Lately, I’ve been asking myself if I’m bad… I can’t seem to stop asking the question.
I absolutely feel like a bad parent right now. And yet, I know I’m not. It’s a weird combination of thoughts and feelings. And it really hurts.
Last weekend my 17-year-old decided to not come home on Saturday night. This was after he skipped school on Friday and left the state for the day with one of his friends. We had planned for months to go to a concert this Sunday (Father’s Day) to see a band he has loved for years. I was excited for it. He was super excited about it. But, on Friday, when he refused to get-up for school, I warned him that he’d be grounded for the weekend and if he chose to leave the house and disobey the grounding then I would have to take away the concert.
Not only did he leave the house, he stayed out all night.
What choice did I have?
So, I sold the tickets for about 30% of what I paid and that was that.
When I told my child I’d sold them, he flipped and said a lot of hurtful things to me. I get that he’s 17 and he’s struggling to find himself (and I believe she’s actually a she, by the way… especially since that friend she’s been with calls her by her birth name and they’re constantly flirting with each other., His mom also uses her birth name. But I’m “not allowed to” at this time. That’s fine. But a bit perplexing.). And I get that he struggles with mental illness. But his words still hurt me. They still cut deep.
And I know he made the choices that led to losing the concert. I get that. I also know that it’s absolutely true that often punishment hurts the parent more than the child (this is a concept that only parents truly get). But I still hate myself for taking the concert away and I wish I hadn’t done it.
Yet, I know it was the right thing.
But it feels so wrong.
It makes me feel like a bad parent. Or a bad person.
And so I go back to that question:
Am I bad?
Because look, I’m stumbling right now and I’m trying to keep things together. But I look around and I see a lot of shit that’s happened lately. And I can’t help but wonder: Why me? And when I ask that question, the first answer that pushes into my mind with a sharp whisper is this:
Because you are bad.
Why else did my marriage implode? Why did my ex succumb to alcoholism and addiction and cheat on me and leave me and our children? Why did Wildflower and I have this beautiful thing only to end so confusingly and painfully? Why did she have to get into that horrible accident? Why is my child suffering from mental illness? Why does it seem like one of my closest friends doesn’t want to hangout with me anymore? At the very least, I’m not a priority to her as she keeps breaking plans.
Because I am bad.
So, I take a deep breath. I get quiet. And I know that I’m feeling sorry for myself. And I know I’m not a bad person. I try to be good. And I think I do lead with love and kindness. I think I am good. So, unless I’m completely delusional, which is always a possibility, I’m not bad.
And in the getting quiet, it occurs to me that I need to stop judging myself. I need to stop judging everything.
It might feel like all these things have happened and continue to happen because I am bad. But maybe things just happen. And maybe I’m powerless to them. And maybe my judgment and my trying to tell myself that these things happened (and keep happening) because I’m bad is because my ego doesn’t want to admit I have no control over these things.
And I want to believe that everything happens for a reason and that in the end everything will work out. But maybe things just happen. And maybe it’s not for a greater good. Maybe everything isn’t meant to be a tool for self-improvement.
There’s a weird concept in here somewhere…
Because I know that the key is for me to focus on myself. But, I also know that if I focus on myself then just about anything can be a tool for self improvement. And just about anything can lead to a greater good. Because I have the power to make sure it does.
But maybe it’s up to me to decide what I want to to use as a tool and what I need to just put down.
Not everything that happens is ultimately good. And not everything can be explained.
Not everything is caused by me. Of course it isn’t. So maybe, not everything that happens is for me.
I have the power to choose.
I have the power to look at things and decide if this is something I need to carry with me or is it something I need to leave behind.
If I choose to carry it, then I better be able to use it for a greater good in my life. If I can’t, then I need to just leave it behind. No matter how that makes me feel. Because I am not my feelings. And I’m not my thoughts either. I am the spirit overseeing those thoughts and feelings.
I have the power. I am in control of me.
And that doesn’t mean any of this is easy. My life can be very difficult sometimes. I am so lonely lately. And I wish things were different. And that makes me angry.
But, is that anger helping me? Is the wishing that Wildflower was still in my life helping me at all? No, it’s not. And neither is the wishing that I had a wife to help me raise my kids or the wishing that I had a big white house with a covered front porch and a good friend who lived next door. How awesome that would be! But it’s not my reality. And thinking about that doesn’t help anything. It only makes me angry. It only makes me resentful and bitter. It makes me wonder why I don’t have that. And it leads to me thinking: “I must be bad.”
So, I will choose not to carry those things with me. Of course I’ll think about them, but when I do I’ll find a way to let them go.
But Do you know what does help?
Working out. Running. Meditating. Journaling. Writing fiction. Writing this blog! And speaking to a counselor.
Who do I want to be?
I want to love unconditionally and without expectation. I want to add to the goodness in the world, not the shitiness.
And all I have to do is try to do the next right thing. And live in the moment. That’s all I can do!
Because no matter how much I wish, the past is not going to change. So, I just have to live this present moment as best as I can. And yeah, I have so many hopes and dreams and they are good things. They are. I hope. I dream. But all I can do is live in this second.
It’s that simple. And that complex.