A holiday on the hamster wheel

Holiday on the hamster wheelBY MIKI MARKOVICH

I was sitting in biology class counting the ceiling tiles when someone from the office came to tell me my mother had a brain aneurism and it had burst. I was told she was DOA when they air lifted her to the hospital. Although they were able to revive her, it didn’t look good.

I didn’t know how to react — a pinwheel of emotion spun crazily in my head as I was taken “home.” I had just met my mother’s childhood friend when we had moved in a few weeks before. Entering the house, I spotted my mother’s soiled clothes strewn across the bathroom floor. Accustomed to operating from a place of lack and service, I spent hours scrubbing the clothes she had been wearing when she lost control of her bowels earlier in the day. I feared she’d be angry if I didn’t.

I don’t remember who took me to the city to sit vigil until my grandmother arrived. The doctor’s questioned me about my mother’s general demeanor as they tried to determine if her episodes of punching a doctor and kicking a nurse were normal reactions for her or new behavior due to damage caused by the aneurism. I didn’t answer, couldn’t answer. I simply walked off to wander the solitary halls as I tried to make sense of my life, wondering what the future would hold. It looked like she was going to be OK.

Although I spent Christmas morning opening presents in the run-down motel room, Grandma-ma and I spent most of the holiday at the hospital. I still don’t know how she put together such a perfectly wrapped Christmas complete with teen glam gifts, including an amazing lavender boom box, the best the overly garish 80s had to offer. I was filled with joy as I loved music and my last portable stereo system had shattered when my mother threw it at my head during a heated argument.

Shortly after the holiday, Grandma-ma returned to Florida, taking me with her. Although the law considered it kidnapping, I didn’t. She had a cozy place in Jacksonville and an unlisted telephone number. Settling in and feeling safe, I started my fourth school of the year.

I’ve always felt comfortable at the mall. During my time in Jacksonville, Grandma-ma and I often visit a glitzy one that house some of my favorite stores, including a Swarovski crystal shop and a French chooclateir. We went several times a week, not to buy necessarily, just to feel “normal.”

After one of our regular jaunts, we were surprised to return to see a car with familiar out-of-state tags outside our condo. Grandma-ma drove past asking me what I wanted to do. If her dog Su-Su hadn’t been in the house, I would have been all for driving to another part of the country and starting over again. It seems my mother had been calling information in cities across the United States, telling the telephone operators she was dying and had to see her mother. Eventually she found an operator that gave her the address. When we arrived, my mother was already inside the house, gun in her lap.

My grandmother’s friend and landlord met us there. Raised voices quickly volleyed threats back and forth, with each person confident he or she was in the power position. I knew that one way or another, I would be returning to Missouri and I didn’t want anyone to get hurt. Even though I was only 15, I decided it best to just cut through the bullshit and move forward. It would be a long time before I saw the inside of another mall, enjoyed another decadent chocolate or slept through an entire night.

Usually we don’t know the end game so it’s good to make our plays as we strive to evoke positive change in our lives. However, I think there are times when we know how things are going to play out, yet we go through the motions anyway. Yes, it’s totally possible that things will miraculously change. There isn’t a wrong or right answer here. However, the key, I find, is to be conscious about our decision to play or not to play.

The next time you find yourself in a repetitive cycle, consider what you can do to empower yourself, work from a place of peace or remove yourself from the situation. What is your best strategy for getting off that hamster wheel? I’d love to hear!

Miki Markovich is a seeker of beauty and truth, traveler of interesting roads, saver of furry souls, typer of words, iPhone lover and mac head. You can find her on Twitter at @mikimarkovich and @fiveminutezen. If you’re looking to go from pissed to blissed in five minutes flat, find balance or improve the quality of your life through self care, check out her website at fiveminutezen.com.

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