Thursday, July 23, 2020

On My Own, Somewhere Else

My son is mad and stressed and lashing out at me.  He made a $125 down-payment on a Nintendo Switch to a seller on Make Me An Offer and then realized the seller had purged her account from the website along with any means of contacting her.  When I try to calm him, he gets furious.  He wants me to take over, figure out how to get his money back; when I refuse, he retorts: "Why did I waste my time talking to you?"   

This is not the son I'm used to.  His scorn hurts.  And it makes me damned mad.

Yesterday, I made a reservation for a small cabin at the ARC Retreat Center in central Minnesota.  I feel a visceral need to GET AWAY: from covid, from these four walls, from my teenager and husband and cat.  I need time and space and privacy to care for myself, to be whatever I am without concern for how I affect those around me.  

I also talked to my dearest friend by phone for more than an hour.  We vented our rage at covid and teens and Trump and husbands and mothers, and somehow ended up laughing our heads off.  I needed that, badly.  

I hesitated to set up the retreat, worried that I might be trading one kind of loneliness for another.  But as soon as I confirmed the reservation, I started a list of the food and books and art materials I would bring along--happy to dream of being on my own, somewhere else.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

To Fail, to Begin Anew

A few weeks ago, I was so concerned about Max's depression that I lined up six potential therapists for him to choose from.  He picked out the one I wanted him to: Xoel Rodriguez, married with kids, Spanish-speaking, and a former tattoo artist.  I knew Max would think this was cool.  

I left a message at the clinic. But before they called back, Max had a friend over for the first time in months.  Not just any friend, but his best friend since childhood--Vernon--who had a habit of dropping off the grid for a year or two, then suddenly reappearing.  

The next day, Max's depression was gone.  He told the clinic he no longer needed their services.  I still thought counseling would've been helpful.  But Max said, "I already have a therapist: my friends."

A week later another friend spent the night: Genuine Jack.  A 6-foot-tall teddy-bear of a young man.  He pumped Sam's head full of the pros and cons of college and its costs and benefits--stuff I've been saying for months and Sam's been refusing to hear. 

Vernon teaches Max to be grateful for what he already has.  Jack teaches him to weigh practicalities.  All his friends have told him over and over to have more faith in himself.  Apparently, unbenownst to me, there was one night they talked him out of a wish to die.

Sick and Tired

I haven't posted in almost three weeks.  I'm mired in depression.  Too many losses all at once.

The latest stats for Covid in Minnesota show a daily infection rate higher than it's ever been before. We are now worse off than when we started the lockdown in March. I am furious at our national "leader" who has minimized this crisis, and at those who have followed his lead--young people who are selfish and believe themselves invincible, "mature" people who prefer to believe in their own prejudices rather than scientific facts.  I've never felt so strong an urge to simple leave--go anywhere where covid is not, where people and governments are behaving sanely and humanely.  I feel literally betrayed by our government and the prevailing culture of selfishness, greed, and racism.  

My PTSD is kicking up.  The same sense of betrayal I felt at the hands of my mother, who failed in her primal duty to protect and nurture me, and instead used me to meet her own emotional needs.  This is the ultimate abandonment--what psychologist Peter Walker calls the "abandonment depression," that white fog now swirling at the center of myself.  I sometimes think of it as the"failure to thrive."  I think of those un-nurtured Romanian babies, and those baby monkeys, motherless, who cling desperately to a metal form draped with a towel. Without a mother's attention, her physical touch, the babies grow listless, stop eating, and die. 

I've lost a beloved brother-in-law.  I've lost most of my own mothering role, having finally released Max to the direction of his own inner spirit.  I feel listless, directionless. Without the work of managing his life to anchor me, what is the point of me now?

I can tell myself that my role as a mother is to stand back and cheer him on, to point out his strengths and good choices and successes.  But it feels like so limited a role.  Some great chunk of myself has fallen away, and I'm left naked, weightless, ungrounded. 

I want to foster kittens, but can't, as Skippyjon just wouldn't tolerate having them in the house, and we really have nowhere to keep them separate from him.  I want to help little kids with reading, but how, when schools will be trying to keep kids and staff apart?  

This is hard. This is so hard.  And I'm sick of articles and spiritual gurus telling me what I should be "learning" from this disaster, how I should be "supporting my mental health."  I'm sick of our can-do culture, which offers no support for legitimate grief and fury.  I'm sick of doing it all myself, with a partner struggling with a new job, and little time to empathize with what I'm feeling.  I'm sick and tired, and for once, I'm going to let myself be where I am, for as long as it takes. 


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