Monday, December 17, 2012


I live life out loud.  I share my story- the good and the bad- with the world.  I tend to be an "open book."

And all of those things make my mother cringe.

My mother, for those of you who don't know her, is a very private person.  She keeps details of her life to herself- always has.  She would cringe- often publicly- when my Dad or I would say things that she wasn't comfortable hearing publicly.  I think we were put in her life to push her buttons... and she was put in our lives to give us filters.

Which is why these last few years I've lived in a tenuous spot.

My mother has been diagnosed with dementia.  And she is horrified of people knowing.  And I am weary from living with it a "secret".

Everyone who has been around my Mom knows.  It is past the point of hiding.  Without sharing cringe-worthy stories, I'll just share that the diagnosis is official and non-arguable.  It has been painful, hurtful, heartbreaking, and has left us completely worn-down.  We ache for her loss, and we ache for ourselves.

I have tip-toed on Facebook and my blog for months upon months to make sure that I don't "over share."  The last thing I want to do is embarrass my Mom.  In light of recent events, it's hit me more than ever that we should not steer clear from talking about mental health issues.  At the same time, mental health or physical health... my Mom would not want her private life to be posted anywhere.

So therein lies the struggle.  Mom- totally private.  Me- public, and aching from living in this world of uncharted emotions and experiences.  My days are long... and often rather empty... as I sort through not having my Grown Ups to turn to anymore.  My birthday came and went with no parent to call to celebrate that date.  Traditions and expectations on holidays are all a moot point this year.  My guard goes up with each phone call regarding our "new" situation... and my shoulders stay tense.

And this is why I finally decided to post about it.  With the exception of a few friends who are also on this path, it can by a very lonely place trying to navigate this season of life alone.  Kelly Corrigan talks about this "season" in her book The Middle Place... and when I read the book years ago, I had no idea how quickly I would get to this space.  When I read it, Mary and Daddy were both living and Mom wasn't quite as sick.  I wasn't yet adding words to my responsibility list like "executor" or "power of attorney".  I liked that space much better.  But we can't go back... which is why I tread lightly to share with you some of the details of my story... not just my Mom's.

I ask for your prayers for the days ahead in our journey... and I ask that those of you who have "been there" not bombard me with information, but offer your guidance in a way that would have been helpful to you.  I also ask that you help me in keeping my Mom's desire for a private-lived life just that... while dementia is nothing to be ashamed of, it's hard to not be where you thought you'd be.  And it's hard to have a daughter who tells the world your information without your blessing.  I feel sure Elizabeth (and karma) will repay this gesture in the days to come.


Jessica Lewis said...

This is my first time stopping by, and just needed to let you know that you are not alone in your struggles with your Mom. My husband is also a very, very private person and refuses to tell anyone about the chronic illness he's living with. It's difficult for me, because like you, most of my life is about telling and sharing, and it's hard to keep quiet about something that also affects me so much, mentally and emotionally.

A few weeks ago I read a book called Still Alice. It's about a woman who has developed early onset Alzheimer's and is a very poignant story told from her view point. It made me laugh and cry. And because my great-grandmother also had Alzheimer's (which was very misunderstood twenty years ago when she was going through it), it also helped me understand her mindset a little better. I'd recommend the book, perhaps it will help you. You can find it at the library.

All the best to you.


Dawn F. Garlow said...

You have a talent for the written word. :) You are obeying one of God's great Commandments... "Honor your father and mother so that your days may be long on the earth." It's so very hard to be the "parent" to one's parents. It isn't natural so we feel completely at a loss sometimes... and that's OK.

Keep loving!!! :)