Forgive Yourself, You’re Doing the Best You Can

I have always hated this picture.

 

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Dancing with Mom at my wedding in September 2011.

 

I look like I’m disgusted with my mom. I look like I’m embarrassed and ashamed of her. I look like I don’t want anything to do with her.

I remember that I didn’t really want to touch her because she was sweaty from dancing by herself all night.

I cringe every time I see this picture.

I hate looking at it, but it pops up in my memories every year around my anniversary and I’m forced to see it once again.

But this time when I saw it, I thought to myself, wait a minute. Stop being so hard on yourself! You were going through a lot at the time.

My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s just over a year before this picture was taken. I got engaged that same month. All year I had been trying to accept her diagnosis, while simultaneously trying to hide it from others.

I had planned my whole wedding without my mom’s help. It was the first thing I had to do without her. Not only was I preparing to become someone’s wife, but I was also getting used to a life without my mom.

Then, one week before my wedding, my coworker/supervisor was stabbed to death in the line of duty. It was horrific. I couldn’t even go to the funeral because it was the day before my wedding. I cried for days and days.

His family allowed my fiancé and me to attend the private viewing since we couldn’t go to the funeral. It was two days before our wedding. We left the viewing to go home and begin welcoming our out-of-town guests, many of whom I had never met. It was a nightmare.

The day before my wedding, I was getting a manicure and pedicure with my mom and sister. It was stressful trying to look out for my mom and make sure she knew what to do. Suddenly, I looked up to see the funeral coverage on the news. I started crying in the middle of the nail salon.

I felt so incredibly guilty that I was getting married the next day. I felt like it was wrong for me to be happy and excited when he had just been killed. It was hell on my 26-year-old empathetic heart.

At the time, many people still did not know that my mom had Alzheimer’s. I just wanted to get through my wedding without anyone finding out. I was embarrassed and ashamed and I didn’t want anyone to know.

I was mostly numb on my wedding day. I went through the motions, but I had a tough time being happy or excited about anything. I didn’t even cry, which made me feel like a terrible, cold-hearted person.

How could I not cry?

I was all cried out.

As a result of everything I had been going through, I’m left with this stupid picture that makes me feel like a horrible daughter.

I regret so much from the beginning of my mom’s illness, but I also have to forgive myself and remember that I was still learning. I didn’t know then what I know now. Life was throwing a lot of crap at me and I was just trying to cope with it all.

There was a lot of pain that led up to the moment this picture was taken. We tend to forget the pain of a moment once the moment has passed. Usually, that’s a good thing. But sometimes, like with this picture, we beat ourselves up over one tiny sliver of a memory, neglecting to look at the bigger picture of what was really going on at the time.

Give yourselves a break, friends.

Alzheimer’s isn’t the only thing you’re dealing with.

Forgive yourselves.

Life is rarely ever easy.

We’re all doing the best we can.

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