Why Putting On Your Big Girl Panties is Still Hard by Melissa Rosella

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My stepdad, Vince, fell again. Thank God for Life Alert we purchased for my mom & Vince. Vince does not like to press the button because pressing the button, in his still sharp & alert mind, somehow admits his inability to be independent & it affects his pride & ego. I feel for him. It really & truly is ok to ask for help. Vulnerability is not weakness; vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage.

I think he tries so hard to be the man he once was, but he’s not. His eyes & ears no longer work. He can’t hop up like he used to. He’s at the mercy of his caregiver, as my mom can’t help him up anymore, as her tremors are only getting worse. She is fragile, like a small child. She’s strong on the inside.

Mom shuffles her feet & falls often, too, because of the freeze ups, despite the medicine rearranging & strength modifications. I wish I could make it disappear.

Parkinson’s affects the brain & there are times my mom forgets how to walk, her brain & legs do not connect & she forgets. Boxing 3 days a week really helps (my mom is a badass). They told her, the last time we went to boxing together, to step to the side during brain freeze ups to help remind her brain & feet to connect & to walk forward, once again.

Vince & mom rely on 24 hour home care. The caregiver helps Vince get up, eat, use the bathroom, get to bed, & go to doctor’s appointments. I think it is really hard for him to no longer be the strong one for my mom & to have to rely completely on the help of others.

He was dehydrated last week & hallucinating.They took him to the emergency room and ran a slew of tests & everything came back normal. They said he wasn’t drinking enough fluids. Since when does dehydration cause people to see things? He’s declining.

Mom leaves pills in her medication organizer because she forgets. Dementia is a bitch. Sometimes, she puts pills in her purse & forgets they are there. Other times, she takes one too many vitamins. She used to be really good at simple mathematics, but that skill is long gone.

Michele, Vince’s Godsend of a daughter, drives from MI., monthly, to take her dad & my mom to their doctor appointments, cooks countless meals to stick in their fridge & freezer, lifts Vince in & out of bed, takes him to & from the doctor, helps him to & from the bathroom, bathes him, & more. Thankful to her for all she’s done & continues to do. Perhaps me being more involved will take a little weight & responsibility off her shoulders. We have to work together.

She puts on her big girl panties every single time she chooses to make that drive. & I know it is not easy for her, but she does it anyway.

& the last time we talked, she told me that I needed to put on my big girl panties, too. It felt like a dagger in my side, but what she said was true. Was dealing with my own emotional bullshit & was unable to be there the way I needed to be for my mom & Vince because I was holding myself hostage.

& so I’ve decided, after 22 years of mom & Vince being ill, that it is time for me to put on my big girl panties & step up more & be more fully there, the way I have not been for the last several years. It’s really hard. It’s harder than I thought it would be. I’m being stretched & challenged.

& so I’m now mom’s medical power of attorney. I talk to mom’s psychiatrist & neurologist & their nurses & insurance companies & caregivers & pharmacists & mom several times a week. I am involved in conference calls & talking about meds & talking with family caretaker friends & my stepsister & the list continues. & it is hard to hear that mom is declining & that Vince is declining. & that Parkinson’s only gets worse with time & dementia only increases with time. It’s hard to swallow, but it is their reality & it is mine & I can’t unsee. I have to walk in & it is really hard.

& then to hear from a couple of people that I have not been there the way I should have or could have been- to hear the list of what I have not done, that I have not been involved is hard for me to swallow. There is shame & guilt involved.

In my defense, I’m not a magician & I only have two hands & can only be & do my very best & to some, it will never ever ever be enough, but it is all I can do, as I have a life, too- a beautiful life with a loving husband & two amazing children & a dream career & a messy & sticky & lovely & blessed household to hold down. Thankful for it all. My cup runneth over.

All we can do is our best with the skill set we are given & some will say it is not enough & some will continue the guilt trip bullshit & tell you how much more they’ve been there than you & all you can do is be better & know you are enough. Or, you can hang up & stand up for yourself.

What I know yo be absolutely true from my own life – trauma & traumatic experiences, keep you absolutely frozen in time & stop you, dead in your tracks, from growing & moving forward. Time stops until you address it. Trauma inhibits you from being your best self. Until you deal, truly deal, with trauma, until you bravely address what you’ve been through, until you are courageously authentically transparent with your life experiences, you absolutely are stifled & can’t move forward & are unable to fully express & be your best self & be of service to those around you. You can’t give away what you do not have for yourself.

No one on Earth can possibly ever fully & completely know what you have been through & how you were held back & stuck because of the pain in your life. & you, beloved, do not have to explain why you have not been what others want you to be or why you haven’t been involved the way you shoulda & coulda been. No one knows what you’ve been through except for you. There is no shame. Don’t add shame & guilt- it is what it is because it is what it is.

Deal with your hurt & face your trauma & your past. Take a breath & take a step, even if you are shaking and petrified. Do it for you & walk through the pain holding someone else’s hand & get to the other side so you can be a healing force to yourself first & then to someone else. Do it so you can set yourself free and be happy.

I’m learning how to forgive others, & myself, for traumatic shit that happened years & years ago. Don’t get it twisted, still cry when I think too much about it, but a weight has been lifted. & that enabled me to be available to my mom & stepdad in ways I could not be in past years.

Be careful what you sign up for & agree to. Do what you can, where you can, & let go of the rest.

You are not a miracle worker & are not responsible for saving the world. You are not God. You are not responsible for another human being’s emotional well-being.

You are here to plant seeds, little seeds, & those seeds will grow & you will change the world in small & big ways.

Your being, as you are right now, changes the world. You are a contribution by being your unique self.

Don’t let another human being, that’s trying to one up you, make you feel like your contribution is not of equal value, because it is & you are giving what you can where you can.

As for me, I will continue to love my warm-hearted mother & sharp-minded stepfather by being there where I can, when I can, & that will have to be enough.

Sent from my iPhone

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