Thursday, September 28, 2006

Stalled, Stumped and Down

Well, that pretty much sums it up. Feeling soooo down I haven't been able to write. Which is unusual. Maybe anger is a much more condusive emotion for writing. Some of my better blog posts have come during bouts of newly explored rage. So exactly what am I down about? Not exactly sure but I think it has to do with my adoptive dad's recent tumble down the dementia slide. Suddenly, he's hardly able to walk, falls constantly and the usually unflappable nurse at the assisted living facility seems surprised at his rapid deterioration. This is my second parent to develop dementia to which I say...THANK GOD I'M ADOPTED....that I am not biologically related to these poor, unfortunate people because Alzheimers and Lewy Bodies are diseases from hell.

Maybe I'm overwhelmed. It may have to do with something I'm calling "parentified child fatigue." When you spend your life listening, reassuring and parenting your parent, when you finally grow up and wise up and learn to emotionally detach - just a bit - then, when you're called by life to parent your aging parent because it's the right thing to do...then there's reserve of good will and sense of payback...the well is dry. Except now the parent is not just self-absorbed, he is nearly pathologically so. Throw in some paranoid delusions and blame that somehow I am at fault for his falls, incontinence and all the assistance he now requires and, well, it all just takes up a big space, crowding out whatever little creativity I had.

And the worst part is...I HATE feeling blah and listless and sad and about what...exactly? It's out there, the reason(s), but they are like ghosts and won't reveal themselves.

But...dammit...I will get back my life spark or whatever that good, positive feeling is and I'm going to re-read Anne Lamott's excellent book, Bird by Bird, tomorrow and start writing even if it's absolute crap.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Detaching from the Father Ship

Clarification. Detaching from the adoptive father ship and reasons for doing so.

All the guilt. All those mixed feelings. My poor adoptive father. Not his fault he's the way he is. Son of a physically and verbally abusive alcoholic. Never really grew up. Needed me to parent him. No empathy for other people. A loner. Never let me finish a single sentence in my life and, if I really get going, I can maybe manage to speak twenty seconds without be interrupted or corrected or listened to. (All poor, sad me stuff but isn't that the beauty of blogs?) So now that he's old and sick and needs me I am there for him. Conflicted as always. A smouldering human pile of resentment. But I am responsible. It's what I do. The daily phone calls. The care packages. The calls to his doctors, etc., etc., etc. And I got it all under control. Or as much control as a dutiful-adoptive-daughter-in-therapy-for-her-unresolved-adoption-issues-can-muster. But it's not bad. He's being well taken care of and I manage to hide my true feelings. And then it happens. His true feelings. Released by his dementia. He lacks inhibitions now. Have a fat ass? He'll tell you about. Pimple on your chin? He'll point it out. Whatever is in his head? There's nothing to stop it now. The original say-anything man will say absolutely anything without a shred of shame, sense of responsibility or...empathy toward the wounded party. He's always been a bit like that. Now he's Disszilla.

So I call to make sure he received his birthday package at the assisted living facility. He's huffing and puffing and says he just got out of the shower and that he's nude. Not a visual I ever wanted and it follows me around the rest of the evening like a migraine. I offer to call him back a bit later.

"No, no, no," he says peevishly. "Let's get this over with now."

And try as I might to dismiss it as the insensitivity of a person suffering from dementia, I can't quite pull it off. Because he's still mostly lucid and the truth is in those words and in all his past actions. I am not a real person but someone, anyone. Any baby would have done. Because it was never about the baby or the child or the teenager or the adult me. As long as I am in a service role, the adopted child, the grateful daughter, I am tolerated. But if I am inconvenient to his time or his schedule, well, "let's just get this over with now."

Time to emotionally detach from the Father Ship. I thought I'd sailed away long, long ago in a Galaxy Far Away but I just learned I was still hanging around that old, damned dock.