Bumps in the Road
I haven’t written here in a while, and that wasn’t intentional. For a while there I was on a good clip. I woke up early every morning, ate well, I exercised, I was creative in a variety of ways, I plugged away at my novel. I worked my day job, I paid my rent. Tending my own fire.
But what I was really doing was building up a head of steam to burst through two upcoming stressful events. The first is the second anniversary of my dad’s death. The second is a family vacation. Now I know many people are like a family vacation, awesome! Others are like a family vacation.... awesome.
In case you are unaware of the sarcasm-laden in the final statement of the previous paragraph. Allow me to reiterate that there was a hefty dose of SARCASM intended. I really hoped and prayed that all the work my mom and I had done in the previous few years would culminate in success.
Like the X-Files before me, “I want to believe.” Alas, it was not to be. A little more than a week before dad’s yahrzeit, and a few weeks before the vacation, the other shoe dropped. It was a Sunday and I was having a lazy day. I got a text from my mom with 4 photos.
They were these really intense photographs of her in a hospital room wearing an oxygen mask. My first thoughts were, “oh no” and “not yet” and “I’m not ready to go through this again” and “I’m going to be all alone in this world” and that it reminded me obviously of my dad’s hospital-hospice stay.
There was no text. Just photos. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. I immediately called and she told me she had a few minor things wrong and wanted it all addressed at once. Okay. Deep breath. Why the photos? You might be asking.
“I figured it would make you happy to see that I’m taking care of myself.”
I’m that moment, I snapped. All the muck of grief had been dredged up, floating on the surface like so much flotsam. Then a bomb was detonated. “Why couldn’t you just tell me you were at the doctor?” I asked. “Why did you have to send such alarming pictures?” I asked.
What followed was a bunch of angry stuff from both of us until I finally just couldn’t talk anymore. I was done. I told her I needed space and not to contact me for a while. Which of course she didn’t like. So I turned off my phone and went about my day, untethered. I was trying to wade through this storm.
I was so angry that I went to bed. The next morning my body revolted. Some strange combination of illness and nervous breakdown had taken hold. That head of steam, with positive intentions, quashed by the hurricane that is my mother. For the next week, I barely got out of bed.
I was depressed, anxious, I tried desperately to push through it. But my body was having none of it. So I relented. I surrendered. To fever dreams and sadness and anger. I cried for myself and my dad. I cried for my mom. I cried for my nephew who I might not get to see.
Every person I told about this and showed the photos too, all reacted in the same way. What the fuck is wrong with your mom. Even my therapist was just sort of blown away. These reactions were new and disconcerting because my mom often told me I overreacted and that I was too smart for my own good.
I had hoped that would be everyone’s reaction as well. So I could somehow quell the inner fire. But it wasn’t to be. After not communicating for over a week, I told my mom I was not going on vacation with her. She exploded and I ignored her.
I don’t understand why she’s the only person besides Donald Trump who can goad such a reaction. I pride myself on not giving any fucks. Maybe it’s because deep down, I needed her, in my grief, in my vulnerability, and I reached out, only to be burned again. Maybe that aggravated me to no end.
Instead, I went to visit my best friend in Florida and see his mom. Her health is declining. But she was optimistic, in good spirits, happy to see me. Sure, part of the reason I went was selfish. I needed a reboot. Thankfully I got exactly what I needed.
I also got confirmation that the work I’m doing is valid and personally useful. Leaving home, going to different states, pursuing my dreams. All valid. All useful. Not validation from others. Because, let’s face it, that isn’t a tenable foundation. Trust me, I get the irony here in saying that considering the strife with my mom. I do.
But it was upon reflection of my choices and my life and my circumstances. Self-reflection and self-validation. If it happens to coincide with the external. Well. That’s just a shared delusion! It was a short and bittersweet trip. And wholly necessary.
And that’s where I begin, again. To build up that head of steam. Having learned and reflected and grown. How and when my mom and I reconnect will reveal itself. I'm still incensed and my feelings are valid. For now, I’ve got to get back to the important work of healing and creating my best self. As my dad always advised, "keep on trucking, baby."