I want to Scream


For the first time in my life I relate to the Edvard Munch painting ” The Scream.” I wonder what was happening in his life at the time. Did he want to scream or did he just have enough empathy to capture in his painting how one who wants to scream feels.

Luckily Munch kept a diary and in it on the 22nd January 1892 he wrote his inspiration for the scream. “I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun went down – I felt a gust of melancholy – suddenly the sky turned a bloody red. I know those red skies.

© irene waters 2020
© irene waters 2020

These skies never make me feel melancholy. I feel blessed to have had the priviledge to see them. What makes me want to scream is when I cannot solve problems. I have yet to come to the realisation that there are some problems I can’t solve and I have to learn to live with that fact.

My 92 year old Mum is constantly asking for help to die or if not die for me to come and live with her permanently so she is never alone. My husband has a terminal illness and wants to live, doing activities that don’t take my mother into account. The two different life perspectives work on me, making me feel that I can’t make either have their wishes come true despite doing my best to satisfy both. It leaves me wanting to scream. Scream. SCREAM.

Sadly my mum has limited cognitive powers. She doesn’t understand what she asks. I doubt she remembers that Roger is sick and dying. She is struggling to remember who people are, what the date and time is let alone how other people are feeling. She is the centre of her universe and her universe has tilted to a point where she knows she is about to fall off. For someone who has always been in control this is terrifying. How do you expect her to believe you when you have always been a person that has never quite made it in her eyes. She has always been right. I have always been wrong. She was wrong then as my life direction was mine not hers, but, I can understand why she doesn’t believe me now and just how terrifying that must be to now be entrusting her entire life to me.

Sadly I love my Mum more now that she is vulnerable than I ever did before. Now she has let her guard down and she is being her true self. I have always been my true self which wasn’t held in much regard but now it is being valued by my mother. But I love my husband just as much as I did when we married. He is resentful. He feels he has put his life on hold for my mother. Not true I think as I think we put our life on hold because we didn’t have people to mind the dogs but when it comes down to it, what you believe, is, what you believe. I want to give my husband the best final years we can have (despite Mother and despite COVID) but today I feel like I want to scream.

If my mother was capable of understanding I would read her this poem by John O’Donohue for “one who is Exhausted, A blessing:

You have been forced to enter empty time.

The desire that drove you has relinquished.

There is nothing else to do now but rest

And patiently learn to receive the self

You have forsaken for the race of days.

At first your thinking will darken

And sadness take over like listless weather.

The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.

You have traveled too fast over false ground;

Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up

To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain

When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,

Taking time to open the well of color

That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone

Until its calmness can claim you.

Be excessively gentle with yourself.

Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.

Learn to linger around someone of ease

Who feels they have all the time in the world.

Gradually, you will return to yourself,

Having learned a new respect for your heart

And the joy that dwells far within slow time.

For my husband: I can only say I love you. I don’t want to lose you and I hope our time left is longer than you are expecting and that you try and understand my mum is my mum and I want you both to be happy.

A deep breath. I am back in control. Thank you for letting me scream. Sometimes that is all that is needed. Thank you for accepting that I am at the moment intermittent and sometime slow to respond. Sometimes I need that acceptance and for that I thank you.

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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36 Responses to I want to Scream

  1. I am sorry, Irene. It is very difficult to be in such a conflicted situation where you feel torn between two people you love. Do take care of yourself as you also count and need some self care and love. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. trentpmcd says:

    I’m sorry. Either of those crisis would be hard to handle, but having both at once, and conflicting, must be very difficult. I hope the bit of “scream” on the blog helped relieve some stress.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. V.J. Knutson says:

    I feel you, Irene. So much to take on. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. oneletterup says:

    Taking time to scream is good for the soul. Your daily life sounds like an exhausting balancing act. Thank you for sharing the beautiful poem – and, yes, please take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Irene, you certainly have many challenges right now! I’m glad that writing helps you consider various sides and vent when needed. Writing can be wonderful in that way! I’ll be thinking of you and your family, wishing you all strength.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sometimes we do need to scream and being caught in the middle can be such a time. Your photos are beautiful and you write from your heart, Irene and my heart goes out to you. My thoughts, love and hugs are with you in the storm ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  7. JT Twissel says:

    I just lost my mother who also wanted to die. And I have a good friend in the process of dying who wants to live. It is a difficult place to be. Plus given everything happening in the world. I think we all feel like screaming.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you are right about us all wanting to scream. I’m sorry to hear about your mother – never easy but perhaps easier as it was her wish. I hope I feel at peace for her when the time comes and glad that her wish was granted. I hope your friend also finds peace and acceptance. Lets all scream together…..

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What a hard place to be. Scream, by all means. And then keep on. You’re doing the best you can.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. TanGental says:

    Talk about no win. Screaming seems to be the best answer. When going through hell, keep going. At bottom they both need you, so you need to think about yourself too. Much love and take care

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Marsha says:

    You are their strength. You are the calm one they both want to draw close. I have been where you are but not at the same time. I felt so torn. I hope you have some very close friends who can help you shoulder the load. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Irene.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. noelleg44 says:

    Irene, I’m sending you as may blessings and as much peace as I can from the other side of the world! You are truly between a rock and a hard place. Do what your heart dictates. And when you need to, go outside and scream at the top of your lungs. It is amazingly freeing…

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You are caught between a rock and a hard place and no doubt, there is little you can change. Bless you! Does your mum like music? Perhaps you can put her favourite music on to help her enjoy what she used to. Or take her out to enjoy the sunsets you love and take a photo to relive the moment with her.
    The poem is beautiful and poignant. Please take comfort in Ann Lander’s words: This too shall pass.
    As someone pointed out – take time to comfort yourself. Sending good wishes your way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your beautiful words and suggestions. Starting next month there is a loosening of the regulations regarding aged care and COVID precautions. Trips out are already being planned. Love Ann Lander’s words – something to take hope in when things feel dark.


  13. Irene, thanks for your honesty here. All too often our screams are silenced. So difficult to be caught between two people you love. Take time for yourself … and I would prioritise your husband. I think we’re often too forgiving of our parents, especially when we’ve had to parent them as children.


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