This is the only time I'm gonna talk about my mother.
I learned how to use the stove oven and wash and style my hair before the 5th grade. My mother was the person who taught me how to do all these things. Because my mother wasn't going to be able to do that for me a few years later, not much to be exact, the day she stopped braiding my hair was when I realized something was wrong.
Before my mother's death, I will say that half of my life was dedicated to taking care of her. She always had issues with her health, and being as young as nine years old was when I first started to care for her. When she died, it was the first time I could truly take care of myself. Going to therapy wasn’t doing much, and you want to know why? Because afterward, when my session was over, I had to take care of her. One of the main things causing me so much distress, and I had no choice.
Yeah, I had the option not to take care of my mother, but just because I could have stopped taking care of her and left didn’t mean I SHOULD HAVE.
I rarely brought up my problems outside of having a hard time with my homework when talking with her because she was suffering enough; I didn’t want her to be in any more pain than she already was.
Not long after starting my first semester of college, I had to call the ambulance for her. That moment was when I knew for sure I was not going to have the typical college experience like the others.
My mother was part of the reason why I started to take YouTube more seriously as a source of income. After all, I had to be home often to assist her because my dad and sister worked jobs they had to commute to. My options were limited because I needed to be there physically for her. It was either background acting or YouTube. I quit extra work because of how detrimental that job was to my health (check out my book, You’re Not Crucial, if you want more information on that). I felt like I didn't have much of a choice with working because I could not bear to think about what would happen to her if I was gone for too long. As someone who works in entertainment and is an entrepreneur, I couldn’t travel to New York City, Los Angeles, or out of town at all for any opportunities; it pained me to know that I didn’t have the option to go because I had to care for my mother. One day, when I was filming my web series, I came home, and she wasn't doing well. I cried so much because I wasn't there to assist her sooner. I felt guilty.
One day, I said something along the lines of "Today I learned what I was put on this Earth for. My purpose in life is to always put people before me, and I come last. Other's needs matter more than my own." My life had become more dedicated to taking care of her than it was before. That's how draining it was for me. I felt like I had a rain cloud over my head that wouldn't move, no matter how hard I tried to get rid of it.
When things got worse for her, it was much more challenging for me to mask my anger, and I ended up saying things that I wish I didn't say publicly. I took out my frustration with not having time for myself or other things I wanted to do. This is why I am so much more careful with what I choose to speak about because in the months before and not long after her death, my behavior was not the best. I couldn't come out and explicitly say, “Taking care of my sick mother is nerve-racking,” so I found ways around that by saying mean things about celebrities who weren't thinking about me.
In the days before her death, I started going to the gym again because exercise helps with frustration and sadness. It didn't make much of a difference; I needed to rush home afterward because I couldn't leave her for too long. On the weekend she passed away, I couldn’t leave home at all. I barely could even do my homework, nor could I take care of orders or edit videos. I had just gotten the most expensive headshots I had ever paid for and couldn't send them in for anything. I could not concentrate. The day before she died, I got so worried because I genuinely could not live outside of her for the entirety of the day. I could barely sleep on my own.
Like……… it's sad that she passed away, but her dying left opened so much space in my life. For one, I could sleep again. This is a bit annoying because I lost so much sleep taking care of her (and worrying about her) that now I have issues with sleeping too much. I try not to get angry with myself for needing to rest because I went so long without getting much of it. I had the other half of my life back to myself. I had the option to travel. I can stay out late with my friends. I can go to places in my city that I always wanted to go to and spend as much time as I want without worrying. I only have to cook for myself. It felt strange that, for the first time in over ten years, I didn't need to assist her.
I hate the reason I no longer have to take care is caused by the fact that she's dead.
I had to learn how to do things early; my mom knew she could not do them for me. I had to learn how to do things early in order for me to be her caregiver.
I could never hate my mother. I loved her with all my heart. But I could not help but be upset with how I missed out on so much owing to the fact that my life was dedicated to her health and neglecting my well-being. I can't help but be frustrated with how much stress it caused me caring for her. I'd cry in between classes since I was pushed to the limit about her health. I remember when I was 14, and she had a bad episode one morning before she took me to school. A popular girl I barely knew pulled me to the side to comfort me about it. I had some of the most boring summers ever cause I was just stuck at home with her well into adulthood. I wasn't satisfied with my life when she was alive; I was forced to settle.
I will never settle again for anyone I know that. I settled once already, and I refuse to do it again.
When my mother died, it hit me with the realization that I could start adulthood all over again. Not could, had to. I had to restart adulthood all over again because the way I started it off, I wouldn't necessarily say, was incorrect, but it was similar to before I turned 18. Work, school, taking care of mom. And repeat. I didn't get to experience much of anything outside of school and work, and even then, I hated how I could never explain to my peers why I wasn't interested in going out with them after class and work. It's not because I didn't want to; it's because I was drained, but also because I knew I needed to come to care for my mother. One time, my friend straight up told me we were going out to eat with our other coworkers after work, and I got so angry (but did not express my anger) as I was too tired from dealing with my mother, but also I was worried that something could have happened to her. My mom’s health was something I never talked about with my friends.
I'm still extraordinarily drained, and it's because of the effects of grief. I'm not only grieving for my mother but for eight other people I loved who died in the last three years; one of those being a close friend of mine, and the other two being my grandparents. My mom and grandparents died within one year of each other.
While I finally can give myself my undivided attention, I still have so much to learn. I still have so much to experience. But also, I have so much to heal from. Taking care of my mother was traumatic, and I'm not going to pretend like it wasn't. Anyone who's ever had to care for someone who's chronically ill will tell you it's not for the faint of heart.
This is the only time I will ever talk about my mother publicly, and that's because I learned that many others can relate.
It feels strange no longer taking care of someone, and the reason is because they died.
I understand how you're feeling. I get it. I see you. I hope you're able to heal.
Thank you all so much for reading. If you are interested in more of my writing, me and Amaya Janelle's new book Um, Do Not Call Me Sis, is now available for purchase! Offered in paperback, ebook, and audiobook.
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