Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Of Tubes and Toothpaste

The phrase, "The cat's out of the bag.", is often used to describe what happens when some event, bit of news, or a secret gets out.

Being a companion of cats I've often felt this phrase is rather incorrect. Yes, a cat recently sprung from a bag will very likely crash wildly about the place. It is also likely that the cat will saunter sedately away from the bag and go have a good lick somewhere. It is also pretty easy to get a cat back into a bag.

To Get Cat Back into Bag:

  1. Put bag on floor.
  2. Walk away.
    *With Obie, pictured, the bag only needs to be unattended.

The phrase I prefer to use when acknowledging that you can't put something back the way it was is this, "You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube."

That's more apt. The news is out. The time is now. You cannot return to a time when that particular bit of toothpaste was already in the tube.

The "toothpaste" that's outta the tube right now is this blog. It would seem in recent weeks my Mom has stumbled upon it. Not sure how, but that really doesn't matter much anyway. This is a public blog and it has my real and legal name on it. It even says where I live. There's always been a chance my mostly non-internet-using Mother would find it.

And so she has. This apparently is the cause of the silent treatment.

I have a queasy hunch it might even be partly related to the sudden about-face on the apartment. I could see her deciding to whole-heartedly move into an environment that isn't healthy for her physically because she'd decided I was not to be relied upon. I've become another in a long line of betrayals.

Here's the scoop, as provided to me by her deeply concerned husband who had just left her bedside at the hospital (yes, again).

Mom interpreted somewhere along the way in reading my blog that I wished she would die.

Yeah. Seriously.

Her husband, WD, had asked her to show him what I'd written, but she wouldn't. He really didn't think I'd ever say such a thing. At the hospital this past Sunday she informed him that I was not to be called. He went home, called me and told me what's been going on. I've since talked with his son as well. WD and his kids all have my phone numbers, CK's mobile number, and my email. They also have the link to this blog.

What I told them, without knowing what it was that set Mom off, was that it was possible that I've written about the relief her death would bring. Not because I wish she would die, only that it will be a tremendous relief to know that she won't be suffering in this life any longer. No more procedures. No more hospital stays. No more anxiety. No more bitterness. True and final rest.

I dread the day my Mom's death comes. I will be profoundly sad and deeply grieve the loss of my only living parent. I will mourn her unassuaged life that only knew such fleeting joy. Knowing that she will never be in pain again will bring me relief.

I've resisted the nearly overwhelming urge to compulsively read through every single thing I've written about my Mom on my blog to find it. CK also insisted. I think I've got it though. It came to me when I was cross-referencing an older post for the bit I put up recently, 'Stumbling on Joy'.

If my Mom had been reading chronologically, likely starting at the post about my trip to Denver for Jen's memorial, she'd have hit the post called 'A Bitterness'. In it I note the struggle I was having at acknowledging that her death would bring me relief.

Right there. Boom. I'm pretty certain that's it.

And she totally missed the point of it. Missed the struggle, the guilt, the pain in that post. The profound sorrow for her unhappy life.

She also missed that it was written in the Summer of 2010 when we all thought Mom had Stage 4 stomach cancer and didn't want to go through surgery or chemo for it. A time when I was really struggling and agonizing about my Mom's imminent death. We were all certain we were just ticking down the days until we would lose her.

I think my Mom tends to look for the worst. She really wants the best, but she doesn't believe it is possible. Maybe she doesn't believe she's worth the best, I can see her having got that message during her own childhood full of abuse. I don't know the reason, we've never really talked about it, but I'm pretty sure she expects and looks for the worst.

I think she ran across what was for me a moment of real agony and profound sadness for her life. She looked for the worst in me and decided she'd found it. Then she disconnected her phone number and told WD she was moving out to Corbett. That's why I can see her deciding that I was of no help or use to her in making the move into the apartment she'd fallen in love with.

There was a time in my life I practiced Mom's habit of expecting the worst out of life. I was miserable, obese, depressed, and in an unhappy marriage. It wasn't how I was as a child, but I grew into this habit almost like it was just part of "growing up".

It has been hard work, but I think I'm coming back to expect the best, particularly out of people. I'm shaky at this relearned skill. It is pretty easy to fall back into the trap of feeling like I don't deserve the best, something I learned in my childhood. I practice though. I acknowledge my brain coming up with all the worst-case scenarios and try to meet a person or a moment without expecting that the worst will happen. Most of the time I am relieved to find that instead of the worst, people reveal their best to me.

Sometimes we learn by watching and seeing what not to do. I watched my family and I've generally applied myself to doing exactly the opposite of them. Some people rebel by making destructive choices. My life of compassion, yoga, meditation, art, laughter, friends, and community is one big act of rebellion against the example my family set for me.

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  1. I feel so connected to you and your experience. I had a very similar relationship with my mother, who died of 2 undiagnosed cancers 7 years ago, after a lifetime of unhappiness. You’re an amazing person and I admire your spirit.

  2. If only your mom could lease the hurt and let them go like feathers in the wind, and start a new journey of hopefulness and joy. I pray she can and will find that place, and have you by her side smiling.

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