Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Quiet is Everything

It's strange to have peace and complete quiet in my house. That’s not a thing that has happened for years. There is always noise of one kind or another. The landline ringing. My mother’s daytime television shows, “Judge Judy”, ”The Price is Right”, “The Young and the Restless”. (OMG! If I have watch Victor Newman die and come back to life one more time, I would have to shoot myself.)

Not all of the noise was loud noise. Some of it was benign noise but nevertheless, annoying noise. 

There were years of explosions that could happen at any given moment in this house. It was like living in a War Zone. The boy’s teenage years were full of meltdowns and sibling fighting. When Kendal lived here there was non-stop talking, ranting, complaining, and following me around from room to room until I threatened his life. I could never watch a live television show if I wanted to hear the whole thing unless at least one person was out of the house. 

More recently the explosions are “conversations” between my husband and Blue, my 20-year-old. Blue is a lot like I was at twenty. I did not want to be controlled. He doesn’t either. The difference though is that he is still very much dependent on us. He works, but he doesn’t have a car yet. He doesn’t make enough money to fully take care of himself. We still pay for his transportation and he usually runs out of money before the next paycheck. Therefore, there are uncomfortable conversations that have to be had on a regular basis. 

For a long time, I just didn’t really enjoy being at home. Home has been a place from which I needed to escape. There was always noise, bad energy, conflict, and conversations that I didn’t want to hear or be a part of. My husband is a talker too. He and my mother would constantly listen to political news and talk about how horrible the world is on a regular basis. These were conversations that I just did not need or want in my life. Not to mention, my husband works from home. He is constantly on loud conference calls. And frankly, I think he loves the sound of his own voice. 

Every since Kendal moved out, I crave silence. I love to be alone. Some days I put on my “Beats” and drown the rest of the world out just to make things tolerable. 

Me and Mom after her hair appointment
So a few weeks ago, after almost 10-years, of living in the downstairs dining room of my house, my mother moved into her own apartment. It’s a senior independent living building located literally just around the corner from my house. It had come to the point where Mom could not or would not attempt to climb the stairs because of arthritis and pain in her knees. All of our bathing facilities are on the second floor of our home. She needed a more accessible environment. 

Convincing her that we needed to make this change was no piece of cake. I had her work with Occupational, Physical therapists and doctors for months to get her to believe that she had the strength and tenacity to make this happen. She was starting to convince herself that she needed me to do everything for her. Instinctively, I knew a lot of her apprehension was anxiety. Her brain is way too sharp for her to be as dependent as she was becoming. I just did not have the capacity to do 24/7 caregiving after so many intense years of raising my special-needs sons.

I swore months prior to her move that when she left, I would be getting rid of the house landline. I actually had to fight with my husband to make that happen. The phone was primarily used by mom to stay in touch with our relatives and her friends. Otherwise, the constant ringing was either telemarketers or my son, Kendal who would robo-dial the house phone over and over and over, if I didn't answer my cell, which I also keep on silent for the same reason. 

Phones ringing is one of many triggers for my anxiety. A pleasant phone call for me is the exception, not the rule. This comes from the days of schools calling to let me know there was an issue with one of the boys and I needed to fix something NOW. My call logs are full of nothing but calls from one of the boys in a panic because they needed something from me...NOW. There is always work and drained energy on the other end of the line. 

So, my landline is gone. My cell phone remains silent. I had to set a new boundary with Kendal about phone calls. I simply refuse to answer his calls and texts all day long. Basically, our arrangement is, don’t call me. I’ll call you. Maintaining this boundary is a constant work in progress.

My mother and Judge Judy now live around the corner. I am creating a more silent, and peaceful world. I am not constantly accessible to do all of the things for all of the people.

Mom is doing great by the way. She is more motivated to live her best life and take care of herself as much as possible. She actually likes her space. She doesn’t have navigate around all of our junk. Her refrigerator is just for her. Her bathroom and walk-in shower do not have to be shared with young men. Her paths are clear to walk through her space as she wants to. 

She has plenty of help coming in and out all week from her caregiver, who totally pampers her with delicious home cooking, to all of the therapists that she still works with. I am there almost daily. My husband and son also visit her regularly. I can be at her door in a four-minute walk or a one-minute drive. At 80 years young, she is becoming an independent woman. 

I am happy as f*@% in all of this silence! I actually play music now through the stereo during the day. I stay at home and write. It’s especially sweet when my husband travels for business and Blue is at work. In fact, it's pretty close to heaven.

You can love your family and need space from them at the same time. It is allowed. In fact, all of your feelings are valid and allowed, no matter what anyone else thinks. 

I’m sure that isn’t politically correct to say that I am so happy with the silence in my home with two of the adults who were living here out of it. Mom will probably hate it if she or her friends read this. I don’t apologize. I am still dedicated to taking care of her. 

I don't write for my mom or her friends. I write for me and all of the women like me who are caregivers to adults, who are wives and mothers to children with special needs, who wish that they could scream their truth out loud. 

I hope that you will and don’t apologize for it.