December 1, 2010

What It's Like

We've all seen the man at the liquor store beggin' for your change
The hair on his face is dirty, dreadlocked and full of mange
He ask the man for what he could spare with shame in his eyes
Get a job you fuckin' slob's all he replied

God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in his shoes
Cause then you really might know what it's like to sing the blues

Everlast, What It's Like

I am a college educated woman with an advanced degree.
I was self-assured and confident when I walked down the aisle of my beautiful hometown church to be married.
I worked in a professional field for three years before I gave birth to my first child.
I didn't touch liquor when I was pregnant. I have never used illegal drugs, not even pot. Never touched a cigarette. I took my vitamins. I was the ideal expectant mom.

And, six years ago ....
I found myself wondering if my son had autism and the child waiting in my womb had a birth defect because I was a bad person.
I found myself thinking that I must have been an incredibly bad person and maybe I didn't deserve to be a parent ....

Five years ago ....
I found myself caring for an infant who filled me with joy.
I found myself trying to be optimistic about the son who filled me with worry, even as he lit up my days every time he wrapped his chubby arms around my neck.
And I found myself slowly giving in to the exhaustion, lack of sleep, and fear ...

Four years ago ....
I had received the official diagnosis.
I heard the experts tell me that I MUST keep him as engaged as possible, as much as possible, every day, all the time.
I thought that my son's only chance was for me to keep his brain working, to stop the stims, to make every moment of his day "meaningful."
I hated the guilt; I hated the feeling that I could never do enough.
I started getting bitten by my son, who didn't even have a single word to tell me about his own anxiety.
And I started wondering if maybe, not only did I not deserve to be a parent, but maybe I would have been better off never having been born.
The thoughts scared the crap out of me, and so I told a doctor. And just having told someone, and taking an anti-depressant -- something I had never before considered -- seemed to help.

But ...

Three years ago....
I found myself in a new city with my two young children, missing my husband terribly, but hoping my family's sacrifice would make a big change in my son's life.
I felt incredible guilt that I was never doing enough for either of my children, that neither my son nor my daughter was getting close to what they deserved.
I felt pulled in a million different directions.
I was so very lonely.
And scared.

Two years ago ....
I felt everything in my life starting to fall apart.
I just wanted my family to finally all be together.
And tell each other we loved each other.
And laugh ...

A year ago ...
I was at one of the worst points of my life.
I had dropped to my knees, only to see a back and a closing door.
I cried so much I thought my eyes would permanently swell.
I screamed in frustration.
I saw even more people turn their backs on me, blame me, ignore me.
I wanted to pull the covers over my head every morning, but I had to get up. I had to get kids to school. And I'd be damned if I was going to stop taking them to parks, or McDonalds, or Six Flags.
But I was on automatic pilot.

And in the past several months...
I have gotten answers to questions I never thought I would have to ask.
I have dealt with pain I did not deserve.
I had it rubbed in my face.
I have come face to face with vicousness in human form, and walked away.
And I have found myself face first in the ground, sobbing, more than once.

I have the same old worries and a fresh set of new ones.

I knew this kid named Max
He used to get fat stacks out on the corner with drugs
He liked to hang out late at night
Liked to get shit faced
And keep pace with thugs
Until late one night there was a big gun fight
Max lost his head
He pulled out his chrome .45
Talked some shit
And wound up dead
Now his wife and his kids are caught in the midst of all of his pain
You know it crumbles that way
At least that's what they say when you play the game
God forbid you ever had to wake up to hear the news
'Cause then you really might know what it's like to have to lose

Everlast, What It's Like

I have learned a few things in this life.

I can mess up bigtime with my children, and even though I feel horrible about it, I most certainly will do it again.

I still can find reasons to laugh every day, and be thankful every day, even as I never forget the sorrows of the past six years. Because that is a choice, and it is what I have chosen. The reasons really are there -- I choose not to overlook them.

And nobody ever knows what it is like to walk in someone else's shoes.

I've seen a rich man beg
I've seen a good man sin
I've seen a tough man cry
I've seen a loser win
And a sad man grin
I heard an honest man lie
I've seen the good side of bad
And the down side of up
And everything between
I licked the silver spoon
Drank from the golden cup
Smoked the finest green
I stroked the baddest dimes at least a couple of times
Before I broke their heart
You know where it ends
Yo, it usually depends on where you start

Everlast, What It's Like

I know I am not done learning.
I hope the lessons waiting for me tell me a lot about how much people, myself included, can change. For the better.


  1. leah, this is an amazing post. i cannot begin to know all the pain you've endured these past six years. i'm so sorry. but i see humility and hope still finding their way through. hang on, friend. praying for better days ahead.

    "the broken heart is the healed heart"


  2. Seriously...we have so much in common, it is nutty. We will likely be in TX some time during the first half of 2011, and you and I are going to drink wine and probably cry a little together. Deal?

  3. J, to receive praise from you about something I have written is HIGH praise, indeed! I am thinking of you, B, and the girls.

    Deb, if you come to TX and do not call me, I will be very disappointed!!!

    Hugs to you both,

  4. PS: J, that is a BEAUTIFUL song -- and what a wonderful message. Thanks. L