I was thinking about fear while reading a memoir about Domestic Violence today, and after really thinking about it, I realized there have been very few times in my life I’ve been truly afraid. That makes me lucky…considering millions throughout the world live in fear of their lives everyday.
The first time I was horribly afraid was when my son was 15. At the time, he was having intestinal issues and after ruling out things like Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Celiac Disease, our family doctor referred my son to a surgeon to see if exploratory measures might be used. After various tests of his own, the surgeon determined that my son have his abdominal lymph nodes tested for possible lymphoma. The night my son had to be hospitalized was hell…he wanted his dad and I to go home and get some sleep, and because he was 15, we did. The next day, my son was released from the hospital and the surgeon told us he would have the results back in 36-48 hours. I asked him what his thoughts were and he said he couldn’t make any call from what he had done, so I re-worded my question and asked this: “Would you worry if this were your son?” He said “yes”.
I brought my son home, and he knew we had to wait for the results while also understanding what was being tested for. The first night home, when he let me tuck him in, he asked me to read some of his old favorite books to him. I laid on his futon and did…and tried so hard not to cry. I laid in bed that night, and even though hubby 3 loved my son very much and was worried, only his dad and I could really tolerate this together. We talked on the phone throughout the night and we were terrified. Is there any other word stronger?? Because even that one wouldn’t be strong enough for what I felt. I knew I couldn’t bear to live in a world where was my son wasn’t in it. He’s simply a part of my soul. The results came in late the next afternoon and lymphoma was ruled out. My baby was OK. And no matter what, the world was as it should be. (Later we found he had some kind of odd virus and after a few rounds of medication, he was fine).
The second time I was fearful was a few years ago when my mom was admitted to the ER because she was coughing up blood. She called me to tell me what was happening and since she had battled cancer once and I knew she was drinking too much, I feared something related to either one of these. I rushed to the ER and found my mom in the examining room. I went in, while her now ex-husband/batterer waited in the hall, and I saw her back was covered with bruises. All over. In the shape of fists. Worse, I saw a look of sheer terror in my moms eyes. She had obviously been horribly beaten and throwing up blood was due to internal injury. I went out to the hall while my (sorry mom, but I know you understand) FUCKING step-father was standing out there, talking to passerby about religion. Yes. I’m not kidding.
I grabbed the ER doc (a total bastard) and practically screamed at him that her injuries were due to a BEATING…not falling down the stairs…and he needed to get on the phone and call the police! He said he questioned her repeatedly, and she vehemently denied it. With that much resistance and no witnesses, the police wouldn’t do anything. I was incredulous and went back in to see mom. She fell down the stairs. Period. She knew I didn’t believe her and I knew she was so terrified of her batterer she wouldn’t admit to anything else.
I knew my mom was going to be leaving that hospital with a monster. I knew the chances of my mom being there again was very great, and I also knew there was a chance she night not make it the next time. Those were the fears me and my sister carried until the day my mom said she had had enough.
The final time I’ve truly been fearful was this summer. Yes. That’s how much I was hurt by the narc abuse Sarge was putting me through, the infidelity, and the ugly discards that came at his whim. Alas, as victims of narc abuse know, it’s not ‘just’ the abuse.
I lost a couple of people in my life I hoped were friends. True friends. Friends I confided in and friends I love. Very much. But, I made some terrible decisions. I’m still making decisions that may not be healthy or are self-sabatoging. I know that. But that’s when you need your friends the most…to understand your shortcomings and catch you when you fall. However, I do know how hard this is. Sometimes you just want to shake people and ‘make’ them see, but you can’t. We all have to see through our own eyes.
I lost the respect of my family. Having your mom tell you how disappointed she is in you hurts. Even at the age of 50. But I was disappointed in me too…and I couldn’t blame her for saying this. Worse, was having my son say the same thing. I know as a daughter, I did some really shitty things. But, as a mom, I’ve tried everyday to do my best by my son. I know I didn’t around the time of my separation with his dad, and I know I didn’t this summer either. What I saw in my son’s eyes when he visited me this summer, and what I heard in his voice was shameful. I saw his respect in me diminish greatly as well as so much disappointment and even contempt toward me. I understand. I was feeling those too. Letting down my son was horrible and I’ll never forget how fearful I was of losing his trust and respect forever. I still am.
I lost time. Because I was crying, sleeping, and stumbling through my days, I lost really seeing my puppy grow up. I lost bike rides and hikes and playing with my dogs on a summer day. I lost running and entering some local races. I lost going out to restaurants and being able to sleep without prescription drugs. I lost the ability to see anything clearly except the pain and depression and anxiety I was feeling. I lost all love of myself.
And the worse thing? The thing that scares me most? I lost trust in the world. I used to think the world was a happy place. I might be going through something awful, but there was still true good in the world. Some might call is naivete, but I knew there was a pretty house with a picket fence where happy people lived and dreamed, and life was a wonderful thing after all.
I don’t believe that anymore though. I really don’t. One of my favorite Stephen King books is “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon“, and my favorite quote is this: “The world had teeth and it could bite you with them anytime it wanted.” I think that’s what happened this summer. So many bad things came together in my life at once, and I saw a smiley world turn to a dark, mean, nasty, ugly world. A world where people hurt you for no reason. A world where selfishness is the norm. A world that can pull you down and keep you down if you even try to pull yourself back up again. A world where people who don’t even know you will simply hate you, because their heart has nothing else in it. A world where there is war, terror, famine, racism, homophobia, and people who are killing one another because each worship a different god. It’s a world that holds so much anger, hurt, entitlement, and self-centeredness, that it scares me now. It’s a world I’ve lost trust and faith in. A world I fear.
And this fear simply breaks my heart.
Prof K ❤