I’ve been too busy. I’ve been going strong for too long. I’m tired. I need to regroup.
My guys are gone. I’m home alone on a beautiful fall day. The windows are open and a cool breeze (60 degrees) is flowing through the house. I’m still in my favorite pajamas. Christmas Spirit, a delightful blend of essential oils is diffusing a cozy scent throughout. I’ve snuggled up with a cup of warm green chia tea with maple syrup (a new favorite) alone with my thoughts. I’ve needed this. I’m in my zone. This is my best way to regroup and recharge. Alone. In my pajamas. Quiet. Cozy. Clean house. Great scent. Great food. Great weather. Alone.
It’s been just over seven months since I received the call informing me my mother was found dead. Alone. In her apartment. After repeated uncontrollable drinking binges, she bled out. She couldn’t stop herself. She drank herself to death. She knew it was killing her. She would call me crying and tell me she was scared because she was bleeding again. But yet, she couldn’t stop herself. She refused to go to treatment. She hated the things she did when she had been drinking or using. Sometimes I wonder if she really hated herself. Maybe she wasn’t able to separate the things she did under the influence from the person she really was…her sober clean self. Or maybe she no longer knew the real her. Maybe it had been too long and the real her had been destroyed by the devastating disease. I really never knew her. Not like most people know their moms. She was Mother. She had never really been mom.
My family says I grieve late. When my Papa died it took me almost 10 years to deal with it. Because of mother’s addiction I learned how to compartmentalize and box up my feelings. When bad things happened, I didn’t have the ability to deal with the hard heartbreaking feelings at the time things occurred. I had to parent my parent who had a chronic debilitating disease and made bad decisions. I had to box up those tough feelings and put them away until later…when I had the time, energy and resources to deal with them. When Papa died, I boxed up my feelings. It was too much for me. He was my everything. I was young and didn’t understand compartmentalizing or have any idea I even did it. One random day, in my early twenty’s the box which held all my emotions and feelings from Papa’s death exploded. Almost ten years later. It couldn’t be contained anymore. One minute, I sat talking and doing life with those close to me and the next I was crying like he had just died. It was crazy. Since then, I’ve tried to be aware of my compartmentalizing. I try to open those boxes a little at a time and deal with things so I don’t have another explosion. My family and I laugh (because that’s what we do at hard stuff) and say – don’t worry – she’ll (me) deal with it in a couple of years.
I’ve done the same thing with mother’s death. I’ve put my feelings in a box. But it’s different. Before Papa died, I had never thought about death. But since his death – I think about it often. His life and death made a great impact on me and how I live. I never expected my Papa to die. Not really. But because of Mother’s addiction, I expected her to die. I tried to prepare myself for her death for years. I knew she was dying. The truth is…it was shocking that she managed to stay alive for so long because of the way she lived. I know that sounds mean and cruel but if you’ve loved an addict – you get it. They live such a hard lifestyle that most days you wake up thinking…I can’t believe she is still alive. Then you feel guilty. Because feeling guilty and loving and addict go hand in hand.
I can feel myself avoiding thoughts and feelings related to mother’s death. I find myself crying a lot lately. As cruel as it sounds…my feelings and tears surprise me. I thought I had done well to prepare myself for this. But you can’t ever prepare yourself for the feeling’s you experience after someone’s death. Not really. Thoughts of her pop into my head at random times. When I’m traveling several hours in the car for work, I think of calling mother because that’s when I would call her. When I’m in a hotel, I catch myself packing up the little shampoo, conditioner and other bath products to give her. When I hear something about a drug, I want to call her and ask her about it. When I have leftovers, I catch myself thinking I need to freeze them for her. The other day when I listened to https://youtu.be/4wAFj5mAs_M “Gone” by Meagan White, I cried. I thought of my new friend who lost her mom to suicide/addiction only 3 months after I lost mother. I cried for her and I cried for me.
When mother was alive, I wanted all the phone calls and the pain and the heartache to stop. For me and for her. I wanted to find some peace and not have to worry about the constant phone calls from her and others. I wanted to be able to stop worrying if she was safe, had food or if she had been beat up again. I wanted to be able to wake up in the morning without 7 million voice mails about mother. Her life was out of control. I wanted some relief from the burden her addiction had placed on my life and my heart. And hers. I tried to prepare myself for her death but I never prepared myself that I’d miss her. But I do.
I miss her.
I miss her humor.
I miss listening to her laugh.
I miss the answers I never got to the questions I never asked.
I miss listening to her say Kandy Lyn real fast.
I miss listening to her say “you listen here SCCCCCCCCOTTYYY” when she was mad at him.
I miss knowing I could pick up the phone and hear her voice and hang up really quickly if she was drunk.
My heart hurts for the things she never got to know and enjoy. My heart hurts for the things I was robbed of because of her addiction. My heart hurts for the things I never wrote to her but wish I had.
My heart hurts that she died. Alone. In a nasty little apartment that smelled.
I’m mad. I’m mad at her. I’m mad at addiction. I’m mad at how we treat and view addiction. I’m mad that I deleted all of the voicemails before she died. I long to listen to hear her voice and some of the voicemails that made me laugh. I’m mad at myself for not taking extra time with her or for not hugging her a little tighter the last time I saw her. I’m mad that she didn’t go to treatment and work through the hard stuff.
But mainly my heart just hurts. For mother. For me. For my boys. For her brothers and sisters. For her mom and dad. And for everyone else who is experiencing, will experience and has experienced this terrible heartbreaking devastating disease.
I’m so thankful for all of the positive wonderful people God has strategically placed in my life. I’m so thankful I somehow by the grace of God ended up on a completely different path than mother.
I’m thankful for all the hard lessons I learned that taught me to live intentionally and with purpose.
Today, I’m especially thankful for the small things…quiet alone time; my favorite pajamas; a much needed day where I didn’t leave my cozy, clean home; great food; great weather and great scents.
I miss her…and I never prepared for that.
Finding the sweet side of crazy!
I was so touched reading this. You are so early in grief, 7 months is not long to mourn a death. I could have written this myself, having lost my “mom” to suicide, also an alcoholic with so much pain in her past. That’s why she drank. She self-medicated her pain away.
Yes, 40 years later and I still miss the mom I never had. I get tears at odd times, especially on her birthday and anniversary of her death. I too, was her parent in many ways. Those memories never die, like she did.
Thank you for sharing Louise. It means a lot to me. Having people to relate to is so important. I’m sorry you had to endure the pain of losing your mom the way you did. Addiction/alcoholism rob so many. II know it is heartbreaking for those who suffer from the disease as well. So much pain in her past – was true for mother as well. Hugs and thank you for your comment.