My younger brother moved my mother into his studio apartment yesterday. The assisted living facility that she was in kicked her out. I don’t know what to do to help.
My mother has suffered from delusional paranoia most of her life. As a result, her kids are alienated. I got a long facebook note from an older brother about that this morning.
I’ve only recently come to grips with the relationship myself. Luckily, I’ve been able to weed through what she tried to do to take care of me and to appreciate it. I’ve been able to see some of the good things about her that I’ve picked up and that are now part of my personality. Regardless of a person’s mental illness, that is not all there is about them. Sometimes, it’s hard to get past because it’s so overwhelming, but it’s never all there is. Even though I appreciate some of the things about her now, I still block her from my moment to moment reality. It’s a longtime coping mechanism and I can’t shake it.
Now, my mother is suffering from dementia which makes the paranoia impossible to suppress. The thin veneer that she had managed earlier in life is almost gone. She trusts my little brother to take care of her, so at least she doesn’t feel threatened. But, now she has to use a non-existent coping facility to adjust to her new living situation.
I was spending a joyous day in Chicago yesterday with a very great buddy and we walked by a poster art store on Michigan Avenue. In the window, there was a framed picture of the top of a polar bear’s head with a cardinal hovering over it and I started to cry when I saw it.
When my mother moved me out when I was 15 and placed me in a foster home, she gave me this little ceramic cardinal. It was an important image for her because her mother gave her a cardinal (picture…?) when mom moved out of their family home and got married at 16. My grandmother may have been a monster. I don’t know. The only connection I have to her are my mother’s horrific stories and they cannot be taken to the bank. Regardless, this little red bird became the symbol for a mother’s love from a mother who was extremely crappy at love. It’s given at a time of transition. A time of moving on with the hope that it will portend good things.
The polar bear has come to symbolize utter joy for me. So, there’s this picture. I bought it. I haven’t been able to unwrap it yet. It’s in tissue paper in a bag under my desk.
In a weird ‘portend’ kind of way, my fantasy imagination sent me that picture. It’s so much better than a framed photo of the two of us.
I’ll figure it out. I can do it. Heartache – check. Unconditional love – got it. Hope – creeping up on me. I feel it. Like wings.
Susan Scot Fry
Update… Very teary, tough day.