While I have plenty of topics that I plan to discuss on this blog, I decided to put all of them aside and discuss the one thing that I’m struggling with the most right now. Guilt. We all feel guilty for things in our daily lives. Guilty for things we did and things we didn’t do. Personally, I hate telling people no (please don’t use this information to your advantage!). If someone asks me to go somewhere or do something, I feel obligated to say yes. I have gotten much better at saying no and doing what I want to do, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel guilty for doing it. I always tell myself that at the end of the day, I’m doing what I want to do and I’m living my life for me, no one else. If someone has a problem with my decisions, then it’s their problem, not mine. But, that’s really all a bunch of bullshit because I always end up feeling guilty and apologizing a hundred and fifty-seven times for saying no to someone. Guilt is something that I have always struggled with and it has only gotten worse since my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s creates an environment that perpetuates a constant state of guilt. I feel guilty that I don’t spend enough time with my mom. I feel guilty that I don’t do enough to help out with her and my dad. I feel guilty that I don’t call her every single day. When I do spend time with her, I calculate the hours/minutes that I spent and it never seems like enough. Same thing goes with a phone call. I actually look at the duration of the call on my phone log to see if the conversation was long enough. It never is. When I was home in Delaware, I went over to my parents’ house frequently to help clean or just to spend time with my mom. Even then, it was never enough. I should have cleaned more. I should have stayed longer. I should have taken her somewhere. When I do spend all day with her or take her somewhere, I feel incredibly guilty for being so impatient with her or snapping at her. Ugh, why am I such a bitch?! To add to all of that, I feel guilty spending so much time with her when I should be spending my time doing something else. Cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, running, working out, or spending time with my husband and fur babies. Or, just simply figuring out what I want to do with my life. It never freakin ends!
When I made the decision to accompany my husband to Alabama so that he could attend flight school, I was consumed with guilt. Still am. I felt like everyone was going to judge me for leaving my family at such a delicate time. How could she leave her mom like that? What if her mom forgets who she is when she comes back? Who is going to help her dad out now that she isn’t around? I am sure that some people have had those exact thoughts and maybe still feel that way. Hell, I’ve had those exact thoughts and, at times, I still feel that way. I was very indecisive about whether or not to come to Alabama. I kept going back and forth, thinking about the pros and cons of each situation. At the end of the day, it still was not an easy decision for me to make. But, I decided that I want a long-lasting, loving, and supportive marriage like my parents have. I could not imagine being away from my husband and best friend during such a monumental point in his life. He is following a dream that he has always had and I want to be by his side through it all. If I had chosen to stay in Delaware, I feel that I would have eventually ended up moving down to Alabama anyway. My husband is my absolute best friend. Home is wherever he is. I know that if no one else, my mom and dad completely understand and support my decision to be with my husband. So, I call my mom as much as I can and I Facetime (or Spacetime as my dad calls it) with both of them once a week. I plan to go home for visits every two months so that I never go too long without seeing my mom, or, more importantly, her seeing me. But, I know that those phone calls and visits will never be frequent enough or long enough to erase the guilt. It is something that I just have to accept and live with. Guilt is a motherfucker.
One reoccurring thought that I’ve had is “how can I leave my mom now while she still knows who I am”. I am terrified that I will go home to see her one day and she will not recognize me. The reality is that there will come a day when she does not recognize my face. That day will come. There is no stopping it or controlling when it comes. It will come whether I’m in Alabama or in Delaware. It will come whether I see her every two months or every single day. It will come even if I spend every waking, living, breathing moment of my life right by her side. It is going to happen and I cannot do a damn thing about it. It is all part of this horrific, gut-wrenching, disgusting disease. I have read up on it. I know what is coming. There is nothing anyone can do to prepare for it. It just is. The guilt will never go away, not even after she is gone. And, I know that at the end of the day I have to accept it and move on. I am doing the best I can. We are all doing the best we can. The best we know how to do. We all have to be there for each other and we all have to be there for ourselves. I want to live a life worth living. A life my mom would be proud of. She will one day forget who I am, but I cannot allow myself to forget who I am.