Can I have a safe word? The weight too heavy. There are weights we carry that by their very existence hone and strengthen inside of us a place of resilience we never believed we possessed. I have always been resilient. I remember being Lola's age, in the back of the car as we drove, and my mother telling me I'd worry about Lura if I died, but not you. I know you'd be OK. Since then I have weathered many hardships, sometimes horribly gracelessly, but still- I did it- and found each one- Mr. Curry's bipolar, my horrific panic attacks, my medical ordeal and surgeries, subsequent bankrupt debt, Mr. Curry's loss of business- truly did strengthen me, teach me about navigating pain, fear, relationships. Life. With Dakota I feel only the weightlessness of a void below me. The whistling of air past my face. Having small, happy children apparently made up more of my self-esteem than I realized. Now that I have a tall, unhappy 17 year old, it feels as much about me as it does about him. I say feel. Because I don't know. I'm smart enough- at least- to know I don't know. Nothing else I've encountered- my marriage problems, financial hardships, physical pain- has undermined my sense of self so neatly and cleanly, so simply and swiftly, as my son's struggle. I keep thinking lately about how much shame is attached when we don't feel or think the way we think we should. I am ashamed that what is happening to my son feels so much like it's happening to me. That's not healthy. It may be motherhood, though. It's real. Maybe it's the exact reason why my son is now staying at his grandmother's house, 15 minutes from where we live.Flesh of my flesh.I have scribbled down and recorded many of the sweet and loving things my son has said to me as he grew up. I have loaded books of photos of the two of us, laughing, kissing, hugging. I wonder if I did something so crucially wrong for his temperment and needs that he could not keep his feet on ground. Perhaps another mother- one less loving, maybe, but more beautifully organized, more constant in routine- not! a writer- might have served him better. Kept him safe. When he was small, and then even not so small, and something was scaring him, he would come to me and tell me about it, and we would have a huddle. The two of us would sit and talk it out, and afterward he would tell me, with supreme confidence, Mommy nothing will ever be too much for me, because I have you. How can I let go of that? Where is the letting go door? How do I walk through it?
Sometimes I say as many as six impossible things before breakfast, and here is one: I will let go of this pain. It's not supposed to be mine. It's not happening to me.
A door through a door. I step through his eyes and into him, a particularly female act, and believe I know how he feels, what he thinks, who he is. I do, I do know what I know, and I know it well. It's the rest, the landscape that has formed privately without me over the last few years, that I do not know that I must accept. This is a person now, completely separate from me, and were he safe, were he OK, I could let go perhaps, at a more timidly scheduled pace. But this thing he's struggling with is breaking up all the scheduled stops, and I am not damn well letting go of him while his legs dangle over this void. I am his mother. What that means when he is 17 and fighting something dark, I don't know. I'm learning it.There is a whole family here. Two daughters, another son, a husband, a wife. All here too. I love them. I don't want to and will not allow myself to abandon joy in them; abdicate a 'normal life'. But what is our life then, carrying this with it? How do you make room for something so hard in the pace of a day: the teeth brushing, driving, homework, work, baths, dinnertime talk? Is there room for both pain, fear, hurt and the routine of family life? I don't know what that looks like. Now it seems this bleeds into the most unexpected moments, and suddenly I am crying, and there is the rest of the family, looking at me. Crying, again. In this way I am beginning to feel myself failing, flailing. My husband is tired of this. Cracks are forming in our marriage. The weight. When you don't know what to do, do nothing? I'm quiet now. Waiting for signs, a hand of God, the right book, the right person, the right article.
My husband....a note on him. Sometimes I stand back, and look at him through the years, the changes he's made, the progress, his steady, quiet way of changing, so different than my mad flailings, his introspection so slow and constant at times that it seems infuriatingly still- stagnant, I think meanly at times, when I'm hurt or scared- but it's not still. It is his way of moving forward in life, not mine, and at times when I can get the perspective to stand back and see how hard he's worked on bettering our family, our marriage, then I am deeply touched. I try hard to see what love looks like from the other people in my family, because it doesn't come out the same for each person. Seeing how each person expresses love can be the key to feeling deeply loved. For Ever, it's an open mouthed tongue thrust or a smile so large it looks like it's eating her face. Love!
One woman, telling the truth about my life.