I woke up excited. I mean overjoyed. I mean fucking thrilled. I get to see and hold my son tomorrow. I get to actually see him, touch him. The new him. Not the sullen, angry, swearing man child that I dropped off. But this new version of him that he has found living in the Alaskan wilderness.
He is going to show me all the stuff he has learned. All the stuff he has done. How chopping wood and carrying water, and building fire and shelter have changed him into this new person that I do not know. I have not met before. This boy who I have known all of his life.
My heart soared this morning. My heart felt elated and light and like it might jump out of my chest and run and get to him before the rest of me. I want to cry but this time tears of happy joy instead of the pain soaked tears that brought us to this savage land to begin with...
Something happened here. Something magical and salvational. My boy was changed into a loving human instead of the fear ridden, angry child. He was released upon himself and all those demons that haunted him, he somehow befriended.
He sent me a video yesterday. Just me. Not his dad. Me! The person that he most resented. I got a video telling me how much he loved me, missed me and couldn’t wait to see me. Me! My heart melted. My heart pounded with the kind of ferocity that is known only to mother’s hearts. I suppose perhaps father’s hearts can feel it too. But I know nothing of that...I only know mother love.
And now I know exploding rapture heart love. I know how it feels to have someone break your heart every day. To feel despondent about the future and present and past of your relations with that person. I know how it feels to be terrified every day. To feel ruined by the person over and over again. How it feels to be so lost, that being found doesn’t appear to be an option.
I know how it feels to seek help and find none. I know how it feels to seek help and attempt to access help and be told that the help you need, he needs, can’t be accessed for a myriad of reasons. We have seen so many therapists, doctors, occupational therapists, and other related professionals and nothing worked. The meds didn’t work. The therapy didn’t work. The behavior modification didn’t work. All the people who were supposed to know, didn't.
I will never forget the night I took him to the Emergency Room when he was like seven. He was out of control, angry and abusive. I didn’t know what to do. He had been raging for hours. Angry to the point of being a danger to me, to himself. I was so scared and hurting. He was so scared and hurting. He was a mess. I was a mess. I took him there because I didn’t know what else to do. We waited behind a thin curtain, him hitting me and me trying to love him and comfort him while protecting myself. The nurse came in and saw him assault me and she said, “I’ll come back later...”
That is how this journey has felt for me. Everyone will come back later. The teachers, the doctors, the therapists, the specialists, the pharmacists. They will all come back later when things have calmed down. Well, they never fucking calmed down. My son and I were left struggling to figure out that which no one with advanced degrees could figure out while we waited for them to all come back later to provide us some answer, some solution that never really felt accessible. There were always so many barriers. So many obstacles to overcome. There was this great therapy group but it was 40 miles away and because of traffic it would take 2 hours just to get there...There was this great doctor but he didn’t take insurance and his hourly rate was $700 per hour. There was this great therapist but they were in Michigan. In the end, that is how it always felt...help was always available over there...and there was no way to get from here to there.
Somehow through the movement of God and fate and a therapist that wholly betrayed my son, we ended up on the shores of Alaska. I dropped him off with people I didn’t know for a program I didn’t understand. I was blinded and withdrawn. Terrified to leave him but more afraid to let him stay. I was lost and so was he. What do you do when you have no idea how to help your child? Where do you go? Where do you turn?
For us, I turned to trusting the next fucking indicated thing. Alaska was suggested. Alaska was ridiculously expensive. But I knew somewhere inside me that this was the next indicated thing. And so I found a way. I made it happen. I moved heaven and earth and got him here.
I say that not to pat myself on the back. I did what mothers and father everywhere do every day. I walked through the terror and fear and trusted that most innate part of myself, that wild exploding heart that will not give up or quit or throw in the towel. He is my son, my first born. How could I do anything else?
Tomorrow I meet my son who I have known all his life but whom I have never met before. He is born anew from the ashes of his former self. Me I am reborn also. I have never been this mother before. This person who left him in wild Alaska a few weeks ago. We are strangers to the selves we have become and perhaps unrelated in all our relatedness. We are newborns in the currentness of our relations. We are here, present but novice in our understanding of each other. I have always know him but I didn’t see so much of him. I have learned things about him since he has been gone that I was too close to see before. These kinds of things can only be seen with distance..capacity, heart, metal, grit. I couldn’t see these things in him with his daily struggles being lashed upon my frail motherhood and the living room furniture. I could not see that all the things he did and said were wordy life rafts in his heavy sea’ed adolescence. I could not see, I was too close.
I have never met this version of my son. He is new even though his form is similar. He is tanned by the wild sun, and features honed by the untamed winds. He has seen things that I will never see. Paddled for his life while having to then catch dinner and make a shelter. My privileged life does not allow for such things. I do not know wild like he does.
I have never been this version of myself before. I am reborn unto myself and soon to him. I am not the mother who bore him, raised him or even dropped him off. That mother died a thousand deaths. She is no longer here. She is distant in her thoughts and demands, leaving in her stead this new mother who is sure of the nothingness she knows. There is a place in all of us where we meet the person we have always been but were too afraid to own. We are reborn to ourselves again and again if we are lucky. Always finding some new way to see who we are. And if you are a mother, you are lucky enough to see this happen to your children as they grow.
And if you are really fucking brave, your heart can explode with love one day when you wake on the eve of your reintroduction to your child. Perhaps we could all do this every new day. Meet our children with an exploding heart that holds us both accountable and in good favor. A heart that loves and lives and explodes toward the objects we adore.
I know this is an ending and a beginning and there is lots of heavy lifting again. The only thing more powerful than the desire for change, the strong, hard pull to change back.
But work and change are for another day. Not this weekend. This weekend, I take my exploding heart to him and give it all to him. Let the mother fucker be an IED of love. Burst my tender, wounded heart all over the distant camp where my son began to find some peace within his own heart. Where his soul, his misunderstood, hostage soul was released to him finally. Giving him agency and freedom never before known. Showing him what an exploding heart can do in this life, for him, for me, for all who encounter someone who is unafraid to love with their whole self. Someone who is dumb enough to believe that what is missing can be found on the rocky shores of a wild frontier...and that only a wild frontier filled with near misses and austere conditions could ever provide a teenage boy access to his own exploding heart....