“No one told us which way to come. Nobody mapped oblivion. So I go growing roses in the disarray.” – Lights, “Banner”
“I think this is the point at which most people go on a trek to India because AHHH LIFE, or go on a hike because they’re addicted to heroin and their mom died of cancer,” I told my sister on the phone. “My version would be walking around the block and hoping I had an insight before I got back home again so I could write a book about my experience.”
Maybe it started with my phone, which got so wet during a downpour that it died, resurrected, and then just plain malfunctioned. You want to be unfortunately discombobulated in this world? Forget about real problems, like war-torn countries and starvation; start with the petty inconvenience of not having a phone for four days.
…Then get to real problems. In just a few short weeks, I’ll be asking the court for legal guardianship of my mother, who is unable to take care of herself. I don’t think I’ll win; my mom – who has had schizoaffective disorder since before I was born, and has auditory hallucinations and paranoid delusions daily – has the uncanny ability to pull it together at the exact moment that she needs the most help.
But it’s when she’s on her own that things dilapidate; the places she stays become uninhabitable, she forgets to eat or take her medication, she becomes suspicious of everything and everyone. She doesn’t want to leave her apartment. Then, she gets a little better. Then she’s mostly stable for six months. Then, before you know it, her mind frizzles and frays and she’s gone.
I’ve had a front-row seat to this cycle for a while now, and I don’t think I’ve handled it in the best way. In fact, I know I haven’t handled it well at all. When she is admitted to the hospital and then is back home again I promise myself that I will visit, that – because of her extreme isolation and loneliness – maybe it just takes some companionship to keep her somewhat tethered. But the avenues that we travel are parallel – she gets worse whether I visit or not, whether we talk or not, and by the time we intersect, I either feel like an asshole because I recognize her loneliness or I feel rage and indignant because she’s getting worse, and I had nothing – and everything – to do with it.
(Once I literally ran away from her because I couldn’t handle it. I left her talking to herself in the middle of Walgreens. I said, “Love you mom, gotta go, bye!” She was still talking. And as I ran all I could think was, “I am a bad daughter; I am a bad daughter.” I called her when I got home, to make sure she was okay. To make sure I was.)
I guess my hope is that, if all goes well, she will go back to an assisted living situation. She had been, for about 7-8 years – and though she didn’t like it – she was safer. It is better than the alternatives of homelessness or jail.
…And then move on to things outside of family. Like that a couple weeks ago, my stupid apartment flooded (“That’s never happened in the 8 years we’ve rented the basement out!” said the landlords). I kept some stuff, threw a lot of stuff away, am surrounded still by stuff that I refuse to organize because there’s no point – I need to find a new place soon. Sometimes I think of just pouring water on the rest of the things, so that everything will have that same weird mildewy smell. Sometimes I think I will emerge from here having grown an extra finger on my right hand. And when I am old I can think of this as a learning experience. Of what, I’m not quite sure, because this fucking sucks.
I think the major thing that has suffered is my training for the marathon. With all this adult stuff, I forget that I have 12 weeks left. Not that I was doing great before (on an average week of 6 suggested workouts, I was getting at least 2 in; throw all this on top of it and I’m lucky to get one done).
I keep telling myself that somehow it’ll all work out, because it has to. There is no other option. It’s not like I’m succeeding in life right now; rather, I’m too busy failing to succeed. But if my head has fallen off (which it has – somewhat quietly), then I just need to screw it back on and continue.
I’ll get it together. When? That’s the question.