|Sometimes things happen that eat away at your dreams. I've given up on many of mine. zmy divorse destroyed all the dreams I had built my existence on many years ago..
Then, many years later, I meet "Ghetto Ghandi." At 17 he has the whole world in front of him, but he doesn't always know what to do with it.
His situation, of having a step-father discipline in an extreme manner, clings to my maternal soul. I want to protect the child. I, once again, feel the emotions that women get about young ones.
I thrust myself, whole heartedly, into fixing the internal issues of another family, so that my young, neighbor friend, would have a more emotionally comfortable life. It was none of my business, but I cared and wanted to help him.
But in my head, I have visions of the night I tried to get the hairbrush to my step-daughter. I was angry and out of control. I can't stop shuddering. My appetite is gone. I have a headache--a migraine.
I feel like I'm going to die, and I think I want to. I've made the same damn mistake again. Each time I make it, it hurts even more. I must cut off my feelings, because I can't stand the pain of not being needed or wanted.
I can't stand it. I need primal scream therapy. The only way I can survive is not to care, not to feel at all.
It hurts to break habits, because even bad habits give the comfortable feeling of being normal, or usual.
Feeling normal doesn't make anything right, or correct. Eventually, you have to change self-destructive habits, or you will die from them.
This situation with "Ghetto Ghandi" and his "Suicidal Sidekick," is all just one more piece, chipped off of a heart already cracked to pieces.
I thought I had outgrown the need to feel loved and wanted. I thought I was okay like that.
It didn't feel good, but it prevented the pain that I'd feel when I gave all my heart to something, someone, unable to return the love, and appreciate the maternal care.
You're suppose to give for the love of giving. But when you give everything you have to give, and receive nothing in return, it hurts. I crave acknowledgement. Just a "thanks" once in awhile.
Am I trying to give love because I want it so badly? It doesn't matter. I, or anything I think or do, doesn't matter. My actions are of no consequence.
Finally, I realize that if I don't treat myself with love, nobody else is going to be worth the effort. Ghetto Gandhi can't give me what I'm not able to give myself--a bit of self-respect.
Standing up for my feelings at this point won't secure any friendships, but I guess I didn't have any friends anyhow. How could an old lady like me, call these "kids" my friends? I'm not elderly, but I'm much older than 17.
Because I was a teacher, or because I never had the chance to be a mother, I have this urgent need in my soul to help those who are having problems. I gave my all to it.
"GG" wants me to take him to visit his friend "J." Ghetto Ghandi is desperate to play with his friend, staying in a shelter on the other side of town. It's a 45 minute drive ther, and then back home again.
Gandhi calls, and asks so sweetly, "Please, call me back as soon as you get this message. I just want to hang out with my friend for a little while, for one day. Pleeeeeze, won't you take me to see "J?"
Ghetto Ghandi spent his Labor Day weekend feeling incomplete, and leaving messages on my answering machine, desperately requesting a friend fix. When he can't be with his friends, it's like a part of himself is missing. He cannot function for lacking the feeling of wholeness. His friends complete him when he's down, and he's really in a peer pressure stage now. It's not good peer pressure either.
But I'm not going to do it. I'm not a free taxi service. If Ghetto Ghandi wants to see "J," he's going to have to figure out some way other than me.
I gave more than I had to give. I feel empty and alone. I have needs, and my needs are not getting met. I can't make somebody else do, or be, what I want. Now, I'd settle for Gandhi being housekeeper helper for me again. It's been awhile since he's offered to help, although I know he sees the clutter and dirt.
So I lay about my house full of dog hair, with a bum ankle I accidentally ramed into a door, needing to go to the store for milk and smokes.
But what I hear is "Do more for me. I am unhappy, and you can fix it by doing for me, by giving to me, by taking me to see my friend."
Once again on my life, I gave more than I had to give. It seems to be a habitual. I never learn.
Being exposed to the lesson again only hurts more. I just don't seem to be able to learn this lesson, whatever it is. I just keep grabbing at illusions, false hopes
There are no words I will be able to say, to make "GG" understand. It's not that he's too young; he just has a lot of maturing to do yet.
"GG" didn't "get" the lesson he should have learned at the psych hospital. He was just there to hang out with his friend. It became their private party, and a place to get girls' phone numbers, though it's against the rules.
The lesson he should have gotten is: take your meds, because you can't see the world the way you need to be able to see it, if you don't take your meds. Your brain works differently, and the meds keep you on an even keel, mostly.
Gandhi left the hospital with a prescription for a new med. The world could even be tollerable if he took his old med. He doesn't want to take any meds. I understand, but that doesn't fix any problems.
There's no real excuse about money, because I know that government money is there for him. There's just lots of paperwork to be done, and phone calls, and official signatures, and stuff like that. "GG" hates doing things like that. He only likes to talk to his friends on the phone.
"GG's" mother said she'd get around to taking care of him seeing the doctor and getting medicine, maybe next week. She obviously doesn't know very much at all about this disease which kills an all to large percentage of its victims. So many bipolars end up in self-inflicted death. The percentage of attempted suicides among bipolars is about 20%. Too many die young.
Bipolar disorder is as serious as diabetes, as deadly as AIDS. And "GG's" mother doesn't care to learn what she needs to know to help her son.
Maybe that's where he learned not to give a shit about anything.
But I care, and I can't make myself stop. This thing I do to myself is as self- destructive as the habits of a junkie on the street.
Instead of heroin, I need an appropriate emotion fix. I'm not finding it. I hurt.
Adults are capable of being as stupid as kids, with more disasterous consequences.
But, nobody died and made me God, or Old Mother Hubbard, or the old woman with a shoe full of children. It seems all the fairy tales I built my dreams on, were in error. Shit! Hell! Damn!
I don't blame "GG" for my emotional vacuum. It's not his fault. He's just being himself, instead of who I want him to be. He just doesn't have what I need in my heart.
I don't particularly like taking my meds either. But I know enough to do it. If I don't take my meds, I'll be as suicidal as I have been, and as they are now.
Yea, life's a fucking bitch. We all eat shit, and die, eventually. But I'm not ready to die yet.
And just like when I taught in public school, I can't teach a lesson to someone who isn't ready to learn.
I could throttle "GG" for asking for more of my time, and heart, without acknowledging all I have given so far.
It feels like all I've done and felt, counted for nothing. "GG" just knows what he wants now, and he knows I can help him get to his friend. That's all he cares about.
But what about me?
But now, at least, I know I don't have to kill myself over it. There are a lot of things in this world that aren't my job. God knew what he was doing when he deprived me of the ability to bear children of my own.
It hurts a lot, but God is correct.
Despite the gallons and gallons of tears I've cried over not ever being a mother, of not knowing the love that begets children, of not feeling life grow inside me, of knowing there will be NO ONE to take care of me when I'm old and decrepit, God didn't change His mind because I asked "please."
I will never have a child of my own. And now, with a proverbial slap in the face, I realize I can't have any body else's child. It's not my place.
The only thing I might get out of this, is the satisfaction of knowing I meant well at the time.
I meant well when I offered the boys a ride to the hospital, and purchased them a change of clothes from Walmart. I meant well when I left them a package of comfort items.
They never even bothered to take my offered "comforts" with them when they left the hospital. Maybe those personal items haven't been thrown away. Maybe I can still get them back, if I really think I need them.
Do I really need to retreive gifts that weren't worth receiving? What kind of pleasant memories could those items give me now?
The package contained two teddy bears (yeah, a bit much for 17 year old boys--but they make great "girl bait"), and two friendship rings of sterling silver. One ring was the Irish friendship symbol, and the other a simple epiphanic fish.
I guess I want the friendship rings back because I tried to give friendship, but I didn't get friendship back. You can't buy or finagle friendship. You can't make people be what they aren't, no matter how good it would be for them.
"Yeah, who needs HER stupid crap . . . ."
As I lay down to go to sleep, and I envision my young friends, laughing at me and my endeavors.
Taking "GG" to see "J" will just prove I'm some kind of doormat, some piece of humanity to leave shit on, so he can get on to where he wants to go, smelling like a proverbial rose, with little effort or expense to himself.
I can't say "them." "J" has been very grateful and responsible about acknowledging the assistance he's received It is "Ghetto Ghandi" who begs most obsessively. He wants his needs met, now.
I feel like "GG" has no concept of mone or responsibility, or what it's like to know you've earned something from putting forth effort.
He's never learned the American work ethic of work hard enough for what you want and you'll be able to get it. He certainly has no comprehension of the responsibilty that comes with a personal credit card.
He couldn't think of paying me back by offering at least a little time to help me with my house chores, before asking me for something more for himself.
Does he think he's got a fairy Godmother?
Am I a fucking fairy Godmother? Am I just a fool?
He has no way to pay me back the money I've loaned him, except to work it off. Paying me back seems to be the last thing on his mind.
I asked him to run the vacuum cleaner when he was here a week ago. He didn't do it.
He knows my car is full of dog hair, and he knows I prefer the inside of my car to be cleaner. That's how he's made spending money for the last four years, by helping me with house chores.
He doesn't care at all about what's important to me. I'm just some crazy neighbor lady, who sometimes gets wrapped around his little finger.
Well, I guess he got that part right.
He'll get money from someone else, if he wants it badly enough. His friend said he needed money for cigarettes.
One thing he does know, like so many kids who grow up in step-homes, is how to play one side against the other to get what he wants.
It's not his fault. It's the fucking world we live in. Even people who work for what they want aren't always able to get it. But jeeze, you're suppose to fucking try.
"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again," is something I have undoubtedly said to students who didn't get "it" right the first time and had to try again. I believe it works. I believe in working for what you want.
So "Ghetto Ghandi" has an appointed time to take his GED test, and give up on getting all the credits he needs to get a diploma from high school. He has a plan to take mechanic's courses at the community college.
But he fully expects it to fall into his lap.
"Well, of course, I'll pass the GED test the first time. It's true, I only passed one of my classes last year. But I grew up in a smart family. You know how my sister Carey is. You helped her write that application for a college scholarship to study bio-engineering. She always makes A's and she likes physics and chemistry and stuff like that. And you know my younger sister, Terry, is in the Talented and Gifted program at middle school. They're all real smart. I won't have any trouble." Ghetto Ghandi speaks with such quiet assurance.
And I want to pull out my hair and scream at the top of my lungs, "You're not going to pass the GED by fucking osmosis!!! Study!! I'll help you. Just come over. . ."
But he won't make the effort. He seldom exerts effort. It's not that he's apathetic, he just doesn't care to put forth any effort to reach a goal. He thinks it happens by magic.
He never internalized the American work ethic. He doesn't understand you have to work for what you get.
So tomorrow, when he calls and asks for a ride to see his friend who's staying at the YMCA runaway shelter, I'll just say "no."
Wasn't that the Reagan solution for all problems? Republicans rule again. "No" is the magic word that fixes it all for me, right?
Just say "no," and stop all my efforts, and shut off all my feelings. I hate it. It's bipolar head stuff.
I can do either extreme. Give all or give nothing. There's not an "in-between" place for me.
There is no explanation, there are no words I could say to Ghetto Ghandi so that he could understand all the bitter confusion going on in my head now.
I don't think he could understand that I feel like I've been used as a doormat. Being a "doormat" is an adult concept.
Nor would he understand if I said I felt I'd been used like a fucking ATM machine--punch the right buttons in the right order and money comes flying out.
Everybody has to take care of themselves first. I've screwed up my money budget, and invested a lot of time and gasoline, to get "Ghetto Ghandi" and his "Suicidal Sidekick" on a path that will give them a shot at prosperous adulthood.
However, if I get myself unhappy from the actions I'm taking, it's my own fault. You have to see to your own needs first. It's a lesson you can't teach if you don't know it. And I fucking forgot again.
I think, maybe, "J" knows it. He figured out that you survive by seeing that your own needs get met. You have to take care of yourself.
You have to treat yourself like you're the best love of your whole life. "J's" doing what he needs to do for himself now, and I'm so proud for him.
"J's" managed in the shelter for two weeks. He's got plans and connections to be a life guard to make money. Staying at the YMCA, he's got the real connections with people to make a job happen.
He's also working on his autobiography, AND getting high school English credit for it. He has food, shelter, and people to help him get the skills he needs to survive.
He has people who can help him get a job, and that all important stuff called money. He's got his shit together, as far as I can tell. It's a good thing.
But it's new for him. Anything new is difficult. His situation is different from my "instant family," but in some ways it's the same. So is Ghetto Ghandi's.
With only a short time of sheltered "tough love," it would be easy for "J" to slack off, piss off, and fuck his whole situation up again. His friends outside the shelter are mostly bad influences,
He's still in too fragile a situation to deal with outside influences--even those influences are presenting themselves in the guise of "Ghetto Ghandi's" friendship.
Instead of getting his shit together, "Ghetto Ghandi" wants to play with his friends, and take whatever comes his way. I taught sixth grade a long time, and it feels like I'm dealing with those developmental emotions again.
I never thought I would say that I'm afraid "Ghetto Ghandi" would be a bad influence on "J." But that's the case. At first I thought it was the other way around.
I want to light a fire under "GG" so that he can have skills to survive and prosper in this world. When you're almost 18, you're expected to have learned a lot of stuff about life.
"GG" wants to hang around, and punch his friends in the arm. This situation is making me absolutely crazy! This is something over which I have no control. And, actually the whole thing is none of my business.
Maybe Bobby can explain it to "GG." Bobby has already graduated from high school, he's gotten a job, he's got wheels, and he's planning for his future--getting ready to start classes at the Institute of Art next month.
Bobby is a responsible young man, who likes his friends, and is willing to work as well as play. Bobby is sharp, and he's got it going on.
"J" has got it going on.
But "Ghetto Ghandi" sits placidly amongst the noise and haste. That's what he'll continue to do unless somebody makes him see he needs to change some of his behaviors. He's started huffing to feel good.
He needs doctor drugs to wake up. But, I'm not his mother. All I can do is watch, and feel his despair.