Tuesday, November 30, 2004

This and That

Odds and ends, as I get ready to leave my life for two weeks and step into my parents' world. I fly out to Denver Dec.2nd and return the 16th. I'll rent a car at the airport and drive to Highlands Ranch (near Littleton), so my father doesn't have to come get me, and I will have the freedom to escape if I need to go for a drive now and then.  

My partner Rene has started a journal! It is called Growing OLD Younger (http://journals.aol.com/rrenebbean/GrowingOLDYounger/ ) I am so pleased. I hope you'll go over and leave her a comment or two, especially while I'm gone.  We are very different, but her view on life is always interesting, as she ages up and down at the same time. I hope you enjoy her as much as I do.  

I have realized that at least part of my timing of my trip is to avoid some of the Christmas chaos. I get overwhelmed easily these days, and I will have fewer days to worry about what needs to get done when I get back.Last year we did not celebrate Christmas at all-we were both too sick(another long story). I figure anything at all will beat last year, so I have fewer anxieties than normal anyway. It's all for the best. 

 I am taking Rene's laptop out to my parents' house. They are completely uninterested in joining the computer age, and I am already aware that I will not be able to keep up with my daily reading and comment making. I'll try to drop in a bit, and maybe post an entry or two, but do not worry if I am somewhat missing until mid December; I shall return!  

Please know, I will miss you all a lot. The J-Land community is very dear to me, and not keeping up will feel strange. Also, please keep me in your thoughts and prayers, or send me energy or light, or whatever feels comfortable to you for the flight as well as my time there.  

I'm not fond of flying, though I no longer have to keep the plane in the air personally with high levels of stress. I have let that go. Now I just worry about the mundane things. Will I have to sit next to some jerk who hates fat people? Can I handle my suitcase and carryon? Will my body make it without back spasms? Will the titanium rod in my arm set off the security alarm? Will terrorists pick this flight to make Bush start a new war somewhere? Will I get my rental car easily? Will I be able to find my way to my parents house? You know, all the little things. :-)  

Blessings, Margo      

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Family History, Continued...

...Continued from last entry...  

As the eldest child, I was stunted, but also the good, responsible one, and so I went to boarding school, followed its rules, got decent grades, and sulked at home over vacations.

I graduated in 1967, and went onto Clark University in Worcester, MA, were I blew everything - family, school, and myself - out of the water. I discovered drugs. Mostly speed, weed and acid. They helped mask the pain. I acquired an education, but not the one my father was paying for.  

I am sure it was very difficult for both my parents, but especially my mother. While I was having a high old time, she was at home worrying. And not just about me. My brother got kicked out of his boarding school( for 5 marijuana seeds), and went off to New York to live with friends. And she was suffered through a difficult menopause, and a some bad years with my father in their marriage.  

I was quite oblivious of family problems, though. I met Geoff, my ex-husband, and dropped out of school, then went off speed cold turkey for the first time since I was 13 (when my mother had our family doctor put me on "appetite pills") For over two months I stayed in my one room apartment and slept and ate food my crazy gay floor-mates brought me (a whole other story), while Geoff worried and visited every evening after grad school. I was 19 and going nowhere very slowly.( I never dropped acid again, but smoked pot for a while longer.)  

The next summer, Geoff took a teaching job in Connecticut, and. after we went to PA to meet my parents over the summer, I moved here, too, although we kept up the fiction of separate abodes for both our parents' sakes. He proposed, I accepted and I happily had the wedding my mother always wanted. She did give me one good piece of advice, however, "Don't marry a man you want to change. It won't work"   "Oh, Mom," I laughed, "don't be silly, I don't want to change Geoff, he's perfect!" One unhappy woman giving great advice to another,completely unheard  

Things got better, though, between my mother and I, when I had Meg, their first grandchild and only granddaughter. Tentatively, we began to spend more time onthe phone, then summers together, and we began to "play" again, the way we had before adolescence, by laughing together at silly things, enjoyed adding Meg in our activities, taking first weekend, and then a couple of longer trips together. Even though she lived 5 hours away, we spent a good deal of time together, and had fun.  

It was good, except that I still suffered from times of paralyzing depression, and she did too (although she has never been officially diagnosed) so there were gaps of time we did not connect.

Eventually, I went into therapy, and began to discover just how wounded, demanding, spoiled, guilt-ridden, passive-aggressive, perfectionist and hurt I was.(Gee, somewhat like my poor mother, though I couldn't see it then)  

It was easy to blame my parents, and Mom was an easy target because she knew how unhappy the family had been, and was well taught about guilt from her own mother. And yet, we still spent time together, had  mammoth fights, but always got back together again. I had realized how much she loved me, and I loved her. Sometimes I even felt blessed.  

As time has passed. I learned how to cope with my anger better, to grow and change, and the roles began to reverse some- I became the one who listened and reassured, the one to tell her it was ok to be introverted, to choose herself in stead of everyone else, to not care what other people thought. And she, too, has changed, become less worried, a bit more direct and open.  

Don't get me wrong, our relationship still has sharp points and awkward angles, but I am no longer stunted by my childhood. I have grown into myself enough to see that I have my own beauty and worth, inner and outer, as does my mother.  

Last year,once I was recovered enough from my accident to sleep in a bed again, we went to the Poconos in PA where they have a cabin and had chosen to stay for her cancer treatment. I was a mess, and she was very sick, but we had Thanksgiving together, and stayed  a week. We went back in the winter, after her surgery, then in June and again in August for a family get together, (See August's entries.)  

Eachtime, I realized more and more the feelings of regret and guilt she has about not having been a good mother, a better buffer between my father and me, never physically nurturing enough... so many negatives. I feel sad for her because I know she did the best she could with what she had and knew and understood. And I want her not only hear me say it again, but to feel it, to know how much I love and admire her. How much I am like her, and glad to be.  

So I have booked a flight to Denver, where they live in the winter, and I've scheduled enough time to really hang out with her, and I am hoping I can help her see how much I love her, and how blessed I have been to have her as my mother. I hope she can hear me, and believe.  

Blessings, Margo      

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Family History

Mood: Thoughtful 

On December 2nd, I am flying out to Denver to spend two weeks with my parents. I am saying casually to friends that since I'm not working and they're not getting any younger, I might as well go see them, and maybe my brother who lives nearby.  

The real reason I am going is to tell my mother how much I love her, and that she was a good enough mother (to me, at least) and she has no need to hold onto all the regrets she has about our past. It is a gift I want to give her now, not at some eventual deathbed scene.  

On August 8,2003, the day after I fell at work and changed my life forever, my mother, then 78, was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. I was so out of it that I didn't know until the next week, when Meg appeared at my  hospital bedside saying she was going to the Poconos for a family get together. I knew, immediately, something was wrong with my mother. She and Rene looked  guilty, like they were hoping I wouldn't pick up on something, and I kew she'd had a recent colonoscopy  

"Mom has cancer, doesn't she?" I asked, and the two looked at each other and at me and at each other, and started to stammer, no,no, nothing was wrong, but I knew.  Meg would not leave unless something worse was going on elsewhere. I told them not to lie to me, that I KNEW, and they told me. Turns out my doctor had been so worried about me, he did not want me told. I was so exhausted, in so much pain, that I could not react at all. I told myself-and them-I could only take care of myself right then, but I have never wanted to be with my mother more in my whole life.  

Two weeks later, after surgery, when I got home and stopped throwing up the pain meds, and the visiting nurses were coming in and out, and I could spare a bit of energy, I started to cry. And worry. I spoke to her briefly-she is quite deaf and hates the phone-and we agreed we each wanted to be there for the other, but instead would work hard at taking care of ourselves, I hung up and cried, and cried and cried. And worried a lot.  

Over the next three months it became clear to me that I had a lot of things I wanted to tell her before she died, and I very nearly missed the opportunity, because she came very close to dying.  

We have never been a demonstrative family, nor a very happy one. My parents' marriage was filled with quiet animosity. My father was a intellectual man who lived mostly in his own head, and my mother ruled with unconscious passive aggressiveness. But it was impolite-and therefore forbidden- to express any strong emotion. I struggled with (undiagnosed) depression as early as 7 or 8. My brother, two years younger, struggled in school and at home, probably with undiagnosed ADHD. My sister, born ten years after me, was an overachiever who loved to trade witty barbs with my father-and had a childhood completely separate from my own.

I know it was a difficult life for my mother, an introvert married to a Philadelphia attorney, having to keep up with the demanding set of rules handed her by her perfectionist mother and very middle class society, and always feeling less than whole because she had only one arm (long story). And I was not an easy child-unhappy at the same private girls school she went to (and hated), and when hormones hit, I made it clear how unhappy I was with outburst of anger they alternately punished harshly or laughed at. Finally, they sent me off to boarding school at 14. 

Boarding school was a very mixed blessing. I was very angry at being sent away, although I had agreed to go, but it was a co-ed Quaker boarding school, liberal for the mid-60's, and I brought all sorts of radical ideas and attitudes home to drop on the family dinner table, much to the horror of my (then) conservative father. (He has mellowed in his old age, because of all the things his assorted children have put him through-but that's another entry).  

And yet, below and aside from all of this, my mother and I had a  very close relationship. We were connected somehow from root of our beings, both introverts, sharing the same name, a quirky, sardonic sense of humor, and a huge fear of what everybody might be thinking of us, of looking or sounding silly or stupid. Like wearing shoes  that didn't fit, it was a stunted way to live, but it was the only way we knew. 

To be continued...        

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

A Real J-Land Get Together!

Well, it is nice to have something really enjoyable happen on a random Tuesday in November. This morning I had my first J-Land get together, with Sara, and  her two kids AJ and Cady. You can find her at http://journals.aol.com/ceschorr/LifewithoutLaundry. I had a great time. We sat together, drank tea, and watched/played with the kids as we talked. I am quite shy in real life, but did not feel constrained at all.  

When I started my journal, it never occurred to me that I would get to know real people through reading and writing, let alone meet people in real life! Sara is a completely unexpected blessing, with whom I felt immediately at home. I played with transformers with AJ, and watched Cady move busily messing up one spot after another, and I realized how long it's been since I watched kids play. They are good kids, polite and demanding in equal parts(a very good combination, in my eyes).  

 Sara is a calm mother, and an interesting woman, quick and bright and struggling with 2 kids and MS, and running a home, and cooking and all those other things Rene and I do as little a possible. I am really looking forward to getting to know her better.  

 I am trying to keep as busy and active as possible, without overdoing- a tightrope walk with the chasm of wiped-out exhaustion waiting for the smallest slip. Today is too busy, but tomorrow is slower, and Thursday a friend is coming up to help Peggy do some plumbing. I am going to sit in a chair and watch!  

 Blessings, Margo    

Friday, November 5, 2004

So How Was Your Week?

You'd think any week that starts with being unofficially declared disabled has no where to go but up, wouldn't you?  Not so this week. Tuesday I received a denial from Social Security Disability, which tells me that I am able to return to my past work, even though I am experiencing some discomfort(!), Wednesday, Sen. Kerry was kind enough to send me an e-mail, conceding to Bush. I worry about our future as individuals and as a country. Thursday, it became clear that the cortisone shot Dr. Only-Do-Hands gave me was not one of my best moves. My hand still hurts, and my whole arm is painfully numb, in a way that defies description. Today I have a killer headache, and could not go out with Rene and friends for dinner.  

Sorry for myself?  You betcha. I am really in a slump. I am still doing all the correct things. Called my attorney about SSD benefits, went to the gym twice, allowed myself a week or two of mourning before looking for political coalitions to join, cried (for me this is always therapeutic), decided to spend the first two weeks in Dec. visiting my parents in Colorado, saw my therapist, went with Rene to couples' counseling, took a cold short, brisk walk, and a nap most days.  

Next week I'll do more correct things,  refusing to fall into complete inertia, and hope against hope that  some switch in the kaleidoscope of life will offer more light, more color, more energy, more hope for the future. One small brightness is my excitement at discovering a fellow member of J-and who lives in the next town over. Sara and I are going to have tea on Tuesday. She can be found here:  http://journals.aol.com/ceschorr/LifewithoutLaundry/. Like Sara, I never thought I would have a real J-Land get together in my own backyard!  

I apologize to those who read my journal that I keep posting from the same old place, that I cannot see beyond the end of my nose, because I do know life can be quite good, even on a reduced level, and that I just have to get over some hump to see that. Then I can move on a bit, to seeing the  light as well as the dark. Meanwhile, thank you for your comments; I can no longer imagine what my life would be like without you.  

Blessings, Margo    

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

I Voted-And Was Reminded How Old I Am!

I voted, around 2 PM, with Rene. It's a small town and we chatted with a couple of neighbors, and waved to candidates of all persuasions. One group had set up a small pup tent 75 feet from the polls, and had a baby and 3 small kids warm and happily eating pizza inside it. Rene wanted to join them, but the tent just wasn't big enough.  

I also reminded my daughter (age 31) to vote, and got a lecture on how her mother taught her well, took her to the polls as soon as she could crawl, that she had been voting regularly since she was 21, knew her candidates (local too), and her duty as a citizen, and besides, her civil rights were in danger, too. She told me that her partner had voted, too, so I didn't have to ask.  

I apologized. Sometimes I forget she's a fully functioning adult these days, and has been for many years! Only yesterday she was crawling around my feet as I voted. Well, maybe it was several days before yesterday.

I won't know the outcome 'til tomorrow morning, because I won't listen to hours of talking heads, and am planning to go to bed soon.   Maybe tomorrow will be a good day.  

Blessings, Margo

Monday, November 1, 2004

Today, I Asked

Today was an absolutely beautiful late fall day in CT. The sky was blue and clear. It was jacket weather at its best, with a brisk wind blowing late leaves off the trees, up and around, through the air, to send them scuttling across the ground. Everywhere there were small, dry piles of leaves to scuff through, and the good smell of newly fallen leaves whirled across the neighbors lawn and down to the Thames, which looked blue and cold. It was truly amazing.  

Today was also the day my PMD, Dr. D.(the one I like) told me gently that, yes, I am now truly  totally disabled by peripheral neuropathy, heart disease and diabetes. I had asked, I was pretty sure what he would say, but it was still hard to hear. Despite it all-the pain, the meds, the unsteady gait, the loss of feeling in a lot more than just hands and feet, the problems with joints and muscles, the angina, the depression AND all the ongoing problems from the fall at work-despite it all I harbored a secret hope that I could somehow, somewhere go back to a productive working life.  

It's not going to happen.

In fact, said Dr.D., he'd have considered me at least partially disabled after the bypass surgery in '94. He wasn't my doctor then, but I know the ones I had at the time did not give me 10 years to live, so I've beaten a lot of odds already. And I am grateful for these years. I am also grateful for any time I have left, and will somehow come around to seeing today's revelation as some sort of gift, too. Eventually. I have no doubt.  

But not right now. I'm still sort of looking for the gift that people keep telling my will come from my fall, and that was over 15 months ago.  

 As he was saying yes to my question, I began to well up. I let the tears fall, slow tears, not sobbing or hysterics, just sorrow sliding down my face and onto my shirt, while I tried hard to listen to what he was saying. He talked a bit about the neurologist's report on the electro-stimulation test thingy I had done last summer, and lab results, and how he wished I could have been so pro active 10 to 15 years ago, because I'm real good at it now. He was not patronizing or overly protective, he just told me what he believes, and all the time, I just knew what he was saying was true. And felt  relieved, even as the tears continued to flow.  

 Part of the journey is over.  

Oh, I'm not giving up by any means. I'll find a neurologist, I'll continue to work on my arm and shoulder, I'll keep looking for the next orthopedic surgeon, I'll continue to struggle to self advocate,  I'll deal with the pain and the legal ramifications, and money issues, and continuing depression et al.  

 But I need to take time to float for a while, to lie in my gentle river, cool under the sun dappled trees and let go of worry and stress. I'll chant :       

We all come from the Goddess/ and to Her we shall return/ like a drop of rain/ flowing to the ocean.

and be free for a while.  

Blessings, Margo