Nothing to do with face painting
Yesterday was Mother's Day, probably the hardest day of the the last 6 months since I lost my mom. Over the last couple months, through the dark veil of grief, I have learned a lot of things about myself, about grief and about joining a club that I never wanted to belong to. I hope that in writing this deeply personal blog, I can let others know that they aren't alone, well they are alone, but they aren't crazy.
1. You have just become a member of one of the most unwanted clubs on earth, one you never thought you would belong to, and one that nightmares are made of. The day I lost my mom, I felt a shift, this odd feeling where everyone who normally belonged to your large support system, could no longer understand you. It was nearly immediate when I realized that none of the people who wanted to support me actually could. There was no way possible that these people could understand the immense pain of loosing a mother. This is when you realize you belong in a much separate club now, the one of people who could understand, the people who I used to feel so sorry for because they had lost such an important person, the person who had given them life, their Mother. I found support and understanding from people who I didn't even normally talk to, and lucky for me they reached out to me, because they already knew what I had just started to understand.
2.It is time to grow up.
I had no idea what a child I still was at 35 years old, until my Mom was gone. I knew that we were greatly dependent on each other, but I didn't know how ridiculous my dependence was. I called my mom to tell her or ask her everything, even things I really already knew. Things I could figure out on my own with little effort, I depended on her for. I depended on her to help with my son so much more than I ever realized, then she was gone and I had to figure things out without her, and in all honestly, that sucked. My father passed a couple days before my 21st birthday, and once my mom was gone suddenly I was the adult of the family. How the hell did that happen? It felt, and still feels like being orphaned.
3.The unconditional love is gone.
A mother's love is like no other love, at least my Mother's love was. It was truly unconditional, with no boundaries. She loved all of me, even the darkest meanest parts. She enjoyed my company and my personality and she tolerated all of my nonsense. She would laugh at my meanness, and smile at my kindness, and cry with my sadness. There is no doubt, no one will ever love me like she loved me, just as no one will ever love my son as I love him. Every single time she told me she loved me, she meant it with all of her heart, and she said it often.
4.You will be angry and likely that is an understatement.
It is not everyday, but I am angry, most of the time. The human brain has a magnificent system to block out pain when one can no longer handle it. When the pain gets too much you will start to shut down, to become numb and on the other side of that numbness is anger. Sometimes I wear it like my most comfortable pair of jogging pants, it feels much more comfortable than the feeling of my heart ripping in two. It's not a conscience decision, and I cannot possibly pull myself out of it. I can feel it coming on like the force of a freight train, but I cannot stop it, so I embrace it and I try to remind myself to not inflict too much damage with it, but its hard.
5.The anxiety attacks come from nowhere like a sucker punch to the gut
The first one happened at Kroger, when I was looking at Orange Juice, I had felt it coming through the whole store, but you know I am tough, at least that is what I tell myself, so I just pushed through, almost all the way through the store and then it hit. I couldn't breathe, and there was nowhere to go, and my son was nagging about something I could barely hear. It wasn't my first anxiety attack, but it was the worst I had ever had. You see, my mom was my closest friend, and it was so normal to pick up everyday needs like Milk and OJ for her when I went to the store, and when the thought to buy her OJ crossed my mind before it realized she was gone, it sent me over the edge. That was the just the first of many. Someone once told me a story about how a strangers kind words in a checkout lane at the store, after loosing their mom has sent them into public hysterics. I don't really remember the details of that story, what I do remember is thinking something like that would never happen to me, it seemed so crazy at the time. It wasn't crazy, it happens weekly and it is uncontrollable. It feels like your crawling out of your own skin and it's scary, and if you are experiencing this, you should talk to your doctor about it.
6.Your safe place to land is gone.
When things happened in my life that were to much to deal with, my mother was there to pick me up. Just like when I was a little kid and scraped my knee, as an adult she would give me a place to feel perfectly safe like only a mother could. When I got into arguments with my husband, or when I needed help making decisions about my son, she was always there to give me advice. She was also always there to kindly tell me when I had been in the wrong, and that was okay because I knew she loved me anyway. I always had a person who I could tell my darkest secrets, and I would go often just to sit on her couch and be with her. Every time it was like a load had been taken off my shoulders.
7.You will likely push away the people who you love the most.
To go along with the anger and complacency, I often read messages and listened to voicemails and did not ever respond. I was numb and sad and didn't want to be fooled with. When my closest friends called, I didn't want to talk to them, because I couldn't put on a mask for them. They knew I was broken and I knew I couldn't keep it together and talk to them, and more than anything I needed to use every ounce of my energy every single day to keep my shit together. I felt like I had to be strong and I had to work and I had to take care of my family and it took months before all the strings started to unravel.
Over a year after my mother's passing, I can say that it still hurts every single day, I still think about her multiple times each day. I can however make it through days at a time without crying, feeling like I am dying. Each passing day I have gotten more used to coping with her absence. Even in death she is still able to constantly give me gifts. I am able to find strength and motivation in myself that she help me build. I am able to see how truly short and unfair life can be, and I am more determined than ever to live life the way that makes me happiest, to not only live for me and my family, but to also live for her. As a mother I know that she didn't want anything more than to just see her child happy.