With the news of James’ mom’s recent passing, I find myself reflecting on my own parent/child relationship. How lucky am I to have her, and how much I feel for James. Please consider donating here to his family’s gofundme to help with expenses. I know that this place that he has created has helped me immensely. It has done more for me than I can put into words and I hope that we can open our arms to be a comfort in return.
I have always had an incredibly tumultuous relationship with my mother growing up. I know now that I was a bit unpredictable to say the least and with reason. What I didn’t know is how much of a comfort she would be to me now.
My mom is disabled and she lives with me. I am just on the cusp of 30 (HELP!) and many people who hear this picture an elderly woman who can’t feed or bathe herself. They look at me with sad eyes and apologize. They provide niceties about how “you shouldn’t have to take that on!”. The truth is she takes care of me. Yes, I end up grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and the occasional bathing when she is really hurting. But she does a lot for me too. We can start with the obvious: She hasn’t killed me.
I was, in all honesty, a mean little bitch. I told her I hated her, stole from her, lied, and had even hit her once growing up. I wasn’t some pot smoking, partying, rebellious teenager. I was just, bipolar. It is kinda funny now, but it really isn’t at all. I was so “moody” as we had thought that my mom wanted to send me away to a camp in an attempt to reform me. I was even more manipulative. She took me to a specialist on numerous occasions to be evaluated. The mental illness is heavy in this family. My devious ass saw right through their questions and lied my way home. Things only got better when I acknowledged I had a problem and sought out help. I only got better then.
That woman is a saint. In a few short weeks she will be 50. She had me young and endured more than she should have. She put up with me and sometimes had to keep me at a distance. So yes, I take care of her. I pay the bills, do the grocery shopping, fetch her medications, and at times I bathe her.
But she is still doing more for me. She still puts up with my sudden mood changes. The volatile sport that is Bailey. She bites her tongue when I tell her I am having an “off day” as I have grown to call manic episodes. She helps me monitor my spending during this time so I can stay on the right track. My mom stays up with me when insomnia strikes and we binge watch Netflix and crack jokes. She sets her alarm, but has no reason to get up early. It is for me. One time they raised the dose of my Seroquel and slept through three alarms and multiple calls from my boss. She keeps me accountable.
She stays on the phone with me when I choose to move 1000 miles away on a whim. When I left her with my grandmother to care for her. When I am sobbing because I am off my medication and afraid of myself. She doesn’t push me to get back into life when I move back home. She doesn’t comment on the amount of time that I have gone without combing my hair or showering. Instead, she waits for me to be ready and offers to help me sort it out.
I am so grateful for my mother. I am grateful that I have her. I am grateful for the things she does for me. I am grateful for the way she has loved me in spite of the way I have behaved.
I have no idea how it feels to lose a mom. The closest I have come is to emotionally feel like I have lost her as a teenager when she had to love me from a distance. I know now that when we speak about that period of time, we both weep. I especially am brought to tears when she tells me how hard it was to not be there, to not communicate. I know that when she is gone from this Earth, it will hurt like hell. Life will never be the same. I will have to remind myself of her words and how her heart aches when she is away from me as well, that she did not abandon me.
All of this to say that we are so lucky to have people in our lives that support us through….well, us being us. It isn’t easy to see past the terrible parts of mental illness. It is all risk and no reward. My heart absolutely goes out to James and the others that find themselves one less ally, friend, parent, sibling, or other relative to walk through life with. I hope that you know that you meant the world to them. I can say that with full confidence. You have to love someone more than a lot to stick through it.