October 9, 2010

compassion spills forth

this weekend, i have a lot to work on. there are so emotions kept right below the surface that can't come out to play because there are other, more important, adult matters to contend with and my body is already wrecked from all-night nursing because my desire to night-wean wasn't as strong as my son's will. this will change soon.

i am sitting in the quiet house until the boys wake, which could be any minute.

last night i spoke to my oldest son's paternal grandmother. the story of us is a huge, sordid affair that i may never get into it but suffice it to say, when we met, we two very young and very lost souls. the epitome of wayward children with mothers that loved us and cared about us. i mean we weren't on the streets or anything, but we were running wild. things were already not going to work out between us when i found out i was pregnant, and despite what everyone thought, yes we were using protection and even now, fifteen years later, it's important to me, or to my ego, to share that because being a young, teenage mother i've been faced with a lot of judgment. there were times i didn't care what anyone thought and i no longer feel the need to defend myself or my choices, but still, in this quiet morning, fifteen years later, i still find it important to tell people that i wasn't so wild and careless as to have unprotected sex. and i still got pregnant. but moving on, because this isn't a tale of personal woe. i don't know what it is a tale of, actually, because it is personal, that's true - but it's a free-form expression ignited by last night's conversation.

i called her to see how she was. but selfishly, i also called her to see if her son was working. i haven't received child support in almost a year. the last time this happened, he'd been in a terrible accident. he'd required major surgery. he now has a rod in his leg where his femur should be. no one thought to contact me, no one contacted my son. his son. months went by and we had to go to court. he arrived with a walker. it was pretty odd, actually, for lack of a better vocabulary. here he was, 31 and i was 29. pregnant with my third child, unable to walk normally because of severe pelvic misalignment and he was unable to walk normally because he was the passenger in a car that his brother crashed. this brought up a lot for me, a lot that i didn't deal with. this wasn't the first time he'd been involved in a severe wreck. a few weeks after i told him i was pregnant he left the outdoor concert festival we were at, figuring that one of my friend's would give me a ride home, and he decided to drive himself off a cliff. the only thing that didn't survive was his driver's license. it was revoked for reckless driving.

this has been a current trend in his life, ever since, since it's been revoked at least twice by the department of human services when he's stopped paying child support. my mom has asked me to close my case and move on, several times. it's true, i liked getting the money. i could buy my son a pair of jeans whenever he wanted. i could go out to eat or not worry because i had a "little extra" in my bank account. the thing is, is i raised my son alone and he was eight years old before the state got involved and started collecting support on his behalf. i was truly guilty of seeing the dollar signs before the person because when that person left, we weren't just two lost souls, we were angry. and he was angrier. i felt the term payback could be taken literally and that, at the very least, his son deserved his financial support because he was never going to be such an important part of his life to receive emotional support or any other means of contact, really.

i spoke with his mother last night. our two boys are so, so scarily similar. we talked, she mentioned that she was five years away from being 70 years old. i don't know why she does that, maybe it's an old lady thing. my grandma does it, too. just two weeks ago when i saw her she reminded me that she is three years away from being 70. but his mother is 65, which means she was 50 when i got pregnant. that doesn't seem right - i thought she was in her 40's when we met, her late 40's, but still. but either way, the impact of just how quickly time goes on and how quickly we age and life passes us by really affected me last night. we were talking about how her youngest (of eight) and my oldest (of three) are so closed off and don't open up and never say they love us (or anyone, really) and it's strange - this strong personality trait runs so deep within each of them despite the fact that they have never spent more than three hours together.

she talks about how he lost his father to cancer at age 12. i've always known this. i've always known that this is where his life changed, when he lost all joy he once had as a child but i didn't know until last night, that he watched his father, over the course of two years, go from a strong, hard-working and attentive father to a frail man of 95 pounds who couldn't walk and refused to take painkillers because "he didn't want to become addicted. he was dying of cancer and didn't want to get addicted to medicine, can you believe?" i told her i couldn't, last night as she told me this. this morning, as i type that out, there are tears in my eyes.

she also told me that "he still doesn't believe in god. he doesn't believe in god because if god existed he wouldn't have taken his father away." this must be hard for her because she is catholic. the odd thing here is, i never knew that. the irony lies in the fact that i met him when i was 13, that summer. in october, my great-grandmother died. now, my family was catholic, too, but my mom wasn't much for going to church regularly, or at all and let me fulfill my need for curiosity by attending baptist sunday schools if there was bus service at whatever apartment complex we lived at. that was the extent of my religious upbringing, but i knew enough to pray and that i didn't want to go to hell. when i was "re-born" in a baptist church at age 10, i pretty much thought i had a clean-slate with which to start each day anew as long as i prayed to jesus but then i had the kids on the sunday school bus telling me that, no matter what, i was going to hell because my skin was brown as the result of an interracial union between my partly hispanic mother and my anglo-saxon father. insert huge eyeroll or middle finger here. but still, what if these kids named luke and levi were right? i mean, they were white. and born baptist. and wore suits and carried bibles and probably knew a whole lot more about this god thing than i did. and so, my relationship with god was complex from a very young age, as i assume, most relationships with god would be. but anyhow, i used to pray. every night. for the well-bring of everyone that i loved and for some reason, as october and the surprise party we were having in honor of my great-grandmother's 80th birthday was growing closer, i got nervous, so i prayed to god that she make it to see her birthday. two weeks later she was hit by a car as she was crossing the street. i was supposed to be there, with her, that night. i was supposed to have gone up with my grandmother who was going to leave me with my great-grandmother for the weekend. i felt responsible for her death and you bet your life, i stopped praying. i don't know if stopped believing in god, but i suppose the thought crossed my mind. at the very least, it was the impetus i needed to explore other religions and grow comfortable in my assertions and beliefs today, however, i also remember being as young as three or four (and i know i was this young because my brother wasn't born yet) and asking my mom why people all around the world spoke of different gods if there was only supposed to one. i didn't understand the indignant and voracious method behind wanting to be right, i just saw christian missionaries on save the children television specials telling other people they were wrong for believing in their own damn gods and i questioned it.

so. i never knew that he didn't believe in god. i knew he was angry when i met him, angry when we were together and he wanted to project a lot of that anger on to me and i let him. despite my nearly life-long interest in psychology, i was 16, i didn't know better than to take on some of the blame and guilt that people threw at me and i didn't know how to reach him, just like i don't know how to reach our son. communication between my son and i has improved but only when he's willing and when he's not, well, he's just like his father. he shuts down and shuts me out. according to his father's mother, his father still does this to her. i've always known that wasn't healthy, and i'm sure, even at 16, i shared this with people that i thought were closed off to their inner feelings. i must have reminded this guy a lot of his mother...

when she also told me that things have been really hard for him, i knew she wasn't making excuses for her son. he can't work on his feet for long without the screw in his leg, holding the rod to or near his knee, causing a lot of pain. after the rod was placed in his thigh, he injured his back when he finally did get back to work, because his leg muscles aren't working properly and there's lots of misalignment going on, i'm sure. i'm sure because what made it nearly impossible for me to get out of bed during my last pregnancy was caused by a combination of misalignments and improper muscle function, starting with my hamstrings. i can relate and even though we haven't spoken in years and the last time we did, he was still so angry at me and wanted to blame me for all manner of things, even things i had absolutely nothing to do with, i am not angry at him.

his mom told me that she'll call me to let me know if and when he gets a job or if and when he can help out with our son. chances are, that will never happen. the old pessimist in me, can't help but think that. i hold on to so much hope for so many other, more important things, that i just can't lend any to that scenario. and that's okay. our son, my son, has never gone without and we got regular child support payments when i needed it the most - when i went back to school and supported my son and i without also having to work. we lived off of child support and student loans for three years while i got my batchelor's degree and for that i am grateful.

i'm probably going to drop our case with the state. so that he can get his license back and not have to worry about losing it again, when he can't make his monthly payments. who knows if he'll even ever be in a position to have another car, he may not be able to get on his feet, literally and figuratively, because for all that i've just shared, there is a lot more to this story. i don't feel sorry for him, necessarily. he's made his choices and it is up to each one of us to accept personal responsibility and then move on from the chains that hold us down, but i know the reality is that sometimes the mental and emotional chains are stronger than we are. he has enough to deal with, though, so at this point, i no longer want to be a part of what holds him down.

1 comment:

  1. I got a strange sense of peace with your last sentence. Thanks for sharing this.
    (and i like that you don't use caps.)


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