The common theme this week in our blogger world seems to be numbness. Dawn and Madyson both talked about being numb and not feeling. (Dawn's blog is set to private so I didn't link you over to her.)
I was just thinking about how calm I always am about things that most people are flipping out over. I don't think this is necessarily a good thing. I mean it is....I can keep my wits about me in some big situations. For example though, yesterday little one stayed after school for drama club. When I got there to pick her up, the drama teacher, another mom, came out to the car and said, "Annette!!! There was an official lock down today at school. The police had to come with their guns, and I had to lock the doors and have the kids hide in the class with their heads down...." She showed me her hands were shaking and she said she had been so afraid. I felt nothing. I knew it was probably nothing. Just a precaution....and it was.
(It ended up that an elderly woman was walking on the school's nature trail and smoking a cigarette with a hoodie on. Someone thought she looked suspicious....why someone couldn't walk out and say, "Hey, did you know school is in session and you can't walk here during school hours...is beyond me. The poor little thing probably had no idea of the trouble she caused.)
My initial reaction is always, "Ohhhh its nothing." My kids get hurt, sick..."your ok." A catastrophe (like the plumbing backs up) at home happens and I go into management mode...."Lets find a solution." The school goes on lock down...."Its nothing. They will find out its all a false alarm." Of course those parents from Sandy Hook would have some vehement arguments for me I am sure.
I was talking to the dad about it and saying, I think it comes from years of the drama. Thankfully our years of high drama seem to be over. But those years do something to you. "Oh the police are at the door." Or "Oh the jail is on the phone." "Oh my girl can't hold her head up. Lets help her to bed....problem solved." Eventually she wasn't allowed to come over even to visit....a very difficult decision, but it was made with little emotion. A fact that we had to live with.
We tend to normalize what we can't fix or wrap our heads around. Another long time blogger friend who no longer blogs wrote a post once about how we "compromise" our standards as a family, as a person, to make room for our addicted child. We want to gather them in so badly. To save them. That we allow our convictions to be chipped away at little by little to make room for what is so not normal or familiar to us. Coming in late seems like nothing compared to what we could be dealing with. Smoking pot is sure a heck of a lot better than shooting up heroin. Sleeping all day is peaceful compared to an angry addict storming around all day. Not going to class....well the teacher obviously doesn't understand my child. Eventually we get pushed to a point that is beyond our abilities to minimize, to normalize, and we have to take action, to make some decisions.
I think us parents often find ourselves in such an awful, dark place, that we have to cope anyway we can....by making something awful and scary, "normal." By stopping feeling, because if we felt everything that is there....we would break into a million pieces and may never be able to be put back together again. At least thats our fear. I think in all actuality that we are all much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. Before any of this began for us, the dad and I went to a "parenting your teenager" class in preparation for the big turning point of our little kids becoming big kids. The teacher spoke of drug and alcohol use and I sat there, big and pregnant with little one, thinking, I could probably handle one of them dying better than I could handle one of them using drugs or being an alcoholic. I also sat there thinking "My kids will never do that." Who knew?!
I think that eventually, after years of numbness, years of letting go and detaching, we get to a place where we can begin to look at what we have gone through....whether our child is healthy or not. Our time comes when it comes. It is the proverbial peeling of the onion. We get to look at it layer by layer and work through it all little by little. Process it, feel it, forgive...and the forgiveness is for our own benefit. It releases us from the bitterness that poisons our spirits. We get to let go of our hurts and our anger (obviously a simplified version).....but I think those years do leave their mark on us forever. I know that I only have so much energy for friendships, for my husband, for myself. A lot of times, normal things feel like a chore. I don't have the energy. Even detaching takes energy. Processing takes energy....and I am tired.
Our addicts have their own wreakage to work through too...for when they begin to get well, they have to peel back layers in their own onion and look head on at the damage they have done to the people they love the most. I think we often live a parallel life with our addicted kids, dealing with similar issues that come from different roots. They have to navigate the guilt, the fear of living in a world without any buffer....just as we have to learn a new way to live letting go of our fear, our anger, our desire to control and fix. We both have to learn how to do life in spite of what we feel.
This is a long and winding journey...and just because we are numb today, doesn't mean we always will be. For today we are where we are. We cope the best we can and I think thats all any of us can do. We try to live as fully as we can and that will be different for all of us.