Thursday, March 29, 2012

When The Crazy Takes Over

I stumbled out of the bed, my eyes feeling as if they were glued shut. My mind roaring the words in my head, oh why cannot it not be Saturday?! Tripped over a pair of flip flops that had been kicked off in a strewn fashion the day before, fumbling to maintain my balance, bumped my knee on the foot board of the bed. As I grimaced and cursed under my breath, or maybe out loud, that time of the morning it's hard to tell what's happening, I rubbed the pain out of my knee and continued on to the bathroom for my morning shower. 

I stood in the hot pouring water, still struggling to stay awake as the warmness of the water streaming over my head and down my back, has lulled me into a soft sleepy state again. I wash and condition my hair, rinse and am ready to get out and begin my day. I open the curtain, reach for my towel, and there is only one. For my body. I forgot to get the towel for my wet dripping hair. As I walk from the bathroom, dripping water every step of the way, dripping into my eyes, blurring my vision, I am thinking..really? IS this really how it's going to be today? 

Later into the day, an email conversation between me and one of my "twin" sisters takes place.  

Me: "That's my life in a nutshell"
Kat: "ok..cheer up or is it THAT time?"
Me:  "Past--overdue--last Thursday..symptoms are still here...ALL OF THEM..that noticeable huh?
Kat: "VERY"
Me:  "LMAO, sorry. So tired..drug out..moody..all of it. IT either needs to happen ..or stop.
Kat:  "Don't apologize to me, I just hate I always miss the show down there..LOL
Me:  "I've been pretty good today, walking is helping me tremendously I think, almost negates the need for an anger management class...or medication ;)
Kat:  "May need to add a couple of laps"
Me:  "LOL, ya think? I was thinking I had this thing in control"
Kat: "Negative"

You know, I try. I really do. But it's just so hard. To maintain any manner of decorum when all that is going on. It's hard to shop at the grocery store. It's harder to restrain myself from taking my grocery cart and taking out half of the store because they are in my way, walking too slow, or can't make their child stop whining on aisles one through eight for Cocoa Puffs.  

Or to drive. Wanting to put my foot on the gas pedal, all the way to the floor, and roar down HWY 90, knocking other vehicles out of the way like bumper cars. Because few in Quincy knows what a blinker is made for, and although I always try and stay alert, in times like these, it's harder, and I end up slamming my neck into whiplash as some dumb you know what slings into the Dollar General parking lot on a dime, with little notice. Much less a DANG BLINKING SIGNAL.

It's a known fact that I am not allowed to possess any sharp objects during this time. No scissors, knives, forks, or bobby pins. Or cans of hairspray. There is a permanent dent on my bathroom door where I hurled a can in anger one morning. 

If I didn't have to go to work, there are those who would say, I shouldn't even be allowed into public. I know I cannot be the only one who feels as if they have actual water standing on their brain during this time. Sloshing around, clouding my judgement, making it hard to add 2 + 2 and not get 5. Throwing my balance off, making me feel as if my feet and legs belong to a newborn colt. 

And lastly, the times it not only makes me mean as hell, but seems to bring on the waterworks with it. I cry. At everything. Because the sun is shining too bright. Because I only have one blue sock when I need two. Because I forgot to make the coffee the night before. Because you used a 'tone' with me when I asked what you wanted for supper. Or simply because I should have got gas two days prior, but I pushed it to the limit and now, it's on empty, it's pouring down rain, and I got up fifteen minutes late. 

As I said earlier, it hasn't happened yet. As I get older, this has become more common. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it doesn't. But I always know, it's still lurking around. Threatening to change my mood, my outlook on life, and take over my otherwise sugar sweet personality and turn me into a scary monster woman.  There are no chains, no straps, or duct tap that can contain this girl when she starts her ascent into crazy land. Just hang on tight, and wait for it to pass, or ..RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Paul Harvey "Rest of the Story"

You know, ever since my story "broke" last week I have been just stunned at the information that has just literally slammed into me. The drinking incident with my son from that Friday night was not over. Not the discussion part anyway. It seems, my posted story sent all kinds of folks into a tailspin. Adults and children alike. My son doesn't have a Face Book account anymore, his choice, so he didn't know. I have no idea how many people contacted my son, but I know they did. He was not very happy about my story. He told me that quite frankly, he thought that was a family matter. He didn't understand me writing it, or posting it, for everyone to see.

That following Sunday night, after the Friday  fishing trip, when he told me he didn't understand me posting that story, a lot more information came to light. Not about anyone else, just himself. I was stunned at the amount he admitted to drinking, and that it had happened almost every time I had allowed him to camp out at the Mine Hole. I had no more anger in me. I sat there and cried silent tears. I was scared to death. For the first time in a long time, I felt as if I had lost complete control of a situation. He is able to make day trips to the Mine Hole, but there will be no more overnight camping trips for quite awhile, if ever.

This is the way I see it. It was no longer a family matter once 15 boys, give or take the ones who did not participate, spent the night at that Mine Hole on more than one occasion and got drunk and stoned all night long. Once those boys thought it was cool to tell everybody and their brother, what they were doing, it was no longer a family matter. By texting your friends while it was happening, running your mouth in school the next week, and bragging to all your other friends, who told their friends, who told their friends. You all broke up your own party. Not me.

Maybe they were all worried I was going to "rat" them out. Nope. Not my job. My job is to raise my son. With the information I "leaked" and posted, I had hope more parents would make themselves aware. I have no idea if that has happened. If some of the parents didn't like my comments about enabling, I don't care. If people didn't like my comments about the church raising your child, again, I could care less. That's not the churches job. It's ours. In a weeks time, I have heard so many things about so many children and adults, I just as soon you didn't invite us to your churches anymore. They must be preaching things different from what I was raised to believe in and I don't care to be a part of any of that. I'm not sure which handbook I received for my parental duties, but mine feels right. I'd check the copyrights on some of those you have been reading.

I am not ashamed to tell any kid who gets in a vehicle that is insured under our names, that there will be no alcohol allowed in their bodies while they are in my vehicles. Whatever they are doing elsewhere in other places, other vehicles, I cannot control. Nor do I intend to try. If you don't want your child to hear that small speech from me, then he doesn't need to ride in a vehicle with my child.

My son told me he knew he was out of control and going down the wrong path. His Daddy said I needed to buy a breathalyzer. My son admitted, that if that was what would give us peace of mind, he deserved it. He caused it. He broke our trust, he knew he would have to earn it back. I haven't bought one. Simply because I believe in him that much.

I'm not a holy roller by any stretch of the imagination. Lord knows I have had my due and made my own mistakes. Drank too much and paid for it the next day. But I was OLD ENOUGH to make those decisions. I was of legal age to make those decisions. These kids are not. And I believe in a firm line of right and wrong.  All of these kids are good kids. I know this with all my heart. But they need good solid guidance. They need us to be firm. Be parents, not friends. Not right now. That will come later, when they are grown, and on their own, earning a good living, with family's of their own. Because we helped them to get there. Alive. 

And lastly, I'm not here to "clean up" Gadsden County. I'm not running for office. I'm not applying for position of Minister anywhere anytime soon. I don't qualify for any of the above. I'm too mouthy, my thoughts and opinions too radical at times, and my language needs a lot of cleaning up. I just want to spend the rest of my life watching my children become good adults. And they have to be here on earth for that to happen. I do not intend to bury a child of my own. Nor do I want to stand and watch you bury yours. And certainly not for anything I should have been able to prevent.  You know, everyone always says, if you ever hear something about my child, I want to know. The past weeks' events have really left me wondering, if that were ever really true. And that, makes me very sad.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Your Child Is Human, Wake Up and Believe It

You know, I don't write this blog to make up pretty stories. I don't write this blog to make you feel good. I write this blog to relieve my body, mind and soul of whatever it is that may be  weighing me down. And if in that process, you are able to draw something from what I say, or my words help you identify or become aware, then that's a plus for both of us.

Maybe I was the only one who didn't know. The only parent who wasn't aware. The only Mama who thought it wasn't happening with her child. I'm not blind to teenage life and all that entails. I'm not oblivious to peer pressure and teenage stress. I know that teenagers drinking alcohol underage is rampant. Yes, it is, even right here in Gadsden County. I know that smoking weed is also a regular past time for so many teenagers, also living in this county. I have heard names of kids that absolutely shock me in regards to both. But what I didn't know, didn't have a clue, was that my son, my baby boy, was partaking in some of these activities.

I'm very familiar with the bluff and run conversations. Where your kid is talking to you about who does what, how often, how drunk they get, where they get their weed from, etc. And they are talking to you so much, being so open, your mind never strolls to the oh so obvious horror, that they may doing these things as well. You know, just like on television, when they're trying to break a suspect. He gives up information voluntarily on someone else, to deflect the attention from himself. Yeah. That's about how it works. As I said, I'm very familiar with those methods. I was a teenager once. You do all you can to make your folks feel warm and fuzzy about what you're doing, then your rope remains loose, your options and amount of freedom become bigger.

Well, when they come home from a day of fishing, talking to you more than they have talked to you in weeks, voices louder than normal and over compensating with all of the above, you'd better get to looking. You'd better put your book down, turn the television off, forget about work, gather all of your attention and focus.

I lived with two alcoholics for the better part of my life. I know what drunk looks like in the beginning, the middle and the end. I know every sign there is to know. I know that every drinking man is a different one. There are mean and ugly ones, there are happy and good time Charlie ones. I know that different types of alcohol have different effects. I knew at ten years old, depending on what my Daddy "smelled" like when he came home, whether to stick around, or head to my bedroom and stay there. Beer made him happy, and liquor made him unfit to live with.

We're dealing with that day of fishing the best way we know how. I talked to him at length myself. Choosing to take the "I'm so disappointed" road, and of course, stress the obvious medically genetic reasons neither one of my children should ever take a drink. Their birth father is an alcoholic and their maternal grandfather is a recovering alcoholic. My husband, talked to him from his view of being a recovering alcoholic himself, sober 16 years now. The money he wasted on alcohol, the marriages that might have been different, and the time, the memories, he will never get back.

We both discussed in unison, although in separate conversations, that the trips to the beloved Mine Hole would stop if we could not trust him. That the friends he currently surrounds himself with, would have to change if we didn't see some changes. And that we would both be relentless in making sure he carried out our wishes. We discussed the laws, legal limits for drinking, and the repercussions for breaking those laws and getting caught. How expensive his vehicle insurance would be should he break those laws, lose his license and have to obtain insurance on his own once he gained he license back. And most importantly, the lives he would be putting into jeopardy. His own, and whomever he was unlucky enough to pass on the road in any state of mind other than sober.

And we discussed the phone call. Should he not choose to listen to anything we have said, that we expect a phone call for a ride home. With no reprisals.  There of course would be later conversations, but for that time, for that ride, just a thankful parent who would be so glad that her child at least had enough thought for himself and others.

The rest of you parents can handle your child any way you choose. I choose to handle mine with my eyes wide open. And I dare say this, if the school he attends should decide to administer "surprise" drug or alcohol tests, I would give my absolute permission. I also dare say, it wouldn't be a bad idea if they did. I'm publicially announcing there would be some wake up calls for many. And for all you regular church going people, I agree, church and God are a wonderful thing. But don't let the lights from the pulpit blind you. Don't let the preacher or minister do your work for you. Don't let that boy or girl of yours in their Sunday best's, disguise their everyday worst.''

And for the parents, who think, letting your children drink with you, or around you, in hopes of  minimizing what they do without you, I promise, you are oh so wrong.  All you're doing is encouraging the "like" and the "fake warmth" of it. Best to be careful and mindful of what you "help" with...lest the warmth they feel is that bright light leading and ascending into heaven. Are my words too harsh or scary? Dramatic? Maybe so, but they're real. The legal age limit is 21 years old for a reason.

Because you see, I have so many things that I wish for my child. He has so many things to do, and so many opportunities of which to take advantage. But he has to be here to do all of that. He has to be alive to accomplish anything. He has to be alive and sober, in order to live his life in the manner he was intended.

I signed on for that job when I became pregnant. And the minute I gave birth, the clock started ticking. The clock of responsibility and ownership of what I helped to bring into this world. My child may not like me much today. Hell, he sure probably didn't like me much last Friday night. But I love him. I love both of  my children with all my heart and soul. I have no shame and I do not hide from reality. No matter how ugly or uncomfortable it may be. And the rest, well it really just doesn't matter.

I will be sad and very disappointed if parents read this and don't at least question in their minds things they may have overlooked or missed. Eyes that looked too bright, voices too loud, eyes flooded with bloodshot, and speech mildly slurred. I know you all want to see your children into adulthood. It's our job to make sure that happens, with every single breath we take. Every single decision we make. One day I expect I will be my child's friend. But right now, I'm his Mama. And if that doesn't include friendship at this time of our lives, that's alright too. I'm just trying to keep him alive.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

And Time Keeps Moving On

So many things were different about this visit. First off, I was alone. I decided to make this trip by myself. I desperately needed some time alone with my oldest son. He had an empty spot available in his Spring Break week, so I took it.

For months I had felt like we were drifting apart. Whether it was school, work or just simply life, it appeared to be happening. Phone conversations had dwindled to few, and were vastly empty and void of real talk when they happened.

He'll be twenty six years old in April. I'm not really sure what I expect of him.  He's not the little boy who cries for me anymore. He's not the teenager who neither asked for my opinion or used it. And yet, I still seem to need for him to be both of those people. In one breath I want him to be self sufficient and in another, I want him to need me. For something. For anything.

It was vastly apparent to me during this last visit that he really is, all grown up now. He washes his clothes, and dries them once. No re-drying, that wastes electricity. He turns out lights, keeps the air conditioner running at a minimum to conserve energy. He uses a towel more than once. He buys "the cheaper, but just as good as" brands of grocery items. He has a filter on his faucet, as bottled water is expensive. And his entire diet has seemed to have changed. To healthy, sugar free, fat free, foods. And he cooks. He made THE best meal for me while I was visiting. 

His apartment has two bedrooms so I stayed there with him instead of a hotel. Which makes for much more relaxed late night conversations in PJ's and no one worried about having to drive back across town. And we talked....about everything. His plans for his 4th year. His plans for after. His plans for summer break. And his plans just to get through the rest of this semester. The book he's writing for publication. His thesis. His need for simplicity. And his always need for structure.

He had initially thought his next step would be a PH.D program somewhere. But he's tired. Really tired of school. So now, he's considering with a great deal of seriousness, applying to teach English and writing in a foreign country after graduation. And I think, if truth be known, although I am very excited about that idea, and excited for him, a part of me knows, this next year, may very well be the last year I will be this close to him. In location and spirit.

When he left for college in Alabama, it was very hard. Seeing him only three to four times a year was just very hard. But moving to another country. Now that folks is a whole nother ball of wax. He's always wanted to travel. To see art and writing in the form of reality, not just from a book. To step outside of his own door and physically see the words used for beauty and hear the sounds he's only read about.

As I stood in his apartment complex parking lot, I found myself barely able to breathe. I was trying desperately not to cry and not succeeding very well. I knew full well I would see him several more times over the next year, but I had such a sense of finality in those moments. It's very hard to describe. It was painful, joyful, and an all of a sudden, full realization that things would never really be the same from that moment on.

I hugged his neck and cried. He hugged me tighter and I cried harder. I said I love you through choked tears and raspy breaths. I got in my truck, rolled the window down, waved good bye as I drove out, and continued to cry halfway through town. I stopped to fill up with gas, glancing at my face in the rear view mirror, and what a horror I was, with mascara dripping eyes.  Grabbed some tissues from the glove box, dried my eyes and my face, got out of the car, hitched up my pants, threw my shoulders back and pumped my gas.

All the way home, I replayed our trip, our conversations and listened to the two mixed CD's Josh made for me while I was there, to keep me occupied and awake on my drive home alone. I probably won't be able to listen to those CD's again for a few days. But you can guarantee when I can listen again, I will be right back there in Tuscaloosa, sitting on that couch with my son, laughing and talking, and living life in that moment in time.