For years I struggled to accept my mom’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
I knew she had Alzheimer’s. I wasn’t debating that. But I kept expecting her to be the same person she had always been—the same mom I had always known.
Whenever she behaved differently or forgot how to do something, I would get upset, disappointed, and even angry—with her, with myself, and with the whole situation.
I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself and just wishing things would go back to the way they were. I felt like there was no point in even trying because my mom could no longer be the mom I wanted her to be. And our relationship would never be the way I always dreamed it would be when I became an adult. We would never have the friendship I’d always yearned for.
Over time, I realized that I had been going about it all wrong.
Instead of expecting my mom to be who she had always been, I should have been accepting her for who she had become. Instead of focusing on everything I had lost, I should have been focusing on everything I still had. And instead of feeling sorry for myself, I should have been feeling empathy for my mom.
I spent a long time stubbornly resisting my new reality because I didn’t want it to be my new reality. I didn’t want my mom to have Alzheimer’s. I didn’t want this to be my life. I didn’t want to give in and accept what was happening because I didn’t want it to be happening in the first place. I just wanted it to change.
I eventually realized that my situation wasn’t going to change. My mom’s Alzheimer’s wasn’t just going to magically go away. My life would never go back to the way it was. I had no control over any of that.
But I had full control over how I chose to deal with the situation. I had full control over how I chose to show up for my mom. I could either sit around and waste her life away feeling sorry for myself or I could accept what was happening—even though I didn’t like it—and make the most out of the rest of her life.
I chose the latter.
And I hope you do, too.
Nothing about it is easy, but I promise it’s absolutely worth it.