Being Strong is My Job Now

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I have lost things before. A set of keys. A hair tie. A wallet. The way back to myself. But never a Mother. I have never lost one of those before.
I don’t know how to allow myself to feel whatever is going on inside of me. I can’t even place words to the emotions. They are far too great and too messy.

I am scared of them.

They whirl and spin, like a tornado beneath my flesh. If I feel them, I worry that they will sweep me away. My feet will struggle to stay grounded. I am already struggling as it is, and we are only at the beginning of whatever journey this is.

I am scared. I am a little girl again. I am trying to be brave for the woman who has raised me.

I thought about cocaine the other day while I was at the dollar store picking out a birthday card with my child. I missed cocaine. I missed the erasure that came with it.
I imagined the loss of control. The drugs. The booze. The potential loss of my Mama seems to demand such an insane reaction. It is a romanticized drug escapade that will do nothing for me.
I am six years sober.
My child interrupted my thoughts of cocaine, “Mom can we get this card for him? It has this funny bird on it.”
“Yeah that one works,”
I snapped out of it. I left all thoughts of cocaine at the check-out and left the store. I know I need to feel my feelings. Emotional wellbeing is such a fickle thing and as an addict, I don’t have the luxury to ignore myself.
I am a little girl again. I am an addict again. I am trying to be brave for the son that needs me to raise him.
***
Mom.
I live in your house again as I save money to buy a home for my son and me. You have always wanted me to be able to stand on my own two feet as a single mom.  We will have our own home soon. You have made sacrifices to make sure of this.

The other night I had a nightmare. A bad one. You know the kind. The kind that reminds me that the dream world is sometimes just another plane of existence, that there are bad and real things there too.
I am thirty years old.
“Mama, I had a bad dream. There was something really evil there and it scared me,” I said at the edge of your bed.
You pulled me into you and wrapped your arms of protection around me. I slept soundly.
You are the abalone shell that holds the burning sage. You are the keeper of medicine. You are medicine. Mama.
When I am scared of speaking at any event, I call you moments before it starts.
“Mama, pray with me?” I say.
You always pray with me. You have been every place I have been because your prayers clear the way for my feet. Your faith straightens my spine. You are the reason I am able. You are the reason I am brave, Mama.
***
I went with you to the doctors that morning. I watched as the young, meek looking, doctor with brown hair and glasses sat on her chair. She fidgeted with her hands as she filled up space with words that didn’t mean much. She was pinching herself as she tried to find her voice. I think she was more scared than you. I knew it then, as I stared at her pinching hands, that it would be the “C” word.
Cancer.
You didn’t weep when the word finally did spill out of her mouth. I took my cue from you and remained as stoic as I could. I would not cry and would not make you be strong for me.
Being strong is my job now, Mama.
Being strong is my job now.
Being strong is my job now.
I am trying to speak it into existence.
Being strong is my job now, Mama.

I am a little girl again.  I am trying to pretend to be grown up.  I can be brave for you.  You have raised me well. 

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