Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Home Sick

“A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.”
--Robert Frost

My little monkey was home sick today. She was up all night long (and by default, so were the rest of us) with a sweaty, headachy fever and a cough that sounded like a cross between a rumbling thunderstorm and a faltering weedwacker. We dosed her with Ibuprofen and Delsym but nothing worked. So Christopher and my son went off to work and school, while I cancelled my riding lesson and prepared myself for a day of bad cartoons and weak, honey-overloaded tea.

My daughter, on the other hand, was ecstatic and kept reiterating the reasons why she should stay home sick from school: 1. She didn’t want to get her teacher sick; 2. She didn’t want to get her friends sick; 3. Her friends were mean anyway, so she needed a break. And it’s true: her friends have been teasing her mercilessly over the past few days, laughing at her laugh, at her small stature, at her unbounded love for all things dragon. After-school pick-up now began with her running to me, then announcing she’d had a “very bad terrible day,” and finally crying quiet, body shaking tears. I dreaded it because I felt helpless. How could I explain the inexplicable cruelty of her friends, of her best friend who had announced to my daughter that she’d found a new best friend?

“Why are my friends so mean to me?” she asked, on the car ride home. “They kept saying ‘Dragons Stink!’ and I tried to smile and pretend it was funny but every time they said that I felt sad inside.”

“People can be stupid,” I said. “And sometimes being mean makes them feel big and important.”

“But why to me?”

“It’s not you, sweetheart. There’s no reason to be mean to you. There’s no reason to be mean to anybody.”

“No,” she said, with a sigh. “If I met someone who loved spiders, and I didn’t, I’d just mind my business.”

So I could understand why my daughter would be pleased, so absolutely relieved that the thermometer read 102 degrees. She was sick and tired of negotiating the thorny tangle of second-grade girl drama and just wanted to be sick (yay!) and home (double-yay!) with me.

Only we couldn’t stay home. I had to get my Lithium level checked so she had to get out of bed and tag along. The phlebotomist tied the rubber band around my upper arm, tapped the crook of my elbow looking for a vein, then paused to read aloud some of the words Christopher had written in permanent marker along my forearm: Integrity, Hope, Self-Love. I wanted to crawl under the chair, ashamed. She’d likely seen the scars, too.

My daughter squeezed my hand. “Momma, what’s integrity?”

“Oh gosh. I don’t have it these days,” I said, “but it sort of means being honest and truthful in what you think and do and say.”

“You tell me the truth,” she said, then pointed at the vial that was quickly filling with my blood. “Can you see your brain sickness in there?”

“Maybe one day,” I said. “But right now it’s invisible.”

“It’s a superpower then,” she said, satisfied. “Which makes you Super Momma.”

How can I be Super Momma after all I’ve put her through? But I forget the wondrous power of a child’s forgiveness that comes only from grace.

Integrity. My mentor, Frederick Busch, once told me that what you rely on are “words of integrity from people with integrity.” All of my backsliding and half-truths regarding the Eating Disorder these past few weeks have robbed me of my integrity. How could I explain that Christopher had written that word on my arm not because I have integrity at the moment, but because I need to remember to want it. IT makes it nearly impossible to remember that I need to come home to myself—myself with health, myself with balance, myself with peace of mind and body, myself with integrity.

I am home sick with “homesickness.” I, too, have “the lump in my throat,” that wrenching knowledge that I am absolutely lost and don’t know how to find my way out of ITs ugly, painful mess. Instead of well-being, I, too, feel that “sense of wrong”: that I am living at a dangerously acute angle to the universe. How many times can you attempt or rehearse your suicide without IT giving you what IT has made you think you want? I, too, am in the throes of “lovesickness”—IT accrues power when IT divides me from those I love. When IT convinces me I don’t deserve love. My lies and half-truths and evasions separate me from love—the love of my family and friends, the love I (still might) have for myself.

A few weeks ago, Dr. B. said, “Love defeats IT.” He’s right. I was homesick today, and my daughter, also home sick, saved me. Instead of crappy cartoons, we sat on the front porch in the sunshine, surfing websites offering beach cottage rentals in Florida (maybe this July?), and dreamed aloud together about our future--building sand castles, moving to a farm, and enrolling in dragon-riding school. Do you want your integrity back? I asked myself. Here it is: You are joining dreams which means you are promising to stay here with her, now and in the future. She is love. She is your way home.


  1. Stopping by from SITS. Thanks for visiting. Wow, so powerful. Your daughter sounds amazing! Kids keep us in the here and now, don't they? Beautiful, powerful message. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I am so glad you write about the way you feel. I am sure it helps! It sounds like you have an amazing little girl. Thanks for sharing about your life.

  3. I've just read several of your posts and admire you for writing about eating disorders and cutting. Your writing brought me to tears. My own daughter, who is 20, struggles with similar issues. As her mother, I have been so scared for her, at times. Fortunately, she is in therapy, and appears to be better.
    Rebecca Spears

  4. Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog. I just came to return the favor. OMG! You're an amazing writer! I'm in tears! I'm also a new follower!

  5. My heart is breaking for your daughter being teased by her "friends." She sounds very sweet- a superpower. ;)

  6. Praying for you to have power over your eating disorder. Praying for you to be able to replace lies with Truth, and that your beautiful daughter will be able to continue to motivate you to health. YOUR beautiful spirit is shining through.

    Thanks for stopping by Sugar Tails. I love meeting great women. :)

  7. As always, powerful, heartbreaking, and real. You are truly an inspiration. Hugs to you and your daughter!

  8. I love that you are honest with your stories... I swear I want to go home and paint a dragon picture to send to your daughter... whats her favorite color?

    Lots of mushy love,

    Rachael @ www.mrs-adventure.com

  9. Ok I already left a comment but I just read a couple more blogs of yours, you are so brave to be able to talk about all this, I wish I could say "bless your heart" like a southern gal and give you a big hug and maybe a glass of sweet tea :+) XOXO- Mrs-Adventure

  10. 2nd grade was the WORST for my daughter. The girls are so wishy-washy and cruel plus she was new that year. I am glad your daughter doesn't give in to the crowd and stands up for what she believes in. Gosh she is so sweet. No wonder you have so much love. It's irresistible.

    I loved your integrity answer to her; both the definition and the answer. I think that kind of honesty shows great progress and heart.

    Beautiful writing. You are very talented. That you can write on your arm as is. :-)

  11. This is beautiful Kerry. Beautiful. And so true

  12. Your writing is incredible, it's real. Continue to keep your head up, your daughter needs you, she sounds amazing and boo for mean girls!
    Thanks for stopping by!

  13. Your writing is amazing. It's real, your voice really comes out. Keep your head up, your daughter needs you, you need each other. And mean girls suck!
    thanks for stopping by today.

  14. Stopping by from SITS! Thanks for visiting my blog.

    What an amazing post. You are an incredible writer.

  15. I am literally sitting here in tears. What a powerful post. I applaud you and encourage you to keep fighting. You sound like a wonderful mother through and through. I can't wait to go back and read more. Thank You for sharing!

  16. Stopping by from SITs and found you on Top Mommy Blogs! Love your post! When I was a little girl I was always so excited to stay home from school. Your daughter sounds precious. Thank you for sharing your heart with the world!

  17. Great post! I get "homesick" for the way things used to be...
    Thanks for stopping by my blog.