Monday, May 28, 2012

The "State of my Life" address

Happy Memorial Day! In honor of today, we're going to go do the lawn of a retired veteran who's no longer able to do it himself. Sometime today, after Dwaine returns from a trip to get an oil leak fixed in our newest vehicle, the 2010 Toyota Corolla.

Thanks so much to my son Austin for fixing my wireless on my laptop! Apparently there is a toggle switch on the keyboard, function-F8, of which I was blissfully unaware until it somehow got toggled off and my Internet was down, down, down, down (as Bruce Springsteen would croon). I guess my boy's still useful for something! Otherwise, he is hopelessly in love and completely sidetracked by a new flame. When he's not obsessively texting her or physically with her, he's working (still the greaseboy at Sonic, where she also works). He's pretty much finished with school, although he has to go check in Tuesday - Friday. I don't know how he's going to make it in college, being as obsessed with her as he is at the moment. But a mother's love never fails, never gives up ...

Perhaps you could intuit that it's been a time of high emotional stress for me, lately. Austin's high school graduation is next Friday. I think I've untangled a few of the feelings flying around:

1. Mourning, for the loss of my child forever
2. A really bittersweet feeling about what it means to graduate from high school -- moving on, of never being able to return again to those carefree days of childhood (this is how I felt about my own graduation)
3. Jealousy, because my son is being taken away by another woman!
4. Worry, that my son is going off a cliff with this girlfriend and is going to ruin his life and his future, etc., etc.

Notice the lack of "happy" or "celebratory" feelings, although those do make appearances, too. They were present at the senior recognition services held at our church and at its Hispanic counterpart, El Mesias, the last two Sundays.

Otherwise, that's a potent stew of feelings, there. That would explain why I've had a couple of tossing and turning nights recently. All these dark feelings are mostly a reflection on me, and my personality. That's the realization that has kept me from going completely berserk! I can hold back from projecting them onto my son, when I am at my best. I must thank the contemplative practice for leading me to that grace. I've always had these very deep emotions at my disposal, for good or bad, throughout my entire life. They're practically my best friends now! "Hello darkness, my old friend ..." (Simon & Garfunkel) Actually, I couldn't bear to give up the depths of emotional feeling that God has gifted me with. So there! You're not really living until you are sobbing your eyes out at the grand tragedy of life!

Back to family matters. Dwaine & I are having some battles with Austin now because he's turning 18 and that makes him, in his eyes, "an adult." Ha! Ha! But laughing to his face doesn't really help matters (yeah, learned that the hard way). This, too, is a necessary rite of passage, though it makes the ride bumpy.

His latest wish-demand? To go off to the beach with the girlfriend for a weekend, which we've previously forbidden. The only real leverage we have now is to kick him out of the house and make him go it on his own, and I'm not ready (quite!) to do that. I want to give him a chance to succeed in college first. In the meantime, there's some serious negotiating that goes on all the time. He wants to hang out with his friends/girlfriend all the time ... I negotiate blocks of free time for him in return for household chores and other obligations, which he does. He's really quite responsible, helped along by frequent reminders. Did I mention he loves his brother, intensely? Their closeness is something I marvel at. And that he and I often text back and forth (either chatting or arguing), pretty much every day? He is still strongly connected to his family, but don't ask him to admit to that.

He's not a bad child, just misdirected at the moment, hormones in solid control of the decision center of his brain. Really, was I there once, too? Yes I was, and somehow -- God only knows how -- I survived to tell the story! And I didn't come out half bad, either!

I'm not sure what his character is going to be, and that's what frightens me to the core. However, it is out of my hands now, and I can honestly say I have done my best. Ouch! I can't mourn prematurely, though, much as I enjoy doing that ... imagining all the disasters looming, working myself up. That's one of my strongest personality traits! Can anyone relate to that? I think that's an actual family trait. Not naming any names here, but I do think that there are several other family members (esp. on my mom's side) with this lovely sort of anxiety disorder.

I must remember what Thomas Jefferson said: "How much pain the evils cost us, that never happened." (It's on my wall at work to remind me, one of Jefferson's top 10 quotes.)

And then there's this: "Put it in the God box!" I do, and then take it out again and fret some more, then put it back in. At night, it just comes out, like all the stuff that came out of Pandora's box, haunting me, and I have to deal with it somehow, alone in the dark ... that's where my life is, at the moment. But I know that others suffer too, and I can commune with them now as I couldn't when I was younger.

Thanks so much to Alice Lackness, my companion in the spiritual formation class at church, for crying too, and for giving me some perspective that this, too, shall pass. It helps me so much, as well, to write it all out. Somehow, it gives me a lot more emotional distance and perspective. Having that list of feelings, above, is a great help. It hadn't been clear until I wrote it all down.

On to the next crisis!!

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