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Monthly Archives: November 2008

A fellow poster on an Elder Care discussion board asked a great question, that bothers all of us who have a narcissistic parent. She saw that I was an ordained minister (though I do not have a church), and wondered how I deal with the Bible verse Exodus 20:12 which says, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.”

An excerpt from her comment says:

“A friend of mine who is very Bible-versed told me that, yes, you should honor your parents, but not at the expense of your own sanity. Technically, I understand that, but still feel that I will burn in hell for establishing boundaries (or trying to) with my “n” father. How do you deal with this? I’ve included my email if you would like to email me. Thank you.”

What an honest and heartfelt question for those of us who are dealing with impossible situations with a narcissist parent. Who has not struggled with this verse? And aren’t there so many lovely people (not) (who have no idea about our situation) eagerly waiting to whip out this verse, to weigh us down with condemnation?

Please forgive me if you have read my story already, but for those who haven’t, I will try to condense it as much as possible, and you can read the details in former blog posts.

In my own situation, my step-dad died 3 1/2 years ago, and I have been the primary caregiver for my mom for those years. As far as “honoring” her, I laid down my life for her. There was a supernatural compassion in me towards her, and I knew that it was more than I was capable of. I helped her in every way possible, and made sure that she was well taken care of, to the detriment of my own health and sanity. I did it because I loved her, even though there have been problems in our relationship, since I was a little girl.  (I have wondered if it was because my dad was someone she badmouthed all my life, and I look like him.) Perhaps her intense hatred of him was such, that every time she looked at me, she saw him. I can’t begin to know her motivations.

On the other hand, my brother, who is 8 years younger, was fathered by the love of her life, and though he rarely does anything to help her, (other than grocery shop, and then go by for lunch most everyday) he can do no wrong. The difference that she shows in her treatment of us, is anything but subtle.

He visited her sporadically, (when she was in the nursing home for rehab for the past 4 1/2 months) on his way fishing. I visited every other day, and sometimes every day. He is the proverbial Golden Boy, and I am the slave.

While I have never been physically abused, I have often been emotionally abused, and I have the unseen scars. When I was around 7, my mother threatened to kill herself if I didn’t get along with (and fully accept) her present boyfriend, who later became my step-dad. She had moved me to Atlanta from my grandparents home, and though it nearly killed me to leave the only place that I’ve ever felt secure, I thought perhaps that she and I would finally have a mother-daughter relationship. My desire to have some time alone with her never really happened. Immediately there were two men in her life, as her stated purpose for going to Atlanta was “to find a husband.” Any attempt I made at crying out for a mother, was labeled jealousy, and I lived with that hurtful label all my life. All I wanted was a mother.

So fast forward to the past 3 1/2 years. I loved my mother, and though it was never easy or simple, I tried to do everything possible to make her life good. I cared for her like my child. I took her to all her doctor appointments, faithfully taking notes, and trying to be a good advocate for her. I took her shopping, lugging in groceries late at night, when I felt that I could not take another step.  I picked up all her prescriptions, took her to her hair appointments, spent many long nights in the ER with her, etc. I ignored my own health concerns (which are many), in order to do all that needed to be done for her. But I did it out of love.

Many times, if you read the past posts in my blog, through this time, I would go home and cry. Nothing was ever enough for her, and at times she would make me feel so pressured that I thought I would lose my mind. I admit everything went fine, as long as I did everything she wanted–the way she wanted. But if I ever stood up for myself, or didn’t completely agree with what she wanted, or how she felt–then she rapidly turned on me. (My disagreeing with her in any way, happened very rarely, because I had been conditioned to comply with her wishes. I would try to avoid making her angry at all costs.) One time years ago, when I was going through hell with my adopted daughter, and I reached out to my mom for some empathy and support, she offered none, saying she “didn’t understand.” She never tried to understand anything that I was going through, and I told her so. That time I checked myself into the mental health unit (feeling suicidal), after standing up to her.

One day recently, I just couldn’t dance anymore. (You can read about it in past blog posts.) We had words over the phone, and the conversation ended with her calling me “Mean, Bitchy, and Jealous.” (Yes, there’s her favorite word again.)

Something changed in me that day. I realized that I had spent the last 3 1/2 years of my life, caring for someone who had a very low opinion of me, and who intended to abuse me emotionally for the rest of her life (or mine) whichever ended first. I immediately responded, “I’m so glad that you said that, because now I am gone from your life.”

She taunted me with, “Oh yeah? Yeah..yeah…yeah…”

I replied, “Just watch me.”

I sincerely knew in that moment that I would physically die, if I kept on in that relationship. And I felt a release from God to end it.

My opinions on the “Honor your father and mother” are that God is a God of Love. He does not expect anyone to stay in a relationship, where they are being abused in any way. Please know that emotional abuse is a very deadly abuse.  I gave and gave to my mother, until she drained the very life out of me. I had no life of my own, and that didn’t bother her in the slightest. It was always all about herher needs, her desires–her happiness.  I feel that God (who is my Heavenly Father) also cares about me.  He requires that I forgive her, and I will, because if I don’t forgive her, I cannot be forgiven. Also it will destroy menot her, if I give in to bitterness. I know that healing will take time, but I do still love her, and I care about her. I just know that she is toxic to my health and spirit. I tried to provide for her, and care for her the best I could, but she has chosen to go another way. So be it. Forgiveness does not mean that you are saying what the person did was okay. No, no, no! Forgiveness is really just choosing to walk in love, instead of bitterness. Bitterness makes us sick, not the person we are holding the grudge against. Think of it as releasing them from your hatred and ill will, and then you can go on and live your life. I truly believe that there are times in our lives that we are to forgive, but not continue on in the relationship. (Paul and Barnabas (in the Bible) are an example of this. And even Abraham and Lot went their separate ways.)

I am married, and have an almost 20 year old daughter. (But until she was 18, she lived at home, and needed my attention.) I watched my house begin to fall down around me, because I was never home. My marriage was also suffering from a lack of time spent together. My health was declining seriously. I am a diabetic, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, acid reflux, etc. I take 9 different drugs. My mother kept me upset all the time, which just aggravated these conditions.

I felt overwhelmed every day of my life.  I could barely live one life, much less two. But I tried to be the “good daughter”, and I was patient, loving, and compassionate.  (More than I ever got from my mom.) I probably would have continued forever, trying to please her and “honor” her, if she had not called me those names. It broke something in my very soul, after all I had done for her. It broke my spirit, and I knew that I could not face myself another day, if I allowed her to continue to abuse me emotionally. I could keep pretending that everything was okay, but deep inside I would know that I was being emotionally manipulated and destroyed. And I was likely to get more and more sick–physically and emotionally. I do not think this was God’s plan for my life.

So while I do not claim to speak for God, I can only tell you what I feel He has spoken to me. And that is that He loves me, and enough is enough. Some people are afraid when they see that verse that says, “Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” But I am glad that God sees my heart in this situation, as I feel it was always pure towards my mom. I honored her to the best of my ability, and I took far more than I should have. I also made sure that she was in a safe, beautiful place now that she needed living assistance-a place where she could maintain some privacy, and receive the needed supervision that her health requires. I had hoped we would spend many happy times there together. But it was not to be.

My brother is taking her out, and he and his teen-aged son are moving in with her. The last time that happened, she nearly lost her mind, because they were basically pigs. But he has now chosen to do this against all medical advice, and without regard to her health situation, and without respect of me, as her primary caregiver–someone who knows her medical situation far better than he does. He was told she would need 24 hour care if she went home, and he does not plan to get any care for her. She told my husband this a couple of nights ago, and she agrees with him. So my hands are tied in that area. I cannot make her stay in the AL, unless she is declared incompetent. I believe that my brother may have ulterior motives (he wants the house-our only inheritance) and having her remain in AL would soon require that the house be sold, as my mother has no other assets. But that is their decision now.

There is also a scripture about children that I cling to. It says, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged round his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” God does not take the mistreatment of children lightly. The Bible has to be taken in context, and interpreted in light of other scriptures, to get the complete meaning.

I don’t think anyone would say that a child should remain with a parent who physically abuses them. Why would we think God forces us to remain subject to one who emotionally abuses us? He doesn’t. What He requires is that to the best of our ability we walk in love and forgiveness. He knows that healing takes time, and He will be there to help us, for however long it takes. I still love my mother, and in that way I honor her, but I cannot continue with things as they were. So I have chosen to protect myself, my health, and my marriage. I want to find some peace and happiness in my life, with whatever days that I have left.  (And I sincerely feel that if I had stayed in that situation, I may have died before my mother did.)

 I also contacted my former pastor’s wife about her thoughts on this, as she also has been through something similar with her mother. She counseled me that God does not expect me to put my health, sanity, and marriage at risk, for someone who will not cooperate, or mistreats me.

Only God can heal my spirit, but I know He can, and I know He will.

If you are going through something similar, I believe that what He requires is love and forgiveness, but He does not require you to remain in an abusive situation. So don’t let others bring condemnation on you. God’s heart is always reconciliation, but that requires two people, vowing to change the previous dynamic. If one person refuses, then nothing will change.

God is a loving father, not an abusive one. Being religious, and being spiritual are not the same. Religious people killed Jesus. So many people pretend to know God, but have no concept of His tender love towards us. Know that He will protect you if you submit your life to Him, and He is close to the broken-hearted.  He understands your pain, when no one else does…

Please read other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

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I seem to be surrounded by narcissists. People in love with themselves, and seeking to maintain their superiority, by destroying others. Malignant Narcissists is the the title given to the most destructive ones.

Narcissists only think of themselves. Everything is about them! They have no concern with your life at all. They delight in talking about themselves incessantly. It is their sole preoccupation.

Narcissists will drive you away, and then blame you because they’re lonely. (A friend on the Elder Care board gave me that one.)

They will seldom (if ever) admit that they are wrong–about anything.  Something is always wrong with you, not them. They will have you second-guessing and doubting yourself. Don’t!

They will continually invalidate your feelings, because your feelings are not important to them, and cannot possibly be valid.

They will criticize in you, the things that they see in themselves. It’s called projection.

Narcissists will make you co-dependent. You will do anything to avoid their wrath or displeasure, until you realize that it has cost you your soul. They are emotional vampires. You exist only for their pleasure.

They will claim that you are “overly sensitive”, or “high strung.”

You will have trouble believing that they have emotionally abused you, because they have convinced you that you’re the one with the problem.

They will delight in keeping from you (the thing) or emotional response that you want. They use this to show their superiority in the relationship. They particularly delight in withholding the attention (and affection) you need.

If you don’t do what they want, they will throw a tantrum, (or threaten to), and you will try to prevent that at all costs. They will lash out at you, call you names, and make you feel like the worst person on earth, all because you stood up for yourself, finally. But that’s not part of their game–they are to be in complete control, and you are to be submissive to their will.

Narcissists are users. You exist to meet their needs. Your pain makes them feel powerful. 

They have no empathy, and yet expect you to commiserate continually about the injustices done to them.

They are so full of their own greatness, that they must make you feel inferior, or more to the point–insignificant. They don’t give many compliments, and they are ungrateful people. They won’t listen to you, show compassion or understanding, or seem to care in any way about anything going on in your life. They are only interested in their own reflection. You will always be competition to them.

They are totally self-absorbed. It’s all about them. They crave attention.

They will call you jealous, but they are envious of any achievement or attention that is shown you. Narcissist mothers will constantly compete with their children for attention.

One of their favorite tools is manipulation (mind control.) They know how to get certain actions and reactions from you. They may play on your sympathy, your kindness, your fears, your faithfulness, and your love.

Most are pathological liars. But they will portray themselves as nice, likeable people. And they can lie as easily as breathing.

There is only one way to escape them–you will have to leave. But after you leave, don’t think it’s over. They will often relentlessly pursue you, with harassing phone calls, pitiful, indignant cries for entitled assistance, or by showing up unannounced on your doorstep. You will need to change every phone number, and perhaps even move, to disengage yourself. After leaving, you will be tempted to make contact again. Don’t do it!

They will tell lies about you to family and friends, while pretending to be the helpless, innocent victim.

Their words will ring in your head, long after the relationship has ended. You have been brainwashed for quite a long time.

You can take back your life, your independence, your soul. But first you have to see their behavior for what it is. Realize that you are not the problem–they are. Give up the dream that they will ever treat you as a normal, loving person would. They won’t.  Know that when you walk away, you will grieve, because you have lost all that you have known. But what you have experienced is in no way normal, and that realization is shocking, because you thought it was, simply because you have lived this way for so long.

You will hurt from the death of the dream, but surprisingly, you will soon realize that you don’t really miss this person, because the relationship was so one-sided. Your only pay-off was in preventing a scene, or a tantrum. Your only true enjoyment was when they were pacified, and not making you miserable, with their complaints or criticisms. You were always afraid that everything might not be perfect enough, so you spent your whole life attempting the unachievable perfection that your narcissist demanded. (But not in exchange for love, attention, or affection–just to maintain the status quo.)

I’ve got good news for you. Freedom is wonderful! Life can be good again, but it will take some time to readjust. You can break free from the chains of narcissism.  Once you know the truth, the truth will set you free…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

If you haven’t read my article about wild turkeys, it’s good for a laugh, and we could all use one now and then. Here’s the link:
Wild Turkeys Stalk Citizens in Suburbia
Wild turkeys, once in danger of disappearing in some areas, are now overtaking suburban cities.
View more »

Happy Thanksgiving, and look out for that turkey!!!!

MAY GOD BLESS YOU, AS YOU HAVE BLESSED ME.  THANKS FOR READING MY BLOG, AND BEING MY FRIEND! HUGS-SPARKLE

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving – Glitter Graphics


Glitter Graphics for Orkut, Myspace, Friendster

I have a sixth sense about my mother. All this week (and especially last night), I have been tossing and turning–somewhere between sleeping and awake, dreaming and thinking about her. It was like she was tormenting me, and I couldn’t make her stop.

Well, when I woke up today, it wasn’t a dream. After going “no contact” with her recently, she left me another snarly message on my phone. (See my post “It’s Over–I’ve Had It” for the background on all this.) I had immediately had my cell phone number changed, when we became estranged, but my husband was hesitant to change our long time home phone, because it was such a great number. He said he didn’t believe she would call it, and I said I didn’t believe she wouldn’t. Unfortunately, I was right.

She started whining and complaining about needing her credit cards, and checkbook. She had given them to me when she was in the nursing home, because we were afraid they would be stolen, and she had no need for them there. About 2 weeks ago, (or however long it’s been since we became estranged) I gathered all her belongings that I still had, and gave them to my DH to give to her. He and the bookkeeper were working on getting all her bills paid, and her finances in order (so that he could turn everything back over to her at the end of the month, when she moved back to her house.) We have been doing her bills for the 4 1/2 months that she has been in the nursing home.  We were also getting all the Assisted Living purchases figured out, and deciding what we could keep and pay for, and what she would have to pay for, since she wouldn’t be staying. There was absolutely nothing malicious going on. My husband is a Christian attorney, and we don’t want or need her money. He had given her some cash a week ago, and all she had to do was contact him if she needed anymore, until everything was turned back over to her. Everything is paid for where she is, and I don’t think my brother takes her out much. I was always the only one who did.

She has been in AL for a little over 2 weeks, and the first week she was in her permanent room, she decided that she was going home. And Golden Boy decided that he would  enable her. (After all the work we had done getting her moved in, and the place decorated.) She was where she needed to be, as she has developed serious dementia after a series of falls, broken bones, and hip surgery. She cannot possibly give herself her insulin or medications consistently like she once did. She is an insulin dependent diabetic (taking insulin 4 times a day) and she also takes many other drugs, including Oxycontin–quite a high dosage for rheumatoid arthritis. One mistake with either of those drugs, and it’s over for good. At the Assisted Living, she would be checked on every 2 hours, have assistance getting in and out of the shower, and have her drugs supervised and given on schedule. She LOVED the food there, and it was beautiful.  

Anyway, today in her lovely message she seemed to imply that I intended to leave “them” in a fix. She said that she knew she had NOT done anything wrong, and she didn’t understand why I would go to these extremes.

While I had written an email to my brother (which he let her read) and to my only other 2 relatives that have any interest or concern with this, I had not written anything to her after our last conversation. I thought that her treatment of me spoke for itself. But since she was in denial about everything, I decided to communicate with her through the written word one last time. Not because I thought she would admit to any wrong doing, but because it would do me good to finally address my issues with her. So I did. I am going to include most of the letter in this post.  I hope this will be my final communication with her, and I have asked my husband to now change our home phone number. Since I have always shared my feelings openly here, and my entire journey with her, I will also share this. Why not? I am a transparent person, with nothing to hide. For too long there have been too many secrets in our family. I have to get this out. Here’s the letter-(sorry for the formatting problems when I copied and pasted:)

I gave your wallet and your credit cards, and anything else that I had to
Rob long ago. I asked him to be sure and put it in a safe place, until he was
ready to return it to you. I told him to give you your checkbook, and everything
else that you needed. I wasn’t trying to keep anything from you. I would have no
reason to do that. Why do you automatically assume the worst of me? I have
always loved you, and been devoted to you. But once again, your tone in the
phone message was angry and hateful towards me–wanting to blame me for
everything that is wrong in your life.

Your argument is with Rob about that–not me. I even told him to be sure and do
whatever was necessary to revoke the Power of Attorney as well. He and the
bookkeeper were trying to get all your bills paid, and all the finances up to
date, to turn over to you at the end of this month. They were going over the
lists of purchases for the Assisted Living, and trying to determine what you
would be paying for, and what we would. We were trying to eliminate every
possible cost to you.

He said that he needed to keep the Power of Attorney, just until he had
finished filing the Medicaid claim for the month of October. He said that both
you and Tony were aware of that. Then he would see that it was revoked. (It
can’t be revoked quickly enough for me, as I want no responsibility for your
choices.)

He also said that he gave you some cash the last time he saw you, and that you
could have called him at any time, if you needed more. I told him to turn it all
over to you as soon as possible, and that was (and is) his intention. The
checkbook was always at the office, where you bills were paid. I’ve never had it
for any length of time, unless you needed it. We have certainly never wanted (or
needed) your money.

The reason I have walked away from you, is because I can never please you, or do
anything right. Your emotional abuse of me is affecting my health and sanity.
During our last conversation, you called me, “Mean, Bitchy, and Jealous.” (Don’t
act like you don’t remember that.) I said, “I’m so glad that you said that,
because now I am gone from your life.”

You taunted me with, “Oh yeah?—- Yeah, yeah, yeah…”

I said, “You just watch me.”

I decided that if that is the way you view me, there was no need to go on with
this relationship. I have nearly killed myself to make sure that you were well
taken care of. When I mentioned that no one could have taken as good of care of
you, as I did (since Sam died) you said, “Not always. Not always–You’re mean,
bitchy, and jealous.”  How could you possibly say a thing like that, after all
that I have done for you? I think you were describing yourself! Whenever I try
to talk to you about anything, you won’t listen. You lash out at me, and it’s
hopeless to discuss anything.

My whole life I feel like I’ve been the mother. I never received the mothering
or nurturing that I needed. You’ve never had any empathy for me about anything
that was going on in my life. It’s always about you. When I tried to share with
you how desperate I felt about the situation with Chelsea many years ago, you
said you didn’t understand, and you offered no compassion or support. I checked
myself into the mental health unit (feeling suicidal) after that conversation
with you. I have only stood up to you 2 or 3 times in my life, at great cost to
my health and well being.

I was always walking on eggshells, afraid that something would make you angry. I
tried to keep that from happening at all costs. (I lived in fear of your
disapproval.) When I was only 7 years old, you told me that if I didn’t accept
Sam, you would kill yourself. The next time he came to the door, I ran into his
arms, buried my face in his jacket, and prayed that you wouldn’t kill yourself.
What kind of mother would say something like that to a little girl? It was
beyond cruel. (I thought that you and I would have some time together in
Atlanta. But immediately there were two men in your life.) I was just a little
girl, snatched away from the only place I’ve ever felt secure. (Note to blog readers: We lived with my grandparents until I was 7. My parents divorced when I was 2.)  You were supposed
to be the adult! (I understand that you said I would never realize you were my
mom, if you didn’t take me away.) But why couldn’t you have spent a little time
(just with me) getting me settled in, and making me feel safe? I was told not to
tell anyone at school that Sam stayed overnight often. It was not a good
situation for a little girl.

But after you threatened to kill yourself, I constantly lived in fear of making
you angry or disappointed.

Since Sam died, I’ve treated you with kindness and compassion–more than I was
even capable of. You know that is true. I was patient, loving, and most of all
faithful to care for you for 3 1/2 years. I took you to all your doctor
appointments, errands, pharmacy runs, bank, hair appointments, shopping, etc. I
often bought you clothes, and gave you money. I bought all your meals when we
were out, and treated you better than I treated myself. I often missed my own
doctor appointments, trying to take care of you.

I visited you every other day (unless I was sick) and sometimes every day, while
you were in the nursing home. I took you on picnics to the Atrium, cooked food
for you, and was a good advocate for you with the doctors and nurses. I did it
because I truly love you. It is not your overwhelming care needs that caused me
to be estranged from you. It is your treatment of me. Nothing is ever enough,
and when you called me names-“mean, bitchy, and jealous”–that was the last
straw for me. I will not allow you to emotionally abuse me anymore. Life is too
short.

Whatever time I have left on this earth, I intend to find some peace and
happiness. I hope you find the same. I will always love you, but I can’t take
this anymore.

I felt that you were in the best place possible for all your needs to be met. It
was beautiful, and afforded you some independence and privacy. I was so happy
that the food was good. We could have had many happy times there together. But
you are never satisfied. You are not capable of monitoring all your meds and
insulin anymore. It’s not safe, because of your memory problems and confusion.
You were supposed to have around the clock care if you went home, and you said
that you would run away if that happened. You also said that you didn’t want to
go back to living with Brandon and Tony again, as you knew they would mess up
the house, and you would be overwhelmed with all their laundry, cleaning, and
cooking. YOU chose assisted living given the three possibilities that were
presented to you by the nursing home staff. (A private room at the nursing home,
going home with 24/7 care, or the assisted living.) It was clearly the best
choice. You had housekeeping, meals, and medical supervision. You were to be
checked on every 2 hours. You would have assistance getting in and out of the
shower. Your medications would be monitored properly, and given to you on
schedule.

You said that I was thinking of only what I wanted, when I decorated the room.
That was a lie. I was trying to duplicate that room you had (and loved) when you
were younger. But it was painted red, with white woodwork. I knew deep red would
be too dark for a small apartment, so I had them paint it off white, and decided
to do red accents everywhere. I told you that after I finished with the basics,
I would take you to the house, and you could get your pictures, and any
belongings that would make it feel like home to you. Do you have any idea how
much work was put into moving you, and the decorating? No-you don’t, because
even as we worked long into the night, you called me and left irate messages
about when we were going to show you the room–if ever. I felt the same pressure
then, as I have felt from you all my life.

I lovingly decorated, unpacked your clothes, hung pictures, and tried to
anticipate your every need. When I knew the time to leave was nearing, I kissed
your blouse, and said, “I’ll always love you.” I blew a kiss into the room as I
left, wondering why I was never worthy of your unconditional love and
acceptance. It seems that I could never dance fast enough for you, but I can’t 
dance anymore.

I hope life treats you kind, and I ask your forgiveness for any hurt that I have
caused you. I also forgive you. But there is a time when it is not healthy
anymore to continue on in a relationship. It’s time for me to save my life now.

End

So that’s it. I wish she would just leave me alone. She has made her choices. I imagine she is starting to realize just how much I did for her. My brother will never do half as much. She did tell my husband this evening that she does not plan to have any care when she gets home. That is going against all the advice and admonitions of the nursing home staff. We were told she must have 24 hour care, if she went home. I blame my brother for this also. He has enabled her, and he has disrespected my efforts (as her primary caregiver) to get her in a safe place. I suspect that he also has ulterior motives for getting the house, when she is gone. (He has always wanted it, and it is our only inheritance.) So I am sure that he didn’t want to see that money eaten up by Assisted Living. I only want my mother to be provided for now, and to be safe, and well taken care of.  In spite of my differences with my her, I do still care about her, and what’s in her best interest, and this clearly isn’t. It will turn out badly. But they will not listen to anyone.

So there you have it. I will get my home phone changed as quickly as possible, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find her on my doorstep next–tormenting me. It is her nature to be in denial about any wrongdoing. That will never change, and I have no expectations. I just want some peace in my life.

Thanks for listening, and being a part of this miserable, hurtful journey. Will it ever end? And if so, how? All I know for sure, is there is One who never lets go of me…

Please see other articles that I have written here:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

I guess all of us could write a book about the story of our lives. Almost everyone has at least one good book in them (if not several.)

I haven’t said much about my daughter’s search for her mom lately, and how that’s gone. It’s turned out to be an interesting (and somewhat disturbing) saga. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that my daughter Chelsea was adopted by us, at age 3. She was a very strong-willed, spunky, and beautiful little girl. She had a round little face, big eyes, long hair with straight bangs, and she looked remarkably a lot like me. Her mother placed her in my arms one night, and she turned 3, as we headed home, chasing the sun. But she was quite troubled when we got her. Her mother had basically ignored her emotionally. We were told by her husband at the time, that she was a diagnosed narcissist. Chelsea was healthy physically, well fed and dressed, so she was not neglected in those ways. But she was not mothered emotionally. (Boy, can I relate.)

So when we got her, I was prepared to do a lot of comforting, but I was not prepared for how angry she would be. And unfortunately, I was told by counselors, that her anger would be aimed at me, because I was now in the place of the mother who had rejected her. (That was how she perceived it.) It was a very rocky time. She would have temper tantrums about everything! I would take her to the mall, in her little umbrella stroller, and she would defiantly put her feet down, so that I couldn’t push her. No amount of pleading or disciplining could make her stop. Many times I would leave the mall exasperated, with Chelsea screaming over one shoulder, and her stroller over the other. The first time I took her to see “The Nutcracker”, I had her all dressed up in a Christmas dress, complete with a lovely bow in her beautiful long hair. A friend came by and said, “Is this your precious little daughter?” I smiled with pride and said, “Yes.” Five minutes later, she threw such a fit that we had to leave. (Seems like we were always leaving early, every place we went.) At home she would throw a tantrum if she couldn’t get her way. She would cough and spit, choke and scream, and do other things that I had never experienced before. I would tell her that mommy was going to leave the room, and when she was ready to stop crying and having a fit, she could come to my room and get me. She would cry in one room, and I would cry in the other. As I said, it was a very rough time. It seemed that the only way she could get attention from her birth mom, was to have a temper tantrum, or do something negative. So this was her pattern, and it was not easily, or quickly broken.

She did bond with me eventually, but nothing about our situation was normal. She was angry and rebellious. I had wanted to be a good mom, and do all the mother-daughter things with her–making cookies, ballet recitals, shopping, etc. We did all those things, but there was usually some kind of scene or temper tantrum, before, during, or after. Even as she grew, she was a difficult child. We tried everything we knew to help her, and in many respects we were successful. We just kept loving her unconditionally. We got counseling for her also. She was diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder. If you aren’t familiar with this, look it up, and you’ll learn some of the difficult things we went through. There are different degrees of RAD kids, but parenting them is never easy. But at least we had God in our lives, guiding our decisions, and loving her through us. I know that He was teaching me a lot along the way.

And eventually, she went from being a wild, depressed, nervous little girl, to one of the most social people I know. Her life revolves around her friends. She’s never thought too much of schoolwork (homework in particular), and she never met a rule she didn’t want to break. In spite of all kinds of discipline, she’s always been a rebel. Still, we love her deeply, and we’re very proud of her. She’s a fantastic singer, plays piano, and has a wonderful sense of humor. No matter what we were going through, Cheslea could always find a way to make me laugh. We did have fun together!

When she was young, and would occasionally ask about her mom, we told her that when she got to be older, if she wanted to find her, we would help her. But we also made it clear that during her “growing up” years, we wanted to be our own family. Years passed, and she rarely inquired about her birth mom. But recently (she’s now 19, almost 20) she began to ask her dad constantly about finding her birth mom. We realized that this could be an important time of healing for Chelsea, and for her mother. So we stood by our promise. It proved to be more difficult in reality, than it had been in theory. All those protective mom and dad feelings rose to the surface, though our concerns about her birth mom were only spoken to each other. We tried to be excited with Chelsea, as we gained information for her.

My husband was able to locate her birth mom fairly quickly (in England), and wrote her a nice email about Chelsea wanting to meet her. She wrote an equally nice email in response, about wanting to find Chelsea again, and all seemed well. We are Christians, and we were very pleased that she mentioned prayer and God, and thought perhaps her life had truly changed for the better. (She had worked in casinos most of the time that we had contact with her, and moved from place to place often, marrying several times along the way, but only staying married briefly.) But we had only spoken positively about her to Chelsea, all through the years. We told her that her mom was not able to care for her properly, and that she wanted her to be in a good home, and she chose us to be the mommy and daddy. We always talked about adoption as being so special. So Chelsea had always felt good about it.

Chelsea’s mom and grandmother are from England, and they both have a British accent. It’s fun to hear them talk, and to listen to their quirky, dry sense of humor. We talked with her birth mom by phone one evening, for quite awhile, filling her in on the details of Chelsea’s life. Initially, Chelsea’s birth mom was going to come to the States for a short visit. The next thing we heard, she was moving to the States, for a few months. And the next thing we heard, was that she was moving in with Chelsea! (I had an uneasiness that I just couldn’t shake.) Chelsea was at a time in her life when she was very impressionable, still immature, and we knew very little about her birth mom’s current lifestyle. It was worrisome to both of us. Of all the reunions that I had imagined, this was a little over the top for me. But I was gradually getting used to the idea, when I went to my daughter’s MySpace page, and read in big letters, the announcement that she would be spending the holidays in England. This wouldn’t have been so bad, if I’d just had a heads up, before she announced it to the whole world, as she had never been away from home at Christmas, and it was a bit of a shock, reading it like that.

A series of emails resulted between Chelsea and me. It turned into a comedy of errors, on everyone’s part. Things got so mixed up that it seemed they would never be put right again. It’s too much to tell in one post, but it made me realize (as the Bible says) that what Satan intends for evil, God can use for good. (But it would be awhile before we could see the good in all of it.)

(Please know that my husband is an adoption attorney, and I have the highest regard for birth moms, who try to ensure that their children have a good family.) Every one of these stories is different, and I do understand the need for children to find their roots, and their history. And also the healing that it can bring to both the child and their mom.

But after you have loved your little Cinderella through so much, for so many years, it is not easy to let her go, or to place her in the arms of someone else…

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Today I am 56 years old, and I feel like I’ve been reborn. I had a wonderful birthday. We went to the Marlin Grill at Baytowne Wharf, and they had decorated for Christmas. It was beautiful. Outside we could see the lights of the village, watch a band play, enjoy the outdoor fireplace by my table window, and watch people ice skate in the distance. Hard to believe we’re in Florida, huh? It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

The steak was the best ever, and I just loved every minute of it. My husband gave me a Sorrelli bracelet to go with a Sorrelli necklace that I have. It’s called Purple Rain and I love, love, love it! Also got a little spending money! So fine. Just a wonderful evening, and I feel like I’ve been set free. I looked at my calendar today, and there is NOTHING on it! No doctors appointments, no pharmacy runs, no hair appointments, no shopping trips, no errands, nothing…It is pure bliss. All I’m making a priority these days is to retrieve some of the sleep I’ve lost since my step-dad died. and I took over the care of my mom. I do good some nights, but others I still stay up too late. But things can’t always change overnight. I’m working on it!

The girls on the Elder Care site that I post to, sent me lots of sparkly birthday wishes, as my name is Sparkle on their board, too. It was such a nice surprise to go to the discussion board, and find all those thoughtful wishes from people who truly understand what I’ve been through with my mom, because they have been through a lot also.

Well, I really do intend to live my life differently from here on out. I want so much to reconnect with some of my old friends, and to make some new ones. I have been isolated for too long. I want to do some things that make me happy also. Tonight I went to the Pottery Barn, and shopped for about an hour. (Something that I have not done (to enjoy myself) in a long time.) I purchased a small Christmas tree to take on our trip (with the lights already on it.) I bought a few other Christmas decorations, and a large kichen rug that I desperately needed, as my old one got chewed up by the vacuum. (Oh the complexities of life…)

Truthfully, I start my new life today. I turn my back on all the negative things in my prior life. I forgive those who need forgiving, and ask forgiveness for myself, and I shake the dust off my feet, and head into the future. Life from this point on is what I make it. How will I handle tough things? How will I perceive myself? What messages from my past do I need to get rid of? What new behaviors and attitudes do I want to adopt? Whose approval is really important? Who loves me unconditionally? When my faith is tested, will I stand strong?

God is the one I want to please, and it is only His approval that matters. I have this one chance at life, and now I want to live it…not just exist, not just struggle through each day. I want to live, as the Bible says, the abundant life. My pastor from years ago, used to teach that prosperity really meant “a good journey.” When all is said and done, what more could we want from life than a good journey? A good journey starts with a good attitude-acceptance of myself and who I am, and faith in my Heavenly Father to transform me into His image. That doesn’t mean that life will always be easy or pleasant, but it does mean we can have joy in the journey. We can also have peace, and rest in His perfect love. All the striving can end, when we know that we are loved and accepted. (It’s what some of us have been searching for all our lives.)

A new life. Not everyone gets a second chance. I will make the most of mine. I will walk into the future, with hope in my heart, for a better tomorrow.

Happy Birthday, Sparkle! Let’s Celebrate and Have Some Fun…

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Much to my surprise this Christmas season, I find that I am estranged from what little family that I have left. After taking care of my elderly, widowed mom for 3 1/2 years, we have had a very hurtful disagreement that cannot be mended. I believe that for the sake of my physical health and sanity, I must now ask my brother to step up and take over her care. But unfortunately, their alliance is such, that I must separate myself from my brother as well. It’s a sad situation, but I have no regrets concerning my care and love for her, though it seems that I could never please her, or warrant her unconditional love and acceptance. (It’s time for me to save my life now.)

With a situation like this, it would be easy to think that this Christmas season will be the saddest ever. I guess it’s all in the attitude, but I plan to make it my best ever. Usually, I am so busy trying to please everyone else, by buying just the right Christmas gifts, decorating, cooking, and planning our family Christmas get-together, that the entire Christmas season goes by in a blur, and I don’t even have time to sing, “Silent Night.” I’m usually exhausted, grumpy, and disillusioned by the time the whole thing passes.

But this year, the Christmas season is going to be different! Oh, I forgot to mention that my daughter, who we adopted at age 3, (now age 20) will be going to England for the Christmas season to visit her birth mom and family, for the first time. So this truly leaves my husband and I on our own for the Christmas season. I confess that I have always secretly wished that I could escape during the Christmas season, and this year I actually can. My husband is going to surprise me with a get away. (Not far away, but a much needed change of scene.) I don’t know where we are going. But we will travel in our van, and I will take Christmas with us. I plan to decorate a small tree ahead of time, and pack it for the trip. I also plan to decorate the place with Christmas touches here and there, as well as taking along our favorite Christmas music, both for the ride, and to create a Christmas feeling in the room. Candles will also be included to create a warm, inviting atmosphere, as we open our gifts. It actually sounds more romantic than anything we’ve done in years…

Another way I plan to celebrate the Christmas season this year, since I am estranged from my family, is to reach out to others–both friends and strangers. I plan to reconnect with the friends that I have neglected during the past few years, due to being an overwhelmed caregiver. Perhaps a lunch with a long lost girlfriend, or dinner with a couple we miss. I love to make Christmas baskets, so perhaps I will make baskets for friends this year, to help me get in the Christmas spirit.

I will also be on the lookout for strangers to bless. There are so many people hurting right now, and what could be more meaningful than helping those in need? It might be a Christmas money gift for some, or just a thoughtful gesture for others. It’s amazing how small things can brighten someone’s Christmas season. I remember once, a few years ago, there was an elderly black woman shopping in my favorite gift store. I noticed that she was admiring a beautiful candelabra, and saying to her friend that she would love to have it, but couldn’t afford it right now. I also stopped to admire how gorgeous it was. While she was in another part of the store, I quickly purchased it for her and told her that “Jesus loves you, and wanted you to have this.” I will never forget the smile on her face, and her understanding that the blessing was truly from the Lord, not me. She was so happy, and so was I. That’s the true spirit of Christmas giving. Try it, and you will experience the Christmas season in a new way.

And I might spend a few minutes (of the time that I would have spent shopping for my family), looking at the wonder on the faces of little ones, during this Christmas season. Perhaps I can also regain some of that magic and excitement that Christmas brings to children.

Most of all, I want to spend some time acknowledging Christ. He is who the Christmas season is truly about. But for so long, He has gotten lost in my busy preparations for the holiday season. I want to read the Christmas story, and really think about what it means that a Savior was born. He is the greatest gift ever given. And for far too long, there has been “no room in the inn” (or our hearts) for Him at Christmas.

One of my favorite stories has always been O. Henry’s “The Gift of The Magi.” If you haven’t ever read it, (or even if you have)-it’s an excellent tale of the meaning of selfless giving, and true love. Perhaps I’ll also take the time to read other Christmas stories, and to visit the bookstore and browse through Christmas magazines.

I’ll take a ride through nearby neighborhoods and look at the Christmas lights, while playing my favorite carols. And just for fun, I’ll visit the mall and get a feel for the Christmas season crowds, and the frenetic hurried activity, while drinking an eggnog shake, and just relaxing.

If you are estranged from love ones, and feeling sad this Christmas season, try some of my suggestions, and reach out to others, and to the One that Christmas is all about. And don’t forget to do some things that make you happy also. You may just find that this can be the best Christmas season ever!

You can make a difference in someone’s life…

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I was feeling nostalgic tonight, so I found some of Dylan’s music, and cranked it up. My first true love (who later became my first husband) was crazy about Dylan. I tried so hard to “get it” (his music), but found his voice like fingernails on a chalkboard. But since Gary dug him, I dug him. And before long, I understood his incredible talent of expressing the thoughts of an entire generation. He was our spokesman. (More of a poet and a prophet, if you will.) Dylan was unique–totally one of a kind. As you look at some of his pictures in “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” you’ll see that he was just plain…well…cool.

Many times I’ve wished that I had the courage to be as free as he was. To be as “me” as he was. He had a style that no one could imitate, though many have tried. Listen for a moment…

All right, now write a report on the meaning of that song…Yeah. But some of his songs had clear, profound meanings that couldn’t be missed, like this next one. It was all about the times that were changing…

Well, even if you couldn’t fully interpret it, you got the feeling, right? There have never been times such as those. A very exciting time to be young-to have a different way of looking at things. Even pretending to be a flower child was fun, when I lived in Atlanta. I would work for the establishment Monday through Friday, and then put on my moccasins, blue jeans, and fringe jacket, and hang out on the weekends, in Piedmont Park at the concerts, or on the streets downtown, by the co-ops. I’d buy incense and candles, sing in the coffeehouse called Twelfth Gate, and life was good. The hippies would glare at me during the week, snarling at me, as they begged for a handout, on my way to lunch. I guess they couldn’t see that beneath those “establishment clothes”, there was a heart that longed to be free. (Well, as long as I could take a bath every day. Grin. Hey, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right…”)

He had a way with love songs too (sort of) like this one:

Thanks for indulging my walk down memory lane. Maybe it’s because my birthday is November 19th, and I’m reflecting on my life lately. Whatever the reason, we’ll have to do it again someday, with another artist. I’ll close with this Dylan benediction, because when I go back in time, and remember those carefree days, I feel “Forever Young.” Yes I do

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I made a mistake tonight. My husband called, and said that my mom had called a couple of times and needed to speak to him, and that he had gone to talk with her. Of course, I was curious about her decision concerning the assisted living, so I asked what went down. She has decided to move out-she wasn’t even in her new, completed room for ONE WEEK. It would be a week this Sunday night. (After all that shopping, decorating, moving furniture, and lugging things back and forth from rooms, not to mention blood, sweat and tears–literally.) She told him that she wanted control of her life again. (Don’t we all?) But she made the decision, given the choices that the nursing home gave us, to go into assisted living. They said that she would have to have 24 hour care if she went home. (She said that she would run away, if she had to do that.) The other choices were stay in the nursing home and get a private room, or go into assisted living. Assisted living afforded the greatest independence for her, but also a safe, beautiful environment. She even loved the food! Now my brother has agreed to take her home. (So be it.) At least it relieves me of any feeling of continued responsibility for her. We told him that we did not think it was a good decision, but since when did either of them ever listen to anyone? She has dementia, and is no longer capable of giving herself her insulin shots and medications (and all that goes with it.) Even before her injuries, she was often shooting her insulin before she took her blood sugar. A very dangerous practice, as she is not supposed to take insulin if she is under 100.  (She told me that she felt like she needed it anyway, and would sometimes shoot it regardless.) She has gone low unexpectedly frequently (and quickly) in the past. i have saved her life repeatedly.

Whether he will get the caregiver help she needs or not–who knows?  He and his teen-aged son will be moving in. I can’t help but think that he is more concerned with not losing the house-our only inheritance. (I am sure that I will be removed from the will fairly quickly, but that is the least of my concerns.)  

My only concern was always for her welfare, and that she be provided for during her life– not money. (It’s a good thing–cause there isn’t any! Just the house, and money is still owed on it.) At least I no longer feel responsible. I did everything that I knew to do, to get her into a safe place. But he just went right in, and undid all that we had accomplished. She told my husband that she did not intend to use her walker forever, and that she wanted control of her house back. (He said that she was referring to the fact that people check on her every 2 hours at the assisted living-something she needs desperately.)  She complained again about how the nursing home staff would nag her about using her walker. It is obvious that she will rebel wherever she is. I think she resented the fact that she needed asssitance in and out of the shower, in assisted living as well. She will no doubt be doing that on her own also at home. And the other day when she turned down her shower, they said that she would have to take one the next time.  (She does not like to be told what to do by anyone. She would often refuse her showers at the nursing home, and cause quite a stir. Passive aggressive behavior.) And yet, this was a woman who often bathed twice a day at home.

I think I was most upset today about her callousness toward my feelings. I realized as I started crying (after hearing her words), that she would never take responsibility for anything that happened between us. I would always be the villan, and she would always be innocent of everything. I also realized that I don’t have any memories of her ever comforting me, or supporting me emotionally about anything. As I cried from frustration, I told my husband that I did not want to hear anymore from her, as it affected me very badly, and I had been doing a lot better today.

So they have made their choices, and they will have to live with them. She is supposed to give 30 days notice to assisted living, so I don’t know whether she will stay that long or leave. I can now truly walk away from this, knowing that there is nothing that I can do to make her stay in assisted living. Nothing that I can do to ensure that she uses her walker, or that she has help in and out of the shower, or that she has assistance with her insulin and medications. There is nothing more that I can do.

Another thing that really hurt me, was her remark that she didn’t realize it was that difficult on me to take care of her, and if it was, why didn’t I just say so, instead of getting upset. (That would be funny, if it wasn’t so pathetic!!!!) I could never  talk with her about anything. When I honestly told her the other day (in a phone call), that I was in tears, and could she please stay out of the new room long enough for us to finish it, and surprise her, she snapped my head off.

Very belligerently she said, “I told you I wouldn’t go in there, and if I told you I wouldn’t, then I won’t!” (You had to be there, and hear her snippy tone.) Then she added sarcastically, ” I won’t even walk past there, unless you say I can.”

(All of this tirade, just because I wanted to surprise her.) No grace from her, ever.

To try and share my feelings with her is hopeless. She has no empathy, or feeling for anything that I might be going through, and she never has.

But this estrangement is not about her care being difficult (though it was); this is about the way she treats me. (She indicated that if she had said mean things, she didn’t remember them.) Well, she did call me “mean, bitchy, and jealous” in our last phone call, but saying mean things is not what our realtionship was about either. It was about manipulation and control. It was about never being able to please her. It was about feeling invalidated by her. It was about always being called “high strung” and overly sensitive. It was about a lack of mothering and nurturing. It was about pressure and expectations. It was about her “prima donna” attitude. It was about everything always being about her.

After I developed a headache tonight, from the stress of it all, I dried my tears, and realized once again that I am free from her. I no longer have to feel any guilt. I have to let it go. I have to let her go. I am truly free from her. I just haven’t realized it yet…

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