Rinn came home last tonight and I can’t even begin to explain my excitement. You know those dogs who are so happy to see you when you get home that their tail wags hard enough to shake their entire body and they jump around like a fart in a mitten? That was me. I might’ve even piddled on the floor a little to keep the scene authentic.
Even if I end up peeing my pants at the end of all this, we survived. I suppose I should say I survived because the judge was most accurate in saying that this whole experience would be much harder on me than it will ever be on Rinn. While Rinn was off going to parties and the park and baseball games I was sitting on the couch, clearing off my DVR while watching old episodes of Hawaii Five-0 because it was the only thing that didn’t offend my hypersensitive nature and ogling Steve McGarrett was a nice distraction from the oppressive void in my life.
It would be foolish to say it was all terrible however, I did take pleasure in staying up too late eating homemade pickled mushrooms and feta cheese stuffed olives while drinking a whole bottle of cab knowing that I wouldn’t have to function until at least noon the next day. That little escapade was bittersweet however because I woke up the next morning feeling like a bloated bag of smashed assholes and was quickly reminded that Rinn was put on this Earth to save me from my indulgent nature and self-destructive tendencies.
One truly wonderful thing I accomplished with all of my free time was that I started and finished a book in less than the six month time frame it normally takes me to perform such a task. Glennon Doyle Melton’s Love Warrior is a tragically beautiful memoir detailing her experiences in love; mainly that of her tumultuous marriage which nearly ended in divorce due to her husband’s porn addiction and promiscuity. The beginning was difficult to read, and not in the way that it was poorly written or that it moved slowly like George Orwell’s 1984. It was difficult because it was so honestly painful; to see her self-loathing and her self-destruction left me wondering Am I looking in a mirror? Then there was the emotional devastation she faces when she finds out her husband tells her he’s been cheating with multiple women for the entirety of their marriage. My heart, already on the verge of breaking, felt as though it might actually stop and I kind of wanted to find her husband and push him into oncoming traffic. I had to put it down every so often and read my old Ethics Theory and Contemporary Issues textbook just so I didn’t fall into a pit of despair.
It was towards the end however that she reached some positive, life-affirming moments that I couldn’t help but applaud and share with you:
“You are not supposed to be happy all the time. Life hurts and it’s hard. Not because you’re doing it wrong, but because it hurts for everybody. Don’t avoid the pain. You need it. It is meant for you. Be still with it, let it come, let it go, let it leave you with the fuel you’ll burn to get your work done on this earth.”
“Treat yourself like someone you love… Listen to what you want and need and give it to yourself. Be your own friend.”
I found myself realizing that it was okay that I sat on the couch in my pajamas till noon . I was meant to feel this pain, this void, but I was also meant to let it fuel me, teach me to be more appreciative of the time I have with my son and to be present in every moment, for Rinn and myself. She probably wasn’t talking about the cabernet and stuffed olives when encouraging me to listen to my needs, but she’s right, too often we are our own worst enemy instead of our own best friend. What happens if I treat myself the way that I treat Tui, love myself the way I love Rinn? Happiness? Contentment? Feelings of safety and security? Where do I sign? She also said something about deciding not to ask for advice anymore and just doing what she feels is right for her and her children. I was either so engrossed in what I was reading and failed to turn the page or the beermosas made me forget. Either way, yassss bitch!
The most significant revelation she had however was one that made me openly weep in public (I took the liberty of exchanging her daughter’s name and sex for more androgynous pronouns):
“I want [my child] to grow to be a brave, kind, wise, resilient [person]. So what is it in a human life that creates bravery, kindness, wisdom and resilience? What if it’s pain? What if it’s the struggle? … The bravest people I know are those who’ve walked through the fire and come out on the other side. They are those who’ve overcome, not those who’ve had nothing to overcome. Maybe my job as [a] mother is not to protect [them] from pain, but to hold [their] hand and walk into it with [them].”
Damnit Glennon, preach.
I understood at that moment that I might be doing an alright job in raising Rinn to be brave. To be kind. To be wise. To be resilient. To walk through fire and come out on the other side. For if I hadn’t, perhaps instead of reveling in his new adventure over the past two weeks he would have been the one emotionally eating on the couch trying not to cry through episodes of The Incredible Dr. Pol. No thank you. In sharing with me the details of his trip he announced he’s happy to be home, that he missed his home, his Tui dog, his mom but he didn’t cry because he’s strong. So it took me a little longer than my five-year-old to rise and meet this challenge, it’s not the first time he’s outshone me, the other day he corrected me in telling me that some praying mantises can indeed fly. I was left feeling a little stupid, but mostly scared. A flying praying mantis? That’s the stuff of nightmares.
Regardless, we survived and I end this time away from each other proud.
Proud of him.
Proud of myself.
We are warriors.