Nowhere to go but UP!


At what point in time do you decide to commit to exploring your landscape, knowing the comfort in the choke, that familial place we all know too well, just can’t be anymore?   I suppose the right time is the moment you ask yourself such a question.

I truly recognize the beat and pain of a heart. Like so many others, I too have been there.  Who hasn’t? I see the lows and the triumphs of many close-by and on social media putting their truth out there while I live and breathe my own.  That is real, and inspiring to me, as I look to you for your stories, smiles, happiness and strength to help me get through my grieving passage.

Caring for my mother, who I lost to Alzheimer’s 8 months ago, broke me.  In the greatest act of love, in the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, I admit it threw me into darkness, an abyss, which tore me apart mentally, emotionally and physically. I wasn’t anticipating this. It all came crashing down one day, like a train wreck.  I was unaware that suffering in silence, suppressing every emotion possible, loving my best girl more than I ever imagined I could, would leave me in numbness for years.  I was really good at listening to my body, being consciously aware of my vibrational radar.  Oh, I was on point for my mother 24/7.  She was my priority. Nothing else mattered but to give her the most amazing dignifying day possible.  I was her everything and she mine. As I began to lose more and more of my mother in this ugly disease, I too was losing myself. I accomplished the rare in this Alzheimer’s world as a caregiver.  No one in the health care community, except for my mother’s social worker, believed I could look after my best girl at home. They didn’t know the daughter Mary raised. Truthfully, I didn’t know the full extent of what her daughter was capable of either.  The only thing I held onto was seeing the cup half full, and deepening prayers.

I could no longer quiet my mind, focus or sit in stillness. I couldn’t see, visualize or imagine anything in my life or future.  The beast with zero filter was unleashed, and some bore my vicious wrath, a side of me I had never encountered before.  I’m not proud of this but now I understand why, and repairing relationships has been a good thing.  I didn’t know how to deal with this monstrous bag of emotions, separate entities, that of a caregiver, a daughter and a woman.  The anger and resentment I had had nothing to do with caring for my mother.  It had everything to do with me, and everything I didn’t do in my life, to celebrate the woman in me, excluding all the hats worn to be everything to all, except her.  Oh, I stomped my feet in frustration, cried endlessly, passionately hated my therapist for taking me to uncharted places within, and appreciating the forested landscape behind our home, falling on my knees crying and screaming at the top of my lungs. It was a raw and painful time. Perhaps, the best thing I could have ever done for my own mental health and well-being was to see a therapist. If you’re reading, please know there is no shame in seeing a therapist. Do it for you!!

Stepping back into life after all these caregiver years, coming out of isolation, enduring multiple losses, my matriarch, and yes, blessings gained is quite overwhelming and scary.  Moving forward at my own pace sounds comfortable, but it isn’t easy.  I know what I must do but aligning myself to that place is the struggle.  So many thoughts floating in my head, trying to find words that once came so easily to me, to punctuate the paraphrases of my life without an emoji; how grand would that be?!  Changing the narrative is an absolute must and work in progress.  In doing so, I own and accept all that I have been through, understanding the lessons, letting go of that which doesn’t serve me in gratitude to find my place.

And now, how do I start all over again? I suppose I did by shutting down for three months, after my best girl left. I had no words. I didn’t want to talk, see or be with anyone except my family.  I was numb, couldn’t feel, didn’t feel, didn’t care, and didn’t give a flying f**k about a damn thing, except regaining my breath.  I think this now falls under what I call an act of being kind and gracious to self.  I cherished only my daughters, who never complained about missing their mother all these years, while telling her that they were so proud of her, and loved her for taking such good care of their grandma.  My girls style love like sweet honey, like sapphire and lilac.

Those familiar with me, know I believe in the abundance of beautiful things and people that come by way of kindness, setting intentions, and making things happen.  Once clarity arrived, things started happening. I’m working on the development of a new business, started a project in loving memory of my mother, initiated a conversation with the Alzheimer’s Society of Toronto to create and develop a bereavement program for creatives, like me, who need to express and release by doing things which are cathartic, and not just talking.  I admit to being forced into a workout room by my daughter because an inspirational guy was stretching on Instagram. #blessmygirl  I dragged myself there daily the first week, and 5 weeks later I love working out, and am contemplating the idea of a 5K run later this year.

I listen to motivational podcasts, music to uplift me, read more, follow inspirational people, share my fluctuating mood and vibration in truth. Someone on social always makes me laugh when I least expect it. When I’m good, I’m good and when I’m not, I don’t hide it.  I’ve never been good at faking happy.  I know I am getting better as time goes by. I feel lighter, and I try daily to do something for me.  Make no mistake, there are days I feel the weight of the struggle. On days like that, I take care to be gentle with self but push myself in the workout room knowing frustration is released and that I am capable, can and will, one thing at a time, one day at a time. I just have to overhaul my attitude and check in daily, aware that working on me is worth it because there’s a whole lotta kingdom within.  Exploring the landscape is now real.  A long-long time coming. It feels peaceful.

I sometimes wonder if motivation or grief is the driver, and then I remind myself, the ‘act of love’ is what pushes me.  I am a hero. I’m just waiting to feel like one, and looking forward to the day I do ‘feel’ like one! Sorrow can shape your Soul, like fire forges a sword. Follow your eyes for they show you your truth.  Mine are changing, telling me I’ll have all of me back sooner than later. No matter what you’re going through, all you and I have to do is dare to live.  It’s the scary that leads to blooms. 

I am grateful to the founders of #GoGetItLife ~ they have been my go to for years on social.  I can’t wait for them to explode globally because everyone should stumble upon the accent that transforms texture. 

bE yOu,

Sophia

Insta @sophiafinalride

I’ll always listen if you reach out.

2 thoughts on “Nowhere to go but UP!

  1. Sue

    I, too, am caregiving a dementia patient, my wonderful husband. While your words speak of regaining your personal experiences again, I’m still in the limbo of not knowing how, when, where, the future. I just know I need to be his touchstone. Thanks for putting so many of my feelings on this page. When friends tell me to get out and take care of myself, I wonder who will take care of them, when they need someone to care for them, to be by their side, to make the decisions, to cook the meals, to hold their hand?

    Reply
    1. SOPHIA SARANTAKOS

      Hi Sue,

      I just saw your comment! I’ll start by sending you big hugs from Toronto!

      I understand your limbo. Not knowing how when, where and what your future looks likes is disconcerting. I felt a frightening weight of not being able to see what it would be like for me in the future. It is scary and in hindsight, I can tell you to not worry about that. It will all come to you in good time. You have much to carry now in ensuring your husband is loved and cared for in the best way you know how in this irreversible disease. Trust what you are doing is right.

      As for your friends, don’t give them to much power in worry when they say something. I know it’s in good intent but they have no idea what your life is like at the moment. Whenever I heard people say I should take time to care for myself, I wanted to scream. I didn’t have the support of other family to be able to even leave the house for an afternoon. You may not have that either, and if you do, take it and don’t feel bad.

      I’ve made great strides since I wrote my story. I am out of numbness now and feeling better. I still have a long way to go but I’m getting there.

      Take care of your heart. You have to be in your best to care for your husband despite it all.
      You are an Earth Angel, just remember it!!

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