Thursday, March 25, 2010

A change in direction

I almost gave this up...I think I've had so many of these things because I choose a topic and think I must focus solely on that and run out of steam. But after a discussion with a best friend, I've decided to make this a general blog. Ever since my mom passed away, I've always been that girl who lost her mother, who has a sick father. It's defined me for so many years of my life that I don't want to be the one defining myself like that. It's a part of me and obstacles I must overcome because of it. I'll delve into it once in a while, of course, but I want this to be more about me and Lord knows sometimes I just need the vent.

Which means I need a new name for this thing...and I suck at names so any suggestions?

I actually am not sure I have much to say at the moment which is rather lame, but it's been a long time since I've played with a blog. Stick with me.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Who would I be otherwise?

It's taken me a while to write in here, I think because I've been debating what to put. It's always an issue of mine, deciding how much to write, how little, how many topics you can write on one subject alone. I'm not a good blogger, but I can turn a phrase; I can get out my emotions. I want to be able to help other motherless daughters or at least give them a place where they understand they're not alone, but is it possible to do that day in and day out without being repetitive and/or borderline depressing. But I'll continue to give it a shot, regardless.

As I was sitting home this weekend - bored out of my mind, but desperate not to spend money because I'm broke - I thought a lot about who I am now. It's something I've been thinking about for the past couple of weeks and something that also has me wondering who I would have been if my mom hadn't died when I was fourteen. A friend of mine said something, that she was in her 20s, but emotionally she's still the same age she was when her mom died. I grew up with a father who has MS so when my mom died, I was forced to become an adult, all the while being stuck at fourteen. I never got past the known awkward teenage years and the confidence that isn't had by many at that age never got the chance to develop. I never properly learned how to use makeup, so until I was about 24 I just never wore it. I think I'm probably better than I was a few years ago, but I also can't help but wonder who I would be if I still had a mom.

My mom was demanding, strict, a bit of a tight ass. But would it be different now? Would those qualities in her change as I got older? Would her guidance have made me better suited to defend myself, to not always worry about what I said, how I said it, the impressions I leave people with? I feel if this was some movie there could be the two different paths shown; the one where I was 26 with a mom and one where I was 26 without. I know what the latter is like, but out of mere curiosity I'd love to see the former. Who knows. Maybe I'd mostly be the same. I'd still live in LA after moving from NY, I would still be in the entertainment industry. But would I be more social? Would I date more? (A whole other topic for another time.)

It's just always a guessing game. And it's always a question of who I could have been had this not happened. And how do you become the person you wish you could be when there are so many fears based on this one incident blocking you from doing it?

So many questions...I'll expand more on this in the future. I think if anything this blog is probably going to be a learning game of going back and forth and as more thoughts on this come, more entries will be written. And I will do much much better at updating this. Promise.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Okay, it’s about time I started this for real.

Sometimes I think I’m being overdramatic; after all, up until my mom’s death, I wanted to be an actress. I’m dramatic by nature and probably always have been. So, there are times when I think I blame the world and all my indescribable problems on her death because there’s an excuse always at the tips of my fingers. If I believed in global warming, I’m sure I’d find some way to blame that on this as well. The point is, how much can I blame on my mother’s death twelve years ago and how much do I take responsibility for?

It’s only recently that I started to think of myself in terms of what this incident has done to me. I call it an incident like it’s something that can be healed with time but anyone who experiences this knows it’s not quite the truth. Time allows pain to fade, but it never diminishes. I was on the phone with my father last week (on one of his rare good days) and he stated that unlike me he never had a real appeal for friends in his life as of late. He started to talk about me, telling me that I was always able to… and before he could finish I stopped him. I knew what he was going to say. When I was younger (B.M.D. – before mom’s death) I could go into a room and within minutes I’d have a group of new friends. I was social; I’d get into trouble in school because I couldn’t shut up. I’m no longer that person. Now, when I am invited to places with people I am not comfortable with, I panic. For weeks, days, hours ahead of time. I don’t eat because I feel sick thinking about it. That’s ridiculous, right? I mean, who the hell panics when they’re set to go out drinking or see friends? I discussed this with my best friend (who lost her mother about nine years after I lost mine) and she also used to be a social butterfly: most popular girl in high school. She, too, panics when she’s supposed to go somewhere now. Both of us would rather stay home than enter into the real world. So what is it about this loss – no matter what age you are when it happens – that renders us into people we no longer know?

I’d like to think that all people who lose a parent are like this, but I’m not sure that’s accurate. I think to lose a father is devastating, but the same connection isn’t there that is with your mother. Even if you were closer to your father, your mother still carried you for nine months, nurtured in ways a father cannot. I read something from an actress that said that she was always looking for a place to call home because the loss of her mother (even at a very young age) caused her to feel like she was always roaming. I read that and felt like no one had stated my emotions better than that. There was an understanding what it was like to live someplace, to call it your home and to feel as if you don’t belong there. It’s amazing to me that you can feel so alone and yet you hear of other people who have lost a mother and it’s all right there.

There’s this saying from Fight Club. The first rule of fight club is that you never talk about fight club. I’ve always thought that the same rules apply when you’re the child of a deceased parent. The first rule of dead parent’s club is that you do not talk about being the child of a dead parent. There are a lot of things I can tell you about myself. I’m twenty-six; I want to be a writer; when I was fifteen, I was a hair model; I love my friends more than anything. But the thing that comes to mind the most, the one I never open with is: I’m Jess, and when I was fourteen, I lost my mom to cancer. It can be mentioned in passing, of course. It can be mentioned the time of year that it happened (because blaming PMS for being a bitch can’t quite be used as an excuse for an entire month), but the details are never discussed. It’s never stated how lonely it is, how in every person, every moment you look for a person who is no longer there. It’s never discussed that five years can pass, ten years can pass and you’re still searching for someone, for something to replace a hollowness that will always remain.

Three years ago, I was told by my favorite actress to pick up a book called Motherless Daughters. I read about fifty pages before I stopped. I don't remember why and I could assume a lot of things: I got too busy; there was another book I wanted to read, etc. But I stopped just before the results of what happens to teens that lose their mom. I think deep down I told myself I didn't need this. I was okay. I had friends, a job. I followed my dreams and moved to LA like I swore I would since I was six. I had defeated the pain of parental loss because I could vocalize and talk about my mom freely.

What a crock.

I think it’s interesting how alone I felt for so long. I knew people who had lost their parents, but I felt different. I thought that I was the only one who could go from hysterical laughing to feeling a sense of deep longing in the pit of my stomach after minutes. I thought I was the only person who held onto the relationships in my life as if it was the end of the world, because to me it was. I never realized that other people like me felt the same way, that the idea of loss - even in friendship - is just one more person gone. When you’re the child of a dead parent (especially at a young age), you’re told continuously how strong you are. To the outside world, you have conquered the hardest thing there is to conquer. But on the inside, you lack all the things really needed for survival. Confidence, self-esteem, and a place to really belong.

If other parentless children knew this, if it was okay to discuss it, would we still feel alone? Maybe. I have two older brothers, but the weird thing is I don’t talk about it with them. It could be because they’re guys or because there’s something that holds me back from talking about it with immediate family. I’m the youngest by thirteen and fifteen years and I’m forever seen as the baby in my family. It’s great when I want money or presents, but not so great when I want to be seen as an equal. My friends try to listen, to understand, but how do you explain something that has no definition, that has no words, that has no merit unless experienced by someone else? I know other people who don’t discuss it with their siblings. People who have lost a parent yearn to fit in, to be seen as strong, and we’re never the ones who want to break first. So instead of breaking, I became the therapist to everyone who needed it. I'd get calls or emails at two in the morning from friends who needed help. It was always easier somehow. Knowing that someone could so effortlessly rely on me therefore giving me a purpose, something to feel good about. I grew up so fast and am an old soul but deep down I'm still fourteen, still looking for someone to take care of me. I think that’s another thing none of us lost kids ever want to admit. That we need someone else’s help because if we do, if we lean on someone too much, they’ll leave us. We can admit we’re in a bad mood, but we never want to say: I miss my mom. It’s a random Tuesday, no where near an anniversary or a birthday and all voicing it really does is make us feel like an idiot because surely we can make ourselves feel better. But the thing is? There doesn’t have to be a trigger. It occurs at the most random times, in the most random of places. It occurs when watching a mother and child in movies or television or books; it occurs when an older actress (or character) does something even remotely mother-like. You sit on a bench in Central Park or are in a restaurant and see a mother/child of your own age conversing and can’t help but wonder if that’s what it would be like for you. It’s something you can try to explain, but words don’t come out right, so you don’t.

In Motherless Daughters, it states that people who don’t have moms lack the confidence that those with moms do have. In some respect, it sounds like crap. We’re our own people and yes, our parents shape us, but at a certain point when do you stop laying the blame on this occurrence and start taking responsibility for yourself? But the truth is, before my mom died I didn’t worry about what I worry about now. Okay, so I was fourteen and in the previous years I cared about what all teenagers care about: boys, clothes, gossip. But I was social and fearless and could talk to anyone that I wanted, be anything I wanted. I wanted to be an actress; I loved being the center of attention. One day, that all changed. During plays in school, I developed unbearable stage fright. I stopped wanting to go out so much. Instead of making friends in a split second, I became awkward and uncomfortable in social situations. I could fake it and I’d end up having a blast but the initial fear still stays with me even twelve years later. It was only recently I discovered that I didn’t randomly become this person, but losing my mom brought that on. It sounds obvious, but apparently I was a little slow in learning.

I often wonder who I would be had I had a mother throughout my teenage years. Would I need to please everyone? Would I fear losing friendships? I often wonder what it would be like to be in a room with every child who has lost a mother (no matter what the age) and find people who understand like no one else can.

I’m not sure this has a point, except that it would be nice to broadcast out a memo, hire a skywriter, wave a flag on a plane passing over a beach that simply states: Dead Parents’ Club: We all feel like shit sometimes, you’re not alone. I learned that this week when discussing it with a friend of mine. No matter how old you were then, no matter how old you are now, the bad days come, the good days remain and who we are because of this isn’t something to shy away from, but something to embrace, to talk about, to grow from it. Losing my mother might always be a stigma attached to my name and my personality; I’ll always miss her on a random Tuesday or Wednesday or August. But it’s nice to know that on those days it’s bothering me, other people do understand. And maybe in the end, that’s all that matters.

In the past decade I've had a couple of blogs - some of which I was great about and some which I let die off after the first five entries. When I was told to start this one, I was wary. How many entries could someone write about living without a parent before it became tiresome and depressing? But as I wrote entries strictly for myself (and a few friends), I was told to get my words out there and maybe help other people who live in this world without a mother.

I'm a writer. I feel everything deeply, I discuss things until there are no words left. But living without my mom has never really been anything I've talked about, not really. There are stigmas attached to it and there's that terrifying feeling that you're alone. Recently, I spoke about it with some friends who also lost their mom's and was startled to realize that maybe we all feel the same way, we just don't discuss it.

So there's this...and hopefully I'll keep it up and word will spread. I'll be posting two entries that are somewhat similar to the other, just things I wrote at random over the past couple of weeks. They'll explain a little more about me than this one will. So please, pass it along and comment on your own experiences. Looking forward to it.