I awoke this morning thinking about my son, MJ. Friday, I found myself driving to his house to check on him since he hadn’t been responding to my texts or phone calls. Examining his phone records, I realized that he had made no outbound calls or texts in three days and that is what sparked the excursion across town. Not normal behavior; and I went from panic to relieve when he poked his head around the curtain of his bedroom to see who was pounding on his door.
Turns out he’d lost his job and gone into dejection mode. He was feeling depressed.
The hardest thing about being a mother is not being able to wrap him in joy
He called me yesterday briefly, in response to me calling to check on him. I asked how he was doing and gave him a “chin up” speech. I mentioned something about joy, and he said it was an emotion he hadn’t experienced in forever.
If I have any regrets in life, it’s that I didn’t do a better job of teaching him how to tap into that.
When I left my former boyfriend, Michael, to be with my husband some twenty-three years ago, I thought I did it so that I could become myself. It was a codependent relationship – very unhealthy in a variety of ways and I have never regretted my decision, even though I loved him. In fact, part of why I was able to leave was because I loved him and I knew our relationship wasn’t healthy for either of us. All of that sounds very clinical. Didn’t I just leave him because I loved Jay? Yes, but it was more complicated than that. What I didn’t know back then that I know now is that of course it is possible to love more than one person at once. People always go into the “I love you but I’m not in love with you” explanation, but that in really just an explanation of what the Course refers to as a special relationship which is by definition dysfunctional. It’s bullshit. I loved them both, but I knew my relationship with my old boyfriend was extremely dysfunctional. It’s not healthy for an adult to seek permission from another adult to be able to do things. I chose health when I left him. If my relationship with Michael hadn’t been so unhealthy, Jay would never have been able to lure me away.
Lying awake in bed this morning, I realized that one of the key factors in the whole complicated mess was my son. I regretted that I hadn’t left Michael sooner. He had never been able to see the good in my son. It was one of the reasons, probably the primary one, for me allowing my ex-husband to have custody of MJ from ages six through thirteen. I needed him to be in an environment where he wasn’t treated as if he were defective. How could I have lived with a man who thought my son was defective? No one deserves to be treated that way. But my ex was not a great nurturer either. This is the one area of my life where forgiveness is still aching to be found. Forgiveness for myself for not leaving Michael sooner. Forgiveness for Michael for not being capable of seeing MJ’s potential. Forgiveness of my ex for not being a better father. Forgiveness for my husband for not being able to repair the damage. Forgiveness for my son for not learning how to rise above the adversity (the way his father taught him he should).
I don’t know how to help MJ. I just love him and see the good in him. I can’t give him joy, but I can know that it is possible for him. I can know that he never was and never could be defective. I can hold fast to the vision of his true self. I can hold a space for him to step into the person he’s always ached to become, the person God intended him to be. I can hold that space. And I do. And I do.