Monday, June 8, 2015

Day 9: Down the Rabbit Hole

*Warning: If  don't like it or get offended when I just pour out my insides, skip this one. 

I'm having a difficult day today. Sarah left to go home with her dad for several weeks and the house is as quiet and empty as the tomb it is. I think too much when I'm alone. When there is nothing to draw me externally, I begin to look inward and truthfully, that's a dark place.

The weekend was rather a letdown. I had to do the yard work and I hurt myself so badly after weeding the flower bed on hands and knees, and then doing trimming I could hardly move all weekend. I hurt from my neck to my feet. My arms, back, neck, and even my stomach were sore. I was glad to see my son, but I was out working most of that time trying to get the weed trimming done before the weather turned or suffering in my chair. I still have not finished the trimming and it is raining today.

I went for a walk, thinking it would be good to get me out of the house and would lighten my mood. It did not. If walking in the rain can't make you feel better, it's pretty bad.  I can't say I have any real physical pain. It is maybe 2-3. The agonizing pain of the weekend, which was really strained muscles, is now nearly gone.

While I was working on some paperwork earlier, I wondered when exactly children begin to have no use for their parents. I raised two sons. I assumed they loved me. I adore them. Elder son does things for me and has always done so. If I'm sick he always shows up and calls. Not so much my younger son. Now he lives in another state so it would be impossible but he lived most of his life up the road a bit. He put up cabinets once.

So, as I stood staring at some stuff I'm clearing out it was with only a slight shock that I realized in 35 years I've never received a mother's day card, a birthday card, a get well card, or any kind of card from my children. Not one. Not ever. Neither of them.  When they were in elementary school, they may have made a couple. I don't think I have them. If I do they're in a folder somewhere.

Nor have I ever received gifts of any kind from my children. They've taken me to lunch a few times. I've bought more of our meals for every occasion. The only real gift I ever got and I know was bought with great thought and love is a beautiful collectible doll in a glass case. Mike got it for me when he was about 12 and I can still remember his face when I opened it and how much that doll meant to me. She is in my bedroom right now, carefully protected from harm in her glass case. I open it sometimes and touch her. She looks a bit like a bride. Jerry bought me a doll, a few years later "because she looked" like me. She's in the living room.

Once, when he was married to his previous wife, the younger son sent flowers. I think it was for my birthday. I showed them to my whole office. Elder son has taken me to lunch a few times ... when he had the money. Younger son has on occasion bought my lunch.

But I have no special mementos to point to and say, my son got me that. Except the doll. I have no file of beautiful cards to Mom. I have a file of cards from my aunt, my sister, Sarah, my ex-daughter-in-law, and maybe from my Dad and step mom.. whom I hardly know. I even have a file of letters from some people. There is a file of sympathy cards I received from people when Jerry died. You will find no cards from my sons when I die.

I also realized I never got flowers or cards from Jerry from probably the early 90's, if then, not even anniversary cards. There are none in my folder from him, but I vaguely recall getting one or two. When we first married I used to get flowers now and then. The last time he bought me flowers was around 1999. It was for my birthday and they were in a cute pumpkin planter. He'd take me to lunch on Mother's Day and my birthday so I suspect that substituted for cards and gifts. For the last 10 years of his life, I bought my own Christmas presents.

I remember being at work when people got flowers on Mother's Day and I'd leave the area because I didn't want someone to ask me, "What'd your family do for you? They did nothing.

I'm not sure why this all came to my mind today. Maybe because the emptiness of my home is a mockery of all that I thought I had once. To wake up one day and everyone is gone and you realize you really weren't special after all is a bit of a shock. How did I miss it? Was I so full of myself that I thought I was really important to these people?

I've never said anything to anyone. I just kept it quiet. I stayed silent. Honestly, I was usually embarrassed by it. It doesn't make me feel better, putting this here today, but I think I've hit bottom. It took me a long time to get here. The fall is pretty steep. My only rationalization is that there are various stages to grief and I suspect some of the realizations I've been having over the last year have something to do with it.

When you go through things after people die, you learn things. Some are things you knew but forgot. Other things are things you should have known but didn't. And still other things are things you wish you'd never found out. You find things that hurt, some that anger, and some that just confuse you. I've experienced all those.

It took a while to realize that not everything was perfect in my little world. I had a good husband most of the time. He was far from perfect. After he died, I made a lot of excuses from some things and just ignored others. Oh, he wasn't doing reprehensible things or illegal things. There were just things I don't know how I missed, some I should have seen and didn't, some I saw but simply chose to ignore. I have "good" sons. Meaning they never got into serious trouble. But when your children leave home and get older you actually discover the depth of character you've instilled in them. It is never what you think.

Most of us turn blind eyes to the faults of our loved ones. I'm no different. My nature is to forgive people any insult to me that they care to dish out, particularly those I love. But here I am today asking myself why should I?

I don't like writing this post because I don't like whiners. But for once in my life, I'm not staying silent. I'm not going to pretend there isn't a problem. I'm not going to make excuses for other people's bad behavior, attitudes, and actions. There are things that are just wrong, and ill-mannered, and selfish.

I can't change the past or the present. I can't fix what is already set in stone. Somehow I have to figure out how to make life mean something without the things or people I thought gave it meaning.

Maybe, as someone once told me, there is no meaning. We just move through our life like pinballs, racking up points here, losing some there but never really making an impact on anything. The sacrifices you make are pointless and go unnoticed everywhere but your own mind. Ultimately, we have no one but ourselves to live with and if we can't do that, we might as well just die.


  1. Oh Cindy. This has made me cry. I'll address it in the morning. Hope you manage to have a good evening.

  2. I know EXACTLY what you mean. And I swear I mean exactly. I have not blogged about it but if I did, it would blow your hair back. I was madder than a hornet, skipped church and went home at 2pm while they just lounged around.

    I told them over and over that they needed to make a big deal out of Mother's Day. They did buy me something but ONLY because I told them pretty specifically what I wanted. But there was no thought. No creativity. It was out of a sense of obligation. I told them that I knew that I was nothing but a steering wheel to them. Oh yeah, I was done. Still am done.

    I told them that they need to make this up to me. I *told* them. I communicated my feelings to them and you know what? It didn't make a bit of difference. If I see that things are going to go the same way, I will not spend Mother's Day with them. Why should it? I'll figure out something extra fun to do, even if it's not on that day.

    So don't think you're the only person. I understand like you can't BELIEVE!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Chris, I know you do. I've known for a long time. I think we allow them to take advantage of us. Maybe sometimes we should say, "Don't ask me. You figure it out." If we said it enough maybe they'd see. But honestly, I believe it is ingrained in this generation to be selfish.

  3. Morning! Cindy, I can't tell you how much this upset me. It made me feel so sad for you. I so wish I lived nearer. You have to get your butt over here so I can give you a big hug.

    I guess with Sarah gone for a little while your house will seem like a quiet and lonely place and that will have set your mind wandering and that I guess is where this has all come from. I don't think the grieving process is ever over. You may think it is but then something happens and all the old thoughts are back with you.

    I think I can understand some of what you are saying. I know with Simon there is stuff that I just ignore. I can see how in death you are forced to look at all of those things. It must be incredibly hard to learn things that you can do nothing to change.

    As for the lack of cards and presents, I think it was that which got me so riled up for you. I can't believe that your boys have never sent cards, that alone presents. My first thought was why did Jerry not make sure that they did this, then I read that actually he wasn't much into it either. I would be so angry about that.

    Mine are pretty good about such things. When they were younger, Simon made sure that they never missed an occasion. As they have grown up, I have noticed of more recent years that cards do not always arrive on the correct day. This happens particularly if they are going to see me soon. They will bring the card when they next see me which could be a week later! That makes me very cross and I have verbalised it! They will put something on FB and I hate that.

    There was one year where there had been quite a disagreement with Sam our eldest and he had ignored us for several months leading up to Mothers Day. I suspected that I would not get a card or that if I did he would post it so he didn't have to see me. Simon had said that he would read him the riot act if he ignored the day. In the event he turned up on the doorstep with a card and a present but you know what? It was meaningless as I was well aware that he had only done it out of a sense of duty and obligation. It wasn't given with real love.

    As for Simon, he had better not ever forget! You can bet that I would shout loud about that one! He is pretty good. Has never missed an occasion so far. I always get a card, flowers and a few presents and we go out for a special meal to mark the occasion. The rest of the time, he very rarely buys me flowers. To be honest I would probably wonder what he had done if he did!

    Sorry to be writing so much here. I am not sure what I would do in your shoes. After so many years of saying nothing, it will be difficult to reverse that. Maybe it will change now David has a new wife? I think we girls are better at this stuff than men.

    One last thing, why did you feel that you still had to do all the yard work when David was there? Did he help at all? I hope that he is VERY appreciative of the love, care and home that you are giving Sarah.

    Cindy, I hope I haven't said anything I shouldn't but this really upset me and saddened me on your behalf. It is a good job, that I don't live close because I would be giving those boys a talking too!

    1. Jilly, you haven't said a thing to upset me. When I got up this morning, I was going to sentd this to the draft folder. I have several unpublished posts there for similar reasons. I took the link off facebook because David would be furious if his wife's family see it. But you know, thinks like that, who we are, people who know you well know you.

      Don't get me wrong. I think he's a good boy. He doesn't do anything "wrong". I've just never been very important.

      David helped Mike repair the lawnmower blades. I reminded him several times about doing the trim work. He said he would. But he kept forgetting. So I just did it as long as I could. Today, if it dries enough I'll have to get it done. I'm going to see if Mike can do some of it.

      Jerry never sent cards to his own parents. I did it. I remembered their anniversary and holidays. I ordered flowers to both mothers if we did flowers. I did everything. His parent sent me one card on my birthday, one time in over 30 years. My birthday was their anniversary. Sometimes they sent Christmas cards.

      Jerry didn't forget in the early years very often. And I think that is why he would take me to lunch on Sunday's, because that he could remember. But as time went on, he just stopped. People do I guess.

      I really don't know what David feels about my care of Sarah. He's never said much but that he knows she happy and doing well in school. He's very self-absorbed and always has been. You expect them to grow out of that but he didn't.

      You know, I hate that about Facebook. People think they just stick a line on Facebook and that's enough. If it is people I don't know well or am not really connected to in some other way, I haven't a problem with it. Family is supposed to mean more than that. And the fact that I'm so far from any family makes it very hurtful when people forget. I have my sister here and my aunt who remember.

  4. To clarify, I was cleaning out paperwork when I thought of all this. I ran across a card from someone and remembered I have a file of cards somewhere. Then I remembered it is mostly from friends and distant relatives.

    I've very bad about cards at Christmas. I always seem to forget them till too late. I try, even buy them, but events usually make me forget them.

  5. Guilty. I don't send cards as I should now - but I did to parents on every occasion. And, I used to receive than. Not so much any more - but I no longer mind. I've even thrown some cards away in the last few years. I'd much rather my kids come to visit than receive cards - isn't that odd? Last Thursday all my children's spouses were out of town and we had an impromptu cookout and an evening of visiting. No card could provide such memories. You know our household! And few people would be interested in our setup. I do wish I could be closer to you. I think you'd help me walk further and I'd see that you got out more. God bless and keep you.

  6. Perhaps that is the issue now. There are few visits. The family I had isn't here anymore. There is Mike and Sarah for now. But everything we had is gone. Even he feels it. We're after thoughts or Facebook reminders.

    The bright spot in the weekend was when both boys and I were in the garage working on the mower. For 45 minutes, I had my family back. Then it was gone.

  7. I'm not suprised you're having a bad time right now. Having Sarah around has given you a purpose, company and much more. Faced with being on your own for a bit and sorting through stuff that has reminded you of things you don't enjoy facing it's no wonder you are feeling so low.

    I think it's hard because we want to raise our children to be good people, and to have their own independance and not rely on us but we also want them to be appreciative and remember who it was that enabled them to get where they are today.

    Without wanting to stereotype I do think girls are better at remembering these sort of things than boys or men even. And depending on the relationship you have with in-laws/partners will affect how much boys are reminded by their partners to send cards/keep in contact with their parents.

    We're not actually big on celebrating Mother's Day and especially Father's Day - Nick feels it's a huge excuse for commercial companies to make money. He'd much rather have regular contact with the kids than be remembered once a year out of duty. Same for Christmas and birthdays. The important thing is to know you're loved and I'm sure your family do love you even if they're not particularly demonstrative of it.

    I hope you can keep yourself motivated and start to feel better.

  8. Your blog made me cry. I have often felt the same way. Lately my oldest daughter has been kind to me but sometimes even she gets self absorbed and seems to forget about me. I especially feel this way near holidays and when I am sick or hurting. I live alone and I think it makes things seem bigger and hurt more because I dwell on them. I've found this to be true this week especially. School is out and I knew it would be hard to sit here each day. Then my internet went down and I got it back up and then I hurt my back. Been on the couch 4 days and finally yesterday went to the doctor and got pain pills and muscle relaxers. But the other three days I wished someone would stop by and get me a cup of tea...offer to bring me dinner or suggest I go to the doctor...after the third day I just figured no one was coming and I had better take care of it myself. Sad.

    1. Ruth, I"m so sorry it made you cry. It seems I'm a voice in the wilderness here. There are a lot of us out there, apparently. I wish we were neighbors. At least we'd have that tea together. Just make mine iced.

      I'm better today. I think when we hit a certain point, there is no place to go but up. I hope you feel better soon.

      And I'll post a more uplifting blog probably tomorrow. I've been cleaning all day.