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There are Reasons We Feel Drawn to Things
the post i never wanted to write
He was the most beautiful thing I ever loved. He was the thing I never regret setting myself on fire to love. I gave up everything to love him with everything I had in me. I learned mother’s love cannot always fix all the things. I punished myself for a very long time for this fact. I remember in the darkest days that Martin and I struggled alone—surrounded by my family and yet so isolated and alone in our struggle as parents. This world is not for parents raising young children and that is a very sad reality. Martin expressed some dark thoughts very honestly to me and you can judge1 that or try to grasp the deep ambivalence and despair that inspired such morbid thoughts into vocalisations. It was around the time of Robert Latimer and the country was on fire for hatred toward this dad and no one could see the awful hopelessness that drove him to do what he did—I could. I could not judge Robert Latimer for what he did. I think every one of us failed Tracy and we failed her parents and her community. I wonder about the mother and how she held herself in balance.
I still refuse to judge them.
I remember as a parent being offered a smorgasbord of pharmaceutical remedies and an assembly of smug + arrogantly detached assholes with credentials in suits who had no fcuking clue how to help me help this boy who was setting the entire family on fire because we could not meet his immense needs. I would take whatever someone in a suit with a professional license would offer if I could afford to pay for it and administer it. No one whose job it was to fix it could fix it. They could only fix it by breaking everything.
My whole world was this kid, everything consumed me to try to fix the thing I didn’t know how — the thing is I might have listened if someone had said in a constructive and honest manner, hey mama pause because you need to look after you. No one did. My parents did the best they could to support us. Martin had no family, they were overseas and living their best WASP lives — people who normalise putting kids in boarding school aren’t the supportive family type, perhaps. Anyway, I had no idea how to ask for help and I had no idea what to ask for, even. When your kid is not right with themselves and you know they are suffering you fall out of balance with yourself and with your spouse and with your entire social system. How could I address his enormous needs when I can’t even address my own internal needs or my marriage needs? What exactly was I doing, then? I was trying to meet an endless impossible wall of his needs many of which I did not understand. I was failing. People are systems of systems within systems of systems.
Giving mom and dad a pill for their uncontrollable suffering child does not really address what is broken. Going to support groups with other parents did not help. Nothing helped because I think the answer was not a thing the outside world would offer me or us. The answer was to be found within our system and we could not find it. I watched the replay of the Boston Trauma Conference again yesterday and heard the same refrain from leading child development and trauma clinical researchers — rupture of the attachment system is more profound + traumatic than any individual adverse childhood event (ACE) in a child’s life. And yet the system of helping care my family lived in and under could only offer a profound and horrible rupture of our attachment system to meet this boy’s needs. No support could be cobbled together to help this little family stay together. No one considered that maybe force-detaching families for convenience is a cruel way to conduct humanity, did they?
So, I guess I chose nursing for the wrong reason even though it taught me a great deal. Did I decide I would make a career of repentance and acting out the care I felt I could not give my family, in choosing to look after others to such a specialized degree, as a nurse? Nursing became part of a new life Martin and I each chose after the traumatic rupture with our youngest son. Only when you take a rotting corpse and dress in it fancy cloths and spray perfume on it, it still will stink up the place. Rotten meat doesn’t stop rotting because you pretend you don’t know it’s spoiled. I learned that you cannot fix a tunneling wound by pretending there is not a gaping wound in your life somewhere. I learned that you cannot make the unresolved pain go away by deciding to cover it up with cool shiny life bling. Horror followed us into our new life, uninvited. I don’t know if I can describe how difficult it is to work with people in a professional capacity whom you know are harassing your husband in that same professional capacity. I don’t know if I can convey to you how nasty and cruel women can be when they don’t like a man who is in their midst. Nurses were not kind to Martin.
A year is a very long time to live under the cloud of someone else’s lie. It never mattered that the truth emerged and the Nursing College cleared his name because once you tell a lie about a man being violent to smear him and destroy his career, you have taken his life. A radical feminist who hates men once told me hating men is justified and that my husband brought that on himself, he chose to die I should get over it. I disagree and I don’t think any woman who says this gives a toss about women—my life was also destroyed by a false allegation against my husband made by a woman. We were just trying to move on from a horror show and we ended up getting the second part of a three part horror series. Once in a while I think about the girl who lied about what she saw Martin doing—she was a young nursing student and she must be a nurse by now. Maybe she is woke as they come and thinks Amy Hamm is a bad person too? Who knows? I just know that justice isn’t a thing that can be had in this worldly existence, I have learned that over my life and my mother’s too.
Martin, my co-parent, is dead by suicide hanging. In 2016 he decided to give up and abandon the rest of us to carry the pain he could no longer carry. I hate him for this and I yell at him regularly for being a self worshipping coward. My oldest son has moved on to live his best life. That he functions fully like a balanced adult in the world is the best reward for me, I did the best I could with what I had and life moves constantly and we must move with it. I need nothing more from anyone whom I mothered — they have given me life and lessons for life. One thing I would do differently from my mother going forward is not expect my children to meet any emotional need of mine. It is a burden too much for a child, even in adulthood, to have to carry so much for their mother. So I remain aloof and distant on purpose.
My life crashed and I lost everything. Ultimately when you run from yourself you can never get there, you will crash and keep crashing until you face the monster you are hiding from. The monster turns out not to be a monster. The monster you are running from turns out to be a lot of unresolved sadness and guilt and rage. One thing that heightens a traumatic experience is the lack of support in the immediate aftermath. The only comfort I could find was in a cocaine flap and a credit card and straw or in a crack rock and glass brillo-stuffed tube. So, I sold myself to more trauma to relieve the pain of past trauma.
This year will be 14 years cocaine and crack free. I have not the slightest desire or nostalgia for those rales of cocaine or those rocks of crack. I can watch Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on repeat and have no cravings because my desire for cocaine and for crack was not about cocaine nor about crack, it was about Roxanne, that’s me. I am not one of those insufferable teetotalers—I loathe AA and think it is psychologically abusive—however I have seen lives destroyed by hard drugs and alcohol too, so I don’t live my life attached to alcohol or drug culture.
So I suppose I tried to avoid seeing the parent part of gender politics because it is where my wound is — motherhood. My mother’s death did some profoundly weird thing to my internal emotional circuitry that I don’t fully grasp. I realise I am drawn to gender politics because of my existential wound and because of my mother’s and because of her mother’s. I am here now and I can end this cycle, but not if I keep acting out the same wounded role again and again.
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Consider the suffering that created the thought and not your moral disgust at the thought — this is not your story it is mine.