Tonight as I was driving home I was flipping through my iPod to find a song I wanted to listen to. Sometimes I'm really picky about my music. I have to be in the right mood to listen to certain songs, and some songs I get really tired of. But there are some songs I very rarely get tired of. And there are some sad songs that I almost never skip over. I can listen to them when I'm in any mood. Tonight I came across, "Concrete Angel" by Martina McBride and I played it. I had skipped about 30 songs before I finally settled on "Concrete Angel." I listened to it, and I finally understood why it has always been one of my 'any mood' songs. It touches me somewhere deep in my heart and I think the song has helped me through more than even I could know.
The lyrics that are particularly relevent are:
"The teacher wonders but she doesn't ask,
It's hard to see the pain behind the mask;
Bearing the burdon of a secret storm,
Sometimes she wishes she was never born;
Through the wind and the rain,
She stands hard as a stone in a world that she can't rise above;
But her dreams give her wings and she flies to a place where she's loved.
High school was my secret storm. Well, I guess I've always had a secret storm, but my secret storm became a tropical depression, and then a full on hurricane during high school. When I think about things - how angry I was, the freshmen I beat up, the best friend I screamed at and beat with my nalgene - I wonder how my teachers didn't know something was wrong. Maybe they did think something was wrong, but like in the song, they never asked. That's what I like to think because I was in so much pain and trouble, it's hard for me to conceive that no one noticed.
When I think about high school, I don't know how I got up in the morning. I don't know why I wasn't suicidal. I don't know how I went to school every day - except for the fact that it was an escape from home. And I don't know how I went home at night - except it was an escape from the hell I lived while at school. All I know is I spent a lot of time at extracirricular activities - and I was happy there. Forensics, Marching Band and Swing Choir probably saved my life. I had places and people with whom I felt safe. Once I got to be a junior, I spent a lot of time driving around in my car, and I was happy there. I spent time at a household as crazy if not crazier than my own, and I was confused there, but at least I wasn't being attacked.
I know I put on a very brave, false and sometimes scary mask. I was always healthy if anyone asked. I was always happy. I was always perfect. That's what I thought I had to be to get out of my hometown and end up in my college town. And I certainly had my eyes on the goal. After my sophomore year of high school I started counting down the days until I left for college. I made a list of the things I wanted to take with me. I saw college as running away forever, and I tried to take everything with me.
It was one hell of a hurricane, and after getting worse in college, it eventually got better. It went back to being a tropical depression and eventually just a storm. I've lived with my secret storm for so long, now that I'm escaping I'm not really sure what to do.
My mother is my secret storm. I don't know how else to put it. She has always caused me a lot of pain and grief, but at the same time I love her very much. There are times when we have gotten along so beautifully I called her my best friend. But then there always the sudden cloud bursts of anger that are so hard to get through.
One day, it was so bad I cut my wrist while I was waiting for the kids I was babysitting to finish their swimming lessons. I couldn't stop crying. I was 19 and thought I was done being controlled. I remember the pain so vividly. I tried to hide my pain from the kids and their mom, but the mom saw right through me. She knew some of the problems I was having at home, and she sent me home early because I just wasn't up to sitting any longer - because of my "allergies."
And now that Mom is gone, I'm having a really hard time convincing myself that the mother I love and the mother who controlled me and abused me are the same person. I am trying to rationalize and say, "Can't we be happy for Christmas like we always are, and then go back to having no contact until the next year? It works for a lot of families!"
But I know that it doesn't work that way. While Mom might be able to put aside her feelings and not feel anything, I do feel things. And feeling happy with my Mom for one occasion would make me wonder why she can't be happy and "normal" all the time. Because that's not who she is. She is my mother, and because she refuses to accept that she is a problem or seek help for that problem, this is the situation I am in. I have accepted that. I was angry, and sad, and went through all the stages of grief - even bargaining, and now I am much closer to acceptance. I accept that my mother is who she is and my secret storm is no longer secret - and not really a storm anymore.
I think I'm at that point when I get to see the rainbow.
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