Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Dark Night (Ah, Not the Movie) and a Poem

Someone had asked me about the ”dark,” you know, the darker side, and if I had ever had those moments? And I’m not talking about Batman—even though the Dark Knight was pretty dark—and violent. And that joker—wow, he was one scary SOB.

No, I’m talking about the other dark, the kind that most people don’t want to hear about, because, sadly, it’s too depressing. It’s not inspirational; it’s not motivational; it’s not uplifting, so why, why talk about the sad stuff in a world that needs more of the happy-ever-after. But it’s not reality; people do want to know that it’s okay to think darker thoughts, and that they’re not alone—it’s human, is it not? When I had written some poems, I needed to write about the dark stuff, too. It was my outlet; the only way I could acknowledge those thoughts and relate them to my anger, because I certainly didn’t want to take it out on my kids by being angry with them—it wasn’t their fault.

One day I was driving my car to nowhere trying to keep a disconnected, unruly, autistic child entertained, while suffering from sheer exhaustion. She had given up naps and from the sounds of the backseat seat belt, she had found a way to give up seat belts, too—I knew that day was coming! So my dark side brought me to a place—a vision—and thoughts of my only way out: driving into a tree. She and me and one tree. If she and I were gone, then no burdens would be placed on my sister, my mother, my husband, or my brother. Because, frankly, this was the other side of hell—raising a child who I thought was the devil herself … and I had the rest of my life to do it, too.

I kept hearing from people in my life: “I wouldn’t do it; I couldn’t do it; I don’t know how you do it,” and it didn’t make it any easier. These people were telling me that I got cheated and had a crummy life—to boot. No one wants to hear that you got screwed and everyone else got healthy, functioning, normal babies—whom they enjoyed! What a hard pill that was to swallow. Even my elderly neighbor (who had no life) told me that I had no life … HA! That threw me over the edge and into a crying fit. That was all it took to realize: people pitied me. And then one day a “friend” said to me: no one would ever be jealous of you, just look at your kids.” As amazing as that was to hear. And down the toilet went another friend. There was a lot of that going around when your life meets a challenge.

But what stopped me from searching for that big, bold, preferably, beautiful tree (okay, I was selfish) was my son, and who was the only bright star in my life—that’s all it takes, right? —a bright star shining on a darker day really does light your way; keeps you holding on—pressing forward—and realizing that the dark wasn’t always so dark. I could and would never want to leave him because he needed me, and I needed him. He was my lifeline, and an adorable safety net when I would fall into “the dark.”

One of my earliest poems (a dark side) was just after I received my son’s diagnosis and, mind you, I had known Meghan was autistic before I knew Nick was, because she was so much more severe, so I was prepared. But my son was a different story.

"Children are a God-send"

As if it wasn’t hard enough the first time;
Today it seemed easier the first time:
Facts were presented;
Books were read;
Information was exchanged:
For heartfelt reasons and for selfish ones alike.

This time was going to be harder—
It was my other child,
The one we thought would be okay—
our survivor.
The one full of personality, ability, curiosity.
Oh, how does one take the news?

My mother called everyday
Same time. Same ring.
Her unusual tone.
It was the way she would say my name:
The fake, upbeat rhythm of her voice;
The drumming for frivolous information.

I knew what she wondered:
Was I crying?
Would I kill myself?
Did she really think that she could heal me?
Bring back my happy spirit
As if I was some overjoyed creature

Ready to play with anything
thrown my way.
The lies I would tell her
Just to get her off the phone.
I hated everyone,
Especially those with normal children.

I threw away already addressed
and stamped
Thank you cards from a birthday party given for him
Earlier that week.
I did not feel thankful.

Then a friend called to read me a poem.
It told me that God sent these children to me
And read all the reasons why. It blamed:
My happy disposition to love;
My inner strength to guide;
My patience to teach;

And the right amount of selfishness
to keep me sane.
I’m a saint dontcha know--And twice over!
I smiled up to the heaven
to give my regards to my God:
Fuck you, I‘ll go to hell.

1 comment:

Christina Shaver said...

Back in January, there was a thought that my son may be having psychotic episodes. Ultimately, we discovered his anxiety is so bad that he is able to block out the world using his ability to play and pretend. Easier to be pretending than it is to be him.

But it was during those dark days that I did have some of the same thoughts you did. That this world would be better and easier for everyone if he and I just somehow "left." I knew I'd never knew it. But for years I said I never understood why a mother would kill herself and her children. It was that day that I had come to learn EXACTLY why someone would do it.

You are right about the bright spot. I thought about my other son and my husband, and realized that they made everything worth it.