Saturday, June 11, 2016

Drill Some Holes

I'm having panic attacks. My friends, good friends, are trying to help me. Mike is trying to help me. Talk to your nephew, they said, give him a deadline, tell him how you feel, tell him all the ways it will benefit him to get his own place. Set boundaries.

See, in March, my nephew called and said he was going to stay in a hotel because he got a job out here and was moving here. After that, he left room on the phone for a long pause in the conversation. I hate the long pause in a conversation. I fall prey to the long pause.

After a couple of conversations, Mike and I decided that the only thing we could do was offer him a place to stay until he found his own. We had no choice. We couldn't deny him this help. Conversations with his mom and his sister and his grandma just confirmed it. Pressure was intense.

So, I got on the phone with him and told him he could stay here, but just a week or two until he found his own place, I don't do well with house guests, I told him. I paced the kitchen as I talked. I looked out the window. I tried to picture it working out this time.

Just a couple of weeks, he said.

You'll be fine, my sister said.

He'll be helpful, my mother said.

It will only take him a couple of weeks to get his own place, they all said.

He drove into the driveway on April 4th. Today is June 11th.

Last night, I sent a text to my friend:

I talked to him - I said I feel this way and I feel that way. We didn't set a definite deadline, but he said he got the message, said he'd gotten an apartment on his own in college, that he didn't want my help. He said he could afford to get a place. I stayed calm. I told him I didn't want resentment to build any more than it was, that I felt very uncomfortable when I was at home, that I'd lived in dumps myself when I was in my twenties, that it wasn't him but it was me. 

Tonight, he told us he looked at two places, one in a drug neighborhood, the other not quite as dangerous as if I require that he choose between the two. Now, he's sitting downstairs in the dark with the speakerphone on so loudly that we can hear everything he and my niece are saying. It's awful, absolutely, stunningly awful. By the time he's off the phone, his whole family will hate me. But maybe they probably already do.

I'm trying not to hyperventilate. Mike's helping but there's no escape.

Oh, I have good friends. My friend texted back and forth with me for an hour even though she has to work in the morning. She's a veterinarian. When she has to work in the morning, she really has to work.

She said I need to let it go, that it's okay for my family to hate me if it means standing up for myself, that I don't need to feel guilty - he's an adult and I am not responsible for him or his happiness.

She should write a book, my friend.

I texted her that I'm trying not to unravel.

Maybe a hotel tonight, she asked. By then, I had joined Mike in the garage. He was drilling holes in leather to put in rivets on a project. I asked if I could drill holes. Drilling holes would feel good. They did. I like drilling holes.

I should drill more holes when I can't breathe.

My friend even offered to talk with my nephew. Hammer time, she said. She could be the bad guy, she said.

That made me laugh. It helped to laugh when I couldn't breathe. She talked about the families that we adopt. She is my adopted family. She is, and my three other friends who have been coaching me to keep breathing, to own my own space, to keep from being a scapegoat, to send my nephew on his way even if I were blamed for what happened to him next. It is easy for me to fall back into the role of scapegoat.

Repeat a mantra, she texted me.

And then I drilled a few more holes for Mike. He's lucky I didn't ruin the holes. I'm not entirely sure how I did it, my breath hitching, my eyes blurred, my nose and eyes running. A mantra. What would my mantra be?

Find your power, she texted me. Yes. I need a mantra. I need to find my power. And I need to drill some damned holes. Do any of you have a project that requires lots and lots of drilled holes? When I can't breathe, I could imagine sitting with my head in my hands, repeating, "I need to drill some holes. I need to drill some holes." It's just like me to pick a mantra that will make me look like the crazy lady standing on the corner with a cardboard sign. I need to drill some holes, I need to drill some holes, my cardboard sign would say.

Thank you for listening, jules

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