I want to crawl into bed and read, but my eyes won’t cooperate. After hour number seventeen dozen gazillion of crying, they will only focus well enough to keep me from smacking my head into the walls when I move around the house.
Eyes are stupid. It’s a good thing I can adjust the font size on my computer.
Hearts are stupid, too, what with their unwillingness to stop breaking. I mean seriously, e-fucking-nough with the relentless breaking and breaking and breaking. I’m all busted up and I’m waving my white flag, so howzabout we take a nice, long rest?
Also stupid? Friedrich Nietzsche and his bullshit about getting stronger because of things that don’t kill me. If Freddy was here now I would tell him to bite me.
I want to tell the stories. I want to sit here in my quiet house, staring at the computer screen that I can’t really see, and spill it. Tell it all; the secrets, the lies, the manipulations. I want to make noise. I want to declare, to share my story, to say the truth that is mine and mine alone.
The things about which I have kept silent to protect him or her or them could fill a stadium.
I spent the day indulging in revenge fantasies. I Googled “how to ruin someone’s life” and made a plan. I would never carry out that plan, any more than I will sit here and spill everything. As painful as waking up tomorrow with my grief will be, I at least won’t be the vindictive bitch that I am in my fantasies.
Except that, somehow, I still play the villain in this story. I’m like one of those actors who gets typecast and can never shake loose of an old role.
Somehow, strangely, the fantasies make me feel better. I know how to ruin a life, to make things oh-so-awful, and I choose not to do so. There is a dark power in that. It’s the only power I have right now, and I’ll take it. I’ll keep it close to my heart, the action I didn’t take, the thing that puts the lie to it all – the lies that say I am the one who ruined everything; the person who tore it all apart; the one who will stop at nothing to hurt as many people as possible.
I claim my part, the very real mistakes I have made, the ways I have been an inadequate and at times destructive sister, daughter, mother, friend, human being.
I claim my part and no more. I made my mistakes. Just mine and no one else’s.
I’m burning my costume. I’m done playing this role; finished being paralyzed by my guilt. I’m fallible, and I love my kids with my whole heart.
When we talk about love for our kids, we use expressions like, “I would take a bullet for her,” or “I’d jump in front of a moving train for him!” And of course we would; no question, no hesitation, I would protect my kids from a grizzly bear.
The grand gesture, though, is meaningless against the weaving together of days, months, and years. No grand gesture can compare to the daily tasks of self-management that parenting requires; the willingness to make a meal instead of have another cup of coffee; the offer to help with homework when the couch beckons; the deep breaths when a sassy child drives his parent to the brink; the guilt when the deep breaths don’t work and there is yelling.
Most days, those things are part of life, the joy of being with our children far outweighing the many small annoyances. Some days, though, parenting seems harder than wrestling tigers in the living room.
I would tackle any wild animal and let it pick my bones clean in favor of this constant, grinding, relentless grief.
Salt in the wound, though, is hearing (often, and loudly) that I have gotten exactly what I deserve; that I am a terrible mother and my children were right to reject me.
I will heal. I will learn to live with this, and I will find a way to be OK no matter what kind of relationships Jacob and Abbie choose to have with me, even if one or both choose no relationship at all. I’ll learn to let other people (including my kids) think what they want of me and not let it impact my feelings about myself.* Eventually, I’ll be OK because I’m a bad ass like that.
For now, though, it hurts like a motherfucker. It hurts physically, like someone threw a bag of bowling balls at me. Brian buys tissue in a giant case at Costo and stacks boxes on the shelf next to my side of the bed. Every unanswered text, every unreturned phone call, every tiff is an opportunity for the grief to surge forward and fill the world.
“…[A] parent’s ongoing feelings of sadness, regret, abandonment, guilt, and worry are some of the most burdensome, disorienting, unshakeable feelings that an adult can encounter.”**
Yeah, that sounds about right to me.
Their birthdays are this week. Abbie turned 15 on Saturday and Jacob will be 17 on Friday. I can’t stop wishing we could turn back the calendar a few years and try again.
Shit in one hand and wish in the other, right?
*OK, so I’m never going to totally learn that one, but I’ll get closer. Or further away. Or some damn thing. You know what I mean.
*Joshua Coleman, When Parents Hurt