Yesterday I received a phone call from a dear friend. I had sent her a message on Facebook about the current state of my affairs (chaos). Her unconditional love inspired me. I feel so grateful today for my incredible friends. When things are gloomy I often bemoan the fact that I have lost my original family to death and estrangement. I lose sight of the fact that I have a family of friends who are here to support me in ways that my original family could not.

I moved from California to Oregon in September thinking it was going to make my life better. Instead things got worse, much worse. I would say the last few months of my life have been the darkest. But I have had many dark times throughout my life so it’s difficult to know for sure. Lately I have been plagued with fear and depression and an overall sense of failure. I imagine looking at my life from the outside in and all I see are bad choices. There is chaos all around me, some of it a result of choices, other parts related to life’s circumstances.

Then everything exploded. I found out my 13-year-old son was using drugs. After just a short time here (5 months) it became clear to me that I needed to get the hell out of here. I’ve felt completely isolated here. It’s been raining or snowing for what seems like months now. I’ve felt as if I have been living in solitary confinement. I realized I had underestimated the consequences of moving here. I left behind people who love me and can help me to raise my son. I left behind doctors who knew my situation and were sympathetic to it. I left behind my church.

Out of sheer desperation I sent my son to live with a dear friend who could provide him with the boundaries and structure that he needs right now. My disability company was threatening to cut off my benefits because I wasn’t seeing doctors regularly. The climate in Oregon for Lyme disease treatment is much worse than California. There is a structure here reinforced by universities that Lyme does not exist and does not need to be treated. I could go on and on about the difficulties I’ve experienced here but I won’t.

Soon I will be leaving Oregon to live with the family that is caring for my son in California. In my mind that meant significant defeat. I’ve had to negotiate with my landlord to break my lease. That’s another mark on the side of “I’m a bad person”. I owe the IRS money. I owe money on student loans. I get mail everyday from creditors I can’t pay. There are no money cushions left. No savings, no retirement. No credit cards. I don’t own a home. I don’t have health insurance. My car needs repair and maintenance work. My son appears to be embarking on the same drug filled chaotic path that I myself lived through when I was his age. Everywhere I look there are problems over which I feel I have no control.

But yesterday when my friend called, she didn’t say, “You abandoned your son!” she said, “How can I help?” She said, “I’m so sorry this is happening to you.” She reminded me that I am a talented painter. There was not an ounce of judgment in her tone. After the phone call I felt a bit lighter. What did I do to deserve a friend such as this? If I am such a complete and utter failure, why do I have such incredible loving friends who are always ready to remind me of my goodness?

 

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