The Courage to Change

I am in a state today.  I can’t go an hour without feeling the sadness of this whole rotten walk and I can’t go an hour without feeling guilty for my anger.

My mother is dying. It will be a slow death and today I am angry that I do not have a time-table.

And then I was disgusted with myself for feeling angry.

It all feels so lose/ lose.

I  only wanted to find 1% Forgiveness for my mother at the beginning of this venture. I felt that I had made my peace with a reasonable goal.  Is 1% too little to ask?

I am thinking .25% Acceptance.

My mother abused me and I have scars, all kinds of scars, to prove it.

She openly disdains me to this day because I  “locked her up.”

My mother made it clear she wanted 6 boys; not us.

Got it. Loud and clear.

1% seemed doable a month ago. Not today.

Today: .25% Acceptance.       Maybe.

I am beginning to think I first need to find 1% Forgiveness for myself and the feelings of guilt I carry. Did I do this right? Should I have done this better? Can I carry compassion with me and open my heart at least once?

I opened my heart; I was born with an open heart.

And it was all hers for the taking.

I do carry compassion in and the door locks behind me; I am not always able to carry compassion out as the door swings shut and again locks behind me leaving my mother with an alarm in case of escape.

That alarm should sound as I leave.

Escape is Escape, right?

“Accept the Things you can not change.”

Yes sir. Got it.

But here is the rub: Can I change myself?

Can I be more Forgiving? Tolerant? Compassionate?

Can I be more Graceful on this walk?

“Accept the things you cannot change.”

I can not change the past. I can not change my mother.

It must be me that needs the over haul.

Do I have the courage to change the things I can, is the question.

No. I don’t have the courage or the time or the inclination or the fortitude or…

Sometimes I pretend my mother is an old Friend on the secured unit of a locked floor. Sometimes I pretend that I am not living this, walking this, and sometimes then I feel changed.

Does that count? Does pretending count?

Can Fake It Till You Make It

Get me through my mother’s death rattle?

Can it?

~ by Step On a Crack on November 2, 2011.

12 Responses to “The Courage to Change”

  1. From where I am, looking on as you struggle through this time in your life, I see a woman who cares deeply. I also see a woman who is not giving herself credit for the fine job she’s doing in making sure her mother doesn’t suffer more than she has to.
    It’s such a difficult thing, caring for someone in your mother’s position. Knowing she brought it upon herself is neither here not there. She’s there, being cared for and you need to care for yourself. That seems to me to be your main task now. Take care. My thoughts are with you.


    • Carolyn, Thank you for being here. Thank you for being a mirror. I probably am doing an OK job. I really am working to make sure Mommy has the easiest time possible now. You are right. she is being cared for and I have a family here. Take care of myself has a foreign ring to it. That is NOT a good thing. Thank you for the kind sensitive words and the insight.

      Peace, Jen


  2. Oh JEN! What am i going to do …? You can’t “even up” the score … there is no way she can make up for what she did to you. Jen, there is nothing that you did, or might have done, or thought of doing to your mother that should make you feel even the slightest bit guilty. The guilt worries me so much, and yet i feel it too DEEPLY. Your honesty is WAY OVER THE TOP. You have guts to tell Your Truth. People are so protective about “mothers” — as if they all deserve some sort of award for giving birth … anyone can do that … it’s what you do afterward (i.e., how you love Your Will) that matters.

    I know the pain: I have it with my brother. I imagine him in a “lockup” some day too — but he won’t let me in. THAT is hate — or indifference. I don’t know. It all hurts … and it’s not fair. AND we simply aren’t going to get anything from these “stones”. I feel your pain so deeply. I feel that i’ve begged my brother for forgiveness … for fucking what? For me being sick? For me staying away from a family that put me through hell? Begging for forgiveness.

    I don’t know about your mom … BUT i’m begging you to forgive yourself!

    All my love, mel

    p.s. for some reason when you post … the notifications are still connected to yahoo instead of gmail. You have MUCH BIGGER FISH TO FRY … i know where you are 😉


  3. I never did like ‘Fake it till you make it’. I don’t think I get it. The wisdom in that is beyond me because I trip on the ‘fake’ part every time. I am me. I am real, if nothing else. I sense you are, too.

    So if that won’t work for you, find something that does. Something real. Maybe listening to music, being with support people and swaddling your head for a while until it can take another whack at things. Just try to get some ‘me’ time. Would that work?


    • Heidi I agree. Fake it till you make it really never worked for me either. I guess I am grasping for straws here when you are DEAD ON: me time. I was in care givers therapy early in this dementia hell journey and that was a key to surviving. I am having a tough time being a “sandwich” a Real Mom and a Proud Mom and a sorta mom to my mom. It has been a stressful week. I think I need to SEE with my eyes (I love that post on your blog) I am just ‘hearing’ my voice tell me I CAN do it all and really I can’t. I am proud to say that I am weathering this with nary a thought of self medication. THAT is success. Thank you my virtual sponsor and voice of reason. I talked with program folks yesterday. time to hit it. thank you….


  4. A couple of thoughts.

    Keep the feelings pouring out onto the page, for in stuff like this, the only way out is through. And that means feeling one’s feelings, no matter what they are, is critical, IMHO. So, the word “Allow” comes to mind here. Allow the feelings wherever they are in any given moment, experience them, allow them, and then release them. I think that a lot of release can come on these pages, and a lot has here. I’m happy to read the feelings. I have enough distance from the situation to just nod, and listen, and then nod some more.

    There are “good days” and “bad days.” Days where one thinks, “Yeah, I can DO this” and others where it feels like “I’d rather be dead than deal with this one nanosecond more!” The anger can well up at the most unexpected times… And it will do no good whatsoever to get mad at her, because, well, she’s not really “there” in so many ways, huh. The anger, perhaps, is more between you and HP? Yeah, I experience that a lot. Anger for just being IN the situation and feeling like I should be someplace else, experiencing something else.

    Feel & release. Feel & release… It’s my mantra sometimes.

    Also, yes, I think pretending counts. Faking it until you make it, to some degree (not to the degree of repression or numbing your feelings, though). Because “this too shall pass” and tomorrow things might feel different, the day after tomorrow, still different yet… Getting through the present moment is what counts, though, as the only constant is change, and things will eventually change. You’re not in this spot forever.

    Much deep love to you as you experience all of this stuff, Jen. Oh and yeah — be patient with yourself. 🙂 I think you are pretty cool & that a lot of what is here is very, well, normal-sounding. I don’t think you need to do this any better than you are right here and now.


  5. Are you kidding?! 0.25% is HUGE! It’s a very big step from where you were. How can you get to 0.26% is you don’t hit 0.25% first? Then later, 0.27%. It’s all about moving in the right direction and you definitely are.

    Personally, i’m a big believer in “Fake it til you make it.” To me, it means even if i don’t feel like hitting a meeting or being smiley at work, i prime the pump by pretending and often the sincerity follows.

    Keeping you in my thoughts, Jen!


  6. You cannot change your mother. You cannot change yourself. That work is for bigger hands than yours.
    The sadness is so right and good, even though it hurts. We all should care so much when our parents pass on. The anger seems larger than it is, because you are so weary.
    But you are not doing this right OR wrong. You are not doing this. This is your mother’s doings. She decided to hate, and to drink. Now she is reaping.
    Your compassion, in fact, ANY compassion shown to her by anyone, is more than she could hope for, more than folks in other cultures receive.
    You are doing your part well–the hurt, the honesty about anger, the stepping in to protect her from herself, the realization of the need to rest–you are doing all you can.
    The forced detox, the dementia, the door locks and alarms–those are hers. She did that, does that. It is not you.
    It hurts you, but it is not you.
    “Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you
    rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and
    humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is
    easy and my burden is light.” Said by One who also bore scars.


  7. I truly feel for you. I started counseling because my grief is so entangled with my mother’s alcoholism. I not only grieve losing her I grieve the fact that I will never have a real relationship with my mom. I prayed my whole life for her to stop drinking and when she finally did it killed her anyway. You are grieving so much more than your mom’s alcoholic dementia. You feelings are so complex and they are ok, no matter what they are. You deserved better. We both did. Hugs to you


    • Dear Hope YOU are So right! YOU totally understand this walk! Thank you for finding me here! Do you have ANY advice? In hindsight, would you have done anything differently? YOU know this walk, I am deeply sorry for that AND I am grateful you are here. Peace, Jen


  8. I made a decision to care for my mom when she got diagnosed. I am glad I did. It gave me a year to get to know her. I decided to let go of the hurt and anger that her drinking caused. I decided to love her despite everything. I decided to be there for her in the end despite everthing. I would do it again. That being said, I took care of her and forgave her because it was what I needed. You are not me, what ever decision you make should feel right.


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