I will not be commanded,
I will not be controlled
And I will not let my future go on,
Without the help of my soul
~Greg Holden, The Lost Boy
I hunkered down in my tunnel. I know there is a light and I know how to find it but I chose to sit in the darkness and wrap it around me like a comfortable blanket, oblivious to the shimmer I see out of the corner of my eye known as hope.
After all, everyone else is allowed. So why not me? Why can I not wallow in self pity and feel sorry for the fact that I have to do something I really don’t want to do and then let the guilt of that knowledge eat me alive from the inside out? Why should I not be able to blame everyone else in the world for my sadness, my anger, my stress, the unfair hand my family has been dealt?
I recently wrote about the fact that I am raising my grandson, have been for what will soon be four years. His mother is an addict, his formative years were chaotic and he has pieces missing that we may never be able to find.
His mother, my oldest daughter, recently came back into the picture and for the first time in a long time, I felt hope. I thought she had finally had enough and would slowly take the steps to heal herself and eventually be able to mother her son.
I no longer hold that hope.
I suppose when you step out of the prison yard and are just grateful to be free you will make promises to back up your foxhole prayers and put on the face you suspect everyone wants to see. Then the day will come when you feel a little more sure footed and small step by small step you will walk backward into old habits and behaviors, because trying to do things a different way will just be too fucking hard.
You will look at your own son, being raised by someone else but still accessible to you and you will think, NO. Too fucking hard.
You will make plans to spend time with him and tell him of these plans and when they fall into the hole that is the chaos you create, you will leave it to someone else to break his heart. Again.
What you don’t know is that his heart didn’t break. He took the news with the composure of a person much older than his seven years because he is used to being disappointed by you. He doesn’t expect anything from you. I bought him a sub and took him to the park. He swung like a madman and enjoyed every moment. Are you disappointed?
I wanted to tell you about the meeting I will have at the school on Monday, the day kids return from Spring Break. You see, I’ve had all of this week to think about it. To wonder and project how it will turn out.
This meeting is with his first grade teacher, the principal, and the guidance counselor. This boy has had so many possessions taken from him in the most important years of his life, material and otherwise, that when his teacher tried to take a beloved item from him that he was distracting the class with, he grabbed her hand and tried to twist it. As it turns out, her hand has a possible fracture.
He is seven.
In the end I won’t tell you because really it is not your business and it serves absolutely no purpose.
I haven’t always gotten and still don’t always get it right. I, like many other parents, get it wrong. Probably far more often than I care to admit. But I get up every day and I start over. I don’t take the easy way out.
And yes, I believe you are taking the easy way out. You are still blaming everyone for all the things wrong with your life, especially me. But guess what! I have made my amends and I have made my peace. This is all you.
In the past week, I sat in my car at a stoplight more than once and thought about driving away. I thought about leaving the car and walking away. I have contemplated throwing plates of food across the room. I have screamed into pillows in the privacy of my bedroom. I have cried in the shower. I have hidden in the closet with the kids blissfully unaware that my heart is racing, I cannot feel my hands and feet or catch my breath, and wondered how long it would take before someone found me because I knew I would die in that closet.
I cannot take it anymore. I will not do this anymore.
I don’t know what will happen at the meeting on Monday. I don’t know what I’m going to decide about you and the fact that J has taken three steps backward since you came back into the picture.
What I do know is that you aren’t coming back for him. I know this in the depths of my soul. It doesn’t matter if you do because soon enough the choice won’t be yours anymore. It will be his. And he will not choose you.
And so, I will now turn my head toward the light. I will walk to the light that symbolizes hope. With every step I will remember to be grateful that this is all I have been given to deal with, that I’m strong enough to do it, and that I am not alone in it.
You will have to find your way. I am tired and my rescuing days are over. Live your life how you wish. It is yours to piss away.
I still feel the remnants of the depression and anger right at the edges, but they are beginning to fray.
It is fucking hard.
But I’ve done it before. And I’ll do it again.