There is no undo button in life, but oh, how I wish there were.
Raising a child with “issues” is a bit of a lifelong roller coaster ride of heartbreaking troughs and amazing peaks of joy. Unfortunately, after a few years off the roller coaster, the ride has resumed and we have fallen into one of those gut-wrenching troughs. I let down my guard, lulled into a sense of complacency and almost normalcy. Thanksgiving morning the roller coaster roared into action, immediately plunging us into the abyss, a sucker punch to the gut.
A misunderstanding between him and his younger brother precipitated a serious meltdown, during which their voices were raised, drama prevailed and my child, now fully adult chronologically, cursing his way out, took off to return to school hours before dinner, leaving me behind. He called me several times on the road, obviously distraught, but because I never said the right things—there are no right things to say when he is so overwrought—he hung up on me each time. I assumed he would calm down and call me sooner or later, as has been the pattern, but he did not. Worried sick about him, knowing the long list of those issues, I did not call because I figured he did not want to talk to me and would not answer.
Nearly a week passed. He blocked my messages, ignored my texts and the voicemail I left for him asking him to call me about some important business. I finally resorted to posting on his Facebook page: “Please call me. It’s important.” Later that evening he called. He was having a hellish week, had placed himself under observation, and not allowed to be on his own/alone, angry that it took a letter that had arrived at my home for me to call him. (Why hadn’t I called to check on him, to find out how he was doing?) He had me open the letter, we resolved the issue, which involves me making a payment to settle a slumlord’s claim—money I don’t actually have—because he’s a student and has no money.
Then came the onslaught. Somehow, this is all my fault for not making his brother do, say or behave in a specific way over the 33 years of their lives together. Every perceived hurt, every memory (many faulty), every spark of anger and fear, laid in my lap. No mention of the daddy who abandoned us without so much as a goodbye so many years ago, and all the rage that still engenders in him.
I acknowledge that like all parents, and especially as a three-job, single mom, I made mistakes. We all do, because we are human. I used to feel as though I’d somehow failed my older son. My therapist has reassured me that there is really nothing more I could have done. In my being, I know I’ve done the best I could for both of my boys, and I have loved them with every micron of my heart and mind and every fiber of my soul.
Even if I had an undo button, where would I even start?