I have a dozen journals with only one or two entries in them. It is an idiosyncrasy of mine to buy journals then write in them once. I cannot explain it. It could be heroin addiction or kleptomania so I do not worry about it. Though I have already written about my kids swimming in Hawaii, I am going to post this journal entry with only minor edits. It made me laugh when I read it this morning, five years after it was first written. Rest assured, nothing in my psyche has changed.
I was just thinking today about happiness, and being grateful, and how safe I have been all my life. That made me wonder why I am always afraid! If my grown daughter tells me she is at the lake on the hottest day of the year, all I can think of is skin cancer and drowning. What is wrong with me? If my son does not answer his phone it is because a serial murderer has abducted him. I do not know what is wrong with me. Crazy comes to mind.
So, here I am 54 years old. My kids are 35 and 21. They are grown adults. Well, my son and I still have a few apron string issues. I supported him through 8 1/2 months of college when he did not work at all, not even part time. There were many reasons why I continued to support him. I love him dearly and feel responsible that he has no father. I know some of his issues well - he is so much like me. My mother left me to sink or swim on my own. I eventually learned to swim but it was difficult, so incredibly difficult.
No one "helped me to succeed" in life. That is not to say I never had help or friends or fortunate outcomes, because I did. There was never anyone who loved me enough to "help me succeed" in life. I still have not succeeded but I am self-supporting, reasonably sane, and have some version of everything I ever dreamed for myself, almost. But it feels like I did it all alone, like climbing Mt Everest with no Sherpas - like fixing a car engine with my bare hands.
Oh my God - how sorry can I feel for myself? Really, really sorry it seems.
I am glad I can afford to help my son. I never could afford to help my daughter when she went through this phase in her life. I think I have helped my son to succeed so well that he is sick of it and is trying to swim away out to sea to seek his fortune. He can succeed on his own. He is currently a mess but he has a strength of character few people have. I have always been afraid for him. I am afraid life will take him away from me. The experts told me he was "extremely ADHD" when he was just a little guy. I read everything I could find on ADHD and learned that ADHD kids have a large chance of dying before age 11 due to their impulsivity. That possibility turned out to be oh so true in his case. Trying to keep him safe kept me in a constant state of anxiety that has never lessened.
When I turned 50, I got to travel to Hawaii for ten glorious days. I got to "sort of" swim with wild dolphins off the shores of Oahu. I went snorkeling with my son and daughter in the famous bay. I was only 98% convinced I was going to drown or be attacked by strange sea creatures, so a mere 2% of courage allowed me to witness how beautifully my kids swam in the sea. They were brown, beautiful, strong and graceful, as if they had been born to the sea, though both were born and raised in Kansas. I was collecting their grace in the water like an old woman plucking apples from a tree. Where did that grace and courage come from? Who taught them to be so confident and easy beneath those Pacific waves?
I was fine puttering along at the surface, watching the fantastic colors and shapes until I came upon an outcropping of reef and suddenly I was too close to the sea creatures living in the holes. I was SO not in Kansas any more! But my son was fearless, snorkeling deeper and continually further from me. When I could no longer see him clearly through the water, I began to panic that the sea was going to take him from my life. As always, there is that unhealthy fear.
I know my kids want to kick my ass most of the time. And they should just go for it.
Post script: Now in 2013, my son is graduated from the University of Kansas and self-supporting. He grew up, like we all do.