Tuesday, December 15, 2009

An Epiphone from Inside the Abyss

     For most of the day I allowed it to consume me.  Not because I wanted to, but it was like an unseen blackness swallowing me inch by inch.  I think I finally understand - at least maybe - what it is my mother feels like inside.  The madness.  The craziness.  The irrational spin that is placed on every moment and everyone that falls into her path.  It's been horrible!  I want to curl into a ball and cry.  In fact, though, I am finding it very difficult to stop playing the tape of today........so I will share.

    The overwhelming guilt and shame that I have been feeling finally seeped into my soul today.  I woke feeling tired, out of sorts, and irritated.......not by anything or anyone, but by everyday normal things.  The fact that my cat was laying on my leck - usually a comfort to me, was an annoyance.  The coffee took too long to drip.  Eevn my son's usual morning hug, left me feeling half hearted. 
    I had a headache.  They have been more frequent lately, and the intensity is that of a migraine by the end of most days -- complete with the nausea and sensitivity to sound and lights.  I took my Treximet (migraine med), had a cup of coffee, rushed my son off to school, and felt relieved that I was able to squeeze out a loving "have a nice day" to my son before he exited the car.  By the time I had driven the 9 blocks home, I was agitated, and unsure why.  I thought I would rest - take the day and escape in sleep.  I was ready to chalk it all up to the headache and my feelings of inadequacy.  
   My phone began ringing within an hour, and my friend was relentless.  I must interject here that this particular friend has manipulative behavoirs, and a crush on me.  He uses them both to his advantage at times, and when he does, I find myself pushing him away.  Manipulation isn't something I am fond of -- from either side of the fence.  However, if I was going to get any rest, I would have to field it NOW.
"What Window's version is on your computer?", he asked.
"Windows XP, why?", although I asked why, I was already sure the motive would not be revealed, yet, we would have to play the game to get it out of him.  Not what I needed, wanted, nor thought I could tolerate today.
"Ok, thanks."  With that, he hung up.  SHIT!!  I wanted to let it go............but, within 20 mins I recieved a text from him. 
"Can you please call me?  I think I may have done something to overstep my boundaries, and I want to explain."  SHIT!!  I was angry, annoyed, frustrated, and didn't want to play the game......but, as I stated earlier, I was living what I assume to be a day in the life of my mother.  So, I gave myself a few deep breaths, and called him.
"I got (my son's name here) an MP3 player today.  I am not trying to buy his or your love, I just really like your son, and wanted to do this for him."  Now, if you have ever been manipulated, or been a manipulator, you know that there is an inflection - a tone - that almost forms the statement into a question.
"I wish you would have talked to me before you did this.  Is there someone else you can give it to?  You know I can't buy your daughter anything and I will feel guilty."  Great!!  More guilt!!  Not only because I can't reciprocate, but also because someone else is able to do for my son what I would like to be able to do.  AND.....here is where my mother's madness becomes my own........I was instantly struck by the indignant fact that my son's phone is an MP3 player, and if someone had wanted to get my son a gift --- so badly enough to manipulate me into having to let them -- that my son should at least get a gift he wanted.  Oh how (seriously) terrible I am to have thought this -- but I did.
"(my name) I know that you can't give (his daughter's name here) anything.  It's ok.  I just know that (my son's name here) is so into music, and I thought he would really like to have it.  I guess I should have asked first?  I just never thought it would make you feel bad.  I am so sorry."  He continued to explain to me how much he cares for me and my son, and how he just didn't think that it would hurt me this way.....blah, blah, blah.  Then, the kicker came, "....but please don't deprive (my son's name here) of something he may want because of my stupidity."  OMG!!!  In my madness the thoughts were swirling like a tornado!  If you really wanted him to have something special that he would like, then ask me what he wants, and if it's ok to get it for him...........don't manipulate me!  After the call, I laid back down -- feeling worse about my inability to do for my son for Christmas, feeling physically horrible, and now adding to the madness, I have slipped into thoughts only my crazy mother could have planted and mastered.  There were only 2 things seperating me from her at that moment (and truely for the rest of the day) --- I wasn't ranting out loud (it was all from inside and stayed there), and I knew that what I was feeling and thinking were CRAZY!  Wow!  I am not sure it is comforting -- but it is the only sane and comforting reason that I didn't crawl into a snow bank and hide.

   About 3pm - just 10 mins. before I am to pickup my son from school, the phone rang again.  It was my dear girlfriend with 5 boys.  I figured she was running late and needed me to play taxi, or that she needed my help in some way.  No, I don't always jump to this conclusion when she calls - we truely are good friends.  However, when it is that close to schools end, I was sure it was something. 
"Hi!  How are you?', her pleasent voice was actually soothing to me.
"I am ok.....nasty headache today.  Just gettin ready to go get (my son's name here).  Do you need me to round up your chickens and fly them home?",  I tried to put up a brave front.
"Well, I was actually wondering if you could get (her oldest son - also in the same grade as mine) and let him hang out with you until Basketball practice?  Then, after that could you pick him up, take him home, and watch all of the boys while (her husband's name here) and I go Christmas shopping?"  I twinged thinking of the many times I have watched her boys (for free) when they were home sick - so she could work - or because she was running late, since I wasn't working, and how the money she saved by me watching them
was going to benefit her children ---- meanwhile, my son would be getting one gift if lucky, and she wasn't even attempting to hide the fact that it had never crossed her mind to pay me - even a little bit.  How awful to feel like such an asshole, when this is my friend!!  But, it was like someone was stabbing me......truely, it was awful the way my mind was hatching all this negativity and chaos.
"Sure.  Do you have any idea when you will be back?  Or should I plan to stay until the boys are in bed?"  I was hoping it wouldn't be a long night for many reasons.  1) I was feeling crazy and not sure how long I could hold it together --- especially with 6 boys running loose!  2) My son and I had to get up earlier then usual for school tomorrow, as he has an early band lesson.            3) My son (and hers) have a basketball game after school tomorrow, and that will make a long day, too.       4) Physically, I felt like crap.
On the other hand, I know that there are 5 kids to shop for, and that the nearest shopping mall (or any sort of shopping store) is 1 1/2 hours away.  I knew it would be late, I hoped I would be wrong.
"Well, we are just getting out of town now.  I would guess about 9pm or 9:30pm."  I felt like a heal asking for a time - but it was a school night.  AND, I am a single mom of 1 child --- having 6 different homework needs, 6 different levels of entertainment needs, and 6 boys to feed off of each other is a dead give away that I might feel overwhelmed if it were for too many hours at a time.
"I will be over after practice, and I will get (her oldest son's name here) and (my son's name here) from school and back for practice, then head straight to your house to watch the little ones."  I was heading out the door as we were talking, and hung up to get the kids.
    When I arrived at her home, the dishes were stacked high, and the 4 younger boys (age 4 - 10) were relaxing in front of the tvs.  I started cleaning, and then moved on to make supper.  It was about 5pm when I asked the boys to get their homework and meet me at the table.  I only got resistance from one, but it was enough resistance to make me cringe.  I asked him 7 times before he actually made it to the table.  We got the homework done, and I was setting the table when the older boys called to say practice was over.  I ran out the door, to go the 5 blocks (it was -14 degrees or they could have walked) and returned in a matter of minutes.  I asked the boys to finishing setting the table and get washed up.  Again, I got resistance from the same boy.............4 times of asking to get him to the table, and even then, he wasn't about to eat what was there -- so I gave him cereal.  UHHHHGGG!
    We ate with no incident - just the jovial ramblings of boys enjoying their bonding time.  It was settling in a weird way.  I thought I was finally seeing the light that I had searched for inside of me all day.  That is until bath time.  The same boy - not only did he resist after asking him 5 times, but he actually thought he was going to trick me into thinking he had a shower, but slipped up by not bringing a DAMP towel out of the bathroom with him.  UHHHG!!  I let it go.
   I cleaned the kitchen with help from my son and her 10 yr old, then sat to read with the younger ones.  It was about 8:30 when I realized that I wasn't sure who went to bed when........Ooops!  I called my friend and she indicated that the boys are asked to get ready and go rest at 9pm, but the oldest could stay up since my son was there.  I was also told they were at their last store for the night.  I was relieved, but hoped it didn't show in my voice.
  At 9pm I rounded up the boys and hustled them in to brush teeth, hug, and send to bed.  By now my headache was nagging on the left temple - enough to make my eye twitch.  I was exhausted - and mentally drained -- but proud of myself that I hadn't ranted and yelled, and acted outwardly how I had been feeling inside.  I went back downstairs to where her oldest, and my son were............and the same boy who had resisted everything tonight!!  I told him, firmly that it was bedtime, and he was to get there.  He ignored me and continued into the kitchen.  I walked in there and - even more firmly - raised my voice and stated, "(his name) you have not listened to me all evening.  It is time for bed, and I will not allow you to disrespect me this way.  Goodnight."  As I spoke at him, I was following him up the stairs to his room. That was the end of his resistance.
  At 10pm, my son was showing signs of wanting to go home.  Desperately!  He would look at his watch, then at me, and raise his eyebrows in a quizzacle manner.  I felt his pain -- worse then he knew.  I asked the older boy to turn in, as I was sure his parents wouldn't want him up that late, and my son needed to rest too.
He back talked me, and it even caught my son's attention.  That moment, that look from my son, that acknowledgement of "I would never talk to you (my mom) that way" was the glimmer of hope - the light in the rain - the reality that I was NOT my mother.  I may being feeling like a lunatic, and I may imagine that this is what it is like for her, but I was coping with it - through it.  I wasn't projecting it with wild, craziness.  God bless my son for knowing (even when he doesn't know) just what I needed!
  I finally convinced the oldest boy to go to bed by turning on the news, and my son rolling away (into the couch back) as this was not how her son wanted to spend the rest of his night. 
  My son and I - both tired and ready to put today behind us - stumbled in at 10:43pm tonight.  My son washed his face, applied his acne repellent, and melted into a deep sleep.  He has only stirred once.  I, however, have laid down and gotten up too many times to count.  And thus, I am here - me and my mother's madness - some of which I almost understood, and definately got sucked into today.  I am far from proud of the crazy, mean thoughts that I have allowed myself to think and feel today.  And I am not at all excited to see another day of this abyss overcome me anytime soon.........but there is an epiphone to be had, and I am glad to have reached it...........in some ludicrous way, I am comforted to know that I can carry my mother's madness, inherit it, live it, and not project it, not like it, not accept it as my truth, and not use it to hurt those I love.  I have begun a new phase in breaking the cycle..........it may be a long phase to get through - a very uncomfortable phase - but I didn't quit, and I didn't give into it.

  Tomorrow is a long day.  I should be sleeping - God knows I am physically and emotionally drained.  Yet, I had to get it out.........before it swallowed me, and then projected itself from me to others.

  Thank you for listening.  Now I may get some sleep.



Monday, December 14, 2009

A Gallon of Guilt for Christmas

     This time of year, we all struggle with the guilt of not being able to give as much as we would like to our family and friends.  I believe that this year, more of us are finding ourselves in this situation, and those of us who have been there before, find it is even less that we can do/give this year. 
     Holidays are always hard for me.  I watch my son battle with anger over not having a family to share the "winter vacation" with.  I watch the tears of happiness over getting anything on his list for Christmas --- knowing money is always tight for this single mom.  I also know that those tears of happiness are a mask of the pain and hatred for the cards he has been dealt --- and that, secretly, the only thing he wants for Christmas is a "normal" life.  The one thing that even Santa can't bring.
     But, this year, it is even harder to watch my beautiful son fight back the anxiety and pain of not seeing presents under our imaginary tree.  Yes, this is the first year that I had to skip the tree too.  I made the decision to move my son from everything and everyone he has ever known, 7 months ago.  More then 1000 miles now seperate him from the life that I spent 12 years building for us.  Why?   I look at it today and wonder if it was selfishness, or the promises that my son would finally have a father.  No matter how I sort it out, and what the reasons (as there were many) the truth is, it has been a hard time for him, and I know find that I am scared that I made the biggest mistake of his life.
    I was laid off (as so many of us were) in May last year.  We were going to lose our home, and my son had been sharing horror stories of drug use and sales in his school, for months.  Yes, drug sales and use in his tender age group of 11 year olds.  The large school that had nurtured his musical talents, and produced a straight A student who was popular and happy, now produced the fears and heartaches that unnerve a parent.  Violence began mid way through the school year, and I felt my innocent son begin to slip into a scary world of lonliness. 
   During this time, I had been sharing my fears and pain with a close friend who lived back home - here.  HE began to urge us to come back, and enjoy the slower paced, family oriented life that I had enjoyed so many years ago.  HE wanted to help raise my son, and offer him the bonding and loving ways that a father should.  HE had never had children, and, at age 56, wanted to give my son the world.  HE and I had been friends for 17 years, and he seemed so serious about wanting to make a family out of our broken past.  There are many reasons that HE and I never made a life together, and I was apprehensive.  After many late night talks with my son, and the reassurance that raising my son didn't have to mean HE and I would have to make a life together, we agreed that this may offer both of us a life that wasn't as stressed.  It didn't hurt that my girlfriends (from here) were excited to welcome my son and I home and for our kids to all share in the fun of growing up together.  So, my son and I wrapped up a few loose ends, and here we are.  Alone, with our friends, but no closer to making our family a whole unit then we have ever been.
   After 4 months of watching my son fluctuate between loving and hating the ways of HIS lifestyle - lived so long without responsibility for anything more then HIS dog and himself - and the drinking that had never been so prevelant before --- I had to walk away.  It was really a choice my son made one day, stating without much emotion behind his pained eyes, "I would rather have only 1 parent that I can count on.  Rather then think someone will be there for me, and have them disappoint me every time."  I understood completely, and I couldn't believe I had placed my son in such a horrible position.  Especially when I had the precursor of the many years of history with this man.  How could I hurt my son with another rejection by a father figure?
   So, here we are, 12 days before Christmas, and there is no Christmas tree to light up the evenings, and no presents to wrap.  Nothing but the drone of another day, searching for a job within the 50 miles and towns of no more then 700 people each, that surround me now.  Unemployment is just enough to keep a house and the bills for the house paid.  The car has a tendancy to shut off while driving, and the propane tank is at 35%.....and it's -20 outside.......my pain and fears have never been so overwhelming.
  By the time my son comes home from school, I am shifting from my sorrow and guilt to his pain.  His music isn't a gift here, and the kids that don't stop to make fun of him, are the ones that aren't interested in being seen with the new kid.  The changes he is going through with puberty are hard enough.  But, now it is even harder -- and it's my doing.  He hasn't asked about Christmas, and he tries to hide the fact that the missing tree is a symbol of his missing friends, but I know.  And I cry each night not wanting to live with the guilt.

  I have spent many years fighting internally to not be my mother.......to be patient and loving and do whatever I could to better my son's life......and I am failing today.

   We don't have the fears of my mother breaking into our home again.  We don't have the lingering paranoia of when she will show up and disrupt our life.  We have wonderful friends that invite us to their family functions (and the entire, huge family is so welcoming and warm), and we have a home that we aren't losing.  We have happy moments, and quiet nights - our health is good, and our faith is strong.  But what I can't offer him is measured in gallons -- gallons of guilt.

  We all have moments in life when our spirit is broken............today is my moment.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Birthday Bash - ing

Yesterday, December 3rd, was my mother's birthday.  It has been so long since I have acknowledged it, that I am not even sure of her age.  Somewhere in her late 50's to very early 60's.  I discussed it with my son - sending an email greeting or calling last night.  The look on my son's face said it all!  I understood immediately why, but still feel guilty every year.

On my 25th birthday, my son and I had gone to visit my mother.  She had baked me a beautiful bird house (3D) cake.  After a tense supper, she cautiously brought the cake to the table, and placed it in front of me.  I was (always have been) impressed with the talents my mother has in the kitchen.  I cut into the cake, and began to serve everyone there.  Everyone but me.  The cake was chocolate with fudge frosting........I don't care for chocolate......in fact, never had.  I declined with what I thought was a polite excuse.
"Aren't you going to have a piece?", my mother demanded with an expression on her face that I was familiar with.  It was the madness creeping up and about to escape.
"No thanks, mom.  I am full from your wonderful supper.  But thank you, it's beautiful.", I replied; watching every word I said, and what tone I used.
Picking up the remaining cake, and lifting herself abruptly from her chair, she declared, "Nothing I do will ever be good enough for you, will it (my name)?!"  She took the platter into the kitchen and threw the cake into the sink. 

I never knew what to say, and was always left thinking of alternatives. 
"Aren't you going to have a piece" she would have asked.
"No thanks.  I don't like chocolate and never have." I could have said.
"Since when?  You are lying!  You always want to make me feel bad!" I imagine her saying.

No, that version wouldn't have been any better, yet, would have been certainly worse.  So, Yes, I lied about why I didn't want cake.  And, no, my mother never knew enough about me to know I don't like chocolate. But, what I did gain from that day, was the realization that no matter what I had said or done (not only at that instant, but in any moment) my mother was going to feel insecure.

I believe we all have reasons to be insecure, fearful, angry.  I also believe that we need to evaluate those feelings before we turn on someone.  I  often ask myself, "Are they trying to hurt me?" followed by "Why would they want to?".  If the answers come out as anything other then "yes", and a valid reason as to their motive behind it, then I smile, nod, and put my baggage back into the suitcase I brought with me.

It isn't easy to find positive in a hurtful situation.  But, I have actually found that less people mean to hurt you, then more.  We are all struggling through this life with blinders of some sort distorting our views.  We each have to accept responsibility for those feelings, and not walk around believing everyone has negative motives.

If we don't , then we become what we claim to hate, and we definately pass that on to our own children.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Garden Hose, Cheerios, and the Toilet Bowl

When I got ready to potty train my son, I was a little more then worried.  I wasn't raised around boys, and had no idea whether it would come natural for my son to stand and pee, or if I had to some how "set an example".  The first month I allowed him to sit on the toilet.  But, in my own madness (no doubtedly passed down from my mother) I worried how this would effect his future need to stand.  So, I embarked on the only thing handy....a garden hose.  Yes, it is quite silly, and actually obsured if you think it through, but my paranoia of being a "bad mother" plagued me in many odd ways. 
Taking the garden hose, I got the adapter that hooks to the sink, and left it attached for nearly 2 months.  When I would catch the tell tale signs of my son having to pee, I would go in with him, lift the lid, and promptly place the hose between my legs.  Now, I have to admit, that (again my paranoia setting in) I was now worrying about him getting a complex about my hose being bigger then his -- I just recently learned that NOW is actually the first time that thought has ever crossed his mind ---- another story, for another day.  But, I was determined to make him a normal boy!  No matter how foolish I looked. 
I remember the third or fourth time I did this he actually began trying to pee on the the stream of water coming from my hose -- one of many signs of male silliness that I would be lucky enough to experience.

Once we got the standing part down, I was now interested in making sure that he understood how to keep it in the bowl and put the seat down.  We started a game with Cheerios.  Yes, it has been done many times before -- and, much to my happiness, it works!  We, however, added a twist to the game, and made the Cheerios disappear after we were done, by putting the seat and lid down.  When you returned to go again, the Cheerios were "magically" gone!

It was almost 2 more years before my son tired of this game.  I am fortunate -- I am creative and crazy enough to try anything --- no matter how stupid I look or feel -- to help someone/anyone learn something new.  I am lucky that way.

As always, I wouldn't be telling you everything if I didn't share the disappointment i felt when my mother caught my son and I playing "destroy n flush the Cheerios".  It was an early morning, and I am sure she was tired.  She had come by on her way to work, and was "checking in".  It felt much more like checking up on me, however. 
My son came out to hug grandma, and began the ritual of grasping his crotch.  She led him to the bathroom and, although down the hall, could hear her reprimanding him. 
"(his name) Why are you throwing cereal in there?", she exclaimed rudely.
Running as if to rescue my cub, I stopped short at the door as I saw her ripping my son's fingers open.
"Mom!!  That is helping him with potty training.  He throws them in, shoots at them, and then they disappear....but only if he closes the lid," I tried desperately to sound under control, but now realize that I was boiling with anger over her disrespect of my plan.
"How ridiculous!  And the hose?  I would guess that is your *&^%%^?  Oh, (my name) you are out of your mind!"  She returned to helping my son get the toilet flushed, and hastened her way past me.  After a few more words of a berating nature, she went on her way. 

I often felt exhausted after these incidents.  But, mostly, at least on that day, I realized that I had begun to accomplish something I never thought I would do ---- I was successfully becoming my own kind of parent.  And I was proud!  In fact, I was hysterically laughing at the disgust that my mother projected toward my son and I that morning.  How can you find something so negative, in something fun? 

It would take me more then 5 years to feel as though I was truely breaking free of the cycle of abuse........but, as I look back now, I know that day was a bigger beginning for my son and I, then I ever could have known.

Never Say "No"

As a parent, this is the last thing I ever thought I could believe in.  However, it worked!!

I would guess my son was about 14 months old.  He was walking and getting into everything in sight!  I, as most first mothers do, had made my home "kid friendly".  Yet, there was my son --- always reaching, climbing, finding things he shouldn't have.  Not wanting to duplicate the negative environment that I grew up in, I refused to use the word "no".  I began experimenting with phrases such as: "That's not yours." and "That belongs to mommy." even going so far as to get down on my hands and knees to show my son alternatives to whatever he was wanting at the time. I insisted that others who watched my son while I worked not use the word "no".  Whether they did or not -- I will never know.  However, what I can tell you, is that I never went through the stage where your child turns to you, hands on hips, and frankly states "No!"  In fact, my son has adopted a much more democratic way of stating that he doesn't like something, doesn't want something, etc.  I can actually credit him for helping me to find myself speaking negative at times.

I look back on the day that I presented my mother with the thought of never using the word "no".  I wasn't sure, but I thought she would never stop laughing at me.  How crazy she thought I was!  "What difference do you think it will really make at this age?", she asked me. 
"I am not sure it will make a difference at all.  But I don't want the negative conotations that the word brings.  I want him to have a reason, not just be told no."  After hanging up I wasn't so sure I was sane, either.  But, I am glad I rebuked her cynacism and went with my gut.

To this day, when I see my son interact with others (especially younger kids) he doesn't use the word.  And, now that he is a teenager, it makes it easier for us to communicate.  When he asks to do something (or for something) that just isn't appropriate (in a mother's eyes, anyway), we sit and talk - yes, we still argue -- but the communication level is easier then most I know.  And, according to what my friends have shared with me, I believe my son and I have a much more open relationship then most.  For that, I am greatful!

I share this with you, not only to show you how the littlest things can make a huge difference, but also to show you that you can start with something as small as a 2 letter word, and get (almost) instant and lasting positive effects. 

Start small and dream big.  No matter what you were programmed to do.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Mother's Madness - In Short

One of the first things I remember (vivadly) as a child, was the day my sister and I woke my mother from her nap.  I must have been about 6 yrs. old.  My mother, angered and tired, demanded that I retrieve a shoe.  I can still picture my small hands shaking as I clutched that black, pattened leather heel in my hand.  In a matter of moments, my  body was beaten and blistered.  Always on my buttocks and thighs, but it hurt, nonetheless. 
I could be graphic, but my point is not to share the gruesome moments of my childhood in detail --- only to brief you, and help you (and me) rise above those moments -- not envision and repeat them.

I was 12 or so, the next "major" event that I remember.  I had taken a deposit into the bank for my mother and not gotten a deposit slip in return.  (not that I would've known that I should at that time) Upon returning to the car, she slapped me.  Within the ranting and raving I distinctly remember hearing her ask me, "Do you want to die?"  It wouldn't be until a few years ago, but I finally understood that madness.  I hate myself for understanding it -- but I do.

When I was 16, she locked me out of the house for being 3 minutes late.  It didn't matter that I had proof I had been driving all of my drunk friends home -- and I was sober.  It was the midwest, and it was summer.  I don't remember that it was 100 degrees, but it was hot, and I had nowhere to go.  I called my girlfriend's mom, and they agreed to let me stay with them.  I cut through the deadbolt with a hand saw -- yes, it took 3 hours.  Got some of my clothes, and left.  I hated myself for a long time.  I felt like I was lost - abandoned - left to fend for myself.  But, as I know now, it was the first decision I would make that changed my understanding of "love".

I was raped when I was 17.  It was in the newspapers and I allowed the media access to my story.  It was what I wanted to do -- help others not find themselves in the same situation.  My mother (to this day) thought that was the most ludicrous thing I had ever done.  It was an embarassment to her.

When I was 23, I found out I was pregnant.  I struggled with keeping my son, or giving him up for adoption.  I was doing fine, financially -- but emotionally I was a wreck!  I hated who i was, and didn't want to take a child "down" with me.  I ultimately decided to raise my son.  (without his father to this day -- a story for later) 

My son was just over 1 yr old the next time my mother made a huge impact.  He had been hospitalized (at the hospi9tal where my mother worked) in the middle of the night for pneumonia.  I hadn't slept much that night, and was confronted (with my son in my arms) by an angry,  looming figure.  My mother was ranting about how horrible it was that her co-workers knew before she did that my son had been admitted.  She rose and shook her fist in my face.  As I sheltered my son from her threatening advance, I realized that my life - my son's life - was never going to be "normal" as long as I was in the crosshairs. 

Just before my son's 2nd birthday, I moved several thousand miles away from my family and began therapy.
Now, 11 yrs later, and many thoughts of giving up - on myself - I am raising a loving, respectful, beautiful boy into a man.

We struggle - and sometimes it is all my fault.  But most days we are happy and healthy.  I think the greatest story to be told here, is the story of how my son's unconditional love and acceptance keeps me pushing forward.  Granted, it is horrible not having a family.  But we are fortunate to have loving friends that have taken us in.  (and seen the destruction of my family - and helped with the fallout)

My first "true" thought upon blogging was, "Why do I want everyone to know my story?"
My next thought was, "Will it help to get it out?"

I guess I think it will.  I hope you find information that you can use.  I know that I don't have a degree, and I don't have the only angel child out there.  What I do know, is that there have to be others out there that have wondered how and where to start raising a wonderfully adjusted, and well behaved child in the midst of the rubble of your mother's (or father's) madness.  That is what I hope to do -- show you the tricks I have learned, and learn more as we go.