My mother has Alzheimer’s Disease, sadly, and has been in a home since 2008. She has now deteriorated to the extent that she can no longer use a knife and fork, or recognise her own family. She also can no longer travel as a passenger because the breaking down of her brain’s connections causes her to see vehicles coming sideways at, and into, the car she is in – and this produces profound terror and sickness. There is more, which I won’t go into.
I imagine that my mother’s brain will resemble the one on the right by now.
For her five children, and ten grandchildren, there is deep sorrow – and, as with my late father’s diabetes, an underlying fear that one of us might be afflicted at some point. Female cancers are another cause for concern in the wider family network – and, like many families, I suspect, we have had our share of emotional breakdowns, depression and the like (though, from where I sit typing, these have, almost exclusively, been caused by situational stress and distress).
My reason for sharing this? The spectres of insanity and Alzheimer’s Disease have been used, quite deliberately, as weapons in the Battle of the Divorce (now over in the legal sense). I have heard the sowing of the seeds of, ‘She’s insane’ with my own ears, but had not realised, until five days ago, that the Alzheimer’s siege engine was also being brought to bear upon, and fired at, family members, including a very close one.
It is very difficult not to cry as I write this because this just seems so cruel and shocking. It also explains why standing up for myself has been all-but impossible, and why three family members and a friend have walked out of my life in the aftermath of the divorce.
This came to light when a blood-relative told me that my ex had let it be known that he thinks I probably have Alzheimer’s Disease. The Recipient doesn’t believe this; he also doesn’t think my ex really believes it. His comment was, ‘I think it is just a weapon…’
Tragically, the damage has already been done in adults who really ought to have known better, and who have clearly discounted my email – telling them that I divorced this man after years of emotional and mental abuse – as fiction, evidence, I would guess, of a mind beset by either insanity or early dementia.
This hurts fiercely. But it also shows that there are some people you cannot stand up to – because the very act of so-doing is yet another tick in the Probable Alzheimer’s box.
Now you could say, with some justification, that, by the very nature of marital breakdown, neither party plays fair during the Divorce World War – and that psychological warfare is an accepted part of the battles. But, even in the free-for-all that is divorce, there are certain areas which are, or should be, sacrosanct; certain people one does not seek to recruit into one’s own Army.
I genuinely cannot understand this degree of nastiness, however. My ex is fully aware of the awfulness of my mother’s condition – and to raise that as a weapon to use, through the Close One, against me (triggering God knows what horrors, fears and memories in this person’s mind) is beyond despicable and way off into territory I have no ability, or desire, to visit.
I am touched, and relieved, by the Recipient’s recognition of the truth (though I would do anything to roll back the carpet of time and not have that poison poured into this individual’s ear in the first place) – but horrified, angered and, frankly, disgusted, that some people have actually believed this crap and chosen to shut me out of their lives as a result.
If my ex had genuinely believed in any of his own toxic rumour-mongering, there is no way he would have gone to Crete for a month, leaving me with our son and with the opening stages of selling our house. A month, I hasten to add, in which I had to deal with reams of paperwork, legal decisions way beyond the ability of the insane/demented and the juggling of many logistical plates in the air.
I know what I am talking about here. I know because I saw it happening with my beloved parents: Saw the way my father was no longer able to let my mother drive, then cook, then leave the house by herself – and, just before he died, the way he would wake up to find that she had wandered off and got lost. As for paperwork, forget it: She can no longer read, write or understand in any way you and I would recognise. My ex knows all of this…
…and has used it, coldly, against me.
Why? Because he knows it is an area of fear and vulnerability for me, for all my siblings, for the family generally – and he knows that some people can be persuaded that it might be true and, therefore (and this is the crucial part), explain my decision to divorce him in a way which frees him from any responsibility.
I am neither insane nor beset by Alzheimer’s Disease, though it is, of course, possible that one or the other might get me in the end – but, let’s face it, it is equally possible that I’ll go under a bus, live to be a hundred (and then snuff out having wild sex with my toyboy) or, eventually, succumb to any of the other disabling, and terminal, conditions humanity suffers from.
Let me just share the final irony: It is exactly this kind of emotional ‘persuasion’ that caused me to march off to a solicitor in the first place – an act which, in my opinion, shows sanity and clarity of mind, rather than any kind of incipient problem with the brain.
Posting this, far from being the final proof that I really am a demented, mad old bag, is an act of courage the depth of which many of you cannot begin to imagine – for I have no way of knowing whether my ex will see it or not – and, since we still live in the same house, and will do until the move finally happens, I could well overhear yet more Telephonic Propaganda in the days and weeks to come.
But writing this, is, for me, an absolute assertion that I do not believe his rumours; an absolute assertion that NO ONE has the ability, or the right, to talk, or hint, or threat, or bully me into a condition I do not have – and the absolute certainty that, whatever happens in the future, my brain, for the moment, resembles the one on the far left of the image above!