The Prodigal Son
So this is one of my least favorite stories in the Bible (yes, yes, I know all of God’s word is extra special and I’m supposed to love every single thing written to be a good Christian; but I’m a very very bad Christian who questions everything. If I were God I would have failed my ass and told me to go ‘seek’ elsewhere. Lucky me, God is a much better Christian than I am :D )Anyhow, Prodigal Son, yup, never liked it. Also didn’t like the story where Jesus rebukes Martha for asking Mary to work when Mary was sitting at Jesus’s feet soaking in his goodness. I get why that’s an important story and I know the message I’m supposed to glean, BUT as I am a ‘martha’ I can only imagine her saying, ‘yeah wouldn’t it be nice if we could all soak up the Lord’s awesomeness, but someone has to fucking do the dishes and feed all these followers” (okay, poetic license, I’m pretty sure she didn’t drop the f-bomb – mostly because they didn’t actually have that word at that time). The reason both of these stories piss me off is because I am the hard working loyal do everything that’s right (okay except maybe I need a little help in the language department) only to be set aside when the damn rebel bypasses the work and comes home and is glorified. It’s like, “hey, assholes, I’ve been minding the sheep and looking after the fam or cooking and cleaning for a bunch men, one who is a traitor, a couple of others who may or may not be a tad misogynistic and somehow I get set aside or rebuked” hmmmm – so not fair.
And then look at that, I gave birth to a prodigal son.
God in his ultimate ever-lovin’ wisdom has a warped sense of humor.
And enough with the lessons. I want the lesson of what to do if you win the lotto.
My son is one day from being a year sober.
The last couple weeks I’ve been thinking about ways to mark that moment, what kind of gift to give him, how to celebrate this. He has worked so amazingly hard at this. I look at him and at times think ‘son, if you keep up on this path, you will be an amazing contributor to society’ I swell with pride at the hard work he has done to become and remain sober – for a whole year. In a society that glorifies drug and alcohol use. Where everywhere he looks he is being bombarded with temptation. He, with the help of his friends, AA groups, the steps and yes, God (his choice of a higher power) has made it a whole year.
A WHOLE YEAR
So it came as a surprise to me when I am driving to my therapist’s office (so yeah, I’ve been doing that for over a year – and it doesn’t look very promising that I’m going to get to stop that soon) – oh sorry tangent – so on my way to the therapist’s office, and BEFORE my stop at Starbucks, I have a full blown panic attack. Complete with crying, not able to catch my breath, dizziness &---- feeling.out.of.fucking.control!
I do NOT get panic attacks. I am fabulous at repressing my emotions so that I don’t have to panic. It’s what makes me a good nurse.
So here I am trying to control my emotions so I can one make my Starbucks order in a coherent fashion and two, not die on the highway. So after one deep goddamn breath after another and some coffee I make it to the therapist’s office.
Tell him about it between shallow breathing and tears – and he’s happy as a clam and is telling me how great it is that I am having this break through.
WTF and FU – if this is what a breakthrough is NOTHANKYOUVERYMUCH
You know what’s even WORSE
He was right.
I thought it was all about being scared, scared of what could have happened – seriously Jake could have died, he could have gotten into serious legal trouble, he could have not stopped using and been lost to us for longer or forever. I also thought it was me being scared about the future, what if he uses again? What if he doesn’t get his life together and he lives his life on my coach surrounded by dirty laundry and bags of half eaten chips. And a little warped part of my brain thought (for just a couple of seconds before I discarded it as pure idiocy), what if he does get it together and doesn’t ‘need’ me any more (yeah, see the reason I may be in therapy for a bit longer…okay a lot longer).
We talked – and guess what, my reaction, more about grief than fear.
You’d think as a hospice nurse I could have figured that out – but again, that’s really how awesome I am at repression (I could teach classes). I have been on shut-down-get-shit-done mode (channeling my inner-Martha) and have not had a chance to grieve the loss of my son. My beautiful green-eyed, curly haired, handsome, talented sweet, funny, rebellious, darling boy (oh look at that, I’m crying again – damn breakthroughs, they fucking SUCK). I am thankful he is physically with us and I look forward to getting to know who he is now, but I need to let go and grieve who he once was. And I have to grieve who I got to be as his mom because she too no longer exists. I need to get to know the woman I am becoming because of all of this (I’m pretty sure I’m going to like her, she has a good sense of humor).
Circling back to the prodigal son – I don’t think Jake has quite come home yet – he’s still out there exploring, learning, getting hurt and figuring out how to survive and more importantly he will eventually realize the importance of home where he is loved – his physical one with his earthly parents and brother as well as his heavenly home and spiritual father. But I do believe that he’s on his way back. We will celebrate. This year of sobriety will also be celebrated, because it should be recognized.
And me, I need to do some more being in the Word. Spirituality is very important to me, and I have been a bit resentful of it in the last couple years or so – face it, for those of us less perfect Christians, with less than perfect Christian homes, churchy people can be a little insufferable. So while my inner Martha has served me well, I do need to get a little more Mary in my life.
And to my other son, the one who is more like me in his attempt to do what is right I want to say, ‘you will not be cast aside when your brother finally makes it home, and son, you do not have to be perfect, you are loved regardless of how good or how bad you are”
I might add to son number two though, ‘but if you do go off the rails, wait a bit until I have built up a little strength’
So, yes God, you are right. And I am learning this lesson. But for the love of all that is holy – how about learning that lesson where I wake up skinny and my hair stays in place for more than an hour. That’s a lesson, I’d so appreciate.
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