What Do You Do?

One of my older daughters called me today.  She needed to vent. This is a child (well, she’s actually an adult, and only 11 years younger than me, but she’s my child) who has been through hell and back, and now has a chronic, progressive illness that no one can figure out.  She’s been told by multiple doctors that her illness is “all in her head” and that she should calm down.

She cannot work steadily because of her condition but is trying to live independently in one of the highest cost of living places in the US (the SF-Bay Area). We have been helping her out as much as we can each month, but it is barely enough to keep the roof over her head and pay for food & transportation to medical appointments.

Last week, she apparently got a terrible virus that has been going around the area, had an infestation of biting insects in her place of residence which necessitated getting rid of half of her things which had been infested (she didn’t have that much to begin with), and had a bout of food poisoning.

She didn’t know what to do.

I didn’t know what to do either.

I still don’t know what to do.

I don’t even know if it’s okay to share this post because I am not trying to engage in trauma porn of my adoptive children.

But it is all so much.

The discrimination that low-income, Black women face in the medical industrial complex is real.  I know this intellectually, but it is different when it is my own child.  I imagine things would be different if I wasn’t so close in age to her, if we lived closer, if I was walking into appointments with her, if I could more actively advocate for her.  But, she is an adult, we don’t look like mother and daughter, I’m not close enough to go to appointments for her, she’s aged out of our insurance and has to rely on MediCAL.

The housing market in the Bay Area that is increasingly pricing out people of color (particularly the historically Black community) that makes people like my daughter hesitant to report anything that might be going on with her apartment and has her scrambling to pay rent so that she doesn’t get priced out of the only home area she’s ever known is a structural issue, but it is different when it is my own child.  Do I keep insisting that she take in another person when this is the only time in her life she’s ever had privacy? What if they were to get their name on the lease then try to take over and “evict” her if her condition got too severe?

I am squarely in the middle class with two, at-home, young children. How much do I help and sacrifice to keep my daughter afloat knowing that her condition is ongoing and chronic? Knowing her situation? And knowing that, in the past, I’ve sacrificed so much of myself that I was literally on the brink of death myself.

And, of course, this happens today, during the hardest period of the year for me, personally, during a challenging financial month (January always is), during a busy workday.

What do you do? What do I do? What do we do?

I just don’t know.

2 thoughts on “What Do You Do?

  1. I don’t know either. Love her. Listen. I know that you being heard is important to you, so I imagine it is important for her to know she is heard. That is step one. But, I can’t say…”hey friend, this will make it better” because I can’t. She has to decide what she needs and how mom can help. Listen for ways to just make it a little bit better for her. When you speak, try to suggest or offer things that reflect her choices, and maybe offer additional choices. Honor the fact that you cannot even imagine what her experience is like….that is her experience. Culturally, you or I will never understand it. Keep trying to make her feel safe with you. Keep being honest and transparent about not knowing how to help. Ask, if she had a daughter with these issues, what would she do as a mom? Pray. Love the rest of your family, so that when she needs nurturing, you are all still there, in good spirits. That is it. I am out of advice. I can’t imagine, but I am so glad you told us.

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