I read this update today, written by Anne Lamott on her Facebook page. Anne is my girl. Everything I read from her resonates with me. This particular post was about her brother who fell truly and hopelessly and madly in love with a woman who had stage 4 cancer. They married 18 months ago, knowing how sick she was, and she passed away yesterday. Its a story about loving even when people can't be what we expect or want them to be. Its about no guarantees. Its about gobbling up all the good that we can and not obsessing about what might happen. Its about accepting the good with the bad, the tragic, and being ok.
I feel like I caught a glimpse of something deeper then where I have been living these past months. We love who we love. We get who we get. At least in my world.....I didn't get to hand pick my kids. These four are who were given to me. And I was given to them. Flaws and imperfections and all. We belong to each other. We are each others people. My hubs, I picked. I was so young though...its God's grace that it has turned out as well as it has. Its not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we are each others and that is a good thing. I am beginning to think that everyone has their stuff. I know! I think I have said that.....but I didn't really believe it. Deep deep down inside, in my most terrified place, I thought that there were people who truly had it all together.....and I didn't. People who don't struggle with health issues, or brain issues, or mental and emotional issues. What I think now.....is that there are people who hide those issues really well.
It looks like all of my daughters are plagued by the depression gene, along with their mama and their g-ma, and their great g-ma....and who knows who all before that? Thats just the maternal side of the family.
I would be lying if I said I am ok with this, I've accepted it, its just how our bodies work. Its a genetic pre-dispostion blah blah blah. Because this sucks. I wonder if we did something to trigger this in these beautiful girls. Did we mess them up somehow? Did we create the very situation we feared? And the loudest gnawing question of all.....is it my fault? But these are the kids who were given to me. God took my genetic make-up and my hubs genetic make-up and he whipped it all together to create....VOILA! Big boy, my girl, Molly, and little one.....each are individuals with their own smattering of the goods and the bads of us and all the long line up of people through-out the generations who are connected to us through our bloodlines.
I remember when I took the NAMI Family to Family class, there was a couple who had done genetic testing before getting pregnant to see what the odds were that their child would be born with schizophrenia....there was an adult family member who suffered and they wanted to ensure their future and the future of their child. Guess what? The tests said all was clear....procreate away! So they did and guess what again....their beautiful, much loved son got to be 19 and away at college on an athletic scholarship and he all of a sudden became very very ill. Very ill. Despite their very best efforts, their journey had taken a quick turn and begun in earnest.....
My girls are all much better at the whole "its our brain chemistry" thing than I am at this point. As I grilled little one recently, "Is anyone mean to you at school, are we doing anything that hurts your feelings or rattles you, stresses you out?" She looked at me like I was a little slow on the uptake....."no one is doing anything to me mom. Its just my brain chemistry. We knew this could happen."
But I didn't want it to happen. I didn't want any of this stuff to happen. I didn't want substance abuse or mental illness to touch my family. Some things are out of my control though. Most things are out of my control.The only thing I can control is my response to what life hands me. I can turn my head away and tell myself "everything is fine." Or I can look at it all straight in the eye and deal with it as it comes and choose to love freely those who have been given to me. And they get to love me in all of my glorious imperfection and weirdness and craziness. I get to watch so many beautiful things unfold in their lives.....after the ugly, painful times of struggle of course, but yeah....its beautiful as you watch your young people figure out how to take care of themselves and meet their own needs and stand on their own two feet and thrive.
My Molly used to need me to walk her through so much.....today she had a rough day. She reached out, told me her plan for a solution, and then went about taking care of herself. I'm a touchstone for her now. Not her anchor or her crutch. She can do it.
I met with a sweet friend yesterday to celebrate her birthday. We live parallel lives in many ways. Kids that struggle in a variety of ways...substance abuse and mental illness being the common denominators. We talked about how it all really puts everything else into perspective. Having a daughter on meth/heroin is tough to beat on the stress meter. If little one misses a history assignment, if Molly tats her whole beautiful body, if I get a flat tire on the freeway.....all recent events, who the f*ck cares? Loving broken people keeps us real. At least I think so.
(and her perfectly imperfect tribe)