I wonder if there are others like me out there – who are slowly dying. We are the ones who scream on the inside, while smiling outwardly. Our pain is personal. Just like menstrual cramps. It’s messy, agonizing, all consuming and private. I imagine those that have lost a loved one know this pain all too well. My loved one’s alive, barely. Although his heart still beats, he has died a thousand deaths. It’s been agonizing watching him over the years. At first I thought it was just ‘normal teenage behaviour.’ But when he didn’t come home one night, I realized he might have a problem. I wish I could go back to then. To the beginning before my son turned into someone I don’t even know. It seemed like just yesterday he was my little tousled haired boy. He liked his hugs and cuddles. There was a time I was his whole world. I was wonder woman and superman and ‘the best Mom’ ever. I was his –under the bed monster checker- his goodnight kiss – his giggle partner – handholding – tear-wiping – scraped knee kissing – fixer upper. But there is nothing left of the child he once was. This ‘thing’ before me, is no longer my son. Where ever my son is, this ‘thing’ isn’t telling. I’ve wondered many times if it was anything I did, or didn’t, do. Was I the reason he put that first joint to his lips? Was his father? Maybe it was the teacher in grade three? I’d always thought he’d been too hard on him. Perhaps it was his friends, especially the one with the shifty eyes. There are times I want to beat on him and scream ‘wake up!’ But he‘s gone and all I’d be doing is giving this ‘thing’ more fuel with which to torture my son. This ‘thing’ takes every word and experience and turns it around to use against him and us. It moves my son’s lips and has taken over his thoughts. It moves his body – up and down, up and down, his legs jerk, tapping out an impossible SOS – flailing, twitching, nodding and mumbling incoherent sentences, until I’m left hanging, barely holding on. This ‘thing’ wants my sanity. I can feel it. Truth is I’ve been teetering on the edge for a long time now. As I look at my son and see the devastation this ‘thing’ has reaped upon him, my heart hardens. I will no longer negotiate with this ‘thing.’ It will not call all the shots, nor take me with it. It has my son, for now. But I will fight back. I’m going to learn everything I can about this ‘thing.’ I’ve been told faith is greater than this ‘thing.’ Faith is my new superman. I will invest and believe because honestly, there are no better choices. I will invite people into my world who have met this ‘thing.’ I’ll share what I know and become sponge-like lapping up every new morsel of information I can get my hands on. I’ll do whatever is asked of me. I will no longer live in the shadow of this ’thing.’ As I look back I can see this ‘thing’ thrives on darkness and pain. I wonder will I kill it if I expose it to the light. God I hope so. Maybe this ‘thing’ is like a mushroom. It can only exist in shit.. Take away the shit and it has nothing to grow in. What if I’d been going about this all wrong? Maybe instead of keeping it hidden I should have shouted it to the world. I suppose looking back is really only good for one thing. We learn in hindsight what not to do in the here and now. Maybe I just need to take the lesson and move on. Not to how it used to be, but how it is right now. I know I’m no match for this ‘thing.’ I’ve learned a lot. I’ll no longer manage my pain by trying to control this ‘thing.’ Instead I’ll harvest all those years of guilt and fear and sleepless nights. I’ll embrace my emotions in the way I long to take my son in my arms. I will not run, nor hide. I will stand and deal and prayer for strength and courage and hope.
I’ll do the one thing – this ‘thing’ hates. To reach out, ask for help and live in Faith and LOVE.