Boot Straps

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This is the blog post I was so hoping I wouldn’t have to write. The one where I admit temporary defeat and throw up the white flags in surrender to all that is me…that part that hides away sometimes in a new mask and a new disguise ….but is always there just under the surface ready to rear her ugly head. The depressed/highly BPD part, I’ll call her Prudence. I always identified with that Beatles song. “Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play. Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day.” I always try to get that part of me, the Prudence part to enjoy the sunshine, smile a bit, be grateful. But, Prudence likes to hide in the shadows and crevices. And when she sees a crack, a tiny sliver…..BOOM!!! There she is again.

With this new found energy, health streak, life changing momentum I was riding on, I thought I was impenetrable. I thought I had built up enough happiness that nothing, not even Prudence could break down those walls. But, the past few months have been the highest highs and the lowest lows. My diet stalled a bit. Yes, I’ve lost about 22 pounds…….YAY ME!! BUT…..and this is key….I let myself down. I cheated here and there…I didn’t dedicate myself to exercise. I gave in too many times and now I’m stalled. I had gained back about 7 pounds and so far, since this Monday, I have lost that weight. I am back on my diet pretty strict again and on my supplements. But, I let myself down. 

The construction on the house has hit some big snags and we are currently running about 3 weeks behind schedule. I know, not a huge deal, but living in this oblivion, sleeping in the basement with my two teenage sons, using the garage as a closet/dressing room, having most of my belongings in storage, is very difficult for me. My BPD makes living in chaos a living nightmare. As I always say, I need order outside of my head—in the real world around me—because my brain is in a constant state of chaos. It balances me. And when that balance is out of order….all hell breaks lose in Allisonland. 

This too shall pass. I know. But, it is so difficult to not give into the dark hole that Prudence tends to pull me into. I remember watching a nature show with my son about these reptiles and creatures that live caves. They have evolved so they don’t need sunlight or even eyesight to survive. They have adapted so well to the dark environment, that through evolution, they have lost their eyes altogether. I feel like those creatures sometimes. I feel like I have adapted and gotten used to the darkness I regularly fall into, that the good, the light, the happiness, is a foreign planet to me. The sun hurts my eyes, so I retreat to that crack in the cavern wall where I feel most at home.  

My husband, the most patient and understanding man I’ve ever met, tries very very hard to understand this part of me. But, he doesn’t. He doesn’t get depression. As much as I could never understand his ADHD. The other night, I pretty much lost it. I hold up as much as I can for him, for my boys, for my parents. But, she came out. Prudence wanted to play. And I let her go in all her melancholy glory. “Pick yourself up by the bootstraps he said.” UGH!!! First of all, I would never wear boots with bootstraps and second of all, when Prudence is out, she’s barefoot….no boots on those feet. I understand he was trying to help. But, saying that …. just enticed me even more. He knows how to deal with her better than anyone ever has. So, I asked myself, what should he have said? I have no response. I really wish I did.

So, after that meltdown, I’m trying to get back on track. Diet is doing well. I’m doing as much exercise as I can muster and I’m trying really hard to look at the end game and not just each individual move I make on a daily basis. I’m trying to appreciate the small things and find something, anything to smile about each day. Maybe the next time Prudence wants to come out to play, she’ll bring some margaritas and board games.

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What If?

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I know this is supposed to be a blog about weight loss, life, the new “me”, etc. But, it’s also about parenting. Parenting of two teenaged boys. And right now, with the events of the past few days, that’s something that’s been weighing heavily on my mind. I needed to get my thoughts out, so here it goes.

What If?

What if one of my boys had been shot and killed on the street while coming home from the store after buying an iced tea and a pack of Skittles? What if something about one of my boys caused someone to be afraid of them or see them as a risk? What if my son laid cold in the ground, while the man who did it got off free and was actually given back the weapon used to gun down my son? What if my son had been born black in America?

I have read a few posts lately by African-American mothers and fathers and they tear a knife in my chest. They write about how scared they are for their sons after the Trayvon Martin verdict. They worry about them going merely out the door to the neighborhood store. Yes, I know. Things happen every day. Bad things. Murder, rape, etc. I know Trayvon’s face is only one face in the sea of beautiful faces lost too soon by acts of violence. But, when….WHEN…do we say enough is enough? I sit and I look at my boys and I wonder how would I feel, if I was an African-American mom and my sons were held in less regards than someone else’s merely because of the color of their skin. My eldest is 6 foot 9 with bright red hair. What if someone saw his size as a threat? What if his red hair was still considered the sign of the Devil. What if my youngest’s speech problem was deemed a threat to someone who couldn’t understand what he was saying?  I realize how hyperbolic these statements are, but why should something as meaningless as a person’s skin color be an issue?  It’s so sad to me as a mom in 2013 that I have to raise my sons in a time where it is even a thought. I was hoping, when I was a kid, that by the time the next generation came along, it wouldn’t even be an issue. But, lately it seems to be getting worse. I thought it got a bit better with the election of Barack Obama, but that only seems to have opened a new, acceptable type of racism…one that is blanketed in something that looks far less sinister than the outright racism of previous generations.

It infuriates me that people rush to the side of some outright racist like Paula Deen and say how she was targeted unfairly, but say nothing in defense of a young black teenager who was gunned down by a vigilante. I cannot believe the lack of outrage over, not the verdict, but the laws that ALLOW this verdict to happen. People get more outraged over football scandals and who is being traded to another team. I weep for my country, as I weep for Trayvon Martin and his family. Where is the America I love? And if this is the “New American” way. I want no part of it. And don’t even begin to tell me, if I don’t like it, leave. I HATE that comment. No, you leave. I love my country and I want it to be the great nation it is claimed to be. But, this isn’t it. I want to stay and fight to make it better for my grandchildren and their grandchildren.

So, I don’t worry if my son goes out in a hoodie or asks to walk to the store to grab some candy. But, what if I had to? I saw a cartoon of a mom hugging her hoodie wearing son and the son says “What’s wrong, Mom, I’m only going to the store.” It made me cry. I worry about my sons, like all moms do. I worry about bullying, teen driving, going off the college, their safety, etc. But, I don’t worry about them simply being white. What if I had to?

Safe Flight

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The skies looked a bit stormy for a while. Dark shadows rolled across the sky and you could see rain clouds in the distance. He wasn’t worried. I was worried enough for both of us. But, when the time came for take-off, the blueness opened up above us and beautiful cotton clouds filled the sky. I stared through the metal fence, wanting to climb over the barbed wire and onto the runway. I wanted to grab his hand like I used to when he would wander a bit too far. But, the taxiing had begun…..there was no turning back. Sure, he hit a few bumps along the way, but all in all the take-off was smooth and off he went into the wide open sky. My baby’s first steps to becoming a pilot.

I’m having a “mom crisis” of late. As my last post said, I have one son venturing off to college in seven weeks and my youngest, Harrison, is getting his wings, literally and figuratively. I’m usually not like this. I was never an emotional mom. I wasn’t one of those hovering moms when they were toddlers. But, as they age, I’ve gotten worse. I see them becoming these strong, independent young men and all I want to do is bring them home to make cookies and binge on Disney movies. I want to tuck them into their bunk-beds and get perturbed at 3 in the morning when one of them yells for mom. I miss the days of Tom and Jerry and Legos digging in my feet.

Then, today my youngest passed his driver’s permit test. Just one more cog in the wheel that carries him onto adulthood. I’m trying very hard to do that tightrope balancing act we moms do. Don’t hold too tight……don’t let them fall too hard. As I sat in the pilot’s lounge on Sunday, waiting for my son to land, I kept thinking back to the times when he was a child. He always seemed to need me more than my eldest. I remember a night when he was barely a year old. I woke at 2 AM to the sound of a screaming child. Harrison was in bed with me, as I was still breast feeding and when I got up to turn on the light, all I saw was blood…on the wall, on the floor, all over his face as he lied screaming on the floor next to me. One trip to the E.R. and some stitches followed. I felt like such a horrible mom. How could I let my baby fall out of bed?

Fast forward two years and he and his brother were playing in my room, when I heard a loud thud and a scream. Another trip to the E.R. and an arm sling for two months for a broken shoulder bone. Again, terrible mom. When he was 10 and a very good competitive swimmer, he was having some issues with a swelling, blue arm. This turned out to be Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and he had to have rib removal surgery at Johns Hopkins. Seeing him lying helpless on a gurney while an anesthesiologist put my baby to sleep was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. But, he pulled through it like a champ. Like he always had.

Add to all these things, the speech problems….recurring ear infections…..OCD and general anxiety diagnosis…..severe depression and intensive psychotherapy……and I think it’s obvious why I’ve grown into this neurotic mother who wants to follow him around just in case he needs me. But, now that we are in the teenage years, he doesn’t need me. Or should I say, he doesn’t WANT to need me. He wants to be the pilot of his life and I’m pretty much grounded to be the guy who pulls the plane into the hangar once the flight is over. I don’t even get a co-pilot seat anymore.

It’s a funny thing to watch this person that you gave birth to, nourished with your own body, bathed, changed their diaper,  become a man. I want to shelter him, but I want him to grow and find his wings. I want to save him from hurt, but I know that hurt brings change and growth. I look at him sometimes and I still see that beautiful little blonde boy smiling out from the teenage face. How did time go so fast? How did my little guy become this amazing young man? I take pride in the man he has become, but I miss that little boy who needed his mom. So, for now, I’ll be a silent backseat pilot. One who can reach over and help steer when the skies get rough, but will be along for the ride no matter what.