SO. Life has swerved in many directions, sometimes in all directions all at once, since my last post. Moving on without Lewy got easier...moving on without my Dad didn't for quite some time. I finally dealt with the death of my Mom at a snails pace once that chance arrived...once I didn't have to deal with Lewy and his incessant games. It was really an interesting experience feeling such deep grief about something that happened 4 years prior. I still get teary-eyed every now and then when I think of them, especially given what life has brought my way recently. I wish they were here to see that happiness isn't just a wish upon a star for me anymore. I wish they were all here to see that good things do happen if you are patient enough. God, I'm getting teary-eyed just writing those words.
Okay, deep breath.
I've received many e-mails and messages thanking me for my blog, for writing our experiences, asking me how I am doing now, and even a handful of offers to add my blog to their website, book, or even a publishing venture...something I am still mulling over. I have to thank all of you back, because there were many days while Lewy was present that I couldn't bare the thought of one more entry in this blog, but I did just in case it helped even one other person going through the same thing.
I think I've officially dealt with the running-for-first-place-to-catholic-guilt I had. It took me a while to realize I did the best I could...I questioned myself almost the whole past year wondering if I had done enough to make my Dad's world a little better. My final answer is YES I DID. Maybe I didn't make LEWY'S life easier...but I made my Dad's better. I know that now.
So...in answer to the "how and what are you doing now?" question, I will now answer in my usual, rambling-on manner...I assume you are all sitting down.
Even months after Daddy passed, I kept thinking about what life had been like for years. I thought about Papa...his illness, his death, and how his final wishes were disregarded, how Nany deteriorated so rapidly after he passed, and how her death and what remained of her life (the material objects) was made into a circus as well. I thought about how my Papa, despite Nany being one of the most difficult people I've known, loved his "baby"...she was a blunt, controlling woman that not many of us understood most days, but they HAD something, despite that they sometimes fought like cats and dogs. Sometimes they seemed like polar opposites and fought with passion...but in the end...observing it years after...when my head was finally clear...they really had love.
Then I thought about how my parents didn't.
They had fear and obligation.
They were miserable, but couldn't part each other because they were bound by an angry silence and a committment lost years ago. They'd let their lives slip by, it was too late, they were too old, they didn't have enough money, they couldn't make it alone anymore. Only death made them part, but for all the wrong reasons.
I thought about statements both my parents made over the years about each other, how they would do things differently if they could and how they both wished to escape each other sometime, someday.
I thought about how my Mom was in her last days, how she kept asking how I was, if I was happy...which I tossed aside, though certain thoughts and people ran through my head when I thought about happiness.
I thought about how my Mom had this glimmer of happiness in her eye right before she got sick the last time because there was a man she worked with who paid her much-needed attention. It was just a man whom she would have some short, sarcastic, witty conversations with...and that was all it was...but I saw HER come through during that time. She became feather-light and had this giddy little laugh...I remembered teasing her about it...about her "boyfriend". I wondered if he missed her.
I also remembered how my Dad was in his last days. How he was so confused but still spoke the truth in layers on certain days when Lewy gave him a break...and how the truth always held what I'm saying now...that he wanted to be away from my Mom, but that he was afraid of that whole concept...afraid of looking a certain way for certain reasons to certain people. Fear and obligation. Though she had been gone for 4 years, Lewy didn't let him remember most days that they weren't together anymore. He was still afraid that leaving would hurt his kids, that he needed to stay for his kids, that when they all got out of school he'd leave...surely then he could leave her. I imagine Lewy had a good laugh at that, the bastard.
Then it dawned on me that, though I'd sworn since childhood that I would never become them, that I had. I was in a marriage of fear and obligation. My god, I really was. A marriage where we were stuck together though the feeling we may have once had for each other was long gone, if it ever was really love at all.
My husband had been diagnosed with bi-polar many years back and it was a daily struggle to get him to be an actual participating part of our family. When it was convenient or he felt like it, he would, but that was extremely short-lived and the mental abuse that came along with his inner anger and struggles within himself were getting too difficult to excuse or feel the need to explain away. I wasn't me anymore, at least not around him. I had to be the responsible one. The one who took care of everything. The one who found a way to pay the bills or creatively stretch dollars when he would empty our account on a whim and have nothing to account for. I was the one who calmed our kids when he would scream for no reason. The one who called everyone we knew when he would leave for days and show up looking like he'd slept in his car...which is exactly what he said he'd done. I had lost myself in other people's heads...in other people's mental anguish was me, clawing to get out and run...but I had to stay and be the one who made everything aesthetically pleasing and functional.
Months after mentally healing from the life I had been living for so long, I finally caught a glimpse of something I hadn't seen in years...Me. I actually saw myself and almost didn't recognize who I'd been though I felt this magnetic inner pull to run toward this girl I saw as soon as I could.
What was so stupid was that this glimpse was via something I fought against...this ridiculous online madness called Facebook. Friends had begged me to join so we could share pictures of our children...and I had reluctantly joined...only to cancel it the same day. I didn't have TIME for such nonsense!
Weeks later I joined again at the incessant peer-pressuring of friends, and I started filling out all the silliness about what I like, the things I think about, the music that moves me and quotes that I have always liked. Seeing these silly little tidbits of my personality that I had had to let go of to a certain extent to deal with other people's mental illness and disease made me smile...there I was...the goofy, sarcastic, head-in-the-clouds, hopeless romantic that had been strangled into oblivion...there I was, in writing, on a flimsy online friend-collecting site. Good god. Freakin' hilarious.
But...these simple things on this silly online site reminded me what my dreams were and where I thought I'd be at this point in my life. And I was WAY off course.
And...these things...they reminded me of him...the one I let go years ago because it wasn't to be.
So I typed his name in the 'search' bar...on this ridiculous thing called Facebook.
There he was.
I agonized over what to say, what he may be doing, or the things I knew I surely would not want to know. After practicing my message many times over, I sent a generic one-liner like, "Hey, what's new with you?"
He wrote me back right away. He was still married, had had a baby with her, and was still with the Fire Department. When I accepted his friend request, I IMMEDIATELY went back to the day he joined this FB insanity and read everything. I had to know what I'd missed. I had to know, even if it made me sick, and it did.
What I saw was that he was just as unhappy as I was, and that he had sunken into the same lethargic role-playing game of "making things work" that I had. I saw that in many ways, he didn't seem the same...he seemed to have morphed into a person who actively, yet unconsciously, drowned his unhappiness and easily plastered the "I'm doing okay" face on. Just like I had. And that wasn't me either...so I wondered if HE was still in there. I was going to find out. And though I was horrified of these things I saw, I was relieved. He wasn't happy. He wasn't happy. And I knew I could change that.
Once we started talking, it was obvious that nothing had changed...if anything, our friendship and the longing had grown deeper through our absence in each other's lives.
Life was about to change. At turbo speed. And Lewy wasn't invited.