October 23, 2009

One Year Down

Hmmm. What happened there? Two weeks I've been gone?? What kind of writer is that?! Not to mention, I had the date, October 18, scribbled on my notepad, here by my computer. It was my First Blogiversary, and I wanted to be sure not to miss it. I wanted to log in and say Yahoo! It's been a year and I'm still writing! I was even mulling around great ideas for my post for that day, having spent the past twelve months meeting some remarkable writers through blogging and being inspired beyond anything I could have imagined. Woops. I never was very good with important dates.

But my absence is due less to forgetfulness than it is to denial and avoidance. After a couple of weeks away, I realized why it was so hard to log in. I went back and read my very first entry, and I was slammed with all the reasons I came here in the first place. I hadn't really forgotten them, I had just managed to do a bang-up job of avoiding my issues as this year progressed.

A year ago, my now-17 year old son, my troubled wayward rebel, ran away from home for the first time. At first, it was just annoying. If you were with me then, you know that we were most concerned as to where he was going to plug in his flat iron, if he were on the streets. John wondered which of the Tacoma bridges was running power, and did they have mirrors too, for applying guyliner? We made a lot of jokes about it at the time, which I know was a defensive tactic for me, but we also knew where he was, which was about two blocks away at a friend's house. I wasn't worried so much as I was pissed, really. Then, before I could settle into this new [and I thought temporary] inconvenience in my life, a place from where I could still look into his eyes and see my son, it all went sideways.

What I remember most is the losing. Losing the ability to reel him back to me, to soften him enough to talk, to see beyond those angry, angry eyes. I lost his trust and I lost custody of him in court. I lost the ability to wake up in the morning and be a good mom to my other kids.

Every day, I would discover something else I couldn't do, as a mother. Some other thing I was supposed to be good at that had slipped through my fingers. I cried, I slept, I ate, ate and ate, and I drank. A lot. Then I decided that if I added drugs to that mix, things might improve. Prozac, my new best friend.

Yeah, it took the edge off all right. Numb was a whole lot better than manic, for awhile at least. It was easier to sit in court, talk to a cop, deal with the school or purge to the counselor when I couldn't really feel anything. And oh so much easier to deal with Matt; his rages and screaming and cussing at me, his hateful, mean words and the way he looked right through me as if I had never seen him before in my life.

And everyone said, oh how sad these teenagers are so rebellious, and oh we went through that with johnny, believe me it gets better. And I wanted so much to believe them, but I knew I didn't dare, because I knew that Matt's behavior wasn't normal teenage angst. And I kept trying to reach him, and help him and love him and the more I did, the harder he pulled away from me. Before I knew it, we were sitting in the police station with two officers who wanted to arrest him for assault and they left it up to me to make the final call. What kind of f**ing choice is that to give a mother?

And everyone said, oh, you did the right thing, tough love, that's what he needs. But I couldn't sleep that night because my kid was in juvie and as tough as he acted on the outside, I knew he was scared to death and all I wanted to do was go down there and rescue him. But I didn't, and then he was gone. We spent four month fighting his lunatic biological dad in court for custody and we lost.

Yes, I know where he is. I see him all the time. He hangs out across the street and with the neighbor kids sometimes, but he never comes over here. He doesn't talk to me or look at me. I know he's in school because his dad's too lazy to change the contact information and I still get it all.

It's October again and it's been about a year since my kid left. I tried to pretend it was like he went to college; I redecorated his room and tried to make light of it. I stopped taking Prozac because I hadn't felt anything in so long I thought I would slip into a coma. I'm ok with that, even though I cry all the time again. At least it's real. I cried in Target the other day, looking at Christmas cards and realizing that we weren't going to be able to take family pictures this year. It's just too awkward to explain the missing person, or not explain.

Some days I go about my normal parenting duties with Jack and Casey and I congratulate myself on being a really good mom. But some days, maybe over these past couple of weeks, I stand in the doorway of his old room and I remember all that used to be there. I imagine what it would be like if he were here again; I force all of the good memories aside so that I can justify his not being here. If I only remember the bad stuff, it will make sense to me that he’s gone.

So...having said all that...

I’d like to celebrate my one year of writing. I'm grateful to everyone who comes here and reads. Maybe you get a laugh, or learn something, or just don't feel alone in wherever your journey is taking you. It's done wonders for me, having a place to go where I can read through the lives of others and feel safe enough to write my own story. I want to celebrate this new community of writers who have so warmly welcomed me.

I just don’t feel like celebrating October, that’s all.


  1. Happy blogoversary, Tam. How about we wait till November, then, and we'll have a drink? Or three... ;)

  2. Teen years are the worst. I had go arounds with both my sons. They are in their 30's now, and we are all close. So there is light at the end of the tunnel.

  3. A beautiful and honest piece...I remember when you called me to say you wanted to get started of your own blog...I was on my way to Boston. Happy Anniversary. xo

  4. Well, happy blogoversary!! I have a 17 year old son and we are always fighting. We are working on getting our relationship stronger, and as I read your story, I am reminded that I don't want to lose my son. Thank you!

  5. Tam:
    I understand your frustration, I have a teenager that is identicle to your son, I am afraid him and I are going to go down the same road, and I don't know what to do, I feel for you and I sure do wish I was on a year ago, maybe we could have helped each other out. Our children don't come with instruction's and it's really hard to see where they are coming from and they really don't understand our point of view. I blame myself at times, but then I sit and think I was a good mom, but I have other children also to worry about, he just refuses to see that in me I hope all is well with you and you feel some type of peace, they say it all comes out in the wash but does that ever really happen
    Have a great day
    Tammy Parenteau