a lot more manageable than always.) I went through a lot of hurt and due to a situation, have harbored a lot of flat-out hatred for a few individuals. I have spent seven long months waiting to matter, waiting to be worth something to my husband and waiting to have my heart fought for. It was in my thirty November days of gratitude and reflection that I finally had to admit this will never happen. My husband loves me. He used to love me more, and differently, or at least he pretended really well. Now he loves me this way, and that is simply how it is. I have some semblance of worth to him, though others are worth more. They have done nothing to earn this position, and honestly are really horrible women, but that is not the reflection of my worth that I have allowed it to be. As much as I may imagine a confrontation which leads my husband to proclaim his choice of me and force each of them to face the awfulness of themselves, I do not need this. I no longer harbor hatred towards them. I no longer expect my husband to love me the way I once believed he did, simply I accept that he does not. While I do not like the esteemed position of these women within his heart, this realization does not make me less valuable or worthy. It simply means to my husband I may be, but he is not the end all of my appraisal.

I am the daughter of a woman who had loving parents who worked really hard for her. They were not perfect, but neither was she. She has mental illness which, untreated, really made a mess of her life. She caused immeasurable amounts of pain and for the forty years that I have known her, she has harbored hatred and bitterness to extreme degrees. Despite everything, I will always be her daughter. I may end up with marred and pain riddled feet. I may cry in the occasional sappy Hallmark movie, melt into a puddle whenever I see a puppy and have unrealistic ideals of what my daily productivity levels should be, but beyond the little details I do not want to be like my mother. I do not want to harbor ill will to anyone. I do not want my perception of worth to be based on a man’s perception of my worth. I do not want to spend any amount of time tormenting my children, causing them to go any amount of time terrified to see me.

I will however, take any foot massage offered to me. (that being said, I am probably always going to be way too scarred to ask for it.)

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