From Peter Pan to Grown-Up by Cyma
We are what people would think of as a normal, loving family. My husband and I have established careers; we are well respected in our fields. My young adult children live on their own, in their own condos and have very ‘good’ jobs. They are both rising in their companies. My younger children are sweet, respectful, polite, smart and popular. Our dog and cats are well cared for. We have many friends. By all accounts, people like what they see. However, what remains hidden is this: In the last few weeks, I’ve gone from Peter Pan to Grown. Sssshhhhh. Don’t tell anyone. It’s a staggering change.
I’m now dealing with an older son who is a good soul with drop-dead good looks, but has recently gotten in trouble with the law. My older daughter has just revealed that she’s grappling, mightily, with some demons. My father, a brilliant doctor still working in his 80’s is now showing the first signs of dementia. My father-in-law has had repeated seizures and recently fell and broke his arm; my brother-in-law by marriage is dying of lung cancer. One of my oldest friends has been without a job for nearly one year. Another friend just had knee surgery. My physician’s assistant has beginning stage breast cancer. I have two friends who are getting divorced; another who after several marriages/relationships just found true love.
Right now, our family is beset with problems. I am sober with thought and filled with the enormous responsibilities as a daughter, mother, wife and friend. I am not exempt from issues; none of us are. I just don’t know how to deal with all of this.
Before children, I lived a singularly insular life. I laughed, loved, worked, played, but very little touched me. I escaped the trials of other people’s childhoods; staved off true love; let few people into my heart; and remained content in isolation. Now, I cannot do so. Gone are the days when I could work overtime to remove all the papers on my desk, expecting to start fresh (and clean) the next day.
I pray. I’m mindful. Still, I cannot grasp the pain that everyday life can bring; still cannot always immediately fathom why we are led here to struggle in so many different ways. It seems that no one is exempt from struggle and nearly everyone is grappling with pain.
On most days, I don’t even know what to say to any of the people mentioned above. My admonishments and sadness about my son takes my breath away. My daughter’s struggles have just spilled over her solid, armored gates. My father doesn’t seem to see the recent changes in his demeanor. My father-in-law feels victimized; my brother-in-law and family don’t discuss feelings. My friends talk about staying in the present. What about me? I feel like I lived my whole life happily soaring above the clouds, which didn’t leave me much time for creating a solid foundation. I’m at a loss for how to cope, how to support and be supported.
I see what was missing in my life – commitments to loved ones; suffering over indisputable truths; riding the waves of innumerable crises – living each day as if it was my last. But here I am, very much alive and well and soberly contemplative about the state of affairs around me. I want to put these people and their circumstances into a locked box tucked under the corner shelf in the closet. But, the door remains wide open and the often ugly realities scream out like ghosts fresh from the grave.
I think this shall pass. It must pass. I try to live with my glass half-full; hold gratitude near to my heart; be thankful for my good life and fortunes. And breathe. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.