Sunday, July 21, 2013
Leaving My Son--For a Moment...Loving Him Forever.
The worse the situation became the more unstable I became. Every time my phone rang, or the PA in my classroom went off, or my email jingled, I reacted the way one would react at the realization that a car was going to hit him or her and there was nothing that he or she could do about it. I shook, I gasped for air, I wailed, I sweat, my ears rang, my heart rate went up, my hands wrung over and over until I had rubbed raw the knuckle bones on my pointer fingers, my skin felt as if thousands of needles were piercing its surface. In a nutshell, I began to have full on panic attacks whenever the subject of my lost son came up.
Although the nightmare isn't over, back in early June (without going into to too much detail) a sort of resolution, at least one that I hoped would keep him safe and provide him help, came to fruition. My son is extremely angry with me, but I am a parentless daughter and so no matter how much wrath he threw my way my main goal throughout this tumultuous year, was to stay in my son's life by sending "rah rah" texts daily as well as the reminders of my love for him. Many times, it seems like 12,000, he'd tell me to leave him be. I usually ignored the angry texts telling myself that they came from an altered mind and that "a good mother" would never stop...would never let go. Family means no one gets left behind. I wouldn't do to him what had happened to me. A "good mother" wouldn't.
However on the 12,001st request to leave him the "expletive" alone...I took him up on it. I gave myself permission. I let go. It was the scariest decision I have ever made. In fact the night I made it, I dreamed I was at an amusement park with my children and they all got on one of those giant slingshot thingies. As the ride operator ratcheted them back farther and farther, I pulled at his waist, clawed at his back and kept screaming that I hadn't gotten on the ride and that no one--NO ONE--had belted them in, and sure enough as the slingshot let go...one son, THE son, flew into the milky way. His body spun and spun and spun, cartwheeling maniacally and I was sure that he was lost forever. I woke up in one of those full on panic attacks as if the dream really happened...and in a way, I guess it had.
"A good mother" would never stop, never give up, never let go. "A good mother." It was the reel in my head all year; every time I hit a bureaucratic brick wall or came up against the ignorance of my ex, or was verbally accosted by a son whom I loved with all I have. "A good mother doesn't stop." So I exhausted every avenue, tried every suggestion, talked to every friend that had a law degree, discussed and implemented plans with Doctor Speed Dial, called the adults involved in his situation daily to get updates, to GIVE updates, to plead, to beg, to borrow, I visited my local assemblyman to try and change the laws that kept me from helping my son (more on that in future columns) and wrote letters to everyone, anyone that I could think of who may have some kind of leverage to do whatever it took to get him the help he needed.
So, when that day came, the day I decided to let go, I was able to do it, not WHOLEheartedly, but at least with part of my heart. On the day I let go, I could look myself in the mirror, really stare myself down and know, that I did everything that I possibly could have done, gave every part of me that I had, turned over every stone, I did what a "good mother" would do. And it didn't work...not right away anyway, but maybe someday. I was also sure that, unlike me and those that let me go, my son knows beyond a shadow of a doubt, somewhere in the recesses of his very deep and vast mind, that he will have my love forever. That my arms, my heart and soul are open to hold him whenever, where ever, however.
I choose now to take care of myself so that I can be fully present for the rest of my family. And so, while I use this summer to heal my exhausted adrenal gland, my weary mind and my wounded soul, I hope beyond all measure that my son, my dear, dear, funny, charming, smart son is using the summer the very same way.