WARNING: This is not my usual "look on the bright side" post.
I saw this on the back cover of a notebook my son brought home from rehab (I added the Bible verse). I was clearing things out and I threw the notebook away, but I decided to keep this example of marking time.
When I first took my son in to see a substance abuse counselor, the man painted a very dim picture of my son's future. And I listened politely (stubbornly), thinking "no, our story will be different". After a few more years had passed, I was forced to admit the guy's assessment was fairly accurate. I spent a little time being angry at the messenger, and wondering why he did not insist right then that I pack my son up and get him into a rehabilitation program that very day. But the messenger knew what I did not yet know. It has been one of the most bitter realizations I have come to in this past year, that I cannot force change on anyone, no matter how much I love them, no matter how badly I wish things were different.
(What I truly resent is the fact that the treatment center will never mention how important the client's willingness to participate is to the process. They will take your money that you have sold your soul to the devil to get to pay for their sevices while they are talking their smooth talk of strengthening families and turning lives around. But that is a whole "nother subject.)
And I'm not bashing my son. No one can force change on me either. I am in my own little tangle, and there are things I need to do, can do, to help myself. Some of them are simple things. I don't sit and make hash (no pun intended) marks on a notebook marking the days till I can get out. I sit around counting the days till I can be rescued from my tangle. It all comes down to the same thing, doesn't it? An unwillingness to expend the energy that is necessary to change the things that could be changed to help ourselves.
It hurts to run into the mother of one of my son's friends and hear how well that young man is doing, that he has completed the very same program my son began last year and then quit. It hurts to know that several of my young friends from school are all set to graduate this semester, and I quit two semesters away from finishing. It hurts to know that last year looked like it was going to be the year of healing for my family and it wasn't. I hurt.
(He's doing all right, BTW, my son. He is in town, but not living with us. I believe he is progressing, but it is painstakingly slow. I miss him, but at the same time, we have to have a little distance, for the sake of both of us. Otherwise, I will give him far too much and that is not what he needs from me. I feel a great sadness about that, but I also have come to accept that I am part of the problem.)
I don’t know “how many days I been in this place” but I made my first post about a year ago. Last year things looked so hopeful. This year, the whole idea of naming this blog “New Life Rising” seems a bit of a stretch. Things looked so ripe with promise then. Things look so bleak now. Seems like I should have named the place "Observations From the Dung Heap".
There has been a lot of water under the bridge since last year. Some of it I have written about. Some of it I have kept to myself. I can’t point to any one thing that has me whipped down. I think it is just the accumulation of a bunch of things, and the constant, ongoing stress in my life.
Speaking metaphorically, I think one of the things that hurts the worst is the realization that my pretty yellow dress does not hide any of my flaws. For so long, I have secretly wanted to qualify for “Saint of the Year” (and I thought I had a chance) but I know now that I will never even make the runner-up list. Sure, it looks bright from a distance. If you do not get too close, things look great. I have a husband and three children who are physically healthy. I have a home to live in. I have a job that is okay. I am able to work. But if you dig much deeper, there are major cracks and flaws in my life. Something has to be done. Something has needed to be done for some time now. And I have been in a fog.
I have given up on a lot of the ideals I used to long for (can't reach them anyway). I'm not sure what to put in place of the idealistic visions I once held. Right now, I’m just enduring life. And I guess the honest truth (even when it is ugly, even when it is painful) is just as good a thing as any to put in the place of idealism.
I know that I sound bleak today. I know that I will see brighter days. Sometimes I struggle with how honest I want to be in this place. I don't really like being this honest, but on some days, I just can't continue churning out the cheese.
It's been a tough year, a disappointing year. I don't expect the next one to be any easier.
But, on the bright side, I really like being in this place, and it's good to air out bad feelings every once in a while. My mood has lifted somewhat, thanks to a Christmas parade, a haircut and a visit to church Sunday morning. I am posting the Christmas parade photos and commentary right after this in hopes that my darkness will not dominate this place.