Shards of Glass

Tonight I am feeling shattered.

I am no longer being tugged in all directions.  I am beyond being overwhelmed.  I have shattered.

I feel like I am looking at my world through a smashed pain of glass and a different aspect of my life is refracted in each facet.  A different aspect of my life, each clamouring for importance, each clamouring for my attention.

Today my family met at the Alzheimer’s association for a group counselling session.  My birth family.  My siblings and I.  My mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as Vascular Dementia.  I don’t know what else to say about that just now.  Are there words to describe it?  Am I numb?  I don’t think I am numb, but maybe I am in shock again, the same as I was when I first heard the words, even ‘though I had known for years.

It isn’t pretty.  One thing that my family does not specialise in is well-functioning adults.  Limping along, bloody-minded survivors, for sure, but not well-functioning.

There is a lot of buried anger, pain and grief from when my Dad was sick (he died 6 years ago after a protracted illness-Lewy’s Bodies Dementia) and it is rearing infected, puss-filled heads in the most inappropriate of places.  Mostly we are determined that it won’t be like that again.  I hope we are right.

Then there are the family dynamics.  I don’t want to say politics.  Eight is a lot of kids.  Eight is too many to be a single team with strong and equivalent bonds with everyone.  It is a lot of intimate relationships to maintain.  Too many.  So there are divisions.  Age, location, personality… you name it.  They can change over time as various other things change, but I sometimes envy friends with small families who have a super-glue strong bond with all their siblings.

These similarities and differences are exacerbated under this kind of stress.  I often find myself as a kind of sounding board and interpreter for some of my siblings.  I am good at that.  But this time, I can see I am going to end up caught between my own well-being and need to express and support certain outcomes, and my role trying to keep some members of the family as members of the family.  There are some bits that are pretty messy.  I don’t want to have to choose sides like some kind of adolescent war.

Then there is the extended family.  My niece (by marriage to my godson) is expecting a baby in two months time.  They only live 10 minutes up the road, but I can’t see her or speak to her at the moment.  I am still traumatised by Little Princess’ birth, eight months ago.  I get crowning pains when I see pregnant women or young babies.  I remember the feeling when they brought me back to consciousness during the labour and all I could think was, “Why did you bring me back for THIS?”

Or how about two others of my nieces with whom I have been really close friends, who also have small children and now I never get to see?  I miss them.  I want my kids to have cousins.  Cousins are great.  I love my nieces (and nephews) and I want to spend time with them, but what time?

And my friends.  I have a couple of friends going through really tough times at the moment, and I have hardly seen either of them.  Not the way I would like to.

And then there are my kids.  We have had the flu going around our house for five weeks now, so everyone has been that bit more needy.  Little Princess and Bandicoot still need Mama to snuggle them so they can sleep (among all the other snuggles they need).  Possum, tries not to need me so much, but oh he does.  Just in different ways.  I am torn just with the three of them, let alone all the other bits.

And DH, too.  Sometimes I feel like we communicate with smoke signals over a chasm.  I am glad we had all those years to build our relationship so that we can keep in touch as best we can in the snippets of time we have.

I think I was already stretched to my limit.  Onto this taut arena the huge bomb of Alzheimer’s and its associated emotional turmoil has been dropped.

I feel like my life is shattered.  Well, no.  Not my life.  My life is still all there screaming out for me in a thousand different voices.  I am now shattered.  I need to regroup.  To downsize my care spectrum.  But I can no longer work out what is important.

Is it selfish of me to focus mostly on my kids?  To drop so many other commitments?  Am I hiding behind them, as no one can deny me that they are allowed to be the most important thing in my life?

I don’t know.

I need to get a couple of the shards back together, ‘though.  Give me something to look through.  All I can see are glinty little glimpses, no real pictures, they are too broken up.

We are going to the snow today.  I need to get up in 2 1/2 hours at the latest.  That is with a “sleep-in”.  A sleep-in?  I haven’t been able to go to sleep yet.  It is going to be a hard day.  Five hours driving (plus stops) with the kids going nuts.  DH is sleeping poorly, if at all, tonight, too.  We haven’t packed.  We have doctors’ appointments in the morning.  Everything is chaos.  Shards of glass, shards of glass.

Shards of glass.


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