Monday, June 01, 2009

Beating Off the Black Beast

This was the weekend I was gonna do it. I was gonna go outside the Bat Cave, get on a subway, see things, do things. I even took Monday off with the idea of getting a Qi Dong massage after seeing my psychiatrist. While abstinence is never in the bag, it's time to start working on Phase II, which includes getting a life beyond Hicks Street.

Then, on Friday night, the phone rang. My brother called to tell me my mother had fallen and was in the cardiac care unit with a broken hip. Upon arrival, her blood pressure was extremely low, her electrolytes were doing jigs, she had water in her lungs again and her kidneys were close to failure. I got off the phone, made plane reservations and called my father to tell him I'd be there Tuesday. "Oh, you don't need to, honey: I just got off the phone with the orthopod and nothing is wrong."

So I called American, got a sympathetic agent who canceled everything at no charge and promptly started freaking out.

I got up Saturday in a nervous twist. I looked at the clock. I had to shower, dress up, go to a meeting and then up to Lincoln Center, then home to a dinner party. I began to gag. I was rooted to my chair. I couldn't move. I watched the clock tick past the meeting time. I did some major hoisting of boxes and clothes around and looked at the clock, now ticking toward the School of American Ballet workshop performance. I froze, unfroze long enough to take Daisy out, came back and went to bed with America's Next Top Model, which has now superseded Seinfeld for availability. All Tyra All the Time. I called my friends who were having the dinner party to tell them what was going on, straggled through the shower and, while I was dressing, called my brother. They had misspoken about her hip. It was fractured. There would be a surgery as soon as her vitals were back up.

I know that my mother could not survive surgery.

My friends are very, very close friends whose ministry is old people. I believe everyone has a ministry, whether you believe in God or not. Mine is Fat Ladies. Theirs is old people. It was a good place to be before I trudged home to wait out my brother's word on booking a flight.

I woke with a dimming headache on Sunday and went back to bed as Daisy ate her breakfast. I called the friend I was going to a dance performance with and begged off. By that afternoon, she was back to no fractured hip. She has a fractured pelvis. Jim and I decided I'd better get out there.

All of my neuroses about leaving the house had leapt up and I was starting to think the Black Beast was waiting in the hall. I was shaking and addle-pated. I couldn't leave to go to the store. All I wanted to do was stay in bed.

Somewhere in that miasma that Sunday became, I was sitting in the kitchen, smoking a cigarette and drinking instant coffee. I really needed to get to the store but I knew I couldn't. Some dishes had accumulated. I looked at them and knew I couldn't wash them. It was going to be bed for me again. I was very, very scared.

I got batshit at Mom and Dad's house. It's 100 degrees there, their pace is slow and needy, there is nothing to do. I eat. I eat all the time. I picked up my 90-day coin two weeks ago and had, Sunday, 106 days of abstinence and a loss of 41 pounds. What would I be in a week? I've worked SO hard this winter and spring, getting abstinent, writing, getting my depression into remission. I was facing a trap in which the only exit is sugar.

I decided to wash one dish. I washed all of them. I decided to brush my teeth. I decided to go to the store. I decided to put some stuff that sprayed out of my reorganization project away. I decided to take Daisy to play ball. We ran into Boomer and his owner and we had a good talk about what was going on. Daisy got her ya-ya's out.

I made my reservations.

Then I went to the Safeway website and ordered the food I need when I walk in the door on Wednesday night. And then, despite being a couple hundred dollars shy of paying in cash, I made my flight/hotel reservations for Prague in the first week of September. I need that trip to be real when I get to Arizona. I need those dates set in concrete so that no one expects me to be anywhere else. I need to hang on to the Frances I want to be in 91 days.

I went to bed late but made real coffee, washed my hair and saw my psychiatrist. Everything in New York seems to be a do-over. Chase could process some of my banking but I ended up having to finish it in Brooklyn where there is a WA-MU unit. I had only last night realized my passport expired earlier this year so I'd run out the application but needed photos. The photographer wasn't there so I had to go back. I had to go back to the bank, as well, because I hadn't left a comfortable margin in my checking account. Then I had to go to the post office and send off my passport, which they're saying is taking 4 - 6 weeks.

I'm kind of packed. I need to do laundry and my Psychology Today blog, but I need to put up a post here saying I'm still scared about Arizona. My father just made a comment about people we should notify and then said, oh not them unless she doesn't make it. I'm scared I'm losing my mom and I know she's in such terrific pain that she's starting to want to go. I respect that. But I want to be there -- THERE -- for both of them, and that means not having my head in a loaf of bread. I want to come back on the 10th being HERE, for me, for my nieces who are coming to NYC for the first time in mid-June, for the work I need to do -- get out of the Cave, start interacting with the real world -- in order to be THERE in Prague. And I need to be prepared for the wide trans-continental planes on which I may be between five people. Do-able if I don't lose it in the 10 days to come.

I'll post while I'm away -- that's part of my plan, as well as going to meetings (I wonder what a senior citizens' community eating disorder meeting is like?) and staying in touch with my sponsor. I'll trade the Black Beast off for the Red Beast if I have to and march around in a fury. But I hope I simply get through it and come back to my own ecstatic yellow dog who doesn't much care what I weigh.

Thanks for reading.


Anonymous said...

On May 14, 2009, I had the exquisite pain and joy of being with my sister as she took her last, ventilator assisted, breath. I hope with all my might that your mother does well and returns to her own, comfortable home. But if not, try to think of being with your mother at this time as an honor. I'm not a writer, and I apologize if what I am trying to say is not coming out right, but I hope you understand.

Hugs and good wishes,

Kaivalya said...

Keeping my fingers crossed that everything works out for the best, with your mom and the food stuff too. Hang in there!

Unknown said...

When you are in shock, the black beast hovers nearby. At least that's how it works in my life.

Doing the dishes etc. pushed the beast farther away.

I understand your dread of the circumstances in AZ as they relate to your abstinence and reclaiming your life. This is another curveball for you. Don't think too far ahead; what-ifs can be saboteurs. Baby steps... I'll be thinking of you, and I'm glad you plan to blog.

April said...

Frances, you are my hero. You dig into the depths of your struggle and give us a window. You make our struggles seem familiar and real and "okay" because you admit the beast out loud. My thoughts are with you as you journey to AZ... and as you journey toward the Frances you want to be. We all want to be our best selves... and you show us that it is worth the effort. THANK YOU!

Anonymous said...

I have been where you are with your parents for the past four years. My mom passed away Christmas week
(on my anniversary) and after five months, I have just begun to scrape myself off the floor(and the refrigerator) only to wind up having to have eye surgery. But this isnt about me...I just want you to know that do what you can, try not to fall into any emotional canyons...but you will feel awful and out of control and helpless...but you don't have to ACT that way. No matter the outcome of your mother's immediate situation,(hope for the best, prepare for the worst) this is the beginning of a long and treacherous emotional journey for you. At least you have siblings and other family to pitch in. I didn't.
Good vibes, my friend..Nancy Drew

Quilting Martha said...

Oh Frances, I'm sorry about your Mom. I hope everything goes well. Hang in there.

Marian said...

It sounds like you are doing everything you can for your parents, please try to be as kind as possible to yourself.

Unknown said...

Glad you have a plan and a passport. What else does a girl need?

Anonymous said...

You and your family will be in my prayers. Take one day at a time. I do hope your mother recovers and can be discharged from the hospital.
You are very aware of your feelings and vulnerabilities, and that is very admirable.
Wishing you peace,
A reader of your blog