After completing Mastin Kipp’s 40 day ‘Claim Your Power’, I wondered if I would feel enlightened with my “Creator”, ecstatic in the my “action steps” approach to following my goals and dreams; and quit my day job. Was I excited that my relationships with my partner and family were about to elevate to the next level?
I felt the anti-climax of when an acting tour finishes and you know you’re going back to reality, the next acting job hasn’t come along yet and you have to go back to those faces in your regular job which either you dislike or the job is soul crushing.
Do I listen or read these self-development, self-empowering books because I want to find the answer to what I’m not doing right, seeking the reasons why I have not moved further along in life, to listen/read to another person tell me if I’m not “working to my goals once a week, it’s a dead dream”. Is it about my dreams?
I figured through this process it’s about my approach to everything and just like juggling human nature and the personalities of friends or the dynamics of work colleagues; it’s my approach to life.
My dad was diagnosed with dementia earlier this year, I looked at the research to prove to myself I understood the levels, the stages, the ways in which this debilitating condition can take over. It’s a slow burn of fire dying out on a summer’s day, at its height it’s beautiful, powerful and sometimes uncontainable and at it’s low it’s ash blowing in the wind returning to the motherland. What am I doing about it? I’m trying to control it, the doctor is trying to control it and for the first time in my life, I don’t feel unhappy and alone. Is that strange? The support from the NHS has been great, the support from my partner has been incredible.
I’m able to take my Dad to acting classes, memory cafes, dance and fitness classes (with the help of another reluctant family member). We have got him a diary so he can write things in to remind himself of what he’s doing daily and who he’s spending time with.
The biggest impact and stress for me is knowing which are the important parts, hospital/doctor appointments etc. Since my Dad came home from Mauritius in 2014, the last four years have been applying to the council for a home, sorting his pension out, him being diagnosed with prostate cancer and then this year dementia. I wonder if life has it in for me but it’s not me it’s happening to, it’s him. I cry and want to scream and shout at the world “why is it all on me?” and it’s because somewhere along the journey, I have become the responsible adult in all situations, and the roles have reversed. I wonder how I can put yourself first, stay on top of my health and deal with anymore? I can’t and I have to get on and find the time when I can. It’s not about complaining, it’s allowing yourself to feel frustrated and not beating yourself up for the guilt that is totally out of your control, and out of your hands.
So, back to the book, what has it taught me in isolation to this area of my life, “Acceptance”. A really difficult area to understand in it’s full limited, restrictive layers unless you understand yourself to a degree. “Acceptance” is the most enlightening area of my life right now. I find it difficult because it brings its friends “control” and “judgement” to back itself up every time but it’s my fears of this that has been difficult to acknowledge. Accepting, what I cannot change, the future. But I can change the here and now by looking at it through a different lens. I never thought I’d be talking to my Dad about his “After Care Plan”, they are ask questions, you’ve never been prepared to ask your parents before, “How do you want to receive NHS treatment, do you want to be resuscitated, do you want the doctors to give you all the medications available” and so on. About his Will and what he wants to leave to people, about all sorts, and i am glad to say thank gawd I found out about the Death cafe, because it helps to talk about death openly.
All my Dad can hear when I ask him about his personal life and history is suspicion, and he asks “why? Why is it difficult to see loved ones suffer, it’s because the conflict starts with ourselves, our views, opinions, judgements, influences. The reality is he cannot change, he’s not a man that understands how to to talk about his emotions and never really understood others. He’s complicated and has a limited view of the world because he doesn’t really engage in conversation to know who people are or understand the world around him. So, if anyone had to change, it was down to me, I don’t want to be the dutiful daughter anymore, I don’t want to pat myself on the back and say “I was there when he really needed me”. I want to be more than this, so I realised it was time to create new memories, however short lived they might be.
I am creating new memories of fun. I never thought of my Dad as a scared, frightened, and stressed man knowing that life is coming to a close. Maybe we never really think about the time when our bodies will start to close down, and stop working in the way we hope it always will. How do you admit, you can’t remember people, places, things? How do you talk about death when you’ve never really discussed it with family?
I am really lucky to still have my Dad, he isn’t an extreme case at the moment, he still remembers, still gets about, still cognitive. I have to find ways in which he can answer questions that are too much for him all at once. I sat with him yesterday whilst putting on a TENS machine for his achy muscles and played some music from different periods of our lives and showed him old photographs. A simple action but really worth putting the time in. I recalled that all through my life at home, two of the most prominent memories I grew up with was music and photo albums. Dad had created those memories for us and now it was time to remind him of those memories and create new ones for him. It is time to have fun with him whilst I still can and because whatever time I have left, I don’t want it to be about appointments, doctors, medication and duty.