Sometimes you have to sit quietly and embrace the darker side of things; the unpleasantness that life brings.
I hadn’t realized I had dwelt in this place for the past few months.
There are many issues that pervade our world and society that are not within my control. Fires, hurricanes, politics, economics.
I found refuge in books, seeking classics like Wuthering Heights and Fahrenheit 451; plots and themes dark in nature. I disengaged.
We think we can determine our life’s paths but it’s the paths our life takes that influence our determination and resolve.
My words were in the word cloud of my mind; jumbled and unfocused. I stopped trying to find them; choosing to escape in reading others’ words instead.
I had lost my way. Instead of grabbing the steering wheel to drive where I wanted to go; I let cruise control take over with the windows rolled up and the music turned off.
At work I held the phone as the doctor shared her health concerns. The hubs stood nearby as he heard my responses and queries. I looked ahead at my calendar; buying time past the crazy hectic fall schedule of our household. He, thankfully, is a man of few words and embraced me with quiet strength.
I see beauty in the dark.
The monochromatic subdued hues of black, white and grey are comforting. My favorite time of day is when I jog in the pre-dawn stillness before everything awakens; the black of night lightening to shades of purple, red and orange.
My mind clearly sees the vibrant garden of my youth filled with calla lilies, roses, lupine and geraniums. At seventeen many days were spent looking out my bedroom window. I questioned how I would find my way and where life would take me.
Recently I cleared the weeds in my garden; the chaos that always tries to take over fertile soil. I smiled when the hubs came home with bulbs and seeds as I hope to recreate the wildflowers from my childhood home.
The “C” word was unspoken as hospice frequented my home and at my high school graduation my father stood proudly hoping for better things for his only daughter. His time was short and five months later, he was gone.
I now find myself thinking these same thoughts for my sons as cells proliferate a little out of control. They are always there; deep within, indiscriminate of race, religion or social class.
Life circled me back to my own senior year as my son had me fill in the parent portion of the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). As he pondered various career paths to pursue and colleges to apply to I remembered having great expectations; buoyed by the ideal that hard work and education would bring me happiness.
I felt the weight of reality as my thoughts dropped me back into my present. I listened quietly and made myself remain quiet; though the words were on the tip of my tongue.
Life isn’t everything roses. It isn’t predetermined. We can’t always control where life takes us. I lost my resolve.
The questions and thoughts currently in my mind are the same as the seventeen year old teenager. Where will life take me? Who am I supposed to be? What makes a life well-lived?
I feel anxiety each morning, focusing on taking one step-at-a-time.
I prefer the cloak of darkness to the harsh light of day. The hours turned into days turned into weeks and into months. Life kept me busy and I pushed through my days on autopilot.
Today, the words unexpectedly came after a dear friend shared her concerns about our teens. I finally engaged.
I arrived home from work and asked my two sons to sit with me at the table as I inquired about their school day. I had pondered how I would unveil my project as I worked through worst case scenarios in my head. I told my sons they were my “control” group and handed each the following boxes.
I was met with shocked guffaws. My eldest grabbed the box and said, “I’m game.” The middle son needed something to drink before being able to provide a sample. The youngest emerged from the den wanting to know what all the commotion was about.
Our local high school is a “commuter school;” meaning students are dropped off by dual working parents. Teens are left to their own devices with disposable cash to get themselves into trouble. The instant gratification of social media and technology allows lives to be changed in an instant.
The hormones rage; the peers influence.
The pressure cooker of helicopter parenting and performance (academic or sports) permeates our children’s self-worth. The stakes are high and with a son in the college application process; I find my parenting peers to be as stressed out; if not more, than their own kids.
What twisted fate has both mothers and teenagers on hormotional rollercoasters at exactly the same time in their lives?
I stand by my garage door as my sons back out of our driveway each morning; watching them grow before me as tears gather. I hear my youngest son talk about everything under the sun on our short ride to the junior high as his voice fluctuates; deepening and squeaking.
I am running out of time.
I entered the den as all three of my sons worked on computers. I thanked them for taking part in my project and informed them that their results were negative. I voiced that I appreciated their candor and hoped they would always feel safe to share the good things of their every day; but especially the bad.
There is beauty in the prickly things that don’t need a lot of watering. I feel an affinity with the cacti planted along my entryway and patio.
I do not shelter my sons. I try hard not to hover. They know that life is unfair.
I welcome the physical labor of manufacturing; rolling threads mindlessly as the rhythmic gears of the machine bring steadiness to the unknown. My resolve is slowly returning.
It’s my job, as a parent, to teach my boys how to navigate through life’s disappointments and to persevere.
We can’t numb the disappointments life brings with food, promiscuity, alcohol, medication or drugs.
Cutting and self-inflicted, controlled pain, or eating disorders are extremes to our life balance and well-being. Control is a false sense of security.
It’s okay to sit quietly in the dark for a little while. To ruminate and contemplate; filter and sort.
It’s the relationships that matter. Engage and embrace them.