It’s been over two years since the big “C” took my dad from this earth and left me a pile of poop to deal with. It’s been one year since I wrote the post “Grief: Self-Pity: Complain. Since then, I’ve learned a lot more than I ever thought possible, good and bad, how it works (only from my perspective), and how horrible people can sometimes be.
Everybody, ever single person on this planet, deals with grief in a different way. Oh, we all may follow the ‘general guidelines’ or ‘steps’ that we are told we are going through but reality might be somewhat different. Science and reality do not necessarily coincide when it comes to loss and grief.
We can grieve over anything – death, loss of job or finances, our kids leaving home, our kids getting into trouble. The list goes on and on. I’ve grieved over many things in my lifetime, not really realizing that’s what was happening, but the death of my dad and the ensuing negatives from that took a lot of myself away from me before I managed to stand back, step up and gain some type of control again over myself. No, it was not easy but somehow I managed. A lot of hard work and a constant mental challenge, not to mention I had been sick for the previous eight years and did not know what was wrong.
So I embarked on a self-awareness journey of sorts to change myself so I would see things differently than I had been, to know there was good in the world and good people who did care, to bring back those few friends I had kicked to the curb because I couldn’t handle anyone being nice or having sympathy for me. Oh boy, did I do some terrible things to the people I needed the most. However, if I hadn’t done all of that, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and I happen to like that person now.
I wrote that post in August 2013. Sometime in November, it hit me that I didn’t want to live like this anymore. A mere thought that came right out of the clear blue. You see, the thing was I was not grieving my dad so much as I was grieving the way things were since he had died. An alcoholic/drug addicted brother who loved nothing better than to threaten my life or the life of my beloved Hershey, the Wonderdog. He’d ride by and yell out the window; he’d beat on the house in the darkness of night; he’d sit on the front porch and talk to me while I was inside. Doing everything he could do to scare the crap out of me, and he did. Because he’s mean. He’s violent. He’s literally a psychopath without any feelings. Addiction only made him meaner and stronger. Add to the fact that his two daughter and his ex-wife became part of the pack, I literally became homebound in my dad’s house. I couldn’t or wouldn’t leave, I was just that scared. I was told by my son that nobody thought about me and nobody cared, not even family or law enforcement. I felt like a prisoner in a world not of my making and was coming unglued.
In December 2012, I bought “Gypsy ~ The Airstream”, my saving grace although I didn’t know it at the time. The bad stuff continued, just because they could do it and knew they could get by with it. I would get beat up if I went outside, my dog would be killed if he was outside, and on and on it went. I was sick at heart but also sick at body. I could and would go three days at a time without eating but the fight and will to survive was stronger than the will to not be here any longer. I knew, I KNEW, that somehow this would get better although I didn’t know when. Hell, I couldn’t even figure out what to do, I was so scared. I didn’t want any of my friends or family around because I didn’t want them to be ‘targeted’ for such behavior as I was getting because they were there for me. So I tried to keep them safe by keeping them away. I didn’t give any of them the choice; I just made that decision myself. Oh, they all knew what was happening, or the family did, but those that were nearby who could have helped at the time chose not to. The ones that would have helped were far enough way the damage was already done.
After no help whatsoever from law enforcement (I had to be hurt first before anything could be done…..yea, right), I had a call from my kiddo telling me to pack a bag, grab the dog and come to his house. He and his father had towed Gypsy – The Airstream to his house, set her up and was waiting for me to move in. To be perfectly clear, he set her up in his yard, where I would be safe. So I packed a bag, grabbed the dog and officially moved to his yard. Left the rest of my stuff at dad’s house until things cooled down enough that I could go get them. That never happened but that’s a different story.
Before the week passed, I was hooked up to electricity, water and sewer, and also had an internet connection. And I was safe. I could relax somewhat and hopefully be able to handle ‘the rest of the story’ without all the harassment, bullying and threats toward me. For a long time most didn’t know where I was, and some still don’t, but I’m in a place where it would be utter stupidity or a very serious, off-kilter high to bring somebody around here to bang on Gypsy and scare me again because there’s protection all around.
Things were really good for a few months while I regrouped but I was still sick and getting sicker. Docs couldn’t find anything super out of the ordinary but I knew I was going downhill physically regardless of what I did or tried. When things started getting off kilter around here (me thinking because I lived in the yard), I became the useless creature I was before I came and believed myself to be the bad person even though I didn’t know what I was doing that was so bad. I helped all I could, physically and financially.
I never really had a chance to grieve my dad’s death; I was living with too much trauma and fighting for survival and forcing myself to live by eating, if not everyday, at least by the third day. “Nobody cares about you” and “nobody thinks about you” are very powerful words when coming from someone in your immediate family. So what’s the point?
There’s been some tough times, really rough times, where I’ve resorted to a person I never thought I would become. I did not like me and I certainly didn’t like their behavior, or their choice of curse words, or their lack of empathy for anyone. I especially did not like the fact that I was only seen as a means to an end and used as such. Actions speak louder than words and although I tried to play the game their way, it wasn’t working out with how I really was. Expectations as a parent? There were none of those anymore. Just a means to an end.
Still, I had not had a chance to grieve for my dad.
In November 2013, I decided that was it. I wasn’t going to be the pawn any longer. That didn’t work out so well for me and my sweet Baby Girl. If I didn’t walk the ‘right’ path according to the rules, I didn’t get to see her. I’ve been a month at a time before without seeing her because I didn’t do something right or someone had a bad day and who better to take it out on than me. I couldn’t be a Nanny unless I followed the specific guidelines that aren’t laid out. Those come on at a whim. So Baby Girl is now a pawn in the game of keeping me in line. Why? No idea. So I quit. I kept the peace and simply did not engage. I did not comment or answer. Guess how well that went over.
In February 2014, whatever had been wrong with me physically for the previous nine years came to a head in a big way. I started vomiting. Everything I ate and drank came back up. I went from 128 lbs to 99 lbs. After two months, I ended up in the ER, which led to this doc, then that doc, then another doc until finally I had the answers and how it could be fixed, all the options. At the ripe young age of 51, none of the options appealed to me but I had to pick the one that would give me the best quality of life so I could at the very least complete some of the bucket list. Otherwise, I would be on the same track and most likely be dead before the year was up (doc’s words, not mine).
And still, I hadn’t really grieved my dad.
In July, after months and months of vomiting, I had surgery. Whoever would have thought a gastric bypass on a 110 lb person would be the answer? It was and it wasn’t. It is but it isn’t. You see, I had been severely malnourished for the past nine years. Bloodwork would show it but doc’s would say take more of this or more of that. I had injections of this and injections of that. Still, nothing was working. The real culprit was my body was not absorbing any of the nutrients I was taking and/or eating. That affected every aspect of my life; physically, mentally, emotionally. The poor body was a basket case, the past two years just about doing me in. I honestly thought I was going crazy but that was the furthest thing from the truth. I was deprived of nutrients, no matter how many I took.
In that five month span of being so sick I could hardly move, much less function, and not once did my neighbors come check on me, walk a mere 40 feet to my door to say hey, are you ok? Is there anything you need? Not one single time. Which brings me back to “Nobody thinks about you and nobody cares about you.” I got it.
They did come see me in the hospital and pick me up to bring me home but they were sure hoping to eat at the Cracker Barrel on my dime. Mind you, I couldn’t eat after a gastric bypass and that was a restaurant. No way. Then the long drive home, but first we had to go somewhere else to pick somebody up. Oh God, please hurry them up so I can get home and lay down, I’m hurting so bad! My last dose of morphine had been way earlier that morning and I had asked the nurse to shut it off. Wrong move. If I had known we were going to be doing all that, I would have dosed myself good right before I left.
And I still hadn’t grieved my dad and now I hurt so badly and the pain meds made me wacky and off kilter. Plus, I wasn’t allowed to drive. That there is a monkey wrench thrown straight in the chain.
They did not come over to say hi or check on me to see if I was okay. Only the dog for company but he surely couldn’t help by driving me to the store. That’s okay though, I was used to this behavior and it was a shame, quite a shame as his dad and I had brought him up to be a good, empathetic person, showing kindness and respect towards others.
I compare all of this to the relationship between my dad and me. We were both there for each other when needed. I took care of him through his sickness, held him as he took his last breath, drove or flew a thousand miles each weekend when he was in the hospital for a month at the time. He did the same for me, helped me through the last years, until he died, although he, like the rest of us, thought I was losing it. I have no regrets about living my life like I did for my dad. He was the best dad. Somehow, since the last surgery, I’ve had a chance to grieve him, put things in perspective and in their proper place. That’s a good thing. Why?
That gastric bypass which I thought long and hard about before deciding it was a go actually was the best thing to happen. After the pain eased, my body went on nutrient overload, literally. No other way to put it. I was She-Woman. All the misguided puzzle pieces clicked into place and my mind, body and even my soul began to clear. I could think straight, I felt good physically, my brain was actually working again. The depression I was being treated for and the crazy so many thought about me was wrong. When the nutrient overload started, it started a roller-coaster ride of misdiagnosis’s over the years. Depression was not one of them; crazy was not one of them; malabsorption of nutrients was what it was. Working your way out of what people have believed about you for so long is a real pain in the patoot, especially when it boiled down to a medical ailment. But I couldn’t think about what people thought; I had to work on getting some normal back into my life. In other words, to hell with others and their negative thoughts.
So I grieved my dad, in a good way. I guess some things happened while I was down and out but when I ‘came to’, the thoughts were all good, the memories were good, the love and caring will never be forgotten. Mind you, I’m still a little angry at him for putting me in the position of being the brunt of my sibling’s rages against me because he enabled the behavior although he refused to see it, but I don’t have to deal with that anymore.
I’m not special; I’m not any more special than you are. I’m not entitled; any more than the next person; I’m just a very simple drop in the bucket who’s worked all her life just to experience loss on some grand scales, as many of you have. A home, a job, a family, death. But I have learned from all of those things. I’ve also learned that through some of the worst times in life, including the loss of my dad, that I have somehow found a strength inside that kept me going one more step…then another….and another. And to make sure I eat before the third day.
That pile of poop is still there only it’s not as large as before. Pretty soon it will be down to nothing. I should be able to be out of sight and out of mind soon. At this point of the game, it should be a good thing and is eagerly awaited. I sometimes think about the past and what’s lost but I know I’m making new memories regardless of family. There’s a big difference between being tolerated and being accepted; I’ve accepted the fact that I’m just tolerated by those I love the most and accepted by those I care about the most.
Some people are going to grieve forever; I see it happening with some; they can’t or won’t let go. Grief is different for everyone but I have chosen the high road and will look back on the past with fond memories. I won’t tolerate anything less.