Coffee and Other Life Disasters…
So we arrived last night in Ketchikan. It was lovely and cool and the clouds were putting on a lovely evening sunset show. The bald eagles were feasting on salmon and I got to watch the young birds hunt and fish. It was amazing.
I always feel somewhat high when I am here, unlike my son who is likely actually high. I am not high on pot or whatever else he is ingesting at the moment, I feel high on the oxygen here. Like the air is intoxicating. The purity and lack of pollution makes my lungs, happy. And that sends shockwaves of healthy breathing through my body…I fucking love it here.
So this morning, I got up and made coffee like any other morning. Had all my stuff to make it the way that I like it. So much easier if I could just drink it black, but alas that is not my fate…
So I sit down to write, coffee on my nightstand, and away I go. After a few sentences, I pick up my cup and take a sip. It is hot, so I take only a small sip. I go to put the cup back on the nightstand, and I guess, I misjudged the distance…because it didn’t make it to the nightstand, instead it fell into my purse which was between the bed and the nightstand…placed there to deter my son from stealing from me in the night while I slept. And apparently this morning to be a container in which to hold the contents of my coffee cup…
I didn’t even realize I did it for a few seconds. For some reason, I looked over at the night stand, and saw that it was no longer there, my cup of salvation this morning. And so I began to look for it. And it didn’t take me long to find it, upside-down in my purse…
Many FUCKS were said, as I dumped out the contents of my purse all over the floor. I guess when you mistakenly make regular coffee instead of decaf the universe has stiff penalties for that…we all know that me fully caffeinated isn’t really good for anyone. So my purse is now high as fuck on the caffeinated coffee that I did not get to drink.
So now I am back at my computer after cleaning the contents of my purse: my purse, the scarf and handkerchief and eye glass case that absorbed most of my morning Joe, wiping down all the other items (if you have ever seen my purse, you know this was not an insignificant endeavor). A lot of attendant fury over something that just happened. And it is odd that I feel fine about it all. I am not upset. It didn’t ruin my day. I feel no lingering resentment at myself, the coffee or really much of anything. So funny how this could have totally ruined my day on some other occasion, but today it is really no big deal. I guess leaving your son again in Alaska really does help put the little things in perspective.
So I move onto my son the other disaster in my life right now. Let me rephrase, he is not a disaster, well, sort of. He is a person with a great many issues that result in disaster for him, for me, and for others who happen to be standing near by.
It is hard living with him. So very, very hard.
Here are my thoughts and feelings and heart hurt from yesterday’s long day of travel:
How is it that I can be the same place so many times and have it hurt more every single time? Is this just parenting? Signing up to be eviscerated over and over again? I am so very tired with a long day’s journey ahead and no end in sight.
Living with an addict is unpleasant. Like fucking awful. Nothing is how it should be. Not the pots, not the pans, not the animals, everything is in a constant state of peril and disaster, either underway or pending. This has been my life for the last sixteen years.
I know that may seem like I am stretching it. He couldn’t have been an addict as an infant, or could he? As I remember back to where we used to be, there were so many similarities…his way, his demands, his needs, it seems as though we never left infancy. He began throwing rageful fits at 2. Uncontrollable, spiteful, hate filled fits. We would try to keep him safe. We would try to not lose our cool. We saw a tiny child so caught up, and we were so powerless, even then to really understand what was happening.
The present totally colors the past…I know that. Was he really an addict in the womb? Feels that way. He has hungered and obsessed over so many things in this life: toys, attention, legos, electronics, video games, sugar, caffeine, junk food. I am not sure why I am so surprised that he finally found substances. He has been doing all of the above alcoholically for years. Like since as far back as I can remember.
He sleeps beside me now on the plane. He has nodded off all morning, tired from his late night galavanting around, smoking pot, vaping and doing God knows what else. I want so much to reach over and hug him to me, but that feels as weird as hugging the man sitting next to me on the other side. That is how distant my own son feels. Like a stranger. And I have to admit it, if I had a choice right now, I would not choose to know him. I would elect to not have any kind of relationship with this person. But alas, he is not really unknown to me. He is, after all, my son.
As he sleeps this off, I am left to view him without his awareness, I can see the man inside the boy. He so close to adult but so very far off emotionally. He is more like ten or twelve, not at all ready for the perilous world of adulting. And yet, he fights me at every turn for his autonomy, as he fritters away his paychecks on pot, video games and puff bars (I don’t even know what that is but he talks about it all the time). I pray he survives himself.
He just awoke and moved his head to my shoulder. Briefly. He then face planted himself on to the seat tray in his lap, collapsed into himself…again.
While I can touch him, he remains so far away from me. Untouchable really. Even though my hand touches his back lovingly. He an island to himself and me a vacuous sea of mothering that is tamed at his shores. Oh I can whip up quite a gale or squall, but in the end, the mass of him remains unchanged and I too return to myself, liquid.
Perhaps we are like land and sea. My effect upon him takes years to show the erosion. My passage into him literal eons. Perhaps a mother is not supposed to have entrance to this boy’s life. Perhaps the atoll of him shall always remain hardened and affixed to a root of land that I cannot see, cannot even fathom really.
I long ago have given up the attachment to things permanent and fixed. Content, at least most of the time, to remain in a constant state of flux, water pouring in and out, like a tidal basin, washing upon the shores of others, always coming closer but never staying long. I have been this tide for so long, I am not sure I can ever do it differently now. And with him, no matter how much I surround him in an effort to comfort and encase him, he always remains stalwart unto himself, most especially to his own demise.
Perhaps this characteristic will be his undoing, or perhaps his becoming. One never knows, more likely it shall be both until the day he is either changed from within into a man that sees his egregiousness, his selfishness and his greed. Until then, he seems quite content to use the rest of us up, until we have nothing left for him to take.
While I feel like I am there, I know that I am not. There are many more things he could steal from me…my health, my sanity, my home, my savings (it is quite depleted) but these last vestiges of me, those are mine and mine alone. And he cannot take them unless I turn them over.
Another mother reached out to me today to tell me that her son was so bad off that they actually moved away, physically left their home and town and jobs just to get a fresh start where he would not appear on their doorstep stoned, drunk and abusive. I know from her story that while 18 looms as a magic number to me now, there is no end to motherhood, not ever.
I think that I will have the skills to turn him away and out when he is older, I hide behind the facade of a future full of hope, hope that I will be able to do then what I have not been able to do now. My history of capitulating to his demands, his whims, his incessant requirements, tells a different version of my future. One that threatens me with certain peril unless I swiftly change myself.
I love this boy with all my heart and soul, but I cannot live with him ever again. We both fall back into unhealthy patterns and end up shouting hateful things at each other. It matters not who starts it, the destruction happens regardless.
As he lays sleeping next to me, I remember fonder times when he was little and in my bed, we would wake together, he the first thing I saw every day. His handsome face greeting me with smiles, instead of scorn. Just that thought, just that one thought undoes me. Unzips me from myself by some inner hidden zippered up storage that I keep those times that wound me so now. But I don’t want to forget them, most especially at times like these where everything is so hard, so challenging. I need to remember that it wasn’t always this way. Not always. And that this too shall pass. Although I feel that the storm has stalled out over my heart and home. And I have been living in the eye of it for so long now, I am not sure I even believe anymore that there is anything but storm.
He lies prone, face fully smushed agains the tray table. I am baffled by how he could sleep this way. Much the same as how perplexed I am that he would choose to live this way. I understand none of it: his choice of sleeping positions, his life choices that more resemble a slow march towards the grave, his unwillingness to listen to anything his father and I have to say. I do not understand the rebellion, the fury unfurled mostly at me, but others too that surround him, or dare to come too close. All beings in his orbit have been perilously close to his wrath — the dogs, his sister, the grandparents, the friends, a girl who dared to like him and give him attention, all beings subject to being cut off and down without warning or any kind of grace.
No, as I sit here watching him sleep like I have so many times before, I know this path. It is the only path self hatred provides. All must be destroyed lest the path be altered, and I remain sidelined in my efforts to change his self loathing into any kind of call to action.
I have been here. I do remember. And when he self destructs it reminds me of my own internal conflicts that rest in remission just below my own surface. I know all too well the feeling of bile rising in my own throat over things I did, or said, or thought about those who dared to come too close. And life is miserable for him, I remember that too. And I now get to experience it from the other side, the mothering side, where I have to say it feels just as bad. And I can say that since I lived both sides.
And if I had to choose, I would pick the path of my own destruction because the pain of mothering someone hell bent on making bad choice after bad choice is far more painful. Nothing to numb me out or down, just the ability to cling to the thought, the hope, the fraying belief that perhaps one day he will wake up and decide to do his life differently.
For now, I can watch him sleep through the tears in my eyes, that roll slowly down my cheeks, he is sleeping so he doesn’t know. The other passengers too concerned with the beverage cart to notice that my silent decay as I watch the child that made me a mother sleep his way through his life. Never really here and never really gone. Just a hungry ghost always clamoring for more, until one day it will either render him to his knees in a quiet, but honest prayer, “God help me”. And I do not get to know if that moment comes just before his death or in enough time for him to right his course and continue his life on another path.
God, please let it be the later. Level him now so that he can live a good life. So that he can love himself and others. So he can wake up to the amazing family that loves him, even when he denigrates all we hold dear.
And for now, I will gaze at him with loving eyes, a tender heart and a hopeful mind that perhaps this time, it can be different. While remembering that sometimes our days begin with coffee spilt in our purses, with sons sleeping in the bed next to us, who have been up all night doing God knows what. Life is full of disasters, and I keep finding out that my attitude about said disasters is really the only thing that makes a difference in my own life. I can curse the heavens or I can just clean up the mess and get on with living. I am going to keep going…with the best attitude I can.