Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bittersweet Solitude

For the last 3 years, since Luke and I moved into my mom's house, out of necessity, we've shared a bedroom. The space was never really mine, and never reflected my personality. It was all Luke...only my clothes were kept in drawers and in closets, with a single Flaming Lips poster to identify me, an alarm clock, and a bed. I would literally just sleep in there, as we had twin beds (for the first month, we were in the same bed, which didn't work at ALL, and my mom bought us new beds) but otherwise, I left Luke mostly to himself.

He'd complain that I snore, and wake me up during the night begging me to stop. I'd "invade" his space and he'd harp about wishing he had his own room and how he didn't want me in there. I think the world collective would agree that an almost-teenage son and his mother REALLY shouldn't share a bedroom. It's not healthy. It's creepy. It's babyish. He'll need his independence and the chance to show off his brand of decor (like he hasn't already) and I need a place that is serene and relaxing for me.

The process of moving me into the home office as my room has been arduously slow and painstakingly time-consuming, but my mom and I worked diligently the last couple of weeks slowly moving HER stuff out of the office and into HER room or the attic, and we began to prepare the room for my occupancy. A few nights ago, I hung my Harrison "Dark Horse" print (see previous blog). Yesterday, my mom repaired the back of and hung my John Lennon "Walls and Bridges" limited-edition art print, and my Van Gogh "Night Stars" painting print. I plastered some of Luke's artwork to the walls, as well as a couple of pieces of paper he'd written me notes on. One said "I (Heart symbol) Mom;" the other, "Get well soon, Damnit!" --Luke"

Furniture was the last hurdle. We paid our next door neighbor, the church and school handyman and custodian, Jeff, to disassemble and put up my bed in my "new" room and move one chest of drawers into my room. (The rest of my clothes, which is a shitload) will have to stay in the dressers in Luke's room, and I'll have no choice to go in there. The laundry basket also has to stay in Luke's closet, which is only fair, given I do all our laundry. Jeff had the bed ready for me in my room in about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, Luke saw the dust that had been under my bed, the empty toy boxes from toys he'd bought over the last 3 years, papers, crapola, you name it. His allergies went into overdrive. We moved out several large garbage bags, with a ton of work left to do to re-organize and re-decorate his room, move furniture--all of which will have to wait, probably, until I'm recovered from the hysterectomy. I told him he's lived with it messy for THIS long--he can wait a few more weeks. He has a floor-plan in mind. When Luke saw the mess, he entered into a literal anxiety attack, which is exactly what I would do if I wasn't medicated. He had trouble separating the tasks of cleaning up little by little, task by task, and catastrophized the whole scenario. I did my best to have him dissect the tasks and helped him clean up and vacuum the dust.

It doesn't help that my mom chastises that room as being "Hoarders Headquarters," which is mean and hurt Luke's feelings. He takes it very personally, as anyone would. With such cramped quarters, we had little choice but to bundle together in unison, though Luke is guilty of holding onto things like empty toy packaging and papers from school to the point of ridiculousness, all of which I threw away last night, all of it having been under my bed. I admit I never did a good job of cleaning "our room," because there was no ROOM to clean our room. Boxes full of toys and gadgets were everywhere and it was a tight squeeze. Once redone, it'll be far more manageable.

My mom wants Luke to keep his room HER way, which is a tad unfair. His room, like mine, should reflect his personality and his likes and passions, not what's deemed appropriate or "clean enough" for her standards. He's a teen boy--his room's going to be typical. It won't be spotless like my room or my mom's room. (If you ever saw his father's house, you'd doubly understand.)
My mom was super hard on Luke last night about his room, and arguments ensued about keeping the room HER way versus HIS way. I believe, as his MOTHER, that he should be allowed to keep his room his way, within reason. A certain level, yes, of cleanliness and order should be maintained. But in my opinion, while it is my mother's house, our rooms are our personal spaces in what's otherwise her domain.

I am allowing Luke to take the day off of school. A mental health day, though his allergies (he thinks it's a bad cold, but that could be conjecture) are making him miserable. He wanted to rest today, but I think I'm going to let him come to Target with me to get big plastic bins in which to store all his stuff, as opposed to the random boxes things are in now. I'll help him organize when I'm well enough to do so, but most of the work will be up to him. He needs to weed through things he doesn't use or need anymore. My position is "if you haven't used or looked at it for a year, donate or pitch it." That's what I did with my stuff when I moved out of my apartment and cleaned out the attic out of my own townhouse in which I lived when I was married.

Taking a mental health day doesn't mean Luke's gone crackers like his ol' mom. Yes, I believe he had an anxiety attack due to the state of his room, but I don't believe he, overall, suffers from anxiety disorder. He usually keeps his shit in check, though last night, he was a mess. His personality is very, very much like mine (which is why I pray to God he doesn't become bipolar or an addict, and am very watchful of his emotions and always calmly and patiently deal with him when he freaks out, but I'm medicated, lest we forget). If anyone had seen the state of the room once my bed was removed, they'd have had an anxiety attack at the daunting task of at least cleaning THAT particular space. He turned it into my famously labeled "ball of ick" that has trouble getting dissected piece-by-piece, though I reassured him it'll all get done little by little.

I completely sympathize from where he's coming. My whole life is that ball of ick, which is why I'm in cognitive behavioral therapy.

Meanwhile, I'm happy that I have my own room/office (I should take a pic of the whole room) where I can recuperate from my surgery in peace and "serenity." Friends and loved ones can come visit me there, and have a place to sit and chill out with me, if they're so inclined (which I'm welcoming!). There is now no TV in my room, not that I watch much TV, but I do get Netflix on my computer, so yay, and while I'm used to, when I'm alone, falling asleep lulled by the Easy Listening channel on the cable TV, I found last night that Pandora will play soothing music for me for a length long enough to allow me to fall peacefully asleep before it turns off and asks me, "Are you still listening?" so that tool is covered. All of my files and papers are in order and organized. I'm importing the giant box of CD's I found in the office into my iTunes, and will store the CD's, about a tenth of my overall collection (the rest in storage) in the attic when I'm done.

It's going to all be alright over time. Transitions are difficult. Separation, even when wanted and welcomed, is difficult. My bond with my son is rock solid, and I told him he can come and lounge in my room anytime, even if I'm working on my writing and he just wants to lie on my bed and think aloud. I wish not to separate my bond from my child. Nothing could be further from the truth. Teaching independence to a young man is becoming an increasingly difficult challenge as he transitions from being a little boy. Hell, teaching independence to a 40-year old junkie/alcoholic is hard enough, as we are used to living in a state of PERPETUAL adolescence.

Tatus is great at giving advice on raising children. He's not so much used to raising boys, as he has 3 girls, but knows enough about children to dispense thoughtful pondering that I take to heart. I wonder what he's say about the bedroom situation....I'll have to stay tuned on the flipside after surgery.

Bittersweet solitude. For both Luke and I. Together, yet separate.

We also need mundane extras like more lamps, a nightstand or two, a surge suppressor, etc, some frames for pictures I found, my Dad's Cook County Sheriff's patch from his uniform that I found and want to frame on the same shelf as my "SERENITY" display, which is pictured above and was given to me by my AA sponsor and friend, Jenny. While most of my beloved pictures and decorations are in storage, what little I have here will be displayed properly.

The storage unit is jam packed with my apartment belongings/furniture. It was packed over the course of about 4 manic days, during which I got no sleep and I'm not even sure I marked the boxes with what's in them and in what room they belong. It's so full to the gills that I might be able to get out a few small boxes of DVD's to watch while I recover from surgery, which are at the forefront of the unit, but that's about it. Finding household decorations could be a nightmare in there, which is largely why it's too anxiety-producing for me to go to the storage unit more than a couple of times a year. I just pay the monthly rent and get the hell out of there. Like Luke now, I couldn't handle the packing (which I did alone) and cleanup after the building foreclosure and told the movers I didn't want anything in any particular place to make things easier from which to pull.

To customize my new room, as per my previous blog, I hung my Dark Horse Records George Harrison print, but yesterday, my mom repaired the ripped back of the frame and hung my John Lennon "Walls and Bridges" cover art limited-edition art print Craig bought me BEFORE we got married. Nowadays, it's worth quite a bit of money. I also hung up the t-shirt Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips drew for Luke and I when we went to visit them in Milwaukee in 2010. I hung some of Luke's best artwork in my room as well, as well as the set list and VIP pass I got from the Lips' July 7, 2011 show I attended with my Tatus, when he and Steven met (which went well...NOT!). The Beatles blanket my mom made me for Christmas covers my bedspread, and while not intending to turn my room into a Beatles haven, it's sort of evolved into that, though I need some Lips artwork in there other than Wayne's, which I admit is hella cool.

I have some of my massive book collection on my shelves, things I haven't read yet that need to be read, though there are a lot more books in my bookcase in the living room that still need to be read, which I have the shelf space for in my room.

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