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Archive for the tag “mothering”

The Coup, part 1

Like so many things, it began with a phone call. I was in a therapy session and I had forgotten to silence my phone. Seeing that it was my son’s school, I answered it.

A school administrator’s voice informed me that Dylan arrived to class reeking of marijuana and was refusing a backpack search. Would I agree to the search?

When I arrived at the school the police were already there. I wasn’t surprised that Dylan was using marijuana at school. By now, Dylan smoking marijuana all the time had become normal. The only time I would see him not high was in the morning when I took him to school. I would give him 5 bucks for lunch which he would then use to purchase marijuana, mushrooms, or LSD after school. I suspected this but at the time I didn’t want him to go hungry. He had gotten so thin that at one point his pediatrician wanted to put him into an eating disorder unit.

The principal informed me that if Dylan did not agree to the search he would be presumed guilty and be put on a substance abuse diversion agreement that would prevent him from getting expelled. I did not permit the search because I had no idea what they might find. I also had no idea what would happen to Dylan as a result of what they might find. They insisted that by refusing the search I was enabling him.

We signed the diversion agreement which required Dylan to meet with a substance abuse counselor for an assessment. I felt it was useless because I knew Dylan had no interest in stopping his substance use. However, I wanted him to avoid expulsion. When we arrived I was somewhat relieved to see that the counselor was a butch-appearing lesbian. It gave me hope that this visit was not going to be a complete disaster.

She began to question Dylan about his substance use. He began to get angry and I interjected something, afraid of where this was going. He said something to me, I can’t remember what, telling me I needed to shut up. The counselor continued to press him and I warned her, again fearing Dylan’s impending outburst. She told me she could handle it and kept going. I took what by now had become a familiar position in medical appointments with Dylan. Head down, hands over eyebrows like blinders. Try not to get hit by flying shrapnel.

Dylan began to close his eyes, breathe loudly and clench the arms of his chair. He flew out of his chair and threatened to destroy her office. She told him to leave and he did, slamming the door behind him. I apologized for his behavior. She said she was shocked by the way he had spoken to me. To me, it had become normal. She told me he needed treatment and I told her I didn’t think he was ready. She agreed, and told me that if he acted like that in treatment they would throw him out. However, she insisted that some kind of an intervention was in order. She told me that by not allowing the search to take place at his school I had made things worse. She suggested that I should welcome the intervention of the juvenile justice system. She said I needed to set strong boundaries with Dylan and call the police or send him to the youth shelter if he didn’t comply. I felt overwhelmed. I didn’t want to be one of those Dr. Phil parents who called the police to discipline their children. And I couldn’t imagine sending him to a shelter, no matter what the circumstances were.

There was a knock on the door and Dylan reappeared, seeming to have gained some composure. I was surprised she allowed him back in. She told him she was going to make an exception and take him on as an outpatient to see if she could prepare him for treatment. If he attended the sessions with her he could avoid expulsion. I thought it was a great solution and agreed wholeheartedly.

to be continued


Just like my mother

I miss myself. I miss the person I was when I began this blog about 6-7 years ago. I honestly thought I would never find myself this lost again. I remember during that time I felt much differently about myself. Sure I was depressed, but seriously, when am I not depressed?

When became a mother I felt like I could no longer be myself. I had to be someone else. A person with no wants or needs. A person that was everything that my mother was not. The most important things I thought about were that I wanted my son to know without a doubt that he was loved. I felt that no matter what was going on with me that I must always show up for my son. I wanted more than anything else, to raise a son who was kind and compassionate towards others. These were my ideas.

I imagined a relationship with my son where I would be able to teach him and help him navigate the world. Most importantly I wanted him to be able to avoid many of the things that I had experienced. I wanted my son to love me and see me as his mother. I never imagined any of the things that have happened. I never imagined my son would turn on me. There are a lot of people who I never imagined would turn on me. But turn on me they did, over and over again.

In each instance it seemed that people found me or my behavior unacceptable. First I lost my Dad, who was the only person that ever made me feel like I was supposed to be on this earth. Then I lost my sister who I once believed loved me unconditionally. That loss created more disconnection and estrangement, with my two other siblings, with nieces and nephews. Then my mother died and any remaining ties were severed.

Then I lost my health, my job and my career. With that, I lost my self-esteem, or what was left of it. I lost my home and then I lost the person I was going to marry. After that I lost California, sunshine, and my church. I was more alone than I had ever been. Then I lost another friend. Through all of that, my love for my son and my desire for his happiness were the only things that tethered me to the earth. And now my son is gone also. He tells me I am a horrible mother, that I’ve never done anything for him and that I need to be held accountable for all of my wrongs.

He tells me I am just like my mother.

I imagine all of these people in my head as a collective group. They are always there taunting me and reminding me that I am worthless and that I don’t deserve love. If I say anything about the hardships I have encountered over the last few years, I am ridiculed. I’m just making excuses and playing the victim. My son tells me I have failed him by being sick and depressed all the time. My siblings tell me I am getting what I deserve. They tell me I’ve always been self obsessed, spoiled, and moody. I’m unreasonable and irrational. I have anger issues and I can’t be trusted around children. They criticize my parenting and tell me it’s no wonder my son is in a treatment center. Who wouldn’t end up with problems with a mother like me?

I don’t remember anymore what it feels like to be loved. I long for even just a whiff of that feeling. I want to bury my face in it and breathe as deeply as I can for as long as I can. I want to lose myself in it and consider the possibility that I am someone other than who they say I am. I want someone, anyone, to see me as useful or worthwhile or anything other than what they believe me to be.

I’ve tried fighting. I’ve tried fighting clean even when others are fighting dirty.  I’ve tried suiting up and showing up. I’ve tried being strong. I’ve tried sharing my feelings desperately hoping for acknowledgement or validation that never comes. I’ve tried doing everything that others tell me to do in service of my son. I’ve tried letting go and I’ve tried holding on. Nothing seems to have helped. Most things I’ve tried have caused me additional hurt.

I don’t want sympathy or pity. What I really want is to have people in my life who value my friendship and don’t make me question my worth. I want people who I have things in common with and who share similar belief systems. I want to put the nightmare of the last 7 years behind me. I want to believe that it’s not too late to rebuild myself again and rise from the ashes.

Mostly I want to be free.

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