No Day But Today

I can’t control
My destiny
I trust my soul
My only hope
is just to be

There’s only now
There’s only here
Give in to love
Or live in fear
No other path
No other way
No day but today–from “No Day But Today”, RENT: The Musical

There’s no doubt about it. I am a control freak. The very idea of not being in control every of every single thing every single second of the day kinda makes me twitchy and anxious. Disorder makes my skin itch, because I just can’t stand it.

I can’t control everything though. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t control everything because there is so much that is out of my control.

I have anxiety and depression and there are a lot of days when I’m flat out terrified every single moment of the day. Scared I’m going to say the wrong thing to the wrong person. Scared I’m going to do the wrong thing. Scared I’m failing my son by not being an absolutely stellar mom…the kind who really enjoys playing imagination games and board games and making cookies and pillow forts. I want to be that mom, but it’s just not me. Because I can’t make my son follow the rules I’ve set down in my head for how the game should go. Or how the pillow fort should look. And it makes me twitchy and yell-y because he wants things his way and not my way. And I prefer not to yell if I can help it, especially over something so trivial as the arrangement of a pillow fort.

Growing up, there wasn’t a lot of love in my family. I cannot speak for my siblings but I know I lived in constant fear of my parents…wondering if they were gonna be the nice parents or the ones who yelled and hit. Especially my stepfather, who had very strict rules about how things should be done and how things should look. If my sister and I cleaned our room and it wasn’t to his standards, he’d come in and rip the sheets off the beds, rip clothes from the closet and throw things from the dresser top onto the floor just so we’d have to clean it again.

The man terrified me. And I still don’t think I’ve gotten over the way he treated us or really forgiven him for his behavior.

Once, when I was about 13 years old, I don’t remember what I’d done wrong but I do remember the punishment I got on that particular day. My mom knocked me onto my bed and sat on me, hitting me around the face and shoulders, screaming at me, until she was too tired to hit and scream any more. So she left the room. But my stepfather stood in front of the door and screamed things like “Get thee behind me, Devil!” and various other Bible verses at me. I was crying so hard I couldn’t see, snot flowing freely down my chin. I wanted to call my grandmother, but even then I couldn’t speak freely because they were listening in on the extension.

Growing up, I lived in fear every single damn day of my life. If I wasn’t afraid of the bullies at school teasing me and beating me up and stealing my things, I was afraid of my own freaking parents and the punishments they would dole out for minor infractions like not having my stepfather’s 84,000 (ok not really. But it felt like it) brass knick-knacks polished properly. I remember him screaming at me because I’d been working on a small sculpture for an art class and I got upset because he decided it just HAD to be painted with metallic glitter-flecked gold spray paint when that’s not what I’d wanted AT ALL. I was too embarrassed to turn it in after that and I got an F on the project. For which, of course, I was also punished.

My son thinks I punish him by sending him to his room without an electronic device in his hands when he steps out of line,but he has no idea. When he was little, I tried spanking him but I was always terrified I would lose control and not be able to stop spanking him once I started. It scared the living crap out of me. ¬†Because that’s what my mother would do..she’d start hitting and hitting and hitting and not be able to stop herself. It didn’t matter if we screamed or cried or begged her to stop. She couldn’t stop herself. And I was terrified of her.

Parents are supposed to love you unconditionally. I never had that growing up but I’m gonna make DAMN sure my son does. I may not always love his behavior (which I tell him that all the time. “I love you,but I really do not love your behavior right now.”) but I will ALWAYS love him. He doesn’t have to get good grades to make me love him (although I am proud of him when he does). He doesn’t have to clean the house and keep it meticulous. He doesn’t have to turn cartwheels and perform like a trained monkey. He just has to be HIMSELF. That’s it.

I try to take each day as it comes, even if I’m shaking inside because the anxiety is winning that day as it is so much of the time. Because I don’t have time to give into the fear, to the sadness that threatens to overwhelm me. There is no other path, no other way. No day but today.

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