Thursday, November 14, 2019

Spinning Wheel

When I close the door behind me, I feel a strong sense of relief. I lean against the door and take a deep, yoga breath. I want to cry but tears will not fall. I think I’m physically too tired to cry. 

My sense of relief that my son is on his way home is followed by guilt. How could I be so relieved to say goodbye to this boy who I love so much? He is a part of my heart. Intrinsically, I feel his feelings from day to day when he’s not here. I ache for his struggle and pain. My mind spins just thinking about his brain and his thought processes. I want nothing but the best for him. And yet, I find him exhausting. 

I want to help him help himself. His oppositional defiance does not allow for my help, even though he screams for my help Keeping up with him is like running on a spinning wheel. The more I run, I find myself completely exhausted and yet in the same place.

I am so glad that his father is driving him back down south to the half-way point to meet his brother so he can take him home. They live together ninety miles away from here. I thank God for the distance. 

I am equally pleased that I am not riding along. The house is empty and beautifully quiet. Finally, there is no talking.  

Having him home for the weekend triggered all of the feelings I used to feel when he lived under this roof. I was constantly in sensory overload from listening to the talking, debating, repeating, arguing. He would follow me around as I moved throughout a room as if I would not still hear him if I step a few feet away.

He is 24-years-old now. He lives in a townhouse apartment with his older brother. They constantly talk about what it means to be a man (which I think is mostly a load of bullshit.) Still, when he is home with me, he reverts back to that insecure little boy who can’t stand to have his mama out of his sight. 

When I step into the laundry room. He follows me. I step into my bathroom to brush my teeth, he follows. I move from one side of the kitchen. He moves towards me. 

Dude! Back up! I don’t need you standing over me in order to hear you. The neighbors can hear you. 

After they pull off with the door closed behind me, I climb the stairs to my bedroom. I want to escape into the chaotic world of the “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” I don’t want to think about my life. I want to be distracted. 

When the show is over, I leave the television on and turn down the sound. I have no desire to hear any more words. There’s an awards show on. “E People’s Choice,” I think. Watching celebrities congratulate one another feels like a huge waste of energy. I have no energy to give them in their fancy gowns with boobs hanging out, just short of showing us all a little nipple. Why is fashion?

The compulsion to cry still lingers, hanging around like an uninvited dark cloud. 

How did I live this way for so many years? 
How did I ever get anything else done? 
The stimuli from his barrage of words limit my thought process, which is not all that great, to begin with. 
How did I actually write a blog during those years? 
No wonder I could never put together an entire book to seal my fate in the world as a successful writer. (At least this is everyone else’s idea of a successful writer.)

I blogged whenever the boys were at school, at work or when I could escape from the house for a few moments. The fact that any of the writing it is coherent is a miracle. I used to publish back then without a lot of editing. My mind was too cluttered to find my own mistakes. I wrote mostly stream of consciousness, sometimes under the gun of limited time. 

Should I shower or should I write? 
Should I wash my hair or should I write? 
Should I take a freakin nap, because I feel like I got my ass kicked last night, or should I write?

The most important thing for me was to get my thoughts out -to release pent up anxiety and frustration. To maybe have someone read my words and feel less crazy and alone in their own world. For that, I am successful. I’m not the author of a best-seller. I am the author of this blog and thousands and thousands of people have read my words over these crazy years. Some have been helped and changed by our story. This is success. 

I have to continually tell myself about my success, because if I listen to the people I work for, I would believe that I have never accomplished anything. I don't have a "job." Dad earns all of the money. I certainly have never done enough for them. Even my husband sometimes reminds me of the entrepreneur and career woman that was when we met.

Well, you and your children changed all that. I didn't realize what I was getting myself into until I was already swept up in it.

Somehow, I managed to take care of all of the things and all of the people. It all feels like a kind of impossible dream, or maybe a nightmare, in hindsight.

This weekend was a reminder of how overwhelmed I felt for so many years. The more we were all together in this house, the more cross conversations and conflict. I still don’t look forward to the times when we are all together. I’m shocked and amazed when it actually goes well. And the holidays are coming. I can hardly wait. (Insert eye-roll here.) 

When we were all living here together, my husband with his loud reactions and tendency to inflame most situations, instead of ignoring them. My mother and her unsolicited, non-editorialized, commentary on everything. The boys -with their constant questions about everything in the world. They ask only to let me know that I don't know anything.

As a part of Kendal’s weekend visit to see us, I took him to visit with my mom at her apartment around the corner. Their interaction triggered the feelings I felt about my mother when we all lived here together. Her inability to stay out of any given conversation that did not involve her. Her unfiltered insults to Kendal as if he has no feelings, and was undeserving of basic human respect. It was like, she thought, ”He's disrespectful, so why should I respect him? He’s clueless! I can say whatever I want to him. He says whatever he wants to us.” I think she thought somehow she was standing up for me because I chose not to fight every, single, battle.

There was always a definite difference between the way she spoke to Kendal as opposed to the way she spoke to my more sensitive, younger son Blue. I think it was because Blue’s feelings would be easily hurt and then he would want nothing to do with her for days. Also, he could really blow up from zero to one hundred in nothing flat. Kendal, on the other hand, would forgive and forget easily. And if he didn’t, I don’t think she cared. 

I’ve always had this thing, whether it’s right or wrong, that I am the only one who has the right to talk shit to my kids. When my mom did it, I would be pissed. I don't even like it when their father says something that I deem as negative. Does he have a right to do so? Well, technically yes, but I don't have to like it.

Maybe I feel like, I give them the most unconditional love. I fight for them every day. I work the hardest to understand them. I see how they struggle out in the world each day. Also, they treat me the worst, so I have a right to get angry with them.

The more dialogue and crosstalk in our house, the more sensory stimulation for everyone. The more sensory overload, the higher my anxiety became over the years. I was always about trying to end every conversation without getting to a point where the boys would become aggressive and angry. It seemed as though my mom and my husband didn’t care if they set the boys off. 

I constantly felt like a supervisor of the circus. 

With all of these triggers, no wonder I was mentally and physically exhausted by the time Kendal moved. No wonder I have turned into this person who craves to be alone. I fantasize about living by myself, having to please or answer to no one; not being on twenty-four-seven call to meet my family’s needs.

I used to always tell my husband, "You can be my boyfriend and come visit me in my secret-hide-away." We are great together when we get away from the stress of this life. Sadly, most of the time we had to leave the house in order to enjoy each other as man and wife.

I am completely traumatized over how most of the last ten years of my life have gone. The boys in their teens and then transitioning to adulthood. My mom living in the center of our lives. Someone always wanting something from me. Constantly feeling like whatever I did was not enough for any of them.

Until the spinning wheel finally slowed down, I didn’t even realize that I had forgotten to take care of myself. 

I’m making up for the lost time.

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