Sunday, February 17, 2008

One good thing about the flu...

Above: me as i looked, reclining in my sickbed wearing my tiara. i found this on in a pretty funny blog post.

Well, after a week of eating an ounce at a time, i've lost 7 pounds. It was a lousy week, it was one of the roughest weeks i've had in recent history, but i lost 7 pounds. That part was good.

i was looking back at what i ate all week, and if i could just manage to eat about 600 calories every day for the rest of my life, maybe i could lose another 7. As opposed to my usual eating, not perfect but certainly a bit more than an ounce at a time, i could only manage to eat an apple and 7 Triscuits all day, then maybe a piece of toast for dinner. Amazing. Of course, i did manage some therapeutic chocolate here and there.

ANYway, this brought some other thoughts to my mind:

There are things i don't like about myself, like, i don't like my weight, i'm not crazy about my wrinkles, but i'm good with myself. Here at 50-odd years old (some much odder then others) i'm actually okay with who i am.

(This could be longish, so you Skimmers hang on for the recap.)

Wind back to January of 2001--my mother died of cancer in Nebraska, and i received the call in California. This call came from her lawyer, as she had not even told me her cancer had returned. Then the deluge of treasures started coming. Stuff like her hand-written will outlining her Replacement Loved Ones and the possessions she wished them to have. i was the only of her 3 birth children still in contact, she had alientated my sister and brother years before. So for me she saved her special comments, designed to make sure i knew i'd been a bitter disappointment to her. i, along with the lawyer and my aunt, received the long pages written to each of her children outlining the many specific ways we had each disappointed her and ruined her life. Then followed the albums of family photos and framed family pictures and such, each with sticky notes attached. These told me things such as "you children killed the mother I was" and other words to hold near and dear to my heart in her absence.

i went into a hysterical tailspin and became a Frequent Flyer at Kaiser's Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Clinic. i remember the first day i spoke with someone there. i was sobbing, "But why could she love those other people, and not me?" The nurse spoke of our expectations of our mothers--"We expect our mothers to love us, and protect us. That's a nurturing act--from here, to here," she said, gesturing from an adult height down to a child's height. "Those others she can relate to from here to here," she said, gesturing from an equal to an equal.

i knew my mother had replaced us with more acceptable children in her new and improved life in Nebraska, but i'd never understood. That day started a 5 year trip down Mental Health Road. A really valuable trip. A trip i hope never to need to repeat.

But from that day of a new beginning, i came from a place where i doubted every single thing about myself, even things i was sure of. i was pretty sure i was a good mom, a kind person, but if the person who is supposed to love you more than anyone in the world thinks you are a disappointment, it's hard for someone like me to know who to believe. But the nurse that first day told me, "You have a very good chance to have a great second half of your life."

i wanted to believe her, desperately. But i couldn't see a way to that place that day. And now seven years have passed. In that time i've been able to pull together the truths of who i am as a person before God. The things He's gifted me with, the person He's grown me into, the kind of woman i knew i was, i've been able to accept--i've learned to silence the voice of my mother that lived in my head. i was finally able to sort out what i knew of myself from what my mother had me believing. And i'm finally good with me. Not with everything about me, but with me.

But i'm still happy about the seven pounds.

Skimmer recap:
Mother. Cancer. Dead. Bad stuff. But now i'm good.



Unknown said...

You poor baby.... Where is your rhelm? Why are they not all standing in attendance as you lay in your sickbed? I have to tell you, it takes a real princess to be able to wear their tiara as well as you do in your sickbed.

Thank you for sharing what was obviously a very painful piece of your life. Once I dig deep enough to unbury my memories, I find that by sharing them helps me set them free. Quite a few years ago my oldest brother gave me the secret of happiness. He said that I am the only one responsible for my happiness. It took me a while to figure out the message. When I did I found it to be very true. We can only depend on ourselves for our happiness because we are really the only ones that know where our happiness lies. A person that never claims the responsibility for their own happiness often spend much of their lives blaming others for all their unhappiness just making them all the more unhappy to the point of wallowing in it. Rejoice in what you have found and pity your mother for not taking the responsibility that would have led her to her happiness.

BTW..... I have decided to adopt you as my Sister. As it happens, I have an opening for that possition and think you would fill it just fine. The job of sister to me comes with a lot of responsibility. It means you have the added responsibility of Aunt to Tersie. Do you think you can handle it? WELCOME TO THE FAMILY.... Now what is your real first name...? lol

Silliyak said...

How sad for your mom to have missed out on knowing you and even claiming some responsibility for you being the good person you are. Also sad that you are hurt in the process, but without knowing any of the sordid details, (they're not actually relevant) I can assure you almost 100% that it had nothing to do with you and who you are.

Anonymous said...

What a tremendously hurtful experience you've suffered! But you've come through brokenness and moved through toward healing and found the beautiful core of yourself, which was there all along, and still is. May you always remember that you're precious.

julia said...

Awwww, you guys! You all brought a tear to my eye. Thank you for the sweet comments. It took a looong time to understand that it was all more about her than anyone else, part of that whole narcissistic way of being...

i find myself looking back at that time of learning to understand with a kind of disbelief. i think, "do people really do that stuff?" i had someone early on tell me i needed to burn all the bad stuff, but honestly, i'd like to write about it someday and if i didn't see the stuff, i wouldn't believe it existed.

Jo, i am happy to be your sister! And my real first name? Queen. You saw the tiara, right? ;-D And i get visiting rights, correct?

Silliyak, it took a long time to realize my mother was the one to miss out! But you're right. She missed a lot. i'm pretty dang cool. ;-)

Bliss, you're right. It's been quite a trip through some real serious uglyness. But you nailed it, i'm out the other side of that nasty dark tunnel--i don't remember i'm precious every day, but it's much better than it was. But i'm still waiting to grow up. ;-)

Hinsley Ford said...

Hi! I am loving your blog and put a link from yours to mine. I deal with chronic illness since birth due to lack of an immune system and other disorders as well as chronic pain from a virus that lives in my joints. I am 36. I will keep on reading back posts and hope to be in touch! Hinsley

Hinsley Ford said...

Oh, and I adore The Office - both Brit and US...and What Not to Wear..and a host of others, and I, too..get a bit embarrassed :) No need though. We deserve a break.

julia said...

Hinsley, (love the name, by the way!) thanks for coming by! i'm glad you want to come back, and my ramblings aren't off-putting to you! ;-) Oh, and thanks for admitting your weakness for those tv shows too--i love them, but i always think, "could i be better using my time? Oh, probably." then i sit there and watch anyway.

Anonymous said...

Your mother's soul was lost, not yours. She used her pain as a weapon and it sounds like you understand that now. That's good. We are not who our parents wish us to be, who our children think we are, who our lovers need us to be, and when we try to be everything to everyone else we lose ourselves in the process. You matter just because you are you, and you are perfect in Gods eyes, illness, wrinkles and all...just my 2 cents:)

julia said...

Welcome, Bookbabie! thank you for the sweet thoughts--i was so well trained to believe i couldn't possibly be right/know what i'm talking about/be my own person my own way, that it took a long time and a lot of help to move along-- "used her pain as a weapon" is an EXcellent way to phrase it--i have such a mix of feelings about her. Burned by the craziness of it, saddened by her lack of understanding, happiness for what good i learned from her, grief for what i wanted that never was...

hope you continue to visit!