Friday, July 24, 2020

All Hands on Deck

I thought the time of having “all hands” meetings for Kendal’s life was over. Especially since he moved to California. Apparently, I was wrong. 

He will be 25-years-old in September.

Over the years, we had countless I.E.P.(Individual Education Plan) meetings from the time he was 3-years-old until he was 22 when he finally finished with the school system. These annual (sometimes bi-annual) meetings involved a group of educators, administrators, therapists, counselors, and of course, us (his parents) sitting down to make sure that his educational and psychological goals were addressed.  

During his teen years through age 22, we also had quarterly PCP (Person-Centered Planning) meetings, where a group of mentors got together to help facilitate personal goals for his life. Past meetings have included teachers, his pastor, friends, therapists, always me, and sometimes his dad if he wasn’t traveling. 

This kid has been blessed with a shit-ton of support over the years. And yet, I could never do enough for him as far as he was concerned. 

The last time I wrote about him here, he just moved Back to Cali (where he was born and spent many summers growing up.) He is living in my niece’s home while he looks for a job and builds his own multi-level-marketing business. 

I love the additional distance between us. He has been happier than I've seen him in a long time since he’s been there. Like me, he loves L.A. and the California weather. He loves the progressiveness and diversity of the community in Los Angeles. He is getting more exposure to his own, black, culture than he ever has in his life. Being surrounded by so many successful black people makes him feel at home, accepted, less different, and motivated. 

With gyms closed due to Co-vid, he started working out at the beach, local parks, on “the hill” and on the “stairs”  in the affluent, primarily black, community of Baldwin Hills. 

It has been exciting for me to see him living in the community I still consider to be my home. 

His journey so far has not been immune to the ups and downs of life. It turns out that California’s sun does not solve all of life’s dilemmas. 

He moved there at the beginning of the CoVid shelter-in-place, at the end of April. Like the rest of us in the world, quarantine means he has not been able to move around as freely as he would like to. He has not been able to find employment, despite applying for many jobs. 

He has been working on self-development with my niece and personal training with her other nephew. Developing a positive self-image and an abundance mindset has been a large part of his daily goals. He’s also been working on his own health and weight loss. He makes daily motivational videos on Instagram and Facebook.

He has also been trying to develop this business of selling and recruiting people to sell a line of health products. In my opinion, that is a tall mountain to climb amid a declining economy. I know him to be a person who thrives from a schedule and knowing what to expect. The unpredictability has made the ups and downs and uncertainty in his life somewhat, difficult to navigate. 

Initially, he cut back on reaching out to me as often. However, when he has a negative thought or feeling, he is inclined to share it with me via incessant, phone calls, and texts. When I continued to hold a boundary and not engage with every-single-phone-call and text, he did not appreciate it. In fact, he told me so in some extremely unpleasant, straight-out, disrespectful, words. (And there went my heart-rate.) 

The blatant disrespect caused me to put up a stone wall between us instead of an open fence. We are at a point where I know for sure he can do better with the way he speaks to me. He does so with everyone else in his life. It's beyond time to crack all the way down on this behavior.

Not having daily/hourly access to me at first made his frustration at times overflow onto the family he is surrounded by. Let’s just say, it wasn’t pretty. We started seeing a lot of miscommunication with his aunts, uncles, cousins, and his grandma in Maryland. This culminated with my sweetest sister-in-law being caught up in the crossfire during a conversation in which he was seeking her advice. 

So it turns out that a thousand-plus-miles of separation does not mean he no longer gives me headaches or sends my heart-rate through the roof. Years of this behavior, worry, and traumatic events still have the amygdala in my brain on high-alert. I’ve been “fighting and flighting” for so long. My body automatically responds to stress from the smallest of triggers...even from a distance.

Because of all of the miscommunication (half-information being shared, splitting between family members, etc.) my niece decided to call a Family Meeting. Her goal was that we come together to set some expectations and be on the same page with our desire to help him focus on being successful with this transition to Los Angeles. 

The Zoom meeting included family from Dallas, Austin, and Los Angeles. On a midweek afternoon, everyone showed up to love and support him. There was a total of ten people including both of his brothers, us (his parents), his aunties, uncle, cousins, and new mentor/friend. An entire support network showed up and stayed for a 2-hour meeting that was all about him. 

If he can’t see the blessing in that, then I don’t know what else to tell him. I for one am extremely thankful for everyone showing up for me, and for loving my son. I know now that he has plenty of support. Everything isn’t on me. I can let go and not worry much.  

I have been his person for his entire life. I have been his person to the point of burnout, compassion fatigue, depression, and anxiety. I am saturated with years of compounded stress. 

You see, I am not just his person. I am the person, the caregiver, for my 80-year-old mother. (And she is a real piece of work. Another one who I can never do enough for.) I still provide support for my other sons,(especially the 21-year-old who still lives with me) and now my grandson, (which is a pure pleasure). Let's not forget my husband (who can never decide what to eat).

Meet my grandson Cayden

The good news is, that Kendal was receptive to all of the support on the Zoom Meeting. The men in our family have been stepping up, even more, to show up for him. Thus, giving his relationship with me some much-needed relief. 

Since the meeting, he had an interview and a possible job offer. We continue to talk less. It’s time for me to heal, show myself some compassion, self-care, and self-love. That endeavor is a continuous work in progress.

In other news, after being laid off from work due to CoVid 19, my youngest son has decided to re-enroll in college classes this semester. Not only that! He paid for it! Let us pray that this means he will not waste his money!

You can follow Kendal's daily motivational videos @beastmode.weaver on Instagram

You can also follow my daily antics and musings @kwesleywrites on Instagram