It’s Be Brave Friday where Shaun or I (from Dogs are Smarter than People and Loving the Strange and just being an author in Maine) share people’s unedited, unfiltered stories, so we can all celebrate the big and little brave things we do all the time.
Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re being brave.
Here’s Jordan’s brave story and we are so grateful, Jordan, for you trusting us and sending it in. So much love to you.
So I don’t know how long this is going to take me to put this together. I’ve really thought a lot, back and forth, about whether or not to even reply with this, but I think I’m going to, just for a sense of talking to someone outside of my normal circle.
I know this isn’t probably what you were looking for when you mentioned a story, but this is something that’s just been weighing on my mind for a little while now.
Back in 2014, when I was still a freshman in college, I made the decision to start coming out to my family. My mom had been estranged for reasons that is a whole other story. She’s not the same person she was when I was growing up, so it’s hard to really gauge who she is as a person at any given day.
When I wanted to open myself up a bit and come out to her, she responded in a way I assumed she would, being married to a southern church-going bible-thumper–she told me “I don’t agree with that” and to not bring it around my sister (who was 10 at the time).
I was very disappointed and went on with my life. I kept my mom at a distance because if she didn’t want part of my life to be highlighted, I wasn’t going to filter that. She just wasn’t going to get any of it.
I went through my college career. Struggled, thrived. Made friendships and experiences that have changed my life completely. I reluctantly invited her to my graduation, not even knowing for sure if she’d come–simply because that meant that she would actually have to make the trip.
Cut to 2020, where it’s the hell year for everyone. I’ve moved back to where I grew up to be closer to a few family members of mine. My mom begins communicating with me to inform me that her marriage has fallen apart due to infidelity and other personal things going on.
My concern only lied with my sister. She’s a young adult now but she still has no skills of being able to navigate the craziness that will surely come about with my mom. My mom never knew how to do anything for herself, and she always burned any bridges she made with people, so no one was ever at the ready to help her if she needed it. I knew that if I didn’t step in, my sister was really going to have an even worse time than she was already.
I took time off of work to get my aunt (her sister) to help me find a place where my mom could live. Having no income and no job experience in the last 18 years was going to be extremely tough, but time was of the essence. I managed to find a place and help her get moved in.
Honestly, I wanted either two things to happen. I wanted her to just leave it at that, and not communicate with me any more, or I wanted her to change back to who I knew she was when she was someone I looked up to.
I find it hard to find that kindness inside myself and have to go out of my way to constantly help her when she chooses to not help herself. I don’t know if its actual “trauma” but there are so many hurtful things and happenings that she doesn’t acknowledge or anything.
In her mind, she may believe that it never did, but the things she said, she still said. My mom has never accepted any kind of responsibility for herself and that just takes a toll after a while.
My mom has shoulder surgery next week and I’m dreading it more than anything because I know she’s going to need help and the only one who can offer it or is even remotely even willing to, is going to be me. It’s hard enough working in the public during an ongoing pandemic, in a southern state where the government could care less about the constituents dropping like flies.
Now I have to find a balance of keeping my income at a steady rate while also babysitting my impossible mother.
The past year and a half or so, I made a vow to myself to try and keep a positive outlook and not to lurk so much in negativity. This situation kind of makes me feel like I can’t do this without kindness but it’s so hard for me to feel like I can put kindness forward in this. I know this isn’t your problem, and this may be heavier than what you expected in any kind of responses to this?
I’m not even 100% sure that this message is a solid, coherent thought. At times in this scenario, I feel like I’m a bad person, but at the same time, I don’t care if it does. Even growing up, I always felt like the kingpin of my family. Like, if I wasn’t there to hold everyone together, it would all just fall apart and the damage couldn’t be undone.
To the point where, now, I would rather be isolated and alone than have to worry about it. I guess my question through all of this is how can you put forth kindness in a situation that just constantly drains you? I know it’s not really a comprehensible question but a part of me just wanted to type these thoughts out because I feel like if I mentioned it to anyone close to me here, it would make me seem (for lack of a better word, this really isn’t the right one) like a sociopath.
I think you’re a wonderful person, Carrie, and I’m very sorry if this was exhausting to read or just too impersonal in any way, but thank you for even just presenting me with the idea of being able to just send a thought out to another person, whom I weirdly I feel I can trust with that thought. I hope life is treating you properly, and I am wishing you all of the peace and joy that I can.
– All the love,
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