You’re never a disappointment…and I’m right here.

Letting go is easy, forgetting is impossible.  I think of cruel words that were spoken to me by people I really needed, during some critical times in my life.  I have let go of the personal part, meaning I don’t think their intentions were for that moment of poor taste to still be in my head 25 years later.  So when I hear of situations between parents/teens it kills me to hear the parental responses sometimes.

Anyone else screaming inside their heads yet?  She’s hiding something from you because she doesn’t trust that your reaction would be safe or helpful.  And you just proved it to her, again.

I didn’t struggle with the self-mutilation demon too much.  He showed up a few times but left without much damage.  But I remember feeling so completely desperate and alone.  The need to hurt myself, to feel this bad because of an outside controllable source, holding a hot curling iron a little too close a little too long, digging in with fingernails, anything to be in control of the root of the hurt.  Feeling so out of control of everything in my life that I needed to hurt myself (to be in control of what was happening/how I was feeling) and I needed to feel the pain (to prove it was real? that I still existed, that I could rise above or check out?/maybe even to ground me and bring me back).  It didn’t take me long to learn that if I didn’t share my vulnerabilities, they couldn’t be thrown in my face.  And I am certain that my friend’s daughter will make damn sure her “secret” isn’t discovered again; she won’t stop.  She will make sure no one notices though.

So how should they have responded?  I don’t know.  I’m so sorry I didn’t see that you’re hurting baby, and I’m going to help you through this?

I talk with my daughters about those feelings.  About how lonely it feels when friends turn their backs on you, or a boyfriend is crossing the line too far too often, when you realize you’re in over your head but you think it’s too late to confide in someone.  I’ve told them how that’s when they are the most important to me and I promise to be their rock.  I’ll set his car on fire for you, honey.  I don’t have many opportunities left to “mother” them, so I’m okay with a text in the middle of the day saying “I need to come home.  Please come get me mom?”  knowing it had everything to do with a new crisis in their life.  It was usually news that a much-needed and cherished friend was moving, that happens quite often in Oil Country.  Knowing how bad hurt hurts, walking them into that safe place, drawing the curtains, and letting her cry and cry, promising her that tomorrow always comes and eventually the hurt subsides.  And until then, you’re okay and you’re not a freak because you’re feeling like this, you are perfectly normal, and I’m right here.

I’ve told them I know what it feels like to want to run as fast I could as far as I could away from everywhere and nowhere. I’ve driven daughters out-of-town with the music blasting, searching for the right place to stop so they can let it out.  And I’ve allowed them to be sad and grieve (?) over things they’ve done that they’re not ready/able to talk about yet.  But look at me first.  I trust you and I won’t dig until you’re ready, if you promise me that you’re okay.  “Or at least will be?” daughter asks smiling through her tears.  Yes, baby, that’s enough for me today.  And I promise you’re not a freak you’re flawed like the rest of us, you are perfectly normal, and I’m right here.

Their trust in us can’t be betrayed.  Even in our moments of weakness it is, I believe, so essential to keep it together, that they know I love you and accept you unconditionally.  There’s nothing you’ve done or can do to change that.  Everyone does dumb things, we do our best to make it right and need to be graceful when others try to make it right with us because we know how humiliating this can feel.  You are not the first and you won’t be the last to say or do horrible things and regret them later; and tomorrow always comes and eventually it will be okay.

And wow, when a sixteen year old girl comes home so giddy that she can barely form the words through her grin “He kissed me, mom; like a real kiss!”  throwing her arms around me as she bounces and squeals.  She runs off to her room.  Comes back out in her sweats with her blanket and snuggles her way into her spot, and starts to tell me about love… She trusts me, and I get to be right here.

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If you’re going to give your neighbor’s cat away, don’t use Facebook; use Craigslist.

Mistake
It was around 3 on Sunday afternoon when you knocked on my door. Okay, you made your point. You’re obviously very pissed off, but dude, it’s only a trailer house, and I like my doors better when they’re on hinges. I opened the door, with my eyebrow raised and said “Can I help you?” knowing full-well that there is nothing that can help you.
“Yeah, where’s my cat?”
Okay, since I’ve never seen you before I’m going to assume this is a trick question; “In your house?” I’m just guessing.
“No” you huff, “your daughter is trying to give it away on Facebook. Someone said they saw her posting about him on Friday.”
Now it’s starting to make sense. The pitifully dirty orange tabby kitten that had been climbing my screens and driving my cats insane for the last week wasn’t a stray after all. At this point I’m feeling an emotion that is somewhere between “Oh fuck” and irritated with a little bit of incredulity, and this bizarre desire to start giggling.
“I’m so sorry dude, someone came and got him yesterday. He went to a very good forever-home.”
“I want him back. Give me the guy’s name and number.”
Yeah, cause you seem like a totally reasonable guy – sarc.
“Don’t have it, and again, sincerely, I am so sorry. But I gotta say, he was clawing up my screens and driving my inside-cats insane. The little shit has been sleeping on a tarp outside my daughter’s bedroom window for solid week.”
“He hasn’t been gone that long. He got out when I was leaving for work the other morning. My kid has been crying for 2 days. And besides, cats explore for a while, then they come back. Everyone knows that.”
“Oh, well, that’s good news then!  Because the kitten she gave away has been here for a week, like I said, so it obviously wasn’t your cat then. What a relief!” Big smile on my face now. I may be a heartless bitch, but I’m also good at math, telling time, and I’m certainly not a liar.
“Okay, maybe it was gone for a little longer. (No shit, Sherlock)  What would you do if your cat got out and I gave it away? How would you like that?”
“That would never happen.”
“Well, what if it did?”
“It wouldn’t.”
“Well, what if it did?”
“It wouldn’t. My cats can’t get close to the front door without being threatened with a water-bottle or being stuffed into a harness.”  It really is a sad sight. Watching an 18-pound-cat stand there, his pride disappearing before your eyes, as he allows himself to be bound BDSM-style into a full body harness with a pathetic 6 ft leash. Just so he can walk 3 feet outside, lay down on the porch and refuse to go any further.
“Well, what if it did?” Okay, I’ll humor you.
“I would feel terrible knowing that I hadn’t taken the proper measures to prevent that situation. If I were responsible for my cat getting lost, I would be devastated but I certainly wouldn’t expect my neighbors to tolerate his presence for A FULL WEEK. It would be my fault.”
Turns out this guy lives 200 feet away from us on top of the hill. He would have seen the kitten plain as day if he had bothered to actually look for it.
“Well you gotta get him back. My kid hasn’t stopped crying and my girlfriend’s upset that her brand-new kitty is gone.”
“Oh, you’re poor baby. How long have you had him?”
“A couple weeks. We saw him running around in town and brought him home. He was obviously a stray, all dirty and shit.”
“Yeah, obviously.  I don’t know what to tell you.  I hope you understand that my daughter did what she did with a pure heart, she never would have intentionally given away someone’s pet. She posted his picture on our trailerhood Facebook page, the local pet page. It’s getting colder and strays cause a lot of damage to our houses in the winter.  She was saving his life.”
“What am I supposed to tell my girlfriend?”
“Tell her what happened, and… and tell her that instead of a cat, your son has this cool new Tonka truck. Yeah?” I’m nodding my head ‘yes’, flashing a cheesy used-car-salesman grin as I pick up an old-school Tonka dump truck that my teenagers won’t miss. Rusty, dented, and 20-years old; “I can’t think of a single man-cub that wouldn’t be proud as hell to be sportin this bad-boy at the sandbox.”
Now, get off my porch and try not to get lost between here and home, dip-shit.
Finally, dear daughter, what did we learn?
1. That no good deed goes unpunished,
2. Kitty has much better odds at living a full life, and
3. It’s a bad idea to give away your neighbor’s cat on Facebook. Use Craigslist.