Better late than never, breaking the tiny threads that are holding it all together and ugly brown spiders.
I stumbled on this wonderful post idea that is the brainchild of Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary via one of my favorite bloggers Cristina T at Filling My Prayer Closet. When I read the idea it immediately peaked my interest and I wanted to participate. But the link-up was for 7 Quick Takes on Friday, it was already Saturday. Yet, amid the chaos of my weekend (see all of the below) the thought wouldn’t leave my mind that I should do this. Be forewarned, that yes I am going to use a terrible cliché now. Cover your eyes and ears if you must, because it's better late than never.
Work has been very hectic and trying for me. I am the coordinator of Children’s Formation at my parish. There have been many staff turnovers and lots of changes that I am adapting to while I deal with my unstable and chaotic home life. We have a brand new program at work that I am spearheading and developing to replace our traditional classroom model of faith formation for children not attending catholic schools and it is rooted in the family as the “Domestic Church.” I am excited about the changes and the opportunities that this presents. At the same time, I am building this from the ground up at our parish, and the amount of preparation is exhausting. The program seeks to have parents (or at least one parent) ) attend sessions with the child and to become more directly involved in the child's faith formation. The class schedule has been modified for us to meet only twice a month and on the weeks that we do not meet families will be provided resources to enable them to better take on the role of primary teachers of the faith, just as they promised when they brought their child to the waters of baptism:
“You have asked to have your child baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him (her) in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring him (her) up to keep God's commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking” - text from the Rite of Baptism.
I pray that we can bring to fruition joyful followers of Christ with families and children that truly embrace and nurture that relationship guided by the beauty and truth found in our Catholic Faith.
Thursday night was a terrible night in our household. My son's stability has been perceptibly on the decline. I shared about my feelings of inadequacy as a parent in my post A Beautiful Tapestry of Inadequacies. When I say to you things were terrible, they were genuinely terrible. It has become more and more apparent that my child suffers from extreme anxiety and depression that causes him to explode and become destructive. After getting mad at something, he lost control and broke the television. After breaking the television, he morphed into a shear anxiety attack. He called me home from my errands and the remainder of the night was a blur of arguments, cries and pleas. The most terrible thing is how desensitized I have become to all of this. I have learned to not panic nor take much action when he says he is having a heart attack, or that he can’t breath, or that his vision is blurry, or that he can’t eat or is nauseous, or any other number of ailments that are part of an anxiety attack. I offer the trip to the hospital and then let him decide. Several hours later and we are still where we were when I first came home. Then, a small break-through. He indicates he might want to go to the hospital. After an hour or more of we are going to the hospital, then we are not, we are going, then we are not.. I give-up. By then it is sometime in the wee hours of morning and I just want to sleep a few hours to awaken to a new day.
Friday I went to work as usual, only to be there about two hours before the call came. I was to take my son to the ER to have tests ran. The symptoms he was describing to his doctor (blurry vision, memory lapses, lack of body control - which meant for my son “nervous shaking” ) warranted a trip to ER for a CAT scan. Four hours later and three other tests, all physical reasons were ruled out. Now we moved on to what I have been hoping for, some help and guidance for his untreated mental health issues. Another two hours later and after talking to someone from a local mental health facility, we had our post treatment recommendations. They are the same as they have been the other three times he has been to the hospital over the last several years. Intensive outpatient therapy. Remember, as noted in my other post, after the age of 16 a person has the right to refuse mental health treatment unless a harm to self or others (breaking TV’s, doors, punching holes in walls don’t seem to count) My son, the actor, agrees and nods in compliance to all that the young women tells him they recommend. We go home to battle number two and it is the biggest one of them all...
I am a terrible, horrible mother that does not care about her son and I am going to make him homeless. Thus says my son. I have had to make the tough decision that my son can no longer live with me if he refuses the treatment this time. It is now Sunday and we are still going back and forth. He is petrified. I understand that. And he keeps trying to find ways out of my ultimatum. He keeps asking for compromises. He has exploded, slammed things, cursed, yelled, pretty much called me every name in the book for letting my own son go “homeless.” The front door is broken from the slams. My coffee table ruined. He left for a bit saying he wasn't going to return, only to be with one of my best friends who calmed him down and tried to get him to agree he needs help so that he can move out on his own. The remainder of the weekend there are moments of calmness. Then he thinks about things and it triggers more panic attacks. He is now trying to figure out ways to get out of going. Or he states that he will go but that he will walk out and won’t cooperate. I keep saying the choice is his what he does when he is there, but he has to realize that by choosing to not take part in treatment that means he is choosing to not live with me. I am trying so hard to not break the tiny threads that are holding us together. I need your prayers. I really need your prayers.
I am a sucker for strays. I have six animals. Four cats and two dogs and all of them are a stray or a rescue animal. I tend to take human strays as well. We have yet another homeless friend of my son’s also temporarily staying with us. I guess I am a sucker for those down on their luck. I have allowed three other homeless "friends" of my son over the last two years. I always give them four stipulations before they can stay:
Our current "stray" (and I want to protect his name at this point) has secured employment within the first week and is currently working. He does help about 60% of the time when asked. He is also in the Military Reserves and does seem like he truly want's to get his life together. However, if my son is kicked out for not following through with his treatment, I will have to have this young man leave as well. I cannot keep my son's friend and kick out my own child.
I really need your prayers.
Today is Sunday. After a nice lunch out with my son and his friend , we came home to have my son's friend, the current “stray, ” work off some room and board by helping me to clean the porch in my backyard. I have a walk-out basement which means that the backyard has an upper and lower level. I don’t get down to the lower level porch that is under the deck very often. And it has become over-run by cobwebs and big ugly brown spiders. It turns out that this “buff” young military man is petrified of spiders. I don’t like them much myself. I put on my bravest "you don't scare me big ugly brown spiders" face and I go to work to set the example. I want you to know that we saw far too many spiders for my comfort and sanity level. I got out the hose and I sprayed and sprayed and sprayed to try to wash them away. A temporary fix that allowed us to clean and make the area look presentable. I didn't let the boy see, but more than once after we came in I have jumped and done a crazy doggy style body-shake to knock off what I keep thinking is crawling on me or in my hair.
I have already looked up the number for a pest control agency and I am on it first thing Monday morning.
Here's to a new week that is spider free and with renewed hope that we can conquer this illness.
In my last post, “A Beautiful Tapestry of Inadequacies”, I shared a great deal of my current family struggles and my very deep rooted self-doubts as a parent. Although it was healing to put the words to paper, it has also been a catalyst which calls me to deeper reflection as I ponder what my next moves will be with my son.
I have not felt an urge to write since that post. What I have been doing is spending a lot of time thinking back to the days when my son was younger. There was a period when he was much younger that I dabbled in writing. There were no blogs back then. At least none that I remember. My avenue of choice to see my reflections in print was our local diocesan newspaper, “The Record.” During this time they had a supplemental spirituality section to their newspaper which encouraged anyone to submit contributions. I remembered having two articles published. One was a reflection called “Known by the Scars. The other was about my son and an art project he did at pre-school. It was titled “Soda Pop and Light Bulbs” This was the one I wanted to find. That was the one I had convinced myself I needed to find.
Now, you have to remember this was the days of floppy disks and really slow computers. I no longer have either the computer or the floppy that the articles were saved. I kept a hard copy of the newspaper. I know that I have saved them...somewhere. And this past week, I have searched and searched and cannot find either of them.
I needed to read that story again. I needed to be taken back to a time when our relationship was positive and encouraging. And, I wanted to share that story with you. It was a reflection about a simple art project my son had brought home. I still remember how moved I was by what he had done and what he had said when I asked him to tell me more about the picture. I still remember the premise behind the reflection. But I do not remember enough to re-create it for this blog.
So I searched.
I found so many of the remnants of our past lives. Just today I looked in some new places. In one drawer I found a 1998 calendar filled with a year of appointments and events of our former lives as a family. Doctor appointments. Birthday parties. All those glorious ordinary things that make up and fill the days of our lives.
I found birthday cards galore from most of my son's younger birthdays. Artwork with some “bubblehead” people my son had drawn. A copy of the contract from the grave site where my husband was buried. Reminder after reminder of our families past. But no article and piece of artwork with the “Soda Pop and Light Bulbs” that I was so certain I had saved. My frustrations were growing and the tears were starting to well-up in my eyes.
But suddenly I spotted what looked to be a yellowed copy of folded newspaper. It looked like it could be from the publication I was looking for. It was! It was from “The Record.” " This is one of them" I said to myself. Fingers crossed! I pray it's the one I wanted.
It was neither one.
Because apparently, I had a third article published that I had completely forgotten about. And as I read it the tears didn't just well up, they poured out.
God placed that article in my hands today. For He knew that I so desperately need to be reminded how much my son has inspired me and still inspires me.
No matter what happens next.
by Cyndi Marlow
*The "Remember Me" article appeared in “Sacred Rhythms” a spirituality supplement to "The Record" Newspaper on March 7, 2002.
This past year had been a challenge both professionally and personally. For reasons not all clear to me, feelings of inadequacies set in and clouded my year. I was troubled by the challenges that I felt were being propelled at me in seeking to live and understand my faith.
This past year brought us a Pope, who if nothing else, challenges us by word and example how to live a joyful and humble Christian life. Due in a great part to his words, I have begun to question what I am called to do and how I am meant to live. Time and again, I hear something our Pope has said (or done) that resonates deeply with my soul. I have been filled with a much deeper awareness of those who suffer only to find myself caught in the abyss of my doubts and fears, trying to determine how it is that I am called to action. My insecurities and feelings of inadequacies abound.
The past 8-10 years have been difficult for my family which, after many deep losses, is basically now just me and my son. My parents are both gone. My husbands parents gone for many years now. My husband of 24 years died eight years ago of a massive heart attack at 48. The hardest part of that has been watching helplessly to what this has done to our son who was two days from turning 11 when his father died. It was my son and I who found him the night he died. We were returning home from a night of religious education classes.
I have given countless hours and most of my finances in trying to get our son help to deal with the aftermath of this trauma. But to no avail. He is bitter, angry, and filled with resentment. He has lost all respect for Christianity and especially the Catholic faith (in his mind, he assumes if we had not been at classes, things might be different). He pretty much has lost all respect for himself as well. Those who know me well, know the extents that I have gone to try to reach him and to try and get him help. But as I learned with our medical system about three years ago, at the age of 16, he has to agree to the help. Nothing I can say or do can force him into treatment he does not want (Unless he is deemed a harm to himself or others is what the law states) And although everything he chooses to do is destructive to himself spiritually, mentally and even physically it is not legally harmful enough. Because these issues are his personal life and I wish to respect that, I will not elaborate anymore other than to say that. watching his self-destructive behavior has taken its toll on me. I am almost out of options, other than prayer. At almost 19 years old now, it is a journey that I fear he must walk on his own. .
So I move forward in this new year, feeling called to do more with sharing my faith, only to acknowledge I have failed miserably in that task with my own child. For nothing I say or do seems to matter nor seems to have a bearing on his life choices anymore. I am faced with letting go. Not an easy task for a parent. The years of therapy, the doctor bills, the other trouble and consequences he has faced are now part of the fabric of a tattered past. I just pray that the remnants and threads I have provided him over the years will hold together until he seeks to restore the tapestry of his own life. Don't worry, there are lots of prayers still happening on this end.
So it is with my 'new year revolution' that I move to embrace my inadequacies and weave them into the patchwork of a new future. A tapestry which is layered with the rich and vibrant colors of uncertainty, carefully and beautifully stitched in the design of insecurities and delicately woven and held together with a faith that binds all things.
by Cyndi Marlow
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