Do you ever want to just run away? Right now, I just want to run away to some place where nobody knows me and no one can find me…
The past few days have been incredibly exhausting for me. As we finished out last week at work, we shifted our focus at work. With things appearing “stabilized” with COVID, our state is going to start opening up certain things…slowly. The first of those pieces is to allow hospitals to begin doing elective procedures again. The plan also includes increasing outpatient appointments in our clinics. I was glad to hear because, despite our place as an academic and research hospital, we need these things if we are going to remain operational. So we are slowly beginning to reopen our doors.
Even though planning this all requires work, it’s welcome work for me. I need something productive on my plate like that to help remind me that we will get through this. After all of these weeks of staring at the data, number of cases, deaths, projections, etc…this was quickly turning into my ray of hope for us coming out of all this insanity on some level.
And then, last Sunday, I got a phone call from my sister…
My step father had been drinking again.
When my current step father came into my life, it was about three years after my father died and shortly after mom had left her second husband, an abusive alcoholic who loved to take his frustrations out on me. As my current step father became known to me through my mother, he really took me under his wing. He had five years of sobriety under his belt at the time. My mother was very honest with him about what I had endured through both Dad’s death and “The Dick,” as I like to call him. My step father watched, and listened, as he saw a kid who struggling on all fronts at the time.
And while not an ideal man, he handled me perfectly then. He knew when to push me to engage and when to sit back and give me space. He knew when to discipline me and when to let me learn on my own. He taught me both in my successes and my failures. He respected my memory of my biological father. I grew to love him as a second biological father and I probably have called him dad more than step-father when talking about him.
And one of the things I always admired most about him…his ability to remain sober. His streak lasted 35 years.
In the wake of my brother’s death and my mother’s declining health, he gave up his sobriety. My sister, step-sister and I all worked to clean up the mess and pick up the pieces then. That lasted a few years until he slipped again…again because of my mother’s health. And then again…again due to my mother’s health and he pushing him to leave her at home when he was unable to care for her.
Each time, we went and picked up the pieces. The last time he faltered, he and I had a very long talk…both about his triggers and what it would take for me to help him. We had an agreement that he had to adhere to. I held him accountable. He remained sober…into a few months ago.
When I got the call from my sister, I knew the situation was not good at all. My sister, step-sister and I finally all got connected. It had been years since all three of us had spoken. I worked with my boss to find time to leave work in the midst of all this madness. My step-sister got time off of work. My sister, unable to travel due to being such high risk, remained at home but was coordinating and researching all of the avenues of assistance and care…something she excels out.
I was able to get home for the previous two days and to say things were a mess would be a gross understatement. His living conditions are horrible. He truly is unable to take care of himself. He struggles to do something as simple as preparing his own drink. He can’t keep his medications straight. He can barely get to the bathroom with his walker. When I confronted him as to why he began drinking…not that there is an excuse for choosing the bottle over asking for help, but I could also get it to some degree…
“I’ve been so scared of falling and dying on the floor all alone that I figured if I was drunk, at least I wouldn’t feel any pain if that was how I was going to die…”
Needless to say, hearing that did, in fact, break my heart.
All of us, my sister, step-sister and step-father did all we could to try to stabilize the situation as much as possible. As of when I left yesterday, he hadn’t had a drink in nine days. We had our talks. He knows that if he falters again, I am done with him. But in the process, he did do everything we asked of him and met every obligation. He gave up his car. He went to the doctor. He signed documents. Helped us get some things sorted so we at least knew where the finances and all stood. He did everything and he didn’t make excuses or fight us. The one thing he kept saying throughout my trip home was, “I’m scared to be here alone.”
So we are working to get him out of his current living situation. He makes (just barely) too much for the level of assistance he needs but doesn’t have enough to pay for private care. He’s too sick to be at home alone but not sick enough to be admitted into the hospital. And his doctor…we won’t even talk about that appointment because I already shared some thoughts about the doctor’s assessment at the appointment. “Just walk more and you’ll be fine…” he kept saying…even after I told him the man couldn’t walk more than 25 feet on his own.
I know I can’t run away…but I wish I could. I want to find that one corner of the earth where COVID isn’t a concern. I want to find that spot with no cell or data signal so I can disconnect and no one can track me down. I want that one place where no one knows who I am and I am nothing more than an anonymous presence taking a much needed reprieve. I just need to breath…for a few days…in solitude.
Just enough time to get myself composed and rested. Is that too much to ask?
Before I close out, I did want to share one funny moment from my trip back home since we all need a laugh…
I disclosed to my step-sister on Wednesday and she was INCREDIBLY supportive. So as my trip home went own, the jokes and smiles about me being, well, me, did help to lighten the mood a bit in light of everything we had to deal with. Before I was leaving yesterday, we were talking with my step-father and he was doing well and agreeing with everything we discussed. My step-sister commented stating that she had never seen him so agreeable in her entire life.
I responded with, “Well…he always thought he had one son would help him stand up against his two daughters. Now he realizes he is up against three daughters and he knows he’s screwed…”
The 15 minutes of laughing was the highlight of the whole trip home. 🙂
See it on Flickr.
[ Focus Poses ] – Hello Spring (Head adjustment made with Lelutka Axis HUD)