I left off the last Butterfly Journal entry saying: The biggest awareness challenge in my current situation, however, is in dealing with my mother. My mother has Alzheimer’s and I am one of her main caretakers. She is a very difficult person, to say the least, so figuring out how to handle her has been very challenging. She had other mental issues before the addition of Alzheimer’s, so “normal” positive interaction is sometimes futile. As this month goes on, I am going to evaluate as aware as possible how this situation affects my thoughts, feelings, and actions and how those affect her behavior and reactions.
As I mentioned in this entry on Truth, returning to my roots – childhood home and family – has been bringing a healing cycle full circle. Specifically, it has been about healing from my mother. Much of this I will go into detail in my upcoming book, The Journey of the Wounded Healer, but to sum it up here: I never had a mother-daughter relationship with my mother, and she was never a source of love, nurturing, or support. Beginning as a very young child, I often took on the role of housekeeper and mother. Though I did not return to the family home to take care of my mother, when I chose to return here, I knew very well what I was getting into. However, I also feel that I needed to return to complete my healing, though I was not fully aware of that at the time. I now see that it was important to come back, and instead of being the angry child for having to do most of the things my mother should’ve been doing, to fully accept and embrace all the mothering (housekeeping and care-taking) I would have to do with full awareness of the situation.
Over the past year, my mother’s Alzheimer’s has dramatically declined, and the Alzheimer’s accentuates her other mental issues. So on one end, you have a sociopathic personality who won’t or doesn’t want to cooperate, and at the other end you have the Alzheimer’s making her unable to process fully or remember what’s going on. She must be constantly watched so she doesn’t wander off to mail something that isn’t mail, or dump garbage down the laundry shoot, or burn away another kettle on the stove, etc. She becomes very frustrated that she can’t just do whatever she wants, and especially doesn’t like that I am the one there asking her to just relax and keep me company (over and over and over….). Most days she will have a few episodes where she erupts in violence – banging chairs, hitting things, throwing things, hitting me, and even hitting herself.
Getting back to the journal prompt: How does this make me think, feel, and act; and how does that affect my mother? Since we never had a relationship and she was never engaged in my life, I have no personal sense of loss or grief because of her situation. So in that sense, I’m probably the ideal person to be a caretaker. I understand that she has been suffering for a very long time, and though I know her brain won’t retain it, I do try to talk to her and tell her I understand that life and children were difficult for her (which she will randomly bring up on her own), so that her soul will know that when it completes this transition. There will be a brief moment of some acknowledgement from her, but then she goes right back to ignoring me. This is the futility of the situation. Both the mind/personality and the Alzheimer’s are greatly resistant to help. These brief moments of connecting to her soul are very rare, maybe a couple of minutes a week or less. As a healer, I am aware that I can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped or healed. And with all the layers of mental challenges, I can’t even assist for a peaceful passing.
Alzheimer’s is often seen by many spiritual teachers and healers as a very slow transition (death), and I had heard other psychics say that the soul is partially, increasingly, on the other side. From my own intuitive observation I would say that this is very true. In my prayers and meditations for her, I can even see her next incarnation. Besides sending love and light, and praying for some peace to enter into her mind (is this even possible with the brain deteriorating?), I feel the best way I can help her is to pray for her soul’s journey and growth in the next life.
And then there’s the daily violence. It’s so bad sometimes I have to forcibly hold her back until the temper tantrums stop, but then she may just erupt again. I believe that the only person you can control is yourself, but here I am in a situation where I have to control someone else. I have a couple times let her beat my arm until it’s red with broken blood vessels, but holding her wrists so she can’t tends to calm her sooner. There is no rationalizing or conversing with her to avoid these incidents. I try to give her things to do (which she can’t really do anymore), like read the paper, play cards, listen to music, etc. but she usually refuses any effort. Sometimes if I read out load or chant she relaxes, sometimes not. As you can see, this is a very challenging situation.
How do my thoughts, feelings, and actions affect my mother’s behaviors? Thinking thoughts of compassion and understanding, I hope, help her on the soul level. Trying not to be angry and staying calm but firm when she is difficult and violent seems to help, at least temporarily (though I do admit to yelling at her too which can be more effective, but I’d prefer not to get to that point). Any acts of helping and kindness are not really appreciated by her, but that’s not expected. All I can do is continue to be aware of myself in all that I think, say, feel, and do… and pray for peace.
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No thoughts, Just wanted to send some love to you in this difficult situation. –Lou and Aggie
I talked with my mother by phone yesterday. She has some mental health issues and perhaps the beginnings of dementia. I’m grateful that she can still take of herself. My siblings and I have only had to deal with a few major incidents with her involving some challenging behavior. I can relate to what you said about never establishing a bond with your mother. I accept my mother as a parent and a person who did the best she could in raising me under difficult circumstances. She had her own bad experiences to contend with.
I agree with what you said about Alzheimer’s dementia. I believe my father’s soul was almost completely detached from his body before he finally transitioned last week. He was in a nursing home the whole time, as I did not have the skills to care for him. He was not ambulatory and required a feeding tube. Just before he developed full-blown dementia (almost a year ago), I made my peace with him. I did it in a very positive and loving way. I commended him for the good job he did in raising me, rather than confront him with the unpleasant memories I held in the back of my mind at that time.
This is the attitude I maintained right up until his death last week. I’m not sure whether he carried any guilt with him when he transitioned. I only know that I did not contribute to it. I let go of any bad feelings that remained on my end and told him to do the same. I believe that is the best anyone can do for their loved-ones. Your situation is very different from mine, but I believe the principle I used with my father would be just as effective for you.
BTW – I purchased the Butterfly Journal for a friend. Great work!
Thank you for your kind words David. Everyone has their challenges, but those are necessary for us to learn and grow. 🙂 I hope Butterfly Journal becomes a helpful tool for growth for your friend, and thank you again! Have a great Holiday week!
Thanks Julie! Same too you! I’ll be sending some positive thoughts your way. 😉
She loves your Butterfly Journal. 🙂
Julianne, my heart goes out to you in dealing with this terrible affliction to a loved one.. .. Alzheimer’s is as cruel to those experiencing it as to those like yourself having to care and cope..
My In-laws both had this and for two years my hubby would share in the care giving and travel to spend time looking after them in a rota which between 6 siblings was shared out each week until they had to go into a care home together..
So I do admire you…. Healing comes in various ways… And I too was never that close to my own Mother… but we still love them….
Blessings as my thoughts reach out to you both..
Thank you Sue! Have a lovely Solstice!
what a trying time Julianneji – to care for one who is hardly there – in fact what remains are the needs and aggressions of the body without the restraining influence of the spirit – to carry on as a helper is to be brave – may god be with you in your time of trial – but being a healer this then becomes your greatest challenge
Thank you Indrajit!
I’m truly sorry to hear of your situation. My wife and I were caretakers for my father’s last years with Alzheimer’s from 1999 until his death in 2007. In practical ways, we had an easier road than you in several important respects. My dad had retired after 40 years at IBM with a real, old-time pension and retiree health insurance, so he was able to live nearby but not with us, first in assisted living and later in a nursing home.
Being able to go home to respite, over the long haul, was essential for recharging and maintaining our own health on all levels. That’s the key concern I have in reading your post – to be sure you remember clearly compassion for yourself. In the ultimate sense, you may not be able to control anyone else, but in the practical sense, you can and should control your mother when she’s doing things like beating on your arms.
My wife, with a background in social work, chaired a support group for several years for Alzheimer’s caretakers, and emphasized the benefits of bringing in other helpers (as much as possible) for respite for the primary caregiver.
Please try to remember that if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to help your mom or anyone else.
Thank you Morgan. She does go to daycare for about 5 hours on the weekdays, and I do take care of myself. 🙂 (I only let her beat my arms those couple of times. She is not very strong, but she just wouldn’t stop. Sadly she’s hurting herself internally much more than my arm.) Over the past year+ I’ve gotten my dad to get the day care set up and put in some extra safety and security features in the house so she can’t wander off and wander the house all night (and so I could sleep!!).
My dad is the other main caretaker, but I do often have to diffuse his frustration with her too. I feel she really should be in a home now, but that is not my decision to make. I am maxed out on my time with her though. I would very much prefer to move out into my own place and just come over to help my dad some, but I do not have an income to cover my needs, so that is not an option right now. In reality, I am actually helping my dad deal with my mom, but I think he is now realizing that things need to change very, very soon.
Oh, I’m sure that the thoughts of compassion and understanding make a difference. Keep it up! Remember, even plants and other “things” rearrange their structure based on the input around them. Quantum physics, hooray!
Yes, I am very much aware of the power of thoughts, matrix energetics, and quantum entanglement, etc., and that is why I pray for her soul. Physical and mental healing cannot occur if not asked for, wanted, nor allowed to be received. It also cannot be forced as true healing must come from within.
Often, as you allude to, there’s nothing than can be said or done in situations like the one with your mother. Many best wishes coming your way and hopes that you are finding your own peace in the midst of the very, very challenges moments with your mother. I encourage you to remember to make excellent self-care choices. Namaste
Thank you! Namaste _/l\_
My heart breaks to read this article, for both you and your mother. I love the title of your new book as it is the definition of Chiron. I am also a wounded healer so I totally relate. I really hop you are getting your needs met in the midst of your role as caretaker.
much love to you,
Thanks Linda. An extra rough week with everyone having this stomach flu. I am completely maxed out with what I can do, and it’s getting time for my mother to go into a home too.