Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why is everyone so afraid of feelings?

In my day job I spend a lot of time reassuring people that it's OK to have their feelings, whatever they may be. I create safe spaces for them to just feel, express and move on. There is no judgement.

People are so afraid of their feelings, and I think even more afraid of other peoples. They want to rush in and change thing, cheer them up, chastise them, STOP them, because it makes them uncomfortable. It's their own stuff.

I guess I see the same thing happen online as well. I have another blog, I don't talk about how I really feel over there. I guess that's why I created this one. I just want to be honest about how I feel, and not be judged.

Simple really, just trying to write about my experience as a carer, from the inside out, not prettied up.

I guess I write it to help me, and if it helps you then thats a bonus.

I went out to lunch with a friend a few days ago. She tried to be understanding but she doesn't get why I go and spend time with mum every few weeks when she is starting to forget who I am.

" She's in a safe place, she's being well cared for... you don't need to see her that often. She doesn't even remember you've been."

I know she meant well...

I told her a story about my mum.

When I was only a year old I was very sick and I had to undergo several operations. My mother was only 26, her marriage was already in tatters. She phoned my Dad and told him I had been taken to the hospital for surgery.

He told her he was too busy to come home...
... and he was busy... with another woman...

Those where the days when parents had restricted visting hours when children were hospitalised. Just a few hour each evening. Nothing like the constant access these days.

On the morning of my operation my mum arrived at the hospital. She was told to go home and come back in visiting hours. "Anyway ... what's the point of you being here, there's nothing you can do to help! " was the staffs irritated response when she became upset.

Crying and alone. My mum took up a seat in the corridor near the operating theatres. She refused to go, she told them, until I was safely back in the ward.

The staff gave up trying to make her leave and left her alone. A bit later an old lady came past and saw that she was upset. She sat down beside her and, on learning that her a one year old baby was having surgery and mum was waiting against the rules, decided to sit with her.

And so the two of them sat quietly together in the hall for the next few hours. She was a stranger, just someone walking by. But she stayed and sat, and gave my mum the support she needed to get through.

Eventually a nurse came and told them I was OK and they should go now. Mum could see me later that day in regular visiting hours.

Thats just one of the stories about my mum that explains why I go and visit often.

Did I 'know' that she was in the hall the whole time I was being operated on when I was a baby? Did I understand the distress of a young mum, with a seriously ill child who's husband was 'too busy' to come?

Whether I knew she was there makes no difference. My mum sat in that hall and defied the rules for one reason. I was her child and she loved me. Where else would she be when I was sick?

Thats why I go often and visit her, even though she's forgetting who I am, and that I was there.

She's my mum and I love her. Where else would I be when she is sick?

I had no other explanation for my friend, who just shook her head at the 'waste' of my time.

And that little lady that sat with my mum and kept her company. No advice, no trying to make her feel different, or trying to move on her from her vigil. Just willing to be present at a time of need.

I guess thats what this blog is like for me. Just a place where I can sit with my experiences and feelings and let them just be what they are.


Greg said...

That's a beautiful manifesto. Very touching and well written. I think I'll go and see my Mum this weekend.

citygirl said...

That really is an amazing story. I went to see my mom quite often when she was in a home and she had no idea who I was half the time. But that didn't matter. What mattered is that I was there because as you said, where else would I be when she was sick?

About a year before my mom died, she was hospitalized for dehydration. The home had called to say there were concerned about her and wanted to send her to the hospital for an IV/rehydration. We agreed and they made the arrangements for her transport and check-in. I met my mom at the hospital and sat with her for hours. Eventually, one of siblings called and suggested we get a hired nurse to sit with her through the night as all mom was going to do all night was sleep, it wasn't a medical emergency and then she'd be discharged back to the home in the morning with transportation provided. (We have hired ambulances here too - for transporting people to/from hospitals when it is non-emergency but the patients need an ambulance type vehicle since they're in a wheelchair or need to be lifted in & out of bed) Note neither of my siblings bothered coming to the hospital at all. I was exhausted and had burned out from other things going on that week so I agreed. Everything worked out fine but do you know I still feel guilty to this day about leaving her that night?

Carol said...

I am less surprised by your response than I am by people who think that you can just "not be bothered" with someone who has loved you for your entire life, been your most ardent supporter, your biggest fan....no matter where my mom is mentally, I want to be there with her....it would kill me to think that she was alone....

And the things I would miss....I love my mom so much, I just can't believe the callousness of people....I guess that would be a "what's wrong with society today" post, huh?

I'm proud of you for sticking to your guns.

Monalisa said...

What a sad but lovely story. I have just started to look at other bloggers "carers" stories and feel quite ashamed. My 87 year old mum has just started to need care. She lives with my brother and his wife, so has them (sister-in-law is brilliant, toileting her at night etc). My sister, also brilliant, gets mum up in the morning, showers (mum says she tears the skins off her) and makes her breakfast and company, my brother comes home and gets her lunch and I keep her company in the afternoon. She has breast cancer, which hasn't spread, thank god, but since this discovery has become doubly incontinent, with vertigo plus sight and hearing problems, so needs looking after. There are 4 of us, which is great we can all do our bit. But I selfishly thought it was a "life and death" situation 8 weeks ago and now realise this could be a long term situation. I love my mum to bits, but never considered I would be cleaning her bottom and spending afternoons watching "Supernanny" and "Judge Judy". Mum, funnily enough, on the other hand is enjoying herself, she had a brilliant time in hospital while the tests were being done. The nurses and doctors were lovely, as were the other patients and she had so many visitors ( why didn't they come to see her at home before...). When I read your story and some other carers, I realise there a lot of people out there with terrible lives - it is a strain on health, husbands and children, money, work. I is something we don't like to think about until it happens within your family. Having read your blogs I don't feel too hard done by at all. I think you are very kind and very brave. Give yourself a pat on the back.

maz said...

Of course you are right!
Soempeople will understand totally while others will NEVER get it more's the pity.

Keep strong!
maz x

ladythinker said...

It may be that outwardly she no longer recognises you - but her inner most self is probably still there; and knows and is pleased still to have you visit - she still loves you.

ang said...

i know you have excussed your friend but it's terrible to hear how people generally feel about people in care who are loosing their memory.
i volunteer with my children in a nursing home and when i take my baby into see some of the dementia suffers, they light up. their lives aren't good, many have no visitors and just sit there day after day. human contact is the most important thing. they are still people who need love. people make a big fuss over animal welfare, but what about elderly welfare?
good on you for being there for you mum. i know this is written in 2009, and you may not be doing your blog anymore, but i just wanted to say thanks.