Ever since I learned of Sara’s passing I’ve been in a foggy dissociative state that’s been confusing for me. Since mid November when I returned to my previous job (which is now my current job, life is funny that way), and fired Doc, my last psychiatrist (more on that in future posts), I’ve been doing surprisingly well. I’ve had less instances of getting stuck in the car in a foggy state where I’ll be stuck from anywhere from 10 minutes to upwards of 2 hours. I’ve even been able to get out of bed with very few instances of the stuck-to-the-bed feeling that used to plague me on a near constant basis.
However, a lot of that foggy dissociation returned once the news about Sara reached me. I understood the return of the dissociation at first as it was and is a loss. But then I started getting the feeling that there was more to it, but I couldn’t pin point it, and because I was in that foggy state the thought would come to me in a fleeting moment, and just as soon as it would come it would disappear. I would ask myself, “Wasn’t there something important I was just pondering?” But the thought would just evaporate, such is how it is when my dissociation is ever present.
Yesterday and today seemed to glob into one space of time. Every thing was an effort: getting in the shower, getting in clothes, going to get something to eat, driving, laundry, grocery shopping, the gym, eating again, and then throwing out garbage and putting away groceries. I was stuck in the car, and I just said to myself “We just need to go in the grocery store. We need bananas, oranges, toilet paper, and almond milk. You can do this! It won’t take long.” Thirty minutes later I make it into the damn store.
In that moment when I was sitting in my car, playing a game of Candy Crush trying to jolt myself out of the foggy state, the fleeting thought came back, and this time I managed to hold onto it. As I was playing that stupid game I suddenly had the realization that this has been so hard because of my mother. This whole thing took me back to my mother. There were countless times that she threatened suicide. She would yell that nobody cared about her, we didn’t care about her, and because we did not care about her she was going to kill herself, and when she killed herself we would all be sorry that we did not show her how much we cared about her.
This was a frequent scenario growing up in that dreaded ugly brown house on Marietta St, so much so that I got to the unfortunate point where I am ashamed to say that I started to wish she would go ahead and do it and put us all out of our misery. Thankfully, I never expressed this to her, but I definitely thought it, wished it, hell I think I might have prayed for it at one very desperate point. I don’t even want to know what God must have made of that request.
There was one time when I was likely around 6 or 7 years old when I ripped up a Ziploc bag in front of her and ate it as she was making her typical suicidal threats. When she realized I did it as a suicidal gesture she laughed, and said to me that eating that bag was not going to kill me.
Eventually I started staying away from home as much as possible. I recall one particular argument (actually this is the only part of the argument I recall. I couldn’t tell you what we were arguing about in that instance) with my mother when I told her that there would come a day where she would never hear from me or see me again, and I wanted her to remember this moment, remember all the moments that brought us here to this because they will make up the reasons that she will never see me again. And I believe I said something to the effect of, “You should never have been a parent. You’re the worst.”
Decades later I stand by those words. I do, cruel as it may sound, it’s how I feel. I wish her no ill well, just that I leave this earth without any more exchanges between the two of us. Any love that was there was killed, extinguished long ago. She’s just a person to me, a person in this world with whom I have an unfortunate connection. I’ve kept my word in that I’ve not seen her for many years. It’s the right choice given the situation.
I never realized this until this week, but I believe her suicidal threats were likely the most damaging to me out of the entire potpourri of damage she rained on us. I believe it’s the reason when I’ve had friends who’ve experienced suicidal ideation I tend to freak out or take off or both. My own propensity for suicidal ideation leads me to be very close to the vest about it. In the rare moments when it has scared me I am reduced to whispering it to my therapist. There have even been times when I couldn’t even whisper it, all I could do was write it to my therapist and hand her the piece of paper. I never realized, until now, that I have a fear of talking about suicide.
The legacy of suicidal ideation was passed down to me, but I went the opposite direction with it. I try to protect everyone from it. My mother wanted everyone to feel responsible for her ideation, and I go out of my way to protect my loved ones from even knowing that I struggle with this. My mother suffered out in the open, and I struggle with mine in a good amount of isolation.
My mother was a good at crafts, and our dining room table often looked like a craft store vomited on it. She would make homecoming mums (a strange Texas tradition) or make candy cane reindeer at that table. I remember wishing that I liked crafts so that I could have one good memory of doing something nice with her. Instead, I would glance at her doing crafts at that table with my sisters, and I would read a book.
My mother said I was killing her love for me. That statement hurts to this day.
I remember feeling responsible for her life or death, her happiness or depression.
She threatened suicide a lot. My sister and I would create cards for her with hearts and such so she knew she was loved and would therefore not kill herself. I pasted hearts in her restroom and in the shower so she would see them and not take her life.
My fear surrounding suicide has to do with the grocery store. She said she was going to kill herself but then I talked her down. She decided she wanted cake and ice cream so she took me to Kroger to get it. I paid and went out but she was gone. I should write this as an entry, especially since it affects me now in so many ways.
The loss of Sara is shocking as well as frightening. It saddens me to know ill never again see her name pop up in the comment section and I’ll never again pass along a short email. It hurts.
(Sorry so long a comment)
Thank you for sharing. I am glad you felt safe to share your experience with your mother. These kinds of experiences ingrain themselves in us in many ways. It’s good to talk/write about them. We are all processing it together. Thanks for being part of the communal conversation on here.
Sweetheart. This must be really tough for you. I’m sorry. I wish i could convey how much you are NOT responsible for your mom, or anyone else. What God made of that prayer was a compassionate empathy for a child with a boulder on her back begging for its removal. I pray you find continuing peace as you move forward in healing. ❤
Thank you for your very kind reply. I have always felt bad that I likely prayed for it. Your support is much appreciated.
This is so familiar and real. So many women should not have been mothers. It’s a long road back to ‘home’ for us, and every step of the journey takes us farther away from our past. Thank you for sharing this.
Indeed, it is a long way back home for many of us. Thanks for stopping by.
Ah, sounds like you’ve done some excellent work around this recent loss. I agree with talktoj8 above — you are responsible only for yourself, not your mother or anyone else. While you were a child and dependent on adults, your mother was responsible for you — your health, protection, well being. She clearly failed. You were a child. You had neither the knowledge or the resources to take care of anyone, or to be responsible for anyone. Isn’t this a common issue with children of alcoholics? They end up feeling that they need to take care of the alcoholic parent.
Again, your strength is shining through. I’m sorry to hear about your setbacks and look forward to hearing more about the reasons for them. But clearly you are taking care of yourself. Are you still looking for a new therapist?
Hi Cinda, I did find a new therapist. I’ll post on that soon. Quite frankly, I’m still processing that as well. Not sure what I think of the new one, though safe to say better than the former. LOL (surprisingly I can joke about it a tiny bit)