big stream of little tears
hands shaking off
the grieving left
but now I’m waiting
for it all to come back to me
God – please don’t let it
come back to me
let the child that I now see
i welcome a miraculous mystery
i hate it that i made that sound
when my flesh was torn
and thrown on the ground
i saw my skin flapping
my blood begging to stay
i took a look
you were running away
Milky veiled eyes,
heavy in a trance.
Her tongue flipped
Portuguese and Italian.
When she was angry,
she broke the foreign dance;
spoke a startling line of English.
“What’s your name?!“
to the doctor she spat.
Next glance I took
she was wearing a mask,
passed out cold.
No more vexed phrases
in Portuguese and Italian
to be told.
Do you remember the seashore? Do you remember the water? How it cooled us, held us, renewed us that day on the shore.
That day where we escaped what we’re going through and just focused on the crests of foam breaking down as it came in twos, chasing each other; only to be crushed by the bigger waves that almost always followed. It always seems to follow. But for those few hours – we pretended that it would not. We closed our eyes and felt the sun soothe us, we calmed our trembling brains. We breathed in the salt air – tasted it on our lips. Breathed it in again and held our breath. Is this what peace feels like? Stillness. Roaring in our ears.
Opposite of being lost in the fire where our whispers turn to shouts. Remembering all the battles, but the scars we’ve lost count. Fleeing from the panicked, pale creature with the crazed blue eyes and drowning out the threats to die, his sighs, the cries.
Perhaps that is why I liked it there, I’m nothing compared to that vast place. In that place, I was only between the sand and the sun; I wasn’t an emotional stress ball for my autistic son.
That day, I reclined and watched you play in the water. The sun sprayed off your back and you looked happy. The possibilities were endless and you sang with the mermaids in my dreams that night. I watched the seagulls choreograph a flight to the violins that played in my head. Those beautiful violins. Is this what mercy feels like? Those moments, that place.
Does it mean I love you any less,
if I want to keep the best of you,
but want to change the rest?
I don’t know why I’m feeling the way I do. The way I was last night, it wasn’t me, it wasn’t right. But he started up again; wanting this, wanting that. Throwing this, throwing that. He took my phone and jammed it into his wall. The glass is shattered, I can barely make a call. I tried to keep him in his room as you were moving his wooden toy toaster and his broom. Removing scissors, long objects, and most anything that he could turn into a weapon. We, unfortunately, know that part too well. I kept him in his room as long as I could, but I let him run out, thinking that it would help calm him. He said he was calmer anyway. What a good storyteller he is. Off to the sitting room he went, to put holes in the walls. I tried for ten minutes, but I wasn’t able to block them all. Out he ran, he said his blood sugar felt low –
“Ok, I’ll test you – let’s calm down, let’s go…”
He tried to go into your room – to put holes in the wall…he said.
My voice got louder, my face burned with confusion, exhaustion –
“Please calm down. Please go to your room and calm down.” Please, over and over again.
He punched my arms harder. I grabbed his arms just to stop the pain, and you thought I took it too far.
“Mom, give him space – let’s have space!” You repeated yourself louder and he felt more rage. I ignored you, concentrating on your brother, but I saw his wrath boil into a crimson fury. He was on fire and he kicked four new holes into our walls – big ones too, it was what I didn’t want him to do. I felt warmth escape my ears – I thought…
“Why does it seem nobody can hear?”
I collapsed to the ground and grabbed my head with my trembling hands and I wailed a scream I didn’t know I had. I became primal for about five seconds. I lost my sense for a fraction of time, I lost my wit – I witnessed my soul escape and enter again. My vocal chords instantly felt ripped apart; very fitting, they matched my heart. Something happened, something clicked. I’m one step closer to feeling insane. One step closer to losing my mind. It’s all so very unfortunate.
This above incident happened August 10, 2017, and it left me at odds with my youngest daughter for about two days. I felt decimated – perhaps even betrayed a little. I got over it – but I guess that’s what mental illness can do. It can turn loved ones against each other in the swirls of madness, in the twisting of insanity. Prompt loved ones to turn into frozen statues paralyzed with fear to only thaw out long enough to survive. That’s what we’re doing now, surviving.
These past two years have been really trying but something about these past few months have been especially sinister. His punches are harder, the damage is greater, and his thoughts are more tortuous. Is it the Abilify? Is it the antidepressant? Is it too much Abilify? Does he need a new seizure med? Who knows anymore.
I remember when a trial of Seroquel turned him into a demonic giant with powers that terrorized us day and night. Night and day. Two weeks of pure hell and the games got sicker when I had to increase it.
“We need more time to see if it will work,” the doctors would say.
I would nervously laugh, and think, “I pray we have more time.” It was just my youngest daughter, about 16 at the time, and I during five days of the roughest part of the med trial. My oldest daughter and husband were on a school trip to Paris. My Mom, who was staying with us at the time, went back to Missouri to help out my sister and her family.
My daughter and I would wake up to battles and the ritualistic dismantling of our house. I would stand at his doorway during an event to lessen most of his tornadic activity that could happen to the main part of the house. But most of his torment landed on various areas of my already bruised body. I would put on an old winter jacket that my husband used to wear and put on heavy utility gloves, but it offered only a bit of protection. I became the guard and he became the beast – with foam dripping out of his mouth, and my brain would have to recover from all the horrific words he shouted.
The longest event on one particular bad day lasted a little over an hour. It was one of the five or six events per day he would have during this Seroquel trial. My heart raced and I would feel like I ran a marathon after each event. Between episodes I would put ice packs on my arms and maybe even my face, rest, and pop Motrin like candy. My daughter would ask if I was okay, but her eyes had already been stained with his violence. There’d be no turning back.
We’d have a little reprieve where he’d act more “normal” and we’d take a walk or play a game, but we didn’t venture out during this time. We’d eat our meals between violent events and act as if nothing had ever happened. He’d say he loved me and I’d respond back with an, “I love you too.” Most always an event would happen before bedtime and then he’d collapse into bed, praise the Lord. Once he was asleep, we would assess the damage of the day and clean up accordingly. Put home decor back on their resting shelves, move end tables, and place remotes back to their original, eager location.
During this time, when he was asleep, the house was unnaturally quiet and appeared unshaken. My daughter and I would get our pajamas on, fix a snack, and fall on the couch. After a console session and a good cry, we’d put on a movie and zone out. Escape to a different world where we weren’t hurt, bullied, or terrorized.
Around midnight, we’d say goodnight, crawl into our beds, and pray for a better day to be waiting for us. We’d close our eyes and let the stillness lead us into calm waters. We would either dream of old ladies whispering hush or bloody mouthed wolves that chased. There was no in-between. It was madness.
She could have been the mother of a dozen girls; all with raven hair and cheeks dusted with the pale pink sheen that left her countenance ages ago. Lovely, airy, gentle girls with names like: Polly, Emmaline, and Mae; with giggles in the morning, books in the afternoon, and Rooibos tea in the evening. They would love her and show her affection, and she would know they cared. Know that she was their mother. Unlike how she felt today: invisible, worthless, stranded, and forgotten.
She could have been the mother of an army of girls with pigtails and curls, petticoats, and dolls. Stupid, perfect dolls with porcelain skin and fingers, so delicate she would hold her breath to touch, just to touch their dainty fingers. She would cry herself to sleep not knowing the wedded and domestic future of her unborn, imaginary army of girls. Cry over grandchildren she would never see, never love, never hold. She would mourn this loss over and over until her heart broke into a million tiny pieces, scattering and chasing each other while blaming themselves for the break. If only her heart had been stronger, tougher, maybe she wouldn’t have failed so miserably.
This mother, this very same mother, looking past her broken son, in a puddle of his own urine, with stained straw hair and with eyes, seemingly so dark, she couldn’t see the blue. With eyes that pained her with every blink she could scarcely look at him as he waited on what she did not know. She could have been a good mother if only her son could have given her a chance. But it escaped him, he was lost in his own world. His world filled with chaos, destruction; senselessness that cruelly clashed with her idyllic, impossible thoughts. Her impossible thoughts.
They would never understand, she’d think. This mother with guilt so alive it walked beside her clutching her hand, would collapse under impossible pressure countless times. She would drown daily with not a life guard or life preserve in sight. They would just look at her with disapproving eyes – eyes that didn’t know the story. The story of love and hope that in one minute would turn into duty and despair. They would not know the doctor that said her son was haunted by ghosts or know all the medicines, the little colorful pills that turned against him and caused him rage. They would never know the pain, not ever, even if explained. She was sick of explaining.
This mother would crawl into bed and pray for forgiveness. This woman would dream of her army of girls, all fancy and sweet, singing lullabies. These tiny angels would dance with ribbons of pink and peace would overcome her until she was reduced to tears. She would feel happiness in this dream; this gift, this blessing of a dream. It was always enough to give this woman a fragment, a drop of hope that the next day could be that day. That day where she would reach her son and her son would live in her world. That day where neither anxiety nor frustration dwelled. That day where her thoughts were not so impossible and laughter cradled, rocked, and soothed the both of them, mother and son.
She didn’t need an army of daughters – she just needed her one son.
“My one son,” she would cry and release to the air. That had to be enough.