Archive for November, 2010

In Latent Adoloscence, I shared my heart about The Boy’s uneven legs as he navigates the physical, emotional and spiritual journey of adolescence.

My post suggested there was more pain than poetry in the process.

Imagine my surprise then, when today, in the middle of soccer Saturday as our family juggles four games and I was manning a volunteer gig at a local grocery store for one of the kids’ schools, I get the following text with form The Boy.

Used with his permission, I stand corrected.

There is also poetry:

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What once was shall be again.
The past shall bring pain.

Secrets and lies once buried deep
shall return from their troubled sleep.

The figures of the past bring only death
coming fast.

People fall and scream
at the nightmares of their dreams.

Out of the past comes the present
which turns back again.

Trapped in the hell we call reality
no one is left to combat the fell Past.

The secrets and lies have returned in double strength.
Leaving nothing.

The Boy

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Who can truly say what a man
will pay for his shot at glory?

For the glory and wealth
a man will forfeit his life.

He will pay all that he has,
and never suspect
that he has been had.

When he realizes
competitors are a dozen a dime,
he is fit to eat only with swine.

The Boy

Once again, marvel at the valor of his process.

Now I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah
Hallelujah

Like my recent bout with vertigo, my son’s full immersion into the transformation of adolescence has spun the balance of many family dynamics.

The Husband and I sprint to shift our parenting to meet the needs of this new kind of man-child. The Boy calls for respect and space as we maintain new parental roles that are more like consultants than coaches. His experiences are profound, uneven and difficult for us to fully understand. As such, we try to listen more and speak less. Last night, however, he returned home clearly disheartened. He shared his perceptions about some of the experiences that he had encountered during his day and felt discouraged in his evaluation of his progress.

As an outside observer, I of course perceived many of the situations much more positively, and from a different and pro-The Boy perspective. I challenged him to consider that the thoughts he chose to dwell upon were like fireflies in a net. I suggested to him that with practice, he could light up his thoughts and dwell upon other things. For example, instead of the identification of the social interactions or moments of the day that made him feel uncomfortable, he could consider those things from his day that he felt good about, was pleased by or had done well. I told him that I knew it was not as simple as that, but that I believed with practice he could dwell on possibilities.

He is a kind lad, and didn’t tell me what he thought of the idea. However clumsy my attempts to make him feel better, he still trusts that I am trying to help. He offered a hug and shuffled off to bed.

After the day that I have had, I imagine that had he told me what he thought, he would have said it was a load of human fertilizer.

I am one of the “grown-ups” who live in my house, and I had a day that was uneven and profoundly difficult for me to understand. As if the vertigo flipped my insecurity switch to high, every time I left our home I felt like a giant and idiotic loser. In an almost paranoid fashion, I stressed out that people were unhappy with me, didn’t want to associate with me, and/or thought I was crazy. I felt small and unimportant. I felt useless and alone. I began to build a case about how I am not as good as other moms and how every other woman who has ever crowned a head does it better and with more joy and less stretch marks than I muster. As I began to convince myself that I was less than those around me, my self-loathing escaped like a ravenous beast too long starved by self-control. It wanted to eat! It wanted to chew my confidence! It wanted to drink my hope like warm blood.

I had to quiet the beast. I had to assure it that everything was okay. I had to promise that I no longer needed its brutal protection. I struggled with my own thoughts to make it stand-down.

“Stand down,” I told it, “it’s my watch now.”

All the while its insidious rant echoed in my own head like a grenade, I thought about the casual challenge I so piously tossed to The Boy last night. “Capture other thoughts,” I told him. “Dwell on other things.” “If you don’t like the song, change the station.”

I spent the better part of my afternoon and evening trying myself to capture other thoughts, dwell on other things, and change my own damn song! Supposedly I know how to do it, and have a good work history. I confess, even as I type, about the best I have mustered is that I know that I can create a shift in my focus. I haven’t entirely turned the corner on how I’m telling myself the story of my day.

There’s a line from an old hymn that sings, “Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble.”

I tremble for The Boy tonight. Not in fear, I shake in epiphany. If the best that I can metacognitvely achieve in a long afternoon is to identify that I need to shift my attitude (without success), how daunting must it be to The Boy to be flooded by the tsunami Adolescence? How feeble must it seem to him to be counseled about changing his tape?

Man! I not only remember how much it sometimes hurt to be a teen, I experienced full-blown, latent adolescence today.

I need to dwell on how real and large not only his experience is, but his inexperience in dealing with such new thoughts, hormones and uncertainties.

My success today amid my cluttered, internal dialog was that it did not come out of my mouth or show in my behaviors (I hope…!). My neurotic station sings upon the stage of my own choppy mind.

I pray that the next time The Boy’s song hits the air, or manifests through his behavior, that I will be more genuinely sympathetic.

I pray the next time we share that kind of space that I will be able to better honor his experience as he so valorously does the noble work of building up the kind of man he will become.

It’s his watch now.

And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!

she swims our circle
in full spotlight
yet somehow lingers
still hidden
in the shadows
like a dolphin

carefully
she calculates
each graceful dip and dive
to a privileged audience
she can jump from her deep blue water
in a lithe arch
as visible as the sun on a june morning
with similar ease
she can plunge silently
and disappear into her depths
she chooses just when and where
she wants to be seen

she speaks softly
with a poet’s voice
her sassy verse shocks satan
and builds whole cities
on the coast

with bucket and shovel
she walks the beach alone
she erects castles in the sand
and paints driftwood art
a muse who splashes
the seashore with color

she teeters tall
in platform pumps
the wind playfully whips
her fair hair
across her face
like a shade
that eclipses her
intelligent deep brown eyes

she turns to the sea
her deeds here now done
she squints as the bright sun shines
and stands proud
bathed in full light
like a mermaid
beauty in silence

In keeping with a dizzying trend with the women of my father’s side of the family, I experienced my second, significant bout of vertigo this morning.  My beloved grandmother, Beauty, was prone to it, and I recall her saying that she wouldn’t wish it on her worst enemy.  What compels about this quip is that not only did my Beauty not have any enemies, she never-ever complained.  For her to mention something was unpleasant was unusual. For her to actually confess an encounter was loathsome, well, that just didn’t happen…. at least not in front of the grandchildren.

I actually wondered yesterday if I was physically off, and felt fuzzy and overtired all day.  I knew when I woke  this morning that something was wrong.  The ceiling fan seemed to dart down toward me like a 3-D, horror film blade, and my head felt sloshy.  For those of you medical types out there, I respect this is an imprecise diagnostic term, but it’s the correct word.  My head felt wet.  It slipped like blurred vision, but I could clearly see.  It brought to mind pears in a mason jar.  The Husband had already gotten up, so I tried to get out of bed.

I immediately fell.  My legs couldn’t hold me up.  It took me a too-long moment to perceive that it was imbalance that threw me off my legs, and not weakness.  My step-mom had a couple of strokes in March, my step-father lost his best friend in a single car accident in July, and a dear family friend had a stroke in August.  The fragility of health has been firmly cataloged and rehearsed by my family circle over the past eight months. I confess, as I laid there on the bedroom floor, and the room swam in circles in front of my eyes, I was afraid.

I couldn’t walk, so I crawled out of the bedroom and called for The Husband.  I knew before he came around the corner that he was concerned.  I heard the haste in his fast steps and alarm in his voice before he knelt down to level his most welcome face to mine.

“What, Baby?  What is it?” he inquired as he put his arms around me like a shield.  I felt his eyes assess my condition even as his words ministered their comfort.

“Vertigo?” I said as I pulled myself in a ball against his chest.

The Husband did what he does.  He helped me.  He was my responsive and calm, steady port.  His arms were safety and home.

Vertigo is like a gale that flips a ship off course.  All of a sudden, the internal compass simply spins.

It leaves me feeling like someone put my brain in a jar and gave it a good shake like a holiday snow globe.

If you didn’t know, there are postures you can assume to help recalibrate balance in response to vertigo.  They make the room spin even worse, and I always feel like I need to throw up, but they help, as does a long nap.

As such, today I was low and slow, and sometimes spinning.   I briefly put my head up to attend to critical emails  I hadn’t addressed all day.  Naturally, my inbox was pregnant and bloated with messages.

I found I message from a dear friend’s mother.  She explained that her daughter and grandchildren were in a dangerous, potentially tragic situation.

The whirl of this most unwelcome news was the emotional equivalent of vertigo like PTSD.

Two short years ago, this dear friend was in the middle of a similar situation.  It took a full-scale intervention to extricate her and her children.

Like an unwelcome gale, it spins my compass to learn they are in the middle of another sea of abuse.

If you didn’t know, abuse postures you to assume debasement, to forcibly recalibrate worth in response to isolated helplessness.  It assaults the spirit to split from the body, and begins a cycle that uproots families.

There is no more insidious snare.

The fragility of her  choices has been firmly cataloged, and I confess I am afraid for her.

I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah!