Embracing life is a scary concept. The concept of live and let die is more than just a song (move and book).
For me, as someone with CPTSD, live and let die along with the concept of embracing life is a dream and a fear. I think most of us balance that line…or we run screaming away from it. Some days are easier than others. With my mother’s recent diagnosis of throat cancer, it is easier for me to think about the chariot tarot card: to move forward and do all the things I want to do. Oh, and as for my mother? If you had to have throat cancer, you want what she’s got because it is 100% treatable. Seven weeks of chemo and radiation. While one of her vocal cords will remain paralyzed and she will remain the poster child of why 30+ years of being a pack-a-day smoker is a very bad thing, she’s a very lucky human.
On the other hand, she’s also part of the reason why I have CPTSD. And I am her caretaker…more so than ever before (although if I am being fully honest with you, I’ve been her caretaker for my entire adult life). She is acutely mentally ill and has been for my entire 42.5 years on this planet. This has been exacerbated by drug addiction (although she is sober other than having a medical marijuana license; before her license, she used marijuana. My only concern before it was legalized in Oklahoma was that she would get something laced…that, and smoking anything when you already have COPD isn’t good for you!). She physically abused me until I was 13 and I finally hit her back. With a pan…while I was doing dishes when she was hitting me in the head and calling me names. Then, when I was 16 and had a cast on my hand that ran up to my elbow, she attempted to stab me. My cast saved my life. She was institutionalized for a few months…that’s all the State did and returned her home.
Until just a couple of summers ago (the summer right before COVID), she continued to brag to her psychiatrist (I was there…it was a family therapy event) that she “got away with trying to kill” me…and that she chooses to “forget” that it happened whenever it is convenient for her…to look like an innocent, harmless person. As you can imagine, I don’t leave my minor child alone with her…although when my brother (older) was a child, her rage was never focused on him. It was me – he was the favorite. Dad was a different story. He took everything out on both of us. And she knew. He abused her too. And I know it isn’t easy to leave so please don’t think I am putting her down for that.
Pandemics make strange bedfellows. I make her food. I take her to all her appointments. I am compassionate AF. I don’t hold anything over her head. I am merely explaining to you, reader, that I am caring for someone who is one cause for my CPTSD. My caring for her is what it is because there is no one else to do it. I am an ethical human. I am her durable healthcare POA. It is her fear to go into a home and I would not do that to her because I do not prey upon the fears of others (except when I write horror).
Live and Let Die
I’ve learned during the last few years that if I want to live, I have to let certain things die. It isn’t that I forget about what happened or let my guard down. It isn’t that I forget I am dealing with someone who once tried to kill me and who laughs about it. It isn’t that I forget I also previously survived a marriage to a “man” who tried to leave me for dead in a parking lot. Those things and more happened. And those things (and more) sucked. Sometimes, those things still haunt. They also shaped me. I lived them. But like anything, they can’t and shouldn’t live forever. I have to let those moments die. They do serve as a teaching tool. I am a survivor. I can survive anything. I can move forward. I can thrive. Not everyone has both a parent and a spouse try to kill them…and the state do nothing about it.
And if I dwell it it? Those moments continue to live. I must let them die…so that I may live instead.
Embracing life is a much more difficult concept. I can live and let die. I don’t desire to think about shitty situations on the daily. I did that for far too long. I put in the work and rewired my brain. Now, of course, there are still some days that I fall back into old habits. We all have bad days.
I find myself getting bogged down in the daily shit…the survival shit. Finding shit that keeps me insanely busy…because it keeps me sane. It’s safety. Of course, it also pays the bills. I’ve never been extroverted and that’s okay. I love writing…and I love podcasting (now that it’s a thing). I love speaking. I love nature (except photophobia sucks, thanks COVID). I love quiet (but I also love children). I love crafts. I love lots of things. But…embracing life itself…going out and doing things (I don’t mean crowds and shit that could possibly cause the spread of COVID after the antibodies are gone…I recovered from COVID maybe two months ago as of the writing of this article)? It’s a nice thought, but not always easy. And I know that’s a direct result of the safety I find in burying myself in the to-do list…a side effect of not fully embracing life in the manner that I want. What good is making money if I don’t do more than pay bills and taxes? Work is great because it is a sanity-saver, but there is so much more (I have so much yarn and fabric and there are so many national parks to see) to do.
We must embrace life. We must truly live and let die.