Parenting Warehouse Fires...
We call things that go wrong in our lives “shit shows” or “dumpster fires” but after watching a movie this past weekend, I am changing all of that...when things in your life really go sideways, at least for me, it is really more like a warehouse fire. I mean have you ever seen one? It is crazy. A towering inferno that engulfs and cremates everything. All the goods melting or exploding as the case may be. To me, when things go wrong in my life, warehouse fire just seems to sum up how I feel inside.
In reality, my life is nothing like a warehouse fire. But it feels that way a great deal. My emotions, not the circumstances, are what feel like they are burning out of control, threatening everything I hold dear. Feeling has always been the thing in my life that feels unstable and on the verge of spontaneous combustion.
Now would be prime time. My son’s issue have exploded and caused a great deal of collateral damage. Again, the explosion hurts him the most, but the rest of us, standing by, watching my son melt it all down again, we are charred one more time.
I have remained steadfast and hopeful. For 17.5 years, I have showed up day after day with some ridiculous renewed hope that perhaps, just maybe, this time things would be different. So many treatment centers, therapists, medications, well intentioned friends...so many interventions...but really so very little progress. He seems almost unable to not ignite one warehouse fire after another in his own life. It kills me. It pushes him further and further away from the life that I want for him. One of purpose and fun. One where he feels loved and lovable. It is so incredibly painful to have a ringside seat to the warehouse fire that rages out of control in your child’s life, and despite the five alarm fire bells ringing and the fire people standing all around, the ruinous fire burns out of control still.
So many people have tried to help. So many people have gone out of their way. So many people have done so much and it is never enough to provide any lasting change.
I am tired. Any novelty of a warehouse fire has long since been extinguished in my life. Now they are just hot and threaten to burn my life to the ground also. I do not want that. I do not want that for him and I really do not want that for myself.
But I am powerless. Completely and utterly powerless. I keep showing up with a spray bottle thinking that I can help. I am really just in the way.
He has six months left of childhood and he is likely going to spend that time locked away somewhere where he can’t hurt himself or others. And he will do well. He will work a program. He will do the things he needs to do to ensure that he is released asap. And then the whole warehouse fire will begin again.
Have I said that I am tired? Well, I am.
Exactly when do you walk away as a parent? When you have no legal authority anymore? Does that absence of legal responsibility change your moral responsibility?
No. It does not.
I love my son. I do not like his behavior. I do not like the way he thinks and the things he says and does. But I love him. And sometimes that love feels like a prison. One that I have been sentenced to for a crime I didn’t commit. I gave birth and I have done my best. Not perfect by a long shot but I have shown up, in this case, really ready for battle every day. And I have continued to show up even when I no longer wanted to and showing up caused me untold amounts of pain and suffering.
I am still here. Showing up. And it still hurts.
I feel the heat of his meltdown on my face as I stare helplessly as he starts yet another fire. I wonder if this one will be the one that consumes me? Him? His sister? His future? My relationship? My ability to maintain employment? Housing? When will the proverbial dominoes fall?
It is a horrible way to live. I have done my best to busy myself with other things. Hiking, the gym, writing, reading all in an effort to keep my flailing sanity from completely exiting its tenuous residency in my life.
It has been a hard road and they all seem to lead to the same warehouse fire over and over again. And I am tired of viewing it, standing idly by while the professionals work diligently to put it out, knowing all the while that it will conflagurate again momentarily and we are all consigned to this groundhog like day of a more permanent existence.
I am weary folks. I won’t give up. I can’t. He is my kid and I love him. But I am so fucking tired of having to attend one warehouse fire after another. I am singed. My hair wreaks of smoke as do my clothes. Life feels rented not owned. And I am so tired of my bystander status whose window to effectuate change is rapidly closing which feels like a blessing and a curse all rolled into one.
Pray for him. And me. And his sister. And all the people he effects daily. We all need it. We are all tired. Warehouse fires are no fun. The stench and destruction only worsens the closer you get to the flames. And I have been standing way too close for way too long, praying always for the grace and strength to get the combination of staying and leaving right and feeling always like I never, ever do.