It was a pretty good Thanksgiving, as these holidays go. There was some logistical drama and I wound up cooking an entire meal and schlepping it over to someone else’s house, which I will not do again. But everything I made was good – I have a sister-in-law who told me the beef I made was flavorless when I asked what she thought of the new recipe, and I had a good half hour of quiet hostility. Then my husband reminded me that things taste different when you smoke a pack a day, and I reminded myself that it is impossible to please everyone, smoke notwithstanding – and I didn’t make it for her, I made it for everyone. I think, on that note, I will retire my thanksgiving chef’s waddle for awhile. Perhaps forever. Maybe we just use the holiday as the time to decorate the tree and just have whatever we want. I am clinging to a tradition that died with my father twenty years ago. Maybe it’s past time for a new one.

I’ve been missing my dad a lot this year. He never got to meet his grandchildren, and the one who is giving me the most trouble looks just like him.  He wouldn’t know what to do, but he would have listened and he would have tried to help.

When your teenager starts acting out, it’s very isolating. You don’t want to tell anyone because of fear of judgement, or social repercussions. When you do tell someone, unless they have gone through something similar they just don’t get it.

You also want very much to believe that this will pass and next thing you know you will have the boy you had before.

But he’s not coming back.

It’s not as simple as taking away privileges. Or grounding or yelling or after school specials. We desperately want it to be – because that supports our illusion of control – but the fact is, when a teen is being self-destructive, he’s a power keg of emotion and poor impulse control. He responds to threats with choices that put him in danger – so you have lost before you even started. I am following this careful, slow, path of eggshells where I have one eye on what cliff he might be headed for so I can try to guide him away, and the other one on him.

And I don’t know if I am doing the right thing. And now and then I realize that there isn’t a day or an age or a sign for when this ends. This is me, as long as we are both alive.

I dreamed he was eaten by hippos last night.

I just read a post on The Guardian about a tour guide who survived an attack that killed the other guide on the trip – which explains why I didn’t go for the more obvious shark or alligator.

I dreamed he was standing at the edge of a short drop, overlooking the water, and I was walking slowly toward him, trying not to startle him so he wouldn’t fall. I called his name and he looked back at me and jumped, and I ran to where he was and saw the water was roiling with hippos, and no sign of him. So I dove.

Doesn’t take a genius to analyze that one.

It has been a long fucking year. I’m ready for a little light.

I can’t bring myself to actually post “Long December” by Counting Crows but I’m thinking it.

And with that, so ends my paltry contribution to this years nanopablahblah.




4 thoughts on “The Road to Hell

  1. I’m jealous. I still have 3 posts to write and have no idea what to say. eeeek. I love your candor. 🙂 I know some people are just posting photos and I have done that, but I feel like it’s cheating. LOL I wish I could offer up something in regards to your teen…my son had special needs and he put me through hell. He also put his father through hell and maybe he gave him more hell than there’s that. 😉 He’s grown now. Off on his own since he was 18. But he doesn’t keep in touch and it’s been a couple of years since we last spoke. I miss him. He’s okay though and living his life on his terms. I’m around should you ever want a sounding board…no judgement. I’ve been through some shit myself.

  2. My sister was ‘that teenager’. To be fair her chance at a reasonable life ended early with our dad’s daily emotional abuse and bullying, and her being bullied in school and dropping out before she was 13. She was on a strong path to nowhere at 16 when some fucking idiot of a supposed professional put her on an outdoor adventure course with a load of young offenders. Where she met the man who controlled her for the next decade or so. Not that we knew it at the time. But my mum bent over backwards further and further and further to be accommodating and kind and loving and put up with all the vile behaviour and advantage-taking and somehow maintained a tiny shred of relationship with my sister. She described it as a pendulum and it would keep going outwards and becoming more extreme until it stopped, at whatever point, and started to come back to us…but it only could come back if my sister knew she was still safe and welcome. So that was her whole ethos. From my very limited point of view, it seemed ridiculous she was letting herself be ridden roughshod over and taken for money, food, everything, and I spent a long time really angry at both of them while I struggled more quietly and privately with my own demons. But. It worked and I can confidently say my sister would be dead by now without my mum having done all that and been the total doormat, and now we all have a stronger and much more healed relationship, and my sister has even survived getting rid of the nasty man. So…yay. But it sucked and was hard and hurtful and awful. Teenagers can be the absolute worst. I really hope you make it through with yours with no need for diving into rivers. Big hugs xx

    1. I can’t imagine what that must have been like for you, with her taking up all the energy and because you weren’t acting out, you were rewarded with less attention. It all feels like an experiment right now, like he’s trying to figure out what defines him – dark or light. Things could be so much worse, it’s just when I see what I think is a step backwards it scares me. ❤ ❤

      1. Looking back I was probably as self-centred and stuck in my own perspective as she was in hers. Just so thankful for my mum’s resilience and constant love for her throughout it all. I hope your boy knows and notices that you love him even if you don’t love his choices. Teenage years are horrible. I remember them all too well.

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