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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Unlocking a teenager

Last night there were about 6 things that needed to be done.  About 4 of them HAD to be done,  like making dinner and opening a bottle of wine. But of those 4 items, I only managed to get one done and I'm sure you can figure out which one that was.  I needed to finish yet another paper for grad school and should have been researching data analysis.  But instead, I found myself on my bedroom floor surrounded by a dozen old journals. 

Just by looking at the worn covers I can tell you exactly where I was in my life.  The yellow one with pink and green flowers with the word "Help" on the side?  That was the beginning of high school.

I flipped through the worn pages that if I run my fingers over the print it almost feel like the words are engraved.  I can tell how I was feeling by how deep the impression of the words.  I flipped through until I found 1992.  I was 14.
It was my adult self's desperate attempt to figure out what it feels like to be 14 again.  

Memories have a way of filtering out things. For some people, they filter out the positive. For others, they filter out the negative.  If you asked me now,  I would say I liked being 14, I had fun. I had a lot of friends and was well liked, I was a great athlete, a cute girl and a decent student. 

My 14-year-old self would vehemently disagree. According to her, she loved people that didn't love her back, her friends betrayed her,  boys made fun of her. She let her team down in a playoff game, her body was fat and her face was hideous,  and she was the dumbest person in her class.

I was given my first journal when I was 8 and since then, when I needed to sort through my feelings, I turned to writing.  The entire rainbow of feelings, high and low and everything in between. That is one thing that has withstood the test of time. And right now, I need to figure some things out.

Like a library, I can go back to a very specific stage and read my very own description of exactly what it felt like.

I pulled the journals out from their hiding place in the name of research. I was trying to figure out a combination to unlock my one of my sons. 

When he is hurting, as his Mom, I feel like I need to do whatever it is to help him.  Every child is different and he internalizes.

The combination that would work as a toddler,
Pick him up.
Tell him I love him.
Make him laugh.

When he was a little boy,  I would
Give him a hug.
Tell him I love him.
Make him an ice cream sundae.

When he was a preteen, I would
Go for a walk.
Tell him I love him.
Give him his space.

Now as a teen.....
Tell him I love him.
Text him I love him.
Text him a funny dog video

But last night my combination failed. Nothing I said or did worked.
I desperately wanted to unlock him, because if I understood what was bothering him, I could surely fix it.  Don spoke to him and said, I should give him his space.

I didn't.

I tried every combination I knew. 

Something you should know about me is that I don't like people to feel sad.  Especially the people I love.  When I see someone broken in pieces, I want to put them back together. 

So, I didn't listen to Don. I went up to his room and I tried to pick the lock, and truthfully, I only made it worse. And my son continued to turn inwards. Every attempt I made another lock was added to keep me out.  When I looked at him I saw the Pont des Arts in Paris. Lock upon lock upon lock.  The wall was getting thicker the more I tried.

But a mom stops at nothing.

That is how I ended up on the floor of my bedroom reading my journals. searching for a code that I could offer it to my son.

Before I went to bed I went up to his room and saw the door was shut.  I stood there and said "Goodnight" but got no response.  I considered sleeping outside his door just in case he needed me but even I know that is a little crazy. 

As I walked away I forgot to do the one combination that I always attempt. Through the door, I said "I love you" ..... I waited a few seconds in hopes to hear it back but didn't.

I sent him another text with those same words, he didn't respond.

Those locks in Paris were called Love Locks.  In 2015 the wall was removed and 45 TONS of padlocks were removed and there was a public outcry.  All those locks represented people who loved each other.  45 TONS of unbreakable Love.

Maybe I need to think of his locks differently. They aren't keeping me out, but keeping things in.  And he will unlock them when he is ready.

And no matter what, I am going to continue to tell my boys that I love them, I'll never stop. Even if they don't want to hear it or read it.  What I know for sure is that they NEED it.

And that is all I can do.

My hope is, that when any of them are in a dark place that my voice will reach the places that my hands can't and serve as a light to guide them back to a familiar safe place, which will always be unlocked for them.

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