After a loss—whether it’s the death of someone you love or the end of a relationship—have you ever felt suspended in limbo? Plus, you just couldn’t find your mojo again?
Well, I feel ready to come clean with you. Ever since my dear mother passed away recently, I’ve been a grieving, heartbroken, stymied health coach and wellness author in crisis. In short, I’ve been feeling “off.”
While I’m working to get closer to being “on” so I can serve you again, I’m now ready to make a confession.
My mom’s death and my subsequent discoveries about things she did or didn’t do have hit me hard. Recently, I’ve been crying at least once or twice a week—like the time I found NO mention in her datebook that I was moving nearly 3,000 miles to be with her in her dying days. Ouch!
Plus, Cheerful Connie isn’t around as much anymore. Not only that, but I’m not sure where I should live now.
A little bit of history is in order. Slightly more than a year ago, I gave up my apartment in New York City (where I’d been for a decade) and moved back to California to be of service to my dear dying mother, who had stage 4 lung cancer. (But she decided to let the disease progress at its own course -- she choose to forgeo chemotherapy and meds for fear of horrible side effects.)
Now that I’ve lost my mother, I’m all alone in another part of the country, without her and without my friends in the Big Apple.
Loss, I’m discovering, can wallop you. It can toss you into turmoil and turbulence. And if your dear mommy died, that can send you whirling.
I’ve also been in a quandary. I’m a health coach, life coach, and bestselling author (Sugar Shock and Beyond Sugar Shock). How can I share with you my intense pain and sad truth that I’m just not back to being my best me?
And why is Cheerful Connie taking so long to return? While she’s starting to make a comeback, she’s still often frustratingly elusive.
Previously, I didn’t tell you the full truth about how Mom behaved badly in her last year, how horribly she treated me at times, and how My Last Year with My Mother was an utterly grueling ordeal.
The reason I told you a half-truth before is because I was simply too embarrassed, hurt, and heartbroken.
What's more, I want to honor, respect, and put the best foot forward on behalf of my Mom, whom I dearly loved, admired, and respected.
I really, really adored my mother, and I was very, very reluctant to share her weaknesses.
Before, in this blog post, I offered only glowing praise for my mother and how she taught me—and you—how to leave Planet Earth with spunk and style.
Yes, fall 2011 to fall 2012 was a charming, wonderful, poignant time, during which my beloved mother shared valuable lessons with me. She blazed (often with me along) through her impressive culinary and cultural bucket list, and we had many pleasant moments together.
In other words, My Last Year with Mom was full of sweetness. But it was glutted with bitterness as well. That’s why I now call this time My Bittersweet Last Year with Mom.
Now, I feel ready to tell you a little about the bitter part.
What made My Last Year with Mom especially gut-wrenching and tear-jerking for me was that the calm, coherent, often-poised mother I loved and knew vanished.
Instead, as her brain and body were invaded by cancerous cells, she became Crabby Cancer Mom, someone who could be accusatory, angry, argumentative, confrontational, controlling, cruel, demanding, difficult, distrustful, hostile, insulting, irrational, manipulative, mean, and vindictive.
For reasons I still don’t quite understand—other than that dying people take it out on people they love the most—Crabby Cancer Mom displayed a particular vengeance and viciousness towards me. That was especially tough to take since I’d given up my apartment in New York City and relocated for her. (I’m now living in a cramped but peaceful place I hurriedly took after Mom angrily threw me out of her home for the umpteenth time.)
By the way, the reason it was urgent and imperative that I relocate for Mom is that I was her closest living relative. If I hadn't moved, my poor mother would had no family members there for her often in her dying days. (My sister and mom had been estranged for more than a decade.)
So to summarize, during My Bittersweet Last Year with My Mother, I was a victim of Mom Abuse.
Bear in mind that my mother’s mistreatment of me was unintentional. It was the cancer’s fault.
Real Mom was in the dark. She didn’t know what she was doing. At least I don’t think she did.
But although I knew Crabby Cancer Mom was NOT my Real Mom, I still often felt confused, frustrated, exasperated, aghast, helpless, devastated, sad, downright shattered, and absolutely frightened to be myself.
Of course, experts recommend that you set limits in your relationships.
“Speak up for yourself,” they suggest. That’s good advice, but when you’ve made a strong commitment to yourself to be there no matter what for your angry, dying mother, you can’t set boundaries, especially if—as her disease infects her thoughts and behavior—she treats you abysmally. (In fact, she treated me so horribly that some people who witnessed her putdowns were shocked that I stood by her.)
Anyhow, I’ve been reeling in aftershock for the past four months. And I’ve had enough.
It’s time to take back my power. I’m determined.
To get to a centered place where I can serve you again, I’ve now mapped out my comeback.
- I’m taking time out every day to nurture myself, including going to the gym, meditating, attending a grief support group, listening to James Twyman’s The Moses Code, or reading inspirational passages from authors such as Dr. Wayne W. Dyer, Dr. Ken Druck and Anne Lamott. I’m also back in therapy, and I work with a coach from time to time.
- I’m cleaning up my food. In particular, I’m limiting or steering clear of quickie carbs such as sweet potato chips, corn nuts, and popcorn. (More about that later, but suffice it to say that I haven’t been perfect since Mom died. I did, however, stay away from the sugar so for those of you wondering, I am still sugar-free.)
- I’m healing and getting perspective, as well as honoring my mother, by writing a new book, which I’m tentatively calling, Bittersweet: How to Stand by Your Difficult, Dying Loved One and Learn from My Rollercoaster Last Year with Mom. (The book title may change. I also started the Bittersweet Year Blog, where I'll be blogging parts of my next book. A beautiful design from the talented Hillary Carlip is going up shortly.)
- At long last, I’m going on a 10-day transformational retreat from Jan. 30 to Feb. 10 to get my act together, so to speak. Please note that I’m NOT taking a vacation. Rather, I’m going to dig very deep so that I can become a better me and be better able to serve you.
- I’m going on e-mail and phone silence. Admittedly, this is a requirement for the program I’m attending, but I would do it anyhow.
- I’m turning many times a day to the endearing, inspirational best-selling author Louise Hay for help. For instance, I’m listening over and over again to the forgiveness track on Louise’s CD of I Can Do It. “Forgiveness of yourself, and of others, will release you from the prison of the past,” she knowingly says. Later, she charmingly puts it, to “it’s time to move with joy into the now.”
- I’m honoring myself and my need for healing time by allowing myself to postpone presenting my Sugar Freedom Now Virtual Retreat and delay taking on new coaching clients.
Of course, you want me to be there fully so right now, I’m dedicating myself to “refueling,” regrouping, rediscovering my true calling, uncovering my strengths, finding inner peace, and reaching a higher plane.
I invite you to join me. Go on your own voyage of healing and rebirth so you can Take Back Your Power.
Even if you aren’t grieving the loss of a loved one, you can become dedicated to rediscovering your own beauty and wisdom.
Please let me know what transformational methods work best for you to Take Back Your Power. I’m eager to explore tactics that I may be overlooking.
By the way, please stay tuned.
On April 15, I will be celebrating 15 years sugar-free (mostly). Yikes!
In honor of that landmark, I’ll be giving lots of radio and TV interviews about my most recent book, Beyond Sugar Shock, which came out while Mom was dying. (I’m so grateful that before Mom passed away, she saw and was very proud of me for my new book.)
I’m also planning a newly improved six-week Sugar Freedom Now Virtual Retreat. It begins March 6.
Thank you kindly for your patience during this challenging, but transformative time.
Special thanks to Jessica Urmanec for creating the above illustration.