Sunday, January 20, 2019

Self Subversion

My uncle has come to stay with us for a while to further recover from a head injury he suffered several weeks ago after a fall. He's been in a rehab facility in the deep dark valley, and yesterday I went to pick him up. I'd like to say that it all went smoothly, that the medical system worked well, that all family members participated, that I never once lost my cool or spoke in the tone of voice I have acquired, somehow, despite myself, that lies somewhere between Stepford Caregiver cheerful and a dripping condescension. I'd like to say that getting lost in the facility and finding myself for a few minutes wandering through several rooms filled with disabled adults who milled about muttering or sat staring and nodding was at the very least, familiar.  Except that the medical system did not work well, all family members have not participated, I lost my cool a couple of times, and my tone of voice didn't just drip but splattered with irritation. And my wander through the halls of adult institutionalization resulted in a bout of sadness about nine hours later that I told Carl was something that just happens, sometimes, this wave of emotion that is best dealt with by assuming a kind of dead man's float, the better to not be drowned. The morning light brought so much relief it felt nearly funny, and I made blueberry muffins that I ate with the three men (one old, one in the middle and one young), along with pancetta that I scrambled with eggs. I cut up two blood oranges, and we ripped the flesh from the rind.

As the hours tick by and the caregiving continues, I think of self-regard, of self-care, of the illusion of the self.

Question: What do you have to look out for? 
Answer: Resentment. 

Resentment. If I could give it a shape, it'd be the infinity symbol or something impossible. If I could give it a color,  I think of something burnt red. Like the gray of embers with bursts of light. The word implacable. Women. Keeping our mouths shut. Resentment is not to be mistaken for anger which is the open mouth or red lips drawn into a smile.


  1. Now you have two people to care for?

    I have to watch for bitterness which I guess is rooted in resentment. My ex does sweet bugger all for Miss Katie, other than visiting her and everyone thinks that's so wonderful. She's his daughter, he should be visiting her. It leaks out of me and often spills onto others who have nothing to do with my bitterness. Sigh.

    I hope somebody, anybody, another family member steps up. Sending hugs.

  2. Would it feel satisfying to bury some menstrual blood in the gardens of those people who don't pull their weight, and cast some sort of spell, or *curse*?

  3. How on earth did this caregiving task fall to you? You already have your hands full. And yet I see how much grace you bring to it, as I picture you sitting at the table with three such different men, holding burnt red at bay, because you’re you, and you lead an examined life in a sea of unconsciousness. I pray help is on its way.

    1. I had the same question pop into my head in the world does Elizabeth get THIS put on top of her already overloaded life?! Resentment...hell yeah.

  4. You touch the very Heart of Caregiving with your profound way with Words, the descriptiveness that often I can find no Words for myself to express. The Medical System working Well, that would be such an Idyllic partnership with those of us who are the Caregivers, wouldn't it?! Participation lacking... the despair sometimes and the infinity of it all... and most importantly, those damned Institutions being so bleak and so often appearing Hopeless and without a Soul. I've had the Loved Ones that had to be Institutionalized when the level of Care was so extreme that no one of us could ever have done it and met them at their point of Need... it ripped out my Soul and terrified me not to be able to be there with and for them 24-7 to ensure appropriate Care. To be able to have any be able to come Home and be Cared for was always both terrifying, intimidating and yet a huge relief... such conflict of emotions... and resentment, sure, you'd not be Human or even Truthful to pretend it doesn't exist if you've been a Caregiver any length of time. I just Hate, abhor even, the Sanitized Commercials portraying Caregiving... as if Saintly Caregiving is the Norm... my Halo just ain't that securely affixed, and Keeping it Real is always refreshing... which is why I Love your Blog Elizabeth. Huge hugs for being there for your Beloved Uncle!

  5. All I can say is that you have absolutely nailed how resentment feels. I'm so sorry, Elizabeth.

  6. Thank you for the beauty and searing poignancy of your words. I can't adequately express just how much your words have touched my heart, given me insight to my own experience and allowed me to recognize and make room for resentment without letting him/her take up residence xxxxxx

  7. Resentment is too small a word. I can feel your outrage behind these words. And outraged you should be. We all should be. All that talk about anger and how to turn it into positive energy, what BS. But I trust that you can figure it out. You already wrote it down, the ludicrous, incredibly unbelievable anarchy that we must channel and then call it multitasking with a fucking smile.

    The late and clever Douglas Adams wrote that the trick to flying is to "throw yourself at the ground and miss."
    He had a point.

  8. Fuck. That dead man's float. You nailed it. That's what I'm doing this week, although as I do it, I'm keenly aware of the shit that has to be done all around me that will only get done if I do it. But it's nice to know how not to drown. Sending you love and light. In solidarity. XOXO

  9. I'm just sitting here, shaking my head, wondering how much one person can take. Your travels to the dark side are instructive to those who read your words, but damn, enough already. My heart aches. For you, for your uncle, for all laboring under tremendous burdens.

  10. Good Lord, Elizabeth. You do have a full plate.

  11. Resentment is indeed the enemy and it lurks oh so close all the time. It is not only resentment at those who don't pull theri weight but also at the society that undervalues and exploits this essential contribution



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