I’m sure some of you reading my posts about my Mum must find my attitude towards her a bit harsh. I get that. You’re reading snippets of my worst thoughts and feelings about the situation and I’m sure I appear pretty hard-hearted. However, I’ve lived with my Mother’s “issues” for 48 years now and I admit to having compassion fatigue. Dealing with her is exhausting and I’m already tired from dealing with my own shit.
At the heart of my disengagement with her situation is my lack of understanding that anyone would waste their life being miserable. And my Mother has been miserable my entire life. I’m sure she’s had things to be unhappy about, don’t we all, but at some point you have to let that stuff go. You have to forgive yourself, and others, for mistakes and poor choices. You have to come to terms with the fact your life hasn’t turned out as you’d hoped.
Due to my shitty childhood, caused for the most part by my Mother, by the time I was 18 I was clinically depressed. I would wake up every morning wanting to die and I spent nearly an entire year holed up in the house, sleeping half the day away and not answering the phone. But despite my overwhelming unhappiness I knew I couldn’t live like that for the rest of my days and I sought help. Two years of therapy, anti-depressants and doing as much exercise as I could manage later and I was in a much happier place. But no-one came knocking on my door offering a quick fix – I had to ask for help and then I had to do the work.
There are some things we can do absolutely nothing about. I can’t change my health no matter how hard I try and I can’t change my financial situation being as though my lottery numbers annoyingly haven’t come up. There are things I wish were different – I’d love more friends and I’d love a partner, both of which have remained rather elusive. So I have two choices – I either find a new way to be joyful in this life that has been forced upon me, or I’m miserable for the rest of my days. And that’s the bit I just can’t get my head round – that anyone would choose misery. And it is a choice.
My Mum retired 16 years ago. She parked her arse on the couch and has spent the intervening years smoking, drinking and watching the telly. She must be lonely as hell and miserable as sin. But she’s only been unwell for the past 5 years – before that she had 10 years where she could have done something with her life. She could have become a volunteer which would have given her a purpose, a sense of achievement and would have meant she got to meet new people and make new friends. She could have taken up a hobby. She could have gone to classes for the elderly to learn how to use a computer which would have opened up a whole new world – she worked for 20 years in an office so it’s not like it would have been totally alien to her. While her sisters were still alive she could have taken them for days out, or to the pictures, or for lunch, or to the theatre – but she never did, she just told us all how much she missed them after they’d died which I find bizarre being as though she didn’t seem to appreciate them a whole lot when they were alive. She could have taken an interest in her step-grandchildren, who are lovely and visit her regularly, instead of barely ever contacting them or doing anything with them.
It seems to me that some people just like being miserable. But it’s no way to live. Despite everything life has chucked at me and, let’s face it I’ve had enough shit chucked at me to last 3 lifetimes, I absolutely refuse to be unhappy. I will not waste my life – it’s the only one I have and it’s flying by at an alarming rate of knots.
I am not surviving in a war torn country. I do not live on a rubbish heap. I do not have to beg for food. I was not forced to marry at the age of 11. I am not bare foot. I am educated. I drink clean water every day. I flush the loo and my poop disappears. I have a beautiful home. I have freedom of speech. I am not persecuted simply for being female. I have so much to be thankful for.
This week there was a funeral in my village. A 44 year old Mother of two who died of a brain tumour. My friend in the village, who is 54, is slowly dying from cancer. And I found out this week a family member, who is 58 years old, has leukaemia. You can’t think you’ll be happy somewhere down the road – you have to be happy now. Today. Because there might not be a tomorrow and you will have wasted your whole life being miserable.
My Mum grew up in poverty – one of 7 children in a house which had one room upstairs, one room downstairs and a loo at the end of the garden. Yet she ended up owning her own home and travelling the world. She went to Australia (4 times), Rome, Venice, Scandanavia, Austria, Singapore, Malta, France, Germany….the list goes on. She has always been surrounded by family – brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews by the truck load. She has children and grand-children, including a daughter that would do anything for her. She has a husband of 38 years who everybody, but her, loves. Yet she appreciates none of it.
I gave up some years ago trying to work out why my Mum’s unhappy and making excuses for her. She’s been a grown-up for a long time now and if she hasn’t sorted her issues out then I can only assume she doesn’t want to. She might want company in her misery but she’s not getting it from me and if that sounds harsh I’m OK with it. I’m OK with my choice not to engage in her negativity. I’m OK with my choice to care for her but not be dragged down by her. I’m OK with my choice to be happy.