F*$# Dementia.

I haven’t been writing as much lately because I’ve been trying to cope with watching my Dad decline further into the grips of dementia.

I keep trying to write about other stuff and it just falls flat. Because I’m thinking about this.

There are a lot of different ways people cope with grief and illness. My Dad is not dead, but I grieve the man he was because that man is already gone.

Grief is a fickle bitch I’ve decided.

I have a few family members who face death and grief and illness head on. I walked into one of my aunts houses several years ago, and she was baking bread. I asked what it was for and she said for one of my Great Aunt’s funerals. I said, “She died?” She hadn’t died. My aunt was just preparing.

I am not the face head on type; more of the avoidant and detach variety.

I find it incredibly painful to see my dad now, but I do every week at least and I bring the boys too because it’s important that they have this time with him. But the rest of the week I try and turn it off. Focus on my wife, the boys, and work. Don’t think about it. But then I have the song in a playlist of Tangled Up Puppet by Harry Chapin. My Dad and I danced to it at my wedding.

That is one of the my best memories with my Dad. I feel incredibly blessed that he was in good health that day, that he was so happy and proud, and that we got to rock it out on the dance floor together. We are both corny and crazy and we both had so much fun dancing. So that song will come on while I’m driving in the car to daycare to pick up the boys and I get there and I sit in the car and I remember that guy, my Dad, and my eyes well up as I think my boys will never know that guy. They will miss out.

Something will happen and I’ll think, I bet I can fix that, at my house, and I think, I should call Dad…and then I remember. He can’t help me fix anything anymore, or lend me his tools, or bitch that he loaned me his tools and I haven’t returned them. I miss it all. The good and the bad. I miss fighting with him. Because that man and I could argue. It was ugly sometimes. It takes us both a long time to reach our fuse. But when we do. Watch out. I definitely got his Irish temper.

I’ve also been called a redhead twice recently. I think that’s weird as I have brown hair.

That’s an aside though.

He and I clashed over just about everything at one point or another, but we were also incredibly close and I can and likely did say just about anything to him over the years. It also just hurts me and makes me angry that I saw him today for St. Patrick’s Day, and it wasn’t the normal jovial celebration. I’m not sure he knew it was today. St. Patrick’s Day was always his day. The Irish dude who married into a family of Swedes. He didn’t own any other time or day but this holiday.

I was talking about it with my family and some one said they wish for more time, and I said I would give anything to have one more moment with him lucid and the man he was pre-dementia. But this man with Dementia is suffering, and it breaks my heart to watch.

To reconcile those feelings is insane. Because I don’t want him to die, but I don’t want him to suffer.

So fuck dementia. As you slowly take my Dad I flip you the bird. Because honestly that’s what my hot tempered Irish Dad would want me to do.

p.s. The pic is because I am confused by the redhead comments, and I knit my first hat! Yes I made the hat! I also realized I knit more when I am stressed. So I’m sure this is only my first of several hats.

 

 

Why I’m Pro-Cop.

I didn’t realize until I reached adulthood that people could be anti-cop. I didn’t know about racial profiling, and I didn’t know about the murders of defenseless African American teenage boys. And yes. That is white privilege.

I didn’t know that there are police officers who treat psychiatric patients like criminals or worse like animals. And I didn’t know that there were police officers who questioned women’s rape stories as stories and not as fact.

I also didn’t know the large number of people who identify themselves as “anti-cop”. But I do now. I have a smidge of understanding now having witnessed horrific behavior by police officers in the emergency department and on an inpatient psychiatric unit. I know  a psychiatric patient who died because a police officer tased them to death, and I know that killed me inside a little.

I know countless stories from my clients of negative interactions with police officers in their professional and personal lives.

I know that I am not a Person of Color and will never know the fear that community has ingrained in them from a young age because of racial bias and racial murders and I also recognize that is privilege. I don’t have a solution for that in this moment. But I think it’s important I acknowledge it.

I know I was shocked the first few times I had clients make disparaging remarks against police officers in front of me, and it was work for me to keep my mouth shut and not challenge those beliefs because that’s not my job or role. Instead I try to understand their narratives and journeys and how they came to this space of distrust and fear.

But I also know that there are a lot of police officers. According to stats on a government website there are roughly 750,000 officers at any given time in our country. That’s a lot of individuals. Within any large number of people carrying guns there are going to be bad people. People who make bad decisions. And mistakes.

But I’m not trying to convince you to be pro-cop. I’m just going to explain why I am. Because it’s something I’ve struggled with; trying to reconcile my own experiences positive and negative, and the negative experiences- including murders and wrongful deaths- of others.

When I was eight a police officer lived on my street and played football every day with all the kids. His parents still live there and we have now known him and his family for over thirty years. When I was growing up a girl around my age had a father who was a police officer- he was at one point my basket-ball coach. When I was sixteen I got into a car accident (I was driving and going straight and a car turning left rammed in the drivers side of my car).

The responding officer was my DARE officer when I was in fifth grade. He saw the cut on my head, saw that I was terrified, in shock, and alone. I basically fell into his arms sobbing and looking back I can see that the other driver realized he was screwed.

I have seen detectives come in to detect shit (Shout out Bad Boys II;) while working in the ED and inpatient. I have been in the room with them when they see the body of an abused child for the first time and seen the horror and weight of it on them as they leave. I’ve worked with law enforcement around sexual assault and rape cases and seen them work their ass off to get enough evidence to prosecute the perpetrator and not rest until they know they’ve done everything they possibly could do for justice.

I’ve worked with officers who are just as infuriated and injured as I am when we don’t see justice done to perpetrators.

I’ve seen officers go above and beyond to protect and serve children and victims.

As I said, I’ve seen the bad side. I’ve experienced the bad individual police officers. But I’ve seen the good too. I’ve seen the fighters who fight for those who are weaker, for those who are considered “less than” in our society, and those are who I respect and those are who continue to solidify my outlook on police officers.

Law enforcement officers have, in my opinion, the hardest job available. They are underpaid, understaffed, hated in some cases, and yet they continue to press forward. There is corruption, there is greed, there are horrible outcomes including wrongful deaths that should not be excused or ignored.

But as a society we depend on law enforcement to serve and protect. And in my own personal experiences the serving and protecting I’ve witnessed gets me in the gut. Because it is authentic and honest and something I truly admire.

To reconcile the death of a psychiatric patient who was wrongfully targeted and tased with my experiences with other law enforcement has been the most difficult for me. Because that person did not deserve to die in that manner. But for me, hope springs eternal and I chose to incorporate a DBT skill to stop wracking my brain about it. It’s called radical acceptance.

I decided I am going to radically accept the world the way it is in this moment for me, and that means there is a grey area. There are good cops and bad cops quite literally. And I refuse to let the wrongful actions of some overshadow the brave and solid work of so many others.

Last thing. I know that every one has different personal narratives and you may strongly disagree with everything I’m saying and that is your right and privilege. Like I said, I’m not trying to change your mind, I’m just making peace with my own.