Reality vs. Perceived Reality

I’m just leaving my Lo’s facility with a lot of mixed emotions. Things have been going fairly well; she reports that’s she’s happy with her progress (therapy); the therapists report that they are happy with her progress and adjustment; the geriatric care manager reports things are going rather smoothly and the move to the walker was a good one. Why then, am I just hearing about yet another guy that’s “always hitting her”? (according to my LO).  And literally seconds of her uttering that bombshell at the dinner table, the nurse signals to me that she needs to talk to me. I make the obligatory bathroom excuse to speak to her. She begins by saying she wants to let me know about an “incident” that happened last night. Apparently, this “guy”, (whom she says is always “hitting” her), and her got into it last night; with the walker as a shield, they went at it verbally. According to the staff, (3 to be exact), there was no physical confrontation except for my LO getting really frustrated and “throwing” her walker! The facility had requested a Psych eval over the cane business, but I assumed that they dropped it since she was “happy” now.  Well…. you know what they say about assuming…

My first instinct, when my LO expresses that she’s being harassed or threaten or physically harmed, is one of  “I will protect you”, I will hurt anyone who is trying to hurt you. I don’t know if that is a learned behavior, (first born) or a natural instinct; but I’ve always reacted in the same manner. Don’t kick the dog; don’t mess with my little sisters or any family member for that matter, cause I will find you and I will hurt you. It happens without thought. One time my LO came back form walking the dog and told me that this “old man” knocked her down with his dog. I got in the car and went looking for this old geezer! Would have I assaulted him? If I had found him, regrettably, but probably…

Another time when my LO was walking very slowly with the cane, I would act like a shield so people wouldn’t “accidentally” knock her off balance and cause her to fall. Well… another “old Geezer” was in a hurry, (remember how slowly she walked) and he barreled by us and nearly knocked her over. I reacted by shoving him to the point He nearly fell! ,along with a few choice words. I’m not proud of that but there was no rational thought process, only instant protection mode, (kinda like the German Shepard dog we had growing up; after one encounter with “Princess” no one ever bothered us a second time!)

The nurse asked if there was some history in my LO’s background that could be triggering these perceived attacks, because to her they ARE real.  I thought about it and all I could come up with was the typical older sibling (brother) altercations that she seemed fixated on once the dementia was apparent. The other was an attack by a guy with a knife; she was saved by a neighbor. As the dementia progressed so did the stories. The knife got bigger; now there was blood and then of course, a scar appeared. Her brother went from typical “older brother” stuff to “he wanted me dead” and then he “almost killed me”! Could those memories be triggering her. Possibly…..

I want to protect her. Every fiber of my being is “ready” to protect her, but I can’t protect her from something that is not real. They are real to her, but they are NOT real. I feel useless and worthless.

It’s been a while since tears have overcome me. I thought, (naively), that the worst was over (now that she is safe and in a good a facility) and it wouldn’t be too hard from here on out.  I probably should say, I had hoped the worst was over. I also thought I was doing a pretty good job of “processing” my feelings, hmmmm….Let’s see.  I went to the grocery store on my way home to pick up a prescription and I went looking for something to eat, (I just finished having dinner and ice cream with my LO at the “home”). Then I thought, maybe I need  some new workout clothes….. (most of you KNOW that I don’t need any more workout clothes). Then I thought maybe I should stop at Home Depot and see if another home renovation project would jump out at me!! All of that, (eating, buying, and fixing) was like hitting me over the head with a 2×4. And then the tears came and came and came……. ( Did I tell you how much I dislike not being able to control my “emotions”?)

I know, I know, I know…. I’m supposed to “feel” them! What I feel is pain. It hurts.

All the ice cream, retail therapy and re-decorating did NOT take the pain away.  So, now I have some nice clothes and a nice house AND I get to feel the pain! Yippee!


4 thoughts on “Reality vs. Perceived Reality

  1. I just want to hug and hold you close my friend. I dont have anything worthy, meaningful or helpful to say to you…..only that, my heart reaches out to yours…alot. be Rhonda strong my dear friend.

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  2. The world of reality is subjective and in this instance, we look at Laura’s reality , it’s her truth. So how do we handle it, we look at the truth and navigate around it to make her feel better. To her the ‘abuse’ is real and as hard as it is we have to remain objective and know that in this instant it’s not. I don’t throw any extra intensity into the situation, however I listen , I make her feel heard and I create a safe place . So what’s a safe place? It’s the place whereby we tell Laura we will take care of it, make it stop but we do so in a very strong manner yet very calm. Then we look at the overall emotional state of Laura. These incidences of ‘perceived reality ‘ and frustration are reducing substantially and we re shift focus onto the positives in her surrounding. We refocus her to her ‘safe’ people and she calms down.
    Here is the reality I like to focus on, she is an amazing woman full of compassion, purpose on healing and does not like to disappoint. She comforts those in pain, makes people laugh and adores the animals and takes them in as her own. The traits of the woman you married are very evident and she is proud that you are taking over so she ‘can get better .’ This incident and frustration is less than it use to be and as part of the team I will be updating everyone. You are strong Rhonda as you can express pain, yet you are tender to your girl and show up as a tower of strength to lean on. You are her anchor in the storm, that is her reality. She is proud of herself and loves to share that with you, she beams from ear to ear when she tells me you are happy she is doing good, that’s always reality. Making her feel safe and that we will take care of everything is a team effort… know in your heart she is safe, we will take care of it and with your family and friends and those that all care about you both it will be ok….Much love and respect
    The Brit 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rhonda,
    May God bless you as you continue this journey, so full of heartbreak. I love reading your blog. It’s good to be in touch with those who love you. We want to support you.
    With so much love and hope, Ms. Coleman


  4. Rhonda,

    Hello, my dear. When I read your blog my immediate thought is “who is taking care of YOU?” I hope you remember that although your role in your marriage has changed, you are fulfilling the “for better or worse” part of your vows, presuming that was part of them, of course. Keeping Laura happy and exploring all avenues to help her thrive sounds like a full time job, and exhausting. IF she were of sound mind and body, and knowing how much she cares about you and everyone in her universe and even those outside of it, wouldn’t she want you feeling fulfilled in all ways possible? And not with food, shopping, or keeping busy with renovations. Our psyches need care, too. These are my thoughts this beautiful, sunny Wednesday… Love you and miss you. You are in our hearts.

    xoxo Robin

    Liked by 1 person

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