My dear readers, this is a two part question. When is enough, enough? I have grappled with my heart ache –the boulder tied to my shoulders–for many years now. We all have one. We might fool ourselves into believing that there are those out there living happy and carefree lives, but the simple truth is we all carry rocks. Some are pebbles and others are mountains, but to believe that there are those favored few carrying smooth cool grains of sand, just remember, life is not a beach.
For some it may be the burden of love. Ex spouse, ex lover, ex friend or even a current relationship wavering — each smarts to the quick. Others may struggle with their health – cancer, infertility, old age. Many heartaches have been carried for years in silence. The rock in the pit of the stomach that is always there, but never mentioned. Abuse, neglect, addiction, phobias and nightmares–carried for lifetimes without a voice.
My boulder involves a son, a returned Marine, struggling with PTSD. Any of you with a problem involving a child knows how grievous this load weighs. Memories of innocent eyes looking up at you, little arms around your neck, the responsibility of teaching them all things good and right… these haunt you as you try to determine where you went wrong. Ah, the anguish and guilt that every parent carries. Mine is no less. I have enabled his addictions, had my day sour after a phone call, spent sleepless nights praying. I want only peace for him. But no matter how much I stress, worry or pray, his memories of strewn bodies of brave heroes, horrific and bloody explosions and calls made to dear Marine’s parents conveying heart felt sympathy for their recent loss — remain a heavy mountain and he is powerless to push it away. Speaking with my sister about this, as well as the heart ache she is carries, she said, “Someone told me once a long time ago. He said that a parent is only as happy as their unhappiest child.”
So here is the first part of my question. When is enough, enough? When do I drop my boulder and lighten my burden and will this add another boulder to my son’s mountain? Is it possible to put this encumbrance aside and carry on my life without stress and strife? I have learned the hard lesson, “I can’t fix everything” long ago when I blundered through a divorce. This was the hardest lesson of my life to that point, and an important precursor to my difficulty at hand. I understand that I can’t fix this difficulty that has me laying awake at night. This is completely out of my control, like so many other crisis that afflict each of us. I know my stress, my concern, my anxiety – will not change the pain that my son carries. I have offered him all the advice that I am able. I have listened to his cries for help and wept that I was unable to resolve his question, “Momma, what do I do?”
Now that I realize that giving him my understanding and my prayers is all that I may be able to give him, am I able to carry on without the weight of the stress and concern? Is it not my right, as well as every individual born on this earth, to be happy with a light heart? Have I not carried the burden of his conflicts, knowing I can not remedy them, long enough? The answer to all three questions? Of course not!
That boulder that I carry is my boulder. I have chipped at it diligently for many years now, and if I dropped it, it would just land heavily on my foot. I refuse to let it go because I will never give up hope! That hope that fills me, that gives me a dream of a peaceful life for my son, keeps me from dropping that heaviness that clouds my tranquility. But it also helps me to heft that load. Perhaps laying claim to my boulder, shouldering my load by choice–will ease the burden. I think it has.
So the second part of my question now falls into place. When is enough, enough? I carry my boulder now – I am not trying to drag it around. I claim my stress and anxiety as my own, by choice. I carry the hope that tomorrow might be brighter and my son will eventually find peace in his soul. I carry these words of comfort with me, “Just remember, even your worst days only have twenty-four hours.”
Can we not be happy, even though we bear overwhelming heaps that contain our depression, concerns and heart aches? Is in not enough that we have food to sustain us and homes that offer shelter? Does not the sun rise daily, regardless of our troubles? Are not the privileges of knowledge, humor, passion and friendship free to us all? Happiness is not what we think our lives should look like, but celebrating everything that our life is. So yes, the answer to the second question is… enough is enough.