Thursday, October 29, 2009

Murky Waters

I almost died when I was fifteen. I know that is a dramatic statement - even a melodramatic one - that can cause a reader to doubt the validity of anything I have to say, but it's true. I was fifteen and on a family vacation in Panama City Beach. We decided to take a boat a few miles off shore and visit Shell Island. Although I am a Pisces with a great love of water, I've never really liked the ocean. I don't like the sand and salt sticking to my skin and never knowing exactly what I'm stepping on as I ease into the surf. On this hot August day, my mom convinced me to play in the waves with her. We took a raft and bounced in the waves, with the undertow carrying us out further than we realized. A powerful dolphin watching boat rounded the rock cove that framed our swimming area, and we were pulled further out. Our feet could no longer touch the ocean floor and violent waves crashed over our heads. Although we are both strong swimmers, we were unable to fight our rapid progress towards the boat. We turned ninety degrees and swam towards the rocky sea wall. We reached the rocks, and tried to climb their slippery faces in a quest for stability. Mom grabbed my arm when she attained a perch, keeping a humongous wave from carrying me away. The waves surged towards us again, and I was lifted above the lowest rocks and deposited into a depression, jagged rocks all around me. The waves beat me between the rocks, tearing my swimsuit and the tender flesh beneath it. I had to move from this spot, yet mom wouldn't surrender her tether so I could climb. Another huge wave crashed over us, pulling me over the low rocks again, slapping mom after me, and loosening her grip on my arm. Mercifully, this wave shoved us towards the shore, and we were able to swim again. As we neared the shore, bodies bruised and bloodied, we tried to scream for help. Finally, people rushed out to haul us to the sandy beach. I remember the details of that experience so vividly, but the rest of the day is a blur. However, I do know a category two hurricane hit Panama City Beach that night. We had been on a small island in pre-hurricane conditions.

Even as I carry the scars of August 2, 1995 with me, I can't help but see it as a metaphor for my relationship with my mother. Mom only sees that I would have been lost had she not held on to me, whereas I know that at some point she had to let go so we could each be safe. It was out of her power to save me that day. We face the same struggle today. She wants to be my savior, and that's not what she's supposed to be. I have to stand on my own - be in control of my life. I've seen this dichotomy in our relationship for years, but I've started to see it in her relationship with M now, too. M spent a year in rehab. Three weeks after his graduation from his program, he got a DUI. Now, he's attending AA meetings to combat his drinking. I don't know if he's slipped up in other ways, because I'm kept isolated from the family where these things are concerned, but mom has again taken it upon herself to save M. Last night, she told me she has to help him, just like she had to save me on Shell Island. M has been drowning for years. The time for mommy to save him has passed. He needs to stretch his fins and swim on his own. Until he is accountable for himself, anyone else's best intentions are just paving the road to hell.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I've come to the following conclusion...

It doesn't matter how deep still waters run if they can't quench your thirst.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Down With Distance!

I am a fan of many things. I like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Avocado. Movies. Rain showers. Long, girly, giggly conversations. Hugs. Good ideas. Well-orchestrated events. Jeans. The color aquamarine.

I have a list of things I don't like, too, though. I don't like fighting with my mom. Spiders. Crows. Crow's feet around my eyes. Dark lip liner. Lima Beans. Tracey on this season of The Biggest Loser. Tornadoes. Ponchos.

There is one thing that I need to add to the "not a fan" list. It's something I'd never given a ton of thought to until about six months ago. I don't like distance. Yes, S only lives an hour and a half away, but when schedules are as different as ours, it feels like we're a continent apart. I miss him. I miss threading my fingers through his and seeing the warm light that shines from his eyes when he looks at me. I can't help but worry that he thinks I'm being pushy when I tell him I want to see him more. I can only hope that he sees it as what it is, though. A declaration of my love for him and a natural gravitation towards something that makes me so happy.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hanging By A Thread

My hands are sore from grasping my sanity so tightly. My mind is bruised from the force of her words. My eyes are unfocused, unable to see beyond the truth revealed to me. I'm twenty-nine years old, and my mother doesn't like me. She uses a creator's love to mask the hurt and to explain away her obvious preference for my brother. She is a flawed, maybe even damaged woman, yet I yearn for her respect. It's never given. I am never enough.

It's time. I need to stop judging myself through her distorted lens. She made me, but she's not me. I need to quit fighting for her approval and earn my own.