There’s a Fire Starting In My Heart, Reaching A Fever Pitch
Sometimes I feel like all I ever have are complaints. This fact keeps me awake at night- something I end up having to add to the list. I get exhausted dealing with thinking about whether or not I am the one who is the one who perpetuates all of these stresses when they could simply be resolved or forgotten. Eventually they do, but mostly I feel like I shouldn’t have to apologize for having emotions. Is there anybody out there? Is there anybody out there like me? Is there anybody out there who isn’t a numb, emotionless automaton; unfeeling and generic, one dimensional and robotic? I’m meeting more and more people who simply don’t care. About anything.
Where did this departure from cause and react feelings come from? Where people have been culturally medicated into a mute stupor? I am alarmed by existing in a culture where suddenly emotions like sadness and grief are considered mental illnesses. What if sadness, disappointment or grief is just a momentary state of being? Impermanent and requiring no more treatment than time? A friend of mine recently referred to grief as being an acute mental illness. Mental illness or disorder is defined as a psychological or behavioral pattern generally associated with subjective distress or disability that occurs in an individual, and which is not a part of normal development or culture. Such a disorder may consist of a combination of affective, behavioral, cognitive and perceptual components.
How is grief or sadness (unless the only emotion a person is capable of 24 hours a day for too long) not a normal or accepted state of being, given the right circumstances? Most of the time, when I express dispeasure, it is mostly irritation. Lately I’ve been called out for it. It’s not like I’m upset all the time. But as every writer will tell you, if every part of every story were happy, there would be no conflict, and therefore no story worth telling. I don’t take to facebook every day just to post a smiley face and some saccharine anecdote. It’s transparent, it’s vapid, and it’s easy. I honestly feel this whole thing is a cultural defense mechanism. If we all pretend we have no issues, and stop talking about them, maybe nobody can get close enough to fuck us up? Does EVERYTHING have to have a damned pill?
Anyhow, commence my current state of being. My Mom is leaving. We have (what I would consider to be) a relatively normal mother/daughter relationship. I love her. I love her a lot. I have learned that she is capable of being extremely generous and wise. At the same time, we disagree a lot and are capable of arguing like feral cats and dogs. We have that typical parent/child, love/hate relationship. Recently, it has been a series of annoyances that have had us at odds (not extremely, just situational). As much as I am so irritated, I am sad she is leaving, unsure how life here will be without her. She was the reason for my being here. This entire reality only exists because I gave her a chance to be my Mom again. I do owe this entire life I have made to that one pivotal decision that I could not have made without her asking me to come here. She changed my life for the better and I was not expecting that. Having her leave this life I built around her is… disconcerting and a little scary. I am intimidated. I thought (silly, I know) she would be here to be my safety net. Now I have to learn to live without it. I know, too, that I will barely see her anymore, and hear from her even less. It will be twice a year, maybe.
She is not coping well with this. I understand that, and I should be more comforting to her. I have a lot going on, and it is hard from me to put all of my obligations aside (despite my understanding) and help her deal with things. She was laid off in April- from a job she has been in since I was 15. The same day she was awarded her 10-year recognition of service gift, she was dismissed. Worse, just after 60 people (including herself) were let go, the same company did a mass hiring of low-level employees at minimum wage. The layoffs reeked of illegal wage-fixing. While they did legitimately ax the service that she was providing as an employee, they also didn’t offer her an existing or new position to fill- because she made $23.50 an hour. They replaced her with someone willing to work for just over a third that much. Three new bodies for the price of one. How sick.
Her layoff forced her to sell the house she thought she was going to pass on to her grandchildren. In the space of a week, her whole future changed. I know what that is like- terrifying. I can’t imagine that experience at 50. She has been forced into the embarrassing need to move in with her oldest child, son-in-law, and three children under the age of 10. She doesn’t even get her own room. It was mortifying to experience at 22, let alone at 50. I do understand what she is going through. But every single time something bad happens to my Mom, she falls apart and loses the ability to function. This is a trend true of her my entire life. She sold her house. The new owners move in at the end of the month. She moves in three days and most of her things are still unpacked. She did not organize anything well and didn’t even arrange a moving truck and driver until two days ago. As usual, she wanted everything the easy way and asked my husband to move her, and drive the truck. He has never driven in Vancouver. I am really nervous for him. It’s hard to navigate there when you are more accustomed to highway driving. I’m hoping his year living in Victoria prepared him for the kind of traffic he is looking to deal with. He didn’t know whether or not he could do it for her, either. He has two full-time jobs and very little time. She is moving the day after our First Anniversary, so it’s a lot to ask of him. Because of all the time he had to take off this week between our anniversary and Amber’s wedding, he was scheduled for Monday (which he had not expected). Unfortunately by the time he found out, Mom had booked the truck and paid $300. She ended up screaming at John over the phone and hung up on him. He is trying to fix it, but to only yesterday yell at my husband for potentially dumping $300 down the drain claiming to be broke and then dump $200 on a facial, haircut/style and manipedi is a tad absurd. To that end, since her layoff Mom has been promising to use the house money to put Kat and I through school. She blew through her entire $18,000 severance package in two months. TWO MONTHS!?! I don’t know how to trust her promises. They feel more like teasing daydreams.
Even greater the irritation, my foster-sister is moving in ON OUR ANNIVERSARY and we have a room to clean up. The same week of the move, we also have a wedding to attend that we were invited to a year ago. We are seriously booked fucking solid and this whole thing has us just gnawing our fingertips off to nubs of bloody stress.
This week, I have resorted to sneaking out, lying, and hiding in order to get free time. I have had to stay at a friend’s place without telling anyone where I am just to get some damn rest and quiet. It’s the only place I have right now where I’m not obligated to do something every minute of the damn day. I feel like an ungrateful child and a bad wife because I have had to resort to that level of selfishness. Last night I took my husband with me to hide out for the night. But mostly I felt guilty for not being with him in our own bed. We re-energize one another most of the time. But lately we’ve both been too stressed and too exhausted to have anything to give one another at the end of the day. It hurts. Especially so close to our first anniversary. We’ve had no time to sit down and work out how we even plan to spend it together. It has caused my sadness.
On the secondary stress front: I have a family reunion in July. It was announced just this week, and I had already made plans to take my friend to Vancouver, as she has not really been there before. We wanted a girls weekend, to see a few friends and sightsee together. I am almost always obligated to family when I go there, and never get to just go there for myself. So once again, I have been forced to augment my plans to accommodate these new plans. It’s three hours- not a big deal, right? Wrong. My friend was effectively blackballed from the whole thing and told she could not be there. WHAT? I’m not leaving a 21 year old girl alone in a foreign city ALONE for 3 HOURS! At first, I bowed out, because I had already promised myself and my time to someone else, but it seems that all involved parties (after a huge, intense and excessively insane blowup) have come to a compromise. Regardless, the gathering itself may be a gong show of epic proportions. In the last 20 years, my Mom has been invited to only two other family gatherings, both of which nearly had her coming to blows with other people. My grandfather passed away this year, emotions and tensions are higher than they have ever been- especially now that all of the kids are adults. My Mom has been invited, and there is talk already of physical fighting if anyone says anything she doesn’t like. When I tried to beg her to just back down and let it go, she told me to fuck off. She is (mostly) a pariah in my family because she is famously seen by many as traditionally being a manipulative, hot-headed bitch. Starting a fist-fight with my Aunt is not going to rehabilitate her image. I’m scared of what is going to come from this. I may have to separate them and let everyone know how I feel. I am also afraid that doing so will make me a pariah to my family for the next 20 years. My family has a sickness of grudges, and intense drama. I just want it to be over. But everyone is so determined to hang onto it with a fucking death-grip.
And last but not least… I start a new job in just over a month. In everything, this I find the least stressful. But at a time when my diabetes is more volatile than ever and requiring such close micromanagement, at a time when I am trying hard to prepare to get pregnant, this is an epic and overwhelming about of stress. I’m not sad. Not really. I think ultimately I will be okay. It’s just the volume of problems in such a small frame of time that I can’t handle. Just get me through the next two weeks. I beg you.