Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Hardest Things

Some things are just going to be hard. You can't find a way to circumvent them, or fix them, or ignore them. You can't switch them for other, less hard things.

For me, one of those hard things (and let me be clear, there are a crap load of them in my life right now) is Benjy's relentless pleas for animals.

And I totally deserve it, because what goes around comes around, and I drove my parents CRAZY asking for all kinds of improbable creatures when I was his age (and younger and older).

But when I asked for a Capuchin monkey, for example, or a dolphin for the bathtub (hey, we had two of them, one could have become a dolphin habitat if my parents hadn't been so damned unreasonable), I could hear my parents when they said no. I could understand them. Sometimes they gave me a reason and sometimes they did not, but either way I dwelt in my animal-fever for a couple of weeks, dreamed of lemurs or horses or dogs that were not coming my way (OK, the horse did, briefly) and then moved on.

The lack of furred or finned or feathered people in our house (OK, I DID have a cat, a few rodents, maybe a fish or a hermit crab, but STILL) did not throw me into an emotional abyss.

Weren't my parents lucky?

I always know when Benjy is falling into the abyss because creatures of the invertebrate or quadrupedal or avian persuasion  make their appearance into our world.

Not a corporeal appearance, although that was once the case. But man do we talk about them

Our conversations go something like this:

Benjy: Mom, I'm so sad. I'm lonely. If only I could have a lizard/bird/fish I would be OK.

Me: I am not buying any more animals. You did not take care of the fish or the hermit crabs. You lost interest within a week. And I have more and more creatures to take care of. Can you imagine if I bought you a bird? You know I have a terrible wing phobia. [This happens to be true. I'm shuddering just thinking about it.]

Benjy (in a low, low voice): A lizard'/bird/fish would be my friend. I don't have any friends. Why won't you help me? Don't you love me?"

Me: My Darling, a lizard/bird/fish would not love you back. I promise."

The flush on that's boy's cheeks when he hears no, the utter defeat in his posture, his slow and weighted steps back to his bedroom, kill me. That stuff breaks my heart. And his words cut me.

I walk around most days with a thousand knife wounds to my tenderest parts. It hurts like hell.

And I do wonder. AM I heartless? WOULD he get better if I got him a bird, or a gecko? But I don't wonder too much, because I was not born yesterday.

I bought the tropical fish with high hopes he WOULD find solace in watching them swim. (That lasted about two days. And then he realized that cleaning a fish tank and  removing their little slimy corpses to the toilet when they died was kind of gross. So guess who had to do it?)

I bought the rockin' hermit crabs, overcame my fascinated dread and actually became fond of the crusty little guys. But Benjy does not notice them anymore. If it were not for me they would have died of thirst long ago.

I try to remind him that this buying of animals to fill the aching hole within him DOES NOT WORK. But he never believes me.

This time, he pleads, it will be different.

You know what? If I could buy him a couple of zebra finches and erase what's hard I would do it in a heartbeat. I'd be on my way to the pet store NOW. I would be laughing and crying and thanking all the deities I don't believe in (i.e. all of them) and drinking champagne and waltzing around the house with Lars and Benjy and giggling with Saskia.

I would really like to fix this problem in our lives. Fuck bipolar disorder with secondary psychosis or psychotic disorder with mood lability or whatever has claimed my boy. Fuck  generalized anxiety and panic and Tourette's. Fuck Asperger's. You are nasty and tenacious and inscrutable and brutish.

I hate you all. You are those hardest things that can't be fixed. That flush of despondency and posture of surrender I always see when I tell Ben he cannot have more animals -- that it would be unethical and unkind and futile anyway to yield to that pull -- hurt like I hope most of you will never know, Readers.

I mean that.

But I want to end this post on a happy note. We have some amazing supports now, even more than we did before, thanks to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and its programs for people with mental health issues. There is going to be a lot more I can do for Ben, and I will have a lot of help doing it.

When that reality hit me today I cried.

I think what that means is that there is a smidgen of hope that the hardest things may get a little bit easier someday.

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