Holding opposites

Pam H's picture

This is what I wrote on my Facebook status today, and I wanted to repost it here:

"Today is my mother's 81st birthday. She no longer remembers it's her birthday, but I am learning to be with that. Love and loss go together like birth and death, like day and night. You just can't have one without the other. In holding this awareness, I am more fully present with her, more able to be with her confusion, and more grounded in the true beauty of reality. Thanks Jason."

Walking along side my mother as she descends further into confusion has been quite a challenge for me. It has meant unhooking from a lifetime (s?) of responsibility to fix her, to make her happy, to be who she wanted me to be, rather than who I really was. Of course, I have been doing this work all of my life, but her increasing Alzheimer's has brought me into deeper relationship with the merged parts of my self with her self... with the ways I gave up my self at such at early age to try to make up for her lost childhood, to ease her pain and suffering, to be the best friend she never had, to validate her, to make her feel important, to make her feel she was the best and most important person ever. In doing so, I completely lost my own self/Self, my own joy of life, a sense of what was really important to me, and instead became simultaneously, a perfect caretaker and a wide open vat of neediness.

The work of the last few years through ASOS have made such a difference in reclaiming my self/Self and in being able to now be with my mother today in a very different way. My friend Beth reminded me last week of the benefit of holding opposites prior to seeing my mother (thank you Beth), and my friend Kerry reminded me of the words, "this is not about me".

As I have used both of these practices/mantras/phrases to continually ground myself today, I have been able to enjoy this visit with my mother in a way that is very different from visits over the last year or so. Although her continuing decline is obvious, where there used to be a sharp pain in my heart at seeing that, there is now just joy at having this time with her. Where there was suffering and exhaustion with her continuously asking the same question over and over again, there is now just an ease at answering her again and again, knowing she is just lost someone in time and space, but at least she knows my name, she still grabs for my hand, she still is happy to see me. These are things I am grateful for. The love feels more present right now than the pain. Amen.