I’m on the wrong side of the damn bridge.

by Mel

The Boy turned thirteen this month. Thirteen. And any time that I was able to spend, sitting, turning the fact that I was the mother of a teenager over in my head, was short-lived. Parenting The Boy does not leave one with much time or energy for thoughtful introspection lately. In fact, it doesn’t leave much energy for anything. I find myself, at the end of the day, feeling like I have gone twelve full rounds with a heavyweight. Weary, bruised, defeated. While parenting him has always been difficult, at least I understood him. As it stands now, I have no idea what he is thinking or feeling or how to help him. He has this anger and self-loathing that can bring me to tears. What has happened to my baby? The meltdowns, that plagued our days when he was much younger, are back again, only with the size and anguish of a thirteen year old behind them.

Every rough day we had in the past, I would tell myself, tomorrow is a new day, a new start. He is young, we can move on from this, and he will hardly remember how badly you’ve fucked this up. But I realized that I am thirteen years into those new tomorrows, and still failing miserably. Only now, each failing is filed away, and held against me, becoming a new brick in the wall he is building around himself. In his hardest times, he always cried for me…..and now, in the darkest times,  “just go away!” or “leave me alone!”  has replaced his calling for help. The autistic indifference that has grown familiar, has been replaced with angry words and hostility. And that makes it that much more difficult to make it through the day. It just does. Yes, I am a parent, and should have the bottomless, selfless ability to raise and love my child, and expect nothing in return…..and I do, as much as a human being can… But…I’ll be honest, it stings. And makes waking up to face another day of it that much more difficult. I never got the hugs, or the I love you’s, or the pictures drawn for me, and I was ok with that…..but the staying awake until 7 am with him for 8 months, the screaming, the meltdowns, and the constant battles….they become a little rougher to push through, when you are greeted by nothing but a confused, misplaced anger.

And I don’t know how to help him. And that is heart breaking. Experts that throw out pills and scary words have only gotten us so far. He is a boy, after all, and not a diagnosis. His brain is real and is his own, and not just words in some psychiatric text book. And his heart is real, too. Who will help heal that? And how does such a small boy get so very broken inside? You hear all of the time, parents say that all they want for their children, in life, is to be happy. And they usually mean they will be happy with them going to community college, rather than medical school….or choosing to marry someone the parents may not have chosen for them……But I wonder…….How many parents really, truly can say they mean nothing more than to have their child find some peace from tempest that swirls within them? Where are those parents? The ones that stumble, dazed, though the days, trying to make a way for a child that has no idea how to make a way for themselves, and faces so many obstacles, that the journey can exhaust them before they even begin? I know they are out there, and that both comforts me and crushes me, as I would not wish this on anyone. There has to be someone standing on the other side, though, right? Someone that has been through hell and back, and can say, “Look! We did it. It can be done. Yes, it is going to suck getting here, but it can be done. Just put your head down and keep going.” They have to exist, right? I know they do. I have to remind myself of that. Just like I need to remind myself that someday, The Boy and I are going to be standing right there with them, saying, “Look! We did it.” I have to believe that.

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