Monday, July 26, 2010

accepting help

Under great stress I go to the hairdresser. Don't you? So back from my latest wedding gig, I go for a "do".

No words. Very tired. (Messy) Said "help". Got some. (Lather) Feeling better. Still silent. (Rinse) Getting perspective. Said "HELP". (Repeat) Some things just need time and attention. Some need action. And some just are.

Resting and being is helpful.

Just tired. Thanks. for the help. For the break. For the moments of clarity. For the time.

I am never this silent at the hairdresser. I dare not say it aloud. The terrifying truth. Only in heart does that spectre burn. Horrifying is my reality. In the middle of the ceremony I forgot the groom's name!

Someday my words will return, unlike mom's. Is it stress? Is it menopause? Is it ... "IT"?


Please...let me find my words again. Let this be anything else. Once again that niggling fear. Always there. Like the dull hum of cicadas in summer heat. The distant rumblings of thunder echo on the mountains. The storm may never come here. I still smell the wind, and get prepared.



Friday, July 2, 2010

and another option....

Today I played. Really played. A good friend from life is also dealing with elder care stress and today we played. Both of us got in my car...drove to the big city and spent the day doing the tourist things we did a lifetime ago with our young children. This time, instead of their wiping noses, making a mad dash to the bathroom so they could get to the potty on time or avoiding the noisy exhibits so as to minimize whining, we went as ourselves. I still wiped noses, my own. We still sprinted to the bathroom but this time I only had to keep track of myself! And we went to the lightning show and actually watched it. I laughed! I feel better too. This was a really fun time. I have been trying to balance without all the parts in play. Work and play!

Thank you Grimelda. That was a great day!
Amen and halleluyah.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

redefining normal

Today was really difficult. I left my mom in the hands of her extremely competent caregiver, a lovely woman from Ghana that I found through an agency, and escaped. I am not sure when exactly it became so difficult to be around mom during the day. It could be when she began fighting me about everything. Suddenly it seems she disapproves of so much I do, or try to do. She complains about the time I spent at the hospital.Now it is also about how I make toast,or planted flowers, even what friends I chose to see, when and how often. I struggle to understand why this conflict.My guess is it is akin to frustration. It could be her ever increasing competency losses, and all that represents. It could also be the lingering wisdom, buried under all her aggression and confusion, that I desperately need and we cannot access. It could be the new behaviors she cannot change yet that I find embarrassing, extremely inconvenient and emotionally draining. It could be that I have just gotten tired always being questioned.

At any rate, it has become unpleasant for me to spend long periods of time with my mother. Her needs seem to always trump mine until I lose myself in her care. I know that trap and am trying to avoid it. What is worse is it isn't just her needs but her every desire that has become mine to fulfill. How did this happen? Maybe it is because I have begun to resent not getting to eat food I like, go to church unencumbered, Or even decorate my home as I like. New normal now has negated my ability to plan my day without a power struggle. This is all so very new, and now constant. It wears me out.

So...I bought some time from the caregiver and I went back to work. I first went to my campus job, always slow during the summer, where I enjoyed lunch with four newer to me students. It was surprisingly odd, as what had been a pretty stable group of religious seekers just a few weeks ago morphed into an eclectic band of unknown anxiety ridden lost souls during the summer months. It was different, but still good. That filled three hours. After the campus lunch I went to the hospital getting a few precious hours of hospital time in while my extremely competent replacement is being oriented.

I am nearly out of my hospital job. My ill colleague has returned,still very shaky, from her extended leave. I cannot help but worry for her as I think she came back before she was ready. When I decided I had to leave this particular chaplaincy a mere six weeks ago myself and gave notice of my intention to be releasing the position to my supervisor, arrangements were made and my replacement hired. She began work the same day that my ill colleague returned, just a few days ago. As NewCHaplain is being brought on board I agreed to help the team and do a few more hours while she is brought up to speed.

As I enjoy the day I become aware of this trap too. I should have just left. It was hard to leave and the seduction of the ministry is strong. I love the work so much and my willpower is weak. I have friends there and with mom I am extremely isolated at times. I worry I will lose my balance again and would continue in this bad job after leaving if they only ask.

A few hours more, seeing patients and helping with office clean up, navigating the computer programs and explaining subtleties of hospital policies and politics, I am once again on my own and headed home.

Oh great spirit,help.

I am surrounded by folks that are better at what I do than I am. In theory that is good and normally I would rejoice to have such great colleagues. And actually I do! Right now, I am just so sad. I have failed in my heart, somehow, to be the caregiver I wanted to be, and that mom needs. I have failed to balance things enough to keep a beloved hospital ministry going. But mostly, I have failed to maintain the connections that I need to stay strong in my faith.

Grimelda shows me the traps of this thinking. She reminds me things are meant to change. Normal is fluid by design. When I stumble the ones who are given the gifts I drop are grateful and all is not lost, just different. Mom likes her caregiver. Her caregiver likes her. She enjoys her work as much as I enjoyed mine. The students will return, always new ones anyway, in September. New Normal can also be good. As River changes its path, it is still a river. All stages of the tree are beautiful in their own way and many depend on it to thrive. Change is neither good nor bad. It just is, and that is glorious.