Summer is almost over and the kids are getting ready to go back to school. It’s been a pretty good summer for them. At least I think it has. They had plenty of days at the beach and even had a week long vacation in Spain with their dad. We live in an area where there are lots of other children for them to socialize with so my front lawn was constantly full of the neighbors offspring most evening. Their laughter echoed around our housing estate igniting the air with youthful, happy and explosive energy. After a messy marriage, separation and subsequent divorce, it left our extended family relations damaged, which is pretty normal in such a situation. Now though, things have been somewhat repaired and my children once again enjoy a rich relationship with both sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Dare I say that for the first time ever, they have a stable life? Well while it is by no means perfect it is definitely a hell of a lot better.
I know for sure that my getting my shit together played a huge role in the attainment of that stability. It’s no mystery that a peaceful household is ideal for the healthy development of children. So it is safe to say that removing them from chaos and becoming a little less chaotic myself, has to have had a positive effect. Free thought, expression and creativity are the basic rules of my household, and of course healthy boundaries have been put in place. On paper, it looks like a pretty cool situation to grow up in. So why then, do I still feel like a totally inadequate parent and am overcome with guilt on a near constant basis?
Ugh! As much as I abhor social conditioning and as much as I hate to admit it, I am a victim of its brainwashing. My guilt comes from the fact that my children deserve, as all children do, a balanced, mature and efficient mother. There are modern ideals for what balanced and mature are and I am not that. I am a mother in recovery from addiction. I get very very depressed, sometimes to the point of not being able to function. I don’t have a proper job – not that I don’t want one of course. I have ambition and dreams and all that stuff – and I’m not giving up on them – it’s just not happening as quickly as Id like it to. I am also entirely shit at the whole nuclear family gig. I’m a dreadful person to be in a relationship with, basically due to my instability, flightiness and unpredictability. I know that having a father figure in a home in no way guarantees equilibrium and normality, but I still feel bad that I haven’t managed to provide that. Oh and did I mention I’m not a beauty queen but have lines, wrinkles and scares in all the wrong places?
So as you can see I don’t really need anyone to point out my “defects” (hate that word). To sum it all up, I have at some point attained a deep belief that on many levels, I fail as a parent and generally as a person. Sometimes that belief is so strong I wonder what the point of life is. Other times I can overcome it and manage to summon up my authentic self and think maybe I’m not doing such a bad job and can actually appreciate some of the good qualities I think I may possess. Mostly though, daily kicking the crap out of myself will ensue at some point.
Some people will equate this negative self talk as my disease. Others will say its self centered fear or self pity or lack of gratitude. But is it? Perhaps it’s the ever tightening vice of social expectation and the belief that being anything less than perfect is an illness that has me feeling this way. After all I am just a human being and a very fallible one at that. In the moments, days and sometimes months that I go through one of these existential crisis, I am disinclined to view my emotional states and my need in the past to escape from it, as an illness. Rather, I believe, it is me having very normal reactions to very unnatural situations that human beings are forced to live in these days. So is my low self esteem, depression, feeling of hopelessness and worthlessness symptoms of alcoholism or in fact the result of the pressure I am under to achieve the unachievable in a world that to me already mostly represents illusion?
I have been diagnosed in the past with different mental disorders. My first psychotropic drug was prescribed when I was 15 and there have been different cocktails of these drugs administered throughout my life. None worked like alcohol though. However, I choose not to medicate myself anymore, basically because chemicals make me sick in a way that I was not sick before. My body can’t tolerate them. It doesn’t matter what the chemical is. Alcohol, cocaine, xanax, antidepressants – they all have the same effect on me. They change who I am, and not in a good way. I become suicidal, my brain stops functioning the way it’s supposed to and my emotional state becomes non-existent. For me medicating my disillusionment with the world and my sometimes overly expressive emotional state is not the solution.
So what is the answer? Well I guess accepting that I needed to find a new way of living is what is changing things for me. In that acceptance I also realized that not everything about me is wrong, even though it is perceived as such by society. I guess I’m in the process of deprogramming myself from a life of narrow, conditioned thinking and behaving and finding my own truth and freedom. It’s almost like parenting myself and introducing little me to the world but with the blinkers off. I kinda know what it was like for my mother now – she deserves a Nobel prize for her efforts if you ask me. And while I do rejoice in this new opportunity to relearn, I still manage to spoil it for myself with thoughts of “but Nick your nearly 40, you SHOULD be getting ready for your retirement.”
Yes, I have quite a way to go before the constraints of a misguided society fully loses its grip on my being. Nothing positive can be attained for me unless I live as close to a natural existence as possible. And without spiritual guidance there is no way I can find my path nor remain on it. However I’m young in my venture for recovery and enlightenment and I have hope that before I take my last breath, I’ll be able to look at myself in the mirror and approve of what I see and have achieved what I was put on this Earth to fulfill. Don’t hold your breath though. It may take another 40 years.