It’s interesting to realize the day when you are no longer anyone’s priority. Hopefully, in life, there is a span of time where someone holds you in the kind of regard where you are paramount in their thoughts and actions. That your well-being and mental health are considered before they move forward. Maybe a mom, parent, or guardian of some kind. There is a tie back to the narcissism of coming into the world thinking it’s all about you when you can clearly point to someone who is making the case for that. It’s the makings of that cocoon of safety that we always feel around those people. No matter what… I know someone cares about me … maybe even more than I care for myself.
But you grow up and people move around in your life. They leave or die. New ones come in and establish importance. Sometimes it happens in such a flurry that you don’t get to take inventory. This experience has shone a light on it. There is a cross-section of so many realizations I’ve made about me and my life in the last 56 days it’s unreal. But I’ll try to unpack this one.
It has been hard to come under the crushing weight of this support role that was thrust on me. Mostly because I’m pouring from an empty cup… that’s a WHOLE other blog post. There are notes of the massive importance our fathers had outside our homes (both Earl and I) that didn’t seem to fully translate within our family… or at least to me. Droves of people converging to ask me how he’s doing… what his progress is… how much they love and care for him. And I’m a vessel of information. Visitation is something so limited in this COVID framework that folks can’t just show up. So I have to be a conduit. Every day. To multiple people. On the rare occasion, someone will say….”well.. how are YOU holding up, Victoria?” But it’s never really someone I can bear all to. So I have to keep it light. “Taking every day one day at a time,” is a popular response. My A-1 priority is Athena. And is also now more prominently Earl. But he’s still his mom’s A-1 priority as in the 10 years we’ve lived right above her she’s never been up here so much, cooked so much food for him, visited with him, knocked then barged in… And I understand – if I was 83 and in good shape and something was wrong with Athena, I’d do all the same things. She is being helpful. She’s trying to provide additional support where maybe I didn’t have it. Or… where Earl doesn’t have it….? Seems that he is supported all around.
And I found myself asking… am I anyone’s priority? And it was a pretty quick return answer. No. It stung. I remember the last day I felt like I held a prime position. 6/29/2011. At 1:26 PM my darling daughter was born. Rushed to the side of the room, cleaned up, handed to her father for some pictures with me (my arms were strapped to the operating table). Then they whisked her away to the Maternity ward. I had to stay behind so they could shove my insides back in place and sew me up. After which they wheeled me into recovery. Five very quiet hours later, where NO ONE texted, came downstairs to check on me, uttered my name, wondered if I was okay… I was clear that all the importance I’d held in the world was gone from me. It was now separate and apart from me where people didn’t have to access ME to express it anymore. 10 years later I’m certain I’ll never know what that feels like again. Even if I somehow live to be old and incapable and Athena has to care for me… it won’t feel like import. I’ll be a burden for sure. To myself and to her.
My inner core is becoming unstable. I can’t guarantee I know what I’ll do or say in any given moment. I have these inner outbursts… these flares. And every now and again they make it into the outer world and I may say them aloud. They come in the form of mini meltdowns about…. anything. I had a full-on meltdown about Athena’s Halloween outfit yesterday. She wants to be the Suicide Squad version of Harley Quinn. There’s a list of things here that are wrong with it. And I melted down to my sisters on WhatsApp. I watched all day as everyone and everything picked off at my plans for 10/1. All I wanted to do was go to a church where I was certain I heard a message coming to me from the monitor where we were all watching it while Athena got her hair done. I was going to dress up nice… I asked Lil Vic to come with me. It was all too… ordained… I was supposed to be there. But then… HHA tapes on 10/1. And I have to be “present” to deliver clips to the sponsors. Then there was a doctor’s appointment E booked for Athena well before we entered the seventh circle of hell for her annual check-up. Then Athena’s Karate school called and said that testing for her brown belt would take place on Friday. At 7:00. (Same time as the church service). I just… really felt the disappearance happening. The lack of importance. How… tertiary I am. To everyone but myself – and I don’t even really have the energy to “put myself first”.
Just getting the thoughts out here so that maybe I can temper the flares. Go inward a bit more and not lash out.