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Guess…who’s…in…the…hoooouse? (Ok, that was my Oprah impression, and I’m going to go out on a limb here and decide it doesn’t really work in print.) Anyway, I know many of you are already fans of my next Won’t You Be My Neighbor guest: Heather King of The Extraordinary Ordinary. Heather is not only a gifted writer, but she writes, week-in and week-out, from a place of quiet honesty which has inspired many people. I’m speaking specifically, of course, of her recent admission on the EO of her addiction to alcohol, but non-specifically, I’m speaking of her ability to string words together on the topic of many, many subjects, with all of which we are intimately familiar: motherhood, womanhood, life. Because as extraordinary as her addiction and recovery story is, she’s so much more than one defining moment, as we all are, no matter how pivotal that one moment is. So thank you, Heather, for gracing NTT with your words on life today.
Passing the bed
He has asked so many questions that don’t have answers and I’m just so tired. I ask him to help his brother. I say, “He’s going to get hurt, can you help him?” He asks, “Why will he get hurt?” I answer through gritted teeth, “He just will! Just help him!” Then he sighs and his big blue eyes look sad and I wish I could find the strength for more patience and less surprising anger.
When I walk into my room to get dressed, I pass the crumpled bed and want to get in it. I want to curl up on my side and cry. I’m not sure why, but I want to do it. I start to walk that way and then I see her, the me in my mind’s eye, on her side in the bed where I am not. She looks like she’s repeating history. She is carrying this disease and she thinks she isn’t and then sometimes she thinks she is this disease. She is me and I am her and she is them and she is not.
She is so afraid that she’s given it to them.
I know that if I were to walk in and find her curled there, I’d think she should get up. I’d think she should shake it off. It’s not her fault she’s there, but she needs to get up, I’d say. Then I’d wonder if some of it is her fault, because I know memories of ridiculous choices can flood in and bring with them the funk, curling her up.
So I get dressed. I wash my face of yesterday’s make-up and I put one foot in front of the other to make sure that I’m not her or them or her past. I fight it because I know that when I do, it gets a little better.
I fake it sometimes, but strangely, most of the time I’m truly reveling in the buried joy. The miraculous happiness that comes through the eyes of my boys. We make a hide-out in a closet and they are thrilled with their flashlights in the dark. I well up with joy because they are who they are and I believe we can change this. Even if it doesn’t stop, it can be lighter, it can get better. Even if they feel it, they can learn that it doesn’t define them. I will tell them. They can learn from the truths we speak over them…
You are lovely. You are worthy. You are good. Just exactly as you are. This heavy weight of sadness, it can never be who you are.
I can say it with words from my mouth, and I can say it by walking away from the bed, uncurled and dressed.
“Can we go to the park?” He asks carefully. And I say yes even though I don’t want to because I know that it’s the right thing to do. I put one foot in front of the other and he rides with training wheels beside me. He says, “You’re great, Mom.” Then through my tightening throat where my heart wells up with this mercy, I say, “So are you, little man.”
“I know,” he says.
I laugh with unleashed joy and I think, please keep knowing…please keep knowing…please…
We are sometimes sadness, but mostly we are grace.
Please leave comments for Heather below! If you have a neighbor visiting you this week, be sure to snag the banner at the top of this post and link up!
This is my last Neighbor post in this current six-week series, but take heart: Momalom is bringing back their Five for Ten series starting on May 10th, and you can bet I’ll be participating. Will you?