Sunday, February 19, 2012

People Who Say "Poor Luke" Obviously Don't Know Him Very Well.

That photograph above is totally Luke and I.

Something fishy is up. Craig's mother, my ex-mother-in-law, who, a few months ago, was bitchtexting me that I broke her precious boy's heart and ripped him to shreds and how can I live with myself after what I did to him, blah blah blah, and I retorted that Craig had forgiven me and he and I were cool, so she needed to get over it herself and move on. We've been apart since 2007. MOVE ON, WOMAN, for God's sake.

Then she bitched Luke out for his post-nasal drip cough annoying her when he was sick and couldn't help it, and I told Craig to tell her she wasn't welcome in my home until she apologized to Luke for what she had said. She frequently puts Luke down, puts me down in front of my son, and poor, beaten down Craig is counting the days until he moves into his own apartment with his girlfriend and gets away from her.

Since I had my NyQuil bender, she's been weirdly overly kind to me. She was asking me questions and was concerned about my health; specifically, my hysterectomy and she was SO happy to hear I didn't have MS. She told me she was making me a prayer shawl, which I found extremely odd, but thanked her. Picking Luke up for a night at Dad's, she asked if she could give me a hug, which made me all sorts of uncomfortable, and friends who know me know I'm a huggy bear, but HER hugging me? What was THAT?

Then at Luke's basketball game Saturday afternoon, she took the liberty of buying me a bottle of probiotics to start taking for my digestive health. (No, they weren't selling them at the concession stand with the cheeseburgers.) I said thank you, that it was very kind of her, and asked her how much I owed her for them. She said I owed her nothing. Her behavior is beyond odd even given her other ineffable, unpredictable behavior.

Yet I hear from my frank and honest son that she's trash talking me at their house. She said to Craig, with Luke in the room, "It's amazing how much trouble Andrea gets into by her own actions." That made Luke mad. He said to her, "Do you know how many times my mom has ALMOST DIED?" She said "lots of times." Luke said, "But MY mom is INVINCIBLE." And he earnestly meant that because he believes it with his whole heart. Grandma replied, "Yeah, every kid thinks that about their mom." "No, they don't," Luke said. And truly, if I have 9 lives, I've used up approximately 7 of them if my math is right. Still, Luke is keenly aware, despite his declaration, that, as The Flaming Lips say in "Do You Realize?," "Everyone you know someday will die." He knows that, honestly.

Luke was regaling this story to us over dinner, when I was wearing my favorite t-shirt underneath my sweatshirt. I lifted my sweatshirt up, and said, "Luke, what does my t-shirt say?" He smiled and said "TOO TOUGH TO DIE." I said, "That's right." I'm Keith Richards' long lost sister, whose picture is below the quote on my t-shirt. So I'm under a lot of pressure to prove the world wrong, prove my ex-mother-in-law wrong, prove my mom wrong, all my naysayer friends and family and continue to not only survive but thrive. Because I believe that God has plans for me that are greater than anything I could ever have imagined for myself.

See, I *knew* my dad was going to die if he didn't go to rehab. I never thought of him as invincible or particularly even strong. I saw him as hopelessly sick. I didn't expect him to suddenly die in rehab, but I also remember sitting on his lap the last day I saw him alive, not wanting to let go of him, begging him to get help. Whether or not my dad ultimately checked into rehab because of my pleading or if he was forced into it by my mom, I don't exactly know and it really doesn't matter anymore. The disease of alcoholism killed him when he was trying to dry out and they gave him no medication to ease the withdrawal in the hospital and he had delirium tremors that led to a fatal heart attack. So essentially how he landed in rehab in the first place is a moot detail.

My mom is peeved that she didn't get more credit for last Sunday night's disastrous events when I was tanked out on NyQuil and my other meds. Yes, she's the one who had the unpleasant task of cleaning up after I messed the bed. She changed my sheets and helped me get cleaned up. She's the one who stayed up all night finding bottles of NyQuil around the house, and for that I'm grateful and I love her forever for her help. But in her anger at me that Sunday night, she said "There'll be no celebration next week, no dinner, no tattoos, nothing." But she's wrong. I plan on celebrating what sobriety I did achieve over the last 4 years. I achieved and accomplished a lot. I'll be thankful and celebrate not cutting for 3 years. I'll be proud that one day at a time, I have chosen not to drink again. That's always cause for celebration.

I had a long conversation with my brother last night, catching up on recent events, and he too believes that I should celebrate how far I soldiered on and should not see the relapse as a failure with regard to my sobriety. He agreed that it'll ultimately make me a better doctor someday. He said his pastor was, in fact, talking about just that at church this weekend. That those of us who've lived and survived great peril know better than the common person what it's like to live with a grave condition. My brother is one of the few people I know who never judge me or define me solely by my addictions or mental illness. It's vaguely annoying when you go to AA and say, "My name is Annie and I'm an addict/alcoholic," as if that's ALL you are. Steve said first and foremost, I'm a child of God, which is true. I think at my next meeting, I'm going to say, "My name is Annie and among so many other things, I am an addict/alcoholic." And Steve made the point of saying that counting the days, weeks, months and years of your sobriety sort of puts drinking at the forefront of your thoughts ALL the time. It puts too much emphasis on not drinking as your only goal in life. I think that rings at least partly true. I'm not going to meet my Tatus and toast to having had like 13 days of sobriety. What would be the point of that?

My brother is very Christian, and isn't thrilled that I'm getting a Hindu symbol tattooed on my body, but I explained to him what the "OM" symbol meant in Sanskrit, and he didn't have a cow. The way I chose to define it to Steve is that it means "oneness with God, oneness with the universe. The "OM" is everything. It doesn't mean I'm a Hindu. It's just in SANSKRIT." ;) (Steve, like a lot of my friends and family, wonder why I'd want to go out with and have the support of my Tatus when I get my tattoos. Why I would want to hang around with one of the guys who fired me. The reason is because he promised never to abandon me and that I still had a friend in him. He's another one of those rare individuals who never judges me just because I'm full of neuroses, which I appreciate. He does not, in my impression, view my disease of alcoholism as any different than that of me having asthma; it's just another one of my illnesses, yes, more acutely "severe," if you will, but certainly nothing to be ashamed of. What went down between us professionally to me has nothing to do with us as friends. If anything, pressure to be Nazi-like appropriate because we're boss/employee with one another is out the window and we can just "be.")

I explained the cutting to my brother, that it's an anniversary, as he was completely unaware that I'd ever had that problem, which I hid VERY well, as I've said before. I was in my bedroom with Luke as I graphically explained to Steve what I used to do with the knife, which totally grossed him out as he was making his salmon patties and Uncle Ben's rice for dinner with my nephew. Luke was on his bed overhearing the whole conversation, which I didn't have a problem with. In fact, Luke chimed in "So THAT'S why there was always so much medical tape around the house. I wondered about that." I was surprised he DID have any memory of the cutting. But was I ashamed to tell this to my big brother with my 12-year old overhearing it? Did I think it was wrong? Hell no. Part of AA's program is adopting rigorous honesty. With your sponsor, your loved ones and yourself.

(My mom was wondering after dinner last night what "made me the way that I am." She wondered if I have mental illness and addiction because she smoked while she was pregnant with me. I told her that had nothing to do with it; I have messed up brain chemistry and my addiction gene was triggered and activated and that's essentially it. My mom is always looking for someone or something to blame for when things go wrong. But it's not a matter of placing blame on anyone or anything. It is the way it is.)

Steve didn't see the relapse as a failure on my part and was so compassionate and understanding, not disappointed in me at all. His attitude was more "Annie made it 4 years, slipped a little, and did the right thing and reached out for help and got herself together." He told me to keep praying and to never doubt God's power to heal and deliver us from our suffering. He reminded me of what Christ suffered on the cross, "By His stripes we are healed." Christ took a beating to his flesh and was crucified, which He as a sinless, blameless man didn't deserve. But it was for our salvation and our healing. God is allowing me to suffer in order for me to grow stronger and wiser. Steve's attitude is that if Christ can make the dead arise, he can deliver me from my illness and addictions.

I gave most of the credit for getting my shit back together to Luke and his accomplishment in getting me to stop abusing myself with the NyQuil. Mostly through that video, through his love and his tricks as I've previously mentioned, at how maturely and successfully he handled things that night. He didn't cower away and cry. He doesn't pity me and I don't pity him. I'm sure he was scared, but you couldn't tell that by me. I certainly didn't have his ingenuity and fortitude when I was his age, as my dad died from alcoholism right around the same age Luke is now. I couldn't have done what Luke did to help me save either my own father's or my own life.

Not that saving my life was or is Luke's responsibility. No child should have to be responsible for his mother. Yet there was Luke waking me up with my head on the laptop keyboard late at night, keys imprinted on my forehead recently, walking me upstairs, putting me to bed. I had been literally passing out at the computer and he'd come downstairs and wake me up and put me to bed. That's incredibly generous and sweet of him to do, but it's too much to ask of a child. But, when I think about it, is exactly what I tried and failed to do with my father...I knew where all his bottles of vodka were hidden all over the house and I protected him from my mother by not revealing anything. I tried to keep him safe. Ultimately after he died, I felt that I'd failed at that. That's a heavy load for a young girl to carry. It took something like 25 or 26 years for me to let that go and to realize my dad's death wasn't the fault of anything I did or didn't do for him or with him.

My mom called my uncle the other day and told him what was going on with me. He said to her, "If you called me one day and told me Annie's gone, I wouldn't be a bit surprised." Thanks for the vote of confidence, Uncle Jerry. I've tried to explain to my family that I need support and positive vibes, not constant chastising and babysitting and everyone worrying that I could die at any moment. Because I plan on sticking around for a good, long time.

SO many people say "Poor Luke. Look what he's been through in his life. That poor, pathetic child. I feel so sorry for him." No one knows Luke as intimately as I do, not even his dad. He and I talk openly, honestly, we have an amazing amount of trust between us and I beg all of you not to view Luke as a "victim." I do and don't treat Luke as if he were just a buddy of mine. We talk to each other and entrust in one another secrets and feelings that we wouldn't necessarily tell anyone else. But I'm still his mother and he still gets in trouble when he misbehaves and is taught lessons though by virtue of his level of maturity, though he doesn't get in trouble very often at all. He knows I'm in charge at the end of the day. Yes, I still believe Luke would benefit from therapy and Al-A-Teen. He needs a third party who has nothing emotionally vested in him to work through what he HAS gone through.

I have tried to impress upon people how utterly fucking STRONG my son is. That what he's been exposed to, which has been a lot of really heavy shit for a kid to handle, has made him an aware, worldly young man. If I'm invincible, so is Luke. Luke is not living the halcyon life I anticipated he'd lead when he was just a baby. But what he's experienced will make him ultimately a gossamer of badass. So I don't want to hear another "Poor Luke" out of anyone's mouth. In a lot of ways, Luke's luckier than most kids his age. He acutely knows what drugs and alcohol do to a person, thus I believe he'll reject the inevitable peer pressure and will not get involved in substances as he grows older. At first, I too was guilty of saying "Poor Luke," but with what he's shown me in the last few weeks has been nothing short of amazing.

It's funny. When he was little, he assumed all mommies had eyebrow rings and didn't think I was weird. He used to play with it when he'd lie in my lap having a bottle, which yes, I allowed him to have through toddlerhood. He's excited at the thought of me getting tattoos and more piercings. He loves the fact that I am so quirky and would have me no other way. He appreciates my desire to be true to myself, the least of things. I want him to be true to himself, too. He loves me with unfailing ferocity and knew when he'd had it with my behavior and declared enough to be enough with my relapse. He gets worried every time I land in the hospital, but I DO always come home and I am doing fine now. He asked me if he could get a tattoo or an eyebrow ring when he turns 18, and I gave him my full support. I told him he doesn't HAVE to get inked or pierced, but I'd support him if he did. (With his own money, naturally.) Ma was most likely aghast. Once he's 18, who am I to tell my adult "child" what he can and cannot do? I believe he'll grow into a responsible and good young man. He's already proved that to me at age 12.

If you're close to me and you have the opportunity to have a conversation with my son, sit down and talk with Luke. You'll find his demeanor, wit, wisdom and charm to be fascinating once he opens up. Impressive. Surprising. He's not without making dumb pre-teen mistakes like putting a screwdriver into an electrical outlet with his laptop still plugged in at his dad's house and getting 3 burns on his body from the sparks that flew. That was a dumbass thing to do, he knows that, and he got in trouble. We (Craig and I) don't think he's perfect. He's human and deserves respect.

I hope he grows up with more practical life skills than I have, given he's super book smart like his dad and I. We already know he's hella smart. I hope he adopts healthy coping mechanisms. Few realize how wise he is. How observant he is. Just as I'm not defined by my addictions and mental illness, Luke is not to be defined as simply the child of an alcoholic/addict who has mental problems. Luke is uniquely Luke.

Thank you, Luke, for keeping me invincible and helping to keep me alive. You've inspired me more than I can convey. I want to be there for everything as you grow up. I don't want to miss a thing. I want to live up to your impression and adoration of your mother. I know you keep up with the blogs, so allow me to reiterate how very much I love you and how proud I am of you. You're my toughest critic and biggest fan. God chose me to be your mother and we are blessed to have one another. I am grateful to God every day for you and I miss you feverishly when you're at your dad's house. Never forget how strong you are and you have my permission to punch in the face anyone who pities you (or me) instead of recognizing what a great guy you are (including your other grandma, as she's knitting my prayer shawl).

I am NOT what HAPPENED to me, I am WHAT I CHOOSE to BECOME. ~ Carl Gustav Jung

1 comment:

Kimberly Dion said...

Hi Annie -
Couple of comments: several posts back you said that lots of friends were telling you what to do regarding treatment/hysterectomy. Is that still the case? I hope that's no longer the case and you and your doctor have settled on the best course of action for you.

Also, from my perspective, I think your mom's feelings & frustrations are pretty normal. I just wish she had someone to talk to other than *you* about it. Maybe that Al-anon group that I think you were suggesting? She has a right to be frustrated in the moment, but you're also right in that she shouldn't be venting to you. Not what you need, for certain.

Also, in a post or so back you listed all of the current medications you are on - wow, that is quite a list! Its a shame that you can't start over. You know what I mean? When I read about all of your medical problems I can't help but wonder if even one change in your drug combo might not help you. I really feel for you with that list.

Please keep us updated on the hysterectomy & your seizure status. Sending good thoughts your way, Kim