The Real Me sent Pretend Me on a mission: go through the motions of my life. Phone it in.
The Real Me was back in time, drifting through
“The Land Of Horrible Ways I’d Fucked Up My Life”
Welcome back. So good to see you again.
Would you like some drugs?
College BFF got the pathology report back from the surgery.
“What do you mean, Stage 3 aggressive? You said Stage 1!”
I argued like a petulant child.
She stayed calm, like I was the sick one.
“Yes. But there was another lump in the lump they removed.”
“What does that even MEAN?”
It just meant she was much, much sicker than we thought.
The Ex is professionally unemployed. He watches our son while I work, but not for too often or too long. He lacks patience.
One day I came home to find Little Dude crying bitterly. The Ex had kicked him.
My son’s favorite hobby is torturing us. BUT. DON’T. HIT. MY. CHILD.
Two days later, we sat opposite my son’s absurdly overpriced ADHD therapist.
He’s the best in the state – particularly with keeping his eagle eyes trained on the clock. Your time is up. So sorry if you’re caught with your life down around your ankles.
I said, “You need to learn how to deal with him without putting your foot up his ass.”
Dr. Interloper says, “You kicked your son?”
“I’m going to have to report you to Child Protection Services.”
The Ex handled it well.
Called me a cunt, threw my car keys at me and stormed out of the room like a maniac.
I begged Dr. Interloper not to call CPS. I just knew the fallout would be epic.
I waited for the inevitable, walking around with a bruise on my left cheek from where the keys had landed.
Just like old times.
The next night two social workers appeared in my driveway, out of the dark.
They rematerialized, like from a Star Trek transporter.
They were wearing government pins that resembled United Federation of Planets Badges that read,
“We look harmless but we’re here to destroy your life.”
They spoke with my son alone, and he charmed and reassured them. They looked at every room in the house.
They inspected my refrigerator.
I’m guessing they didn’t mind that there was only heroin and tequila; no food.
We passed inspection.
Have a good night, and don’t let the door hit you on your cloaking device on the way out.
A few days later, the call came.
I was under investigation.
They had asked me if there had ever been any domestic abuse in our home.
I said there hadn’t been. I was floating somewhere back in my failed past.
I didn’t realize they would check this out so thoroughly.
The local police department had records of domestic violence.
Two emergency room visits.
I’d had a restraining order against The Ex five years ago.
I had lied. What else had I lied about?
I was now under investigation.
They informed me that, for the time being, he could stay in my custody.
I stopped breathing when they said “stay in my custody.”
This isn’t happening.
Please tell me this isn’t happening.
They arranged to interview his teacher.
The guidance counselor.
His mother fucking dentist.
I wondered how far back they would investigate; what would they find?
Oh my God, the things they could find if they poked around enough.
I had stabbing panic attacks constantly; unexpectedly, vicious ones.
I called the case worker. I groveled.
Where my kid is concerned, I’m not above groveling.
I dialed her office. “I was the class mom 2 years in a row.”
Called again. “Did they tell you I run the PTO Trunk or Treat bake sale every year?”
I stayed up all night, searching through photos and keepsakes.
Tears streamed down my face as I looked for evidence that I was a worthy mom.
I found pictures of the party I threw when my son started kindergarten.
We had invited 24 complete strangers, and their parents, to our home for a “Welcome to Kindergarten Party.”
I’d enlisted students for face painting, tumbling lessons, toy fencing lessons, quad rides around my backyard.
Little Dude and I had painted a banner that read:
WELCOME CLASS OF 2022!
At 2 am I texted the case worker the picture.
It didn’t go through. It was an office number.
I texted it over. And over. And over, all night, anyway.
I had constant pain in my chest.
It was my heart breaking.
One night, my student said, “Um, Samara? You’e not making any sense.”
I went home and took my temperature. 104. The pain in my chest was bronchitis.
The doctor gave me antibiotics. But my body refused to get well.
What if they took my son away? He’d never survive a group home. I was such a piece of shit.
The investigation continued.
I was reliving the past, only the more intense version.
The one where you lose your child, instead of your dignity and self respect.
One night my heart ached so badly, it shot through my rib cage to my back.
I couldn’t breathe without terrible pain.
I thought, “This is what Kurt Cobain must have felt like right before he shot himself. Utter heart break.”
And then I fainted outside the supermarket, and the shopping cart kid called an ambulance.
The stabbing pain was pneumonia.
I must have looked BAD.
If the hospital got my insurance to approve a 4-day stay, I must have looked like Samara from “The Ring.”
My other dearest friend came to me. My New York BFF.
She’s a writing professor. And a gifted playwright.
She left her family, and her classes, for 4 days and watched my son because we have no family nearby.
She is extraordinary.
So is my son. He’s asleep upstairs.
As soon as I’m done writing this, I’m gonna go smell his little sleepy head.
CPS decided I was an okay mom after all.
People often do what feels good in the moment. A fleeting connection – it’s all good, right?
But: what if that brief encounter jams something horribly loose in the other person, and rolls around inside them like a stray bullet?
And damages a vital organ?
Their heart, maybe?
And they bleed out?
I live in an area where I don’t particularly fit in.
And I SO want to connect with others.
But. I cannot be someone’s entertainment for the week.
I’ve felt unsafe most of my life – and I suppose, I’ve always searched for that safe haven.
Sometimes my search has taken me to all the wrong places.
There’s a light in my eyes that’s gone now. Little Dude says, “Mama, sometimes, you look so sad.”
I lost something last fall that I’ll never get back.
I keep going back to find it, and it’s not there. Because it never really was.
I’m going to get a new light.
I’m a survivor.
I’ve survived addiction. Sept 11. A horrible childhood. Domestic abuse. Rape.
I’m a single mom to a soulful, brilliant child with a fuck load of issues.
The Ex has done damage to me; divorce does that to the best of us.
And right now, I’m fighting to keep my best friend of 27 years alive.
I’ve made mistakes with my son, but I’m still the best mother I know.
No one can take that from me, no matter what 4 out 5 dentists say.
I am not just someone’s favorite new person.
I am not the number of followers I have.
In homage to myself, as a writer, I will never again let anyone quantify my talent.
I can’t look back at squandered opportunities anymore.
I HAVE TO BELIEVE,
I MUST BELIEVE,
THAT MY BEST WORK IS AHEAD OF ME.
What other choice do I have?
This is “All Apologies,” Nirvana, Live at Leads.
Considered to be one of their top 10 all time best shows.
I loved Nirvana live. This is classic Nirvana; Kurt Cobain is so high he completely forgets the lyrics to the second verse.
I love this video.
Look at the closeups of Kurt Cobain’s face. His eyes.
Despite his fame, he looks like a lost, frightened child.
There are worse things than blowing your career after going on a tour, like I did.
Like blowing your brains out before you even make it on that very same tour.
Which is what Kurt did.
And I’m still here.
I’M STILL HERE.
Do you know what it’s like to rebuild your life after a fall from grace?
Talk to me. I’m listening.