Tyler waiting for me in the ER the year I got a flu shot and still got the flu. I have a little bit of panic disorder and thought I was dying, so he drove me to the ER where it was confirmed that I was not dying.
I haven't been 20 in quite a while and the further I get from being 20, the more I'm glad I am that I'm not 20.
This weekend I got a call at 1:36 am from my 20 -year- old, much blogged about, son. He was in the emergency room with excruciating abdominal pain. He was working the over night shift at Circle K and was basically freaking out. I'm the only one who answered the phone at that time, including the list of Emergency Numbers the managers of Circle K gave him in case of an actual emergency so I guess that's good to know. Yikes. I got up. Changed. Put on a hat and stayed at the hospital with him, my husband, and my 2 girls until 4:45 am when he was discharged and all the tests came back normal. So basically, we have no answers. I knew just as much going in and I knew going out. I have a feeling there's something he knows that I don't know but whatever.
I wasn't mad or annoyed as someone asked me later if I was. I don't know why I would even be mad unless I've been so mad at him before that I just don't get mad anymore. Doing that kind of shit for him is just normal to me now. I was worried at first when I heard his frantic voice on the phone. I thought he had been in an accident, but after I found out he was generally just scared, I was more tired, maybe bewildered, and tired and bewildered for the entire next day too but not mad. I did think about how much money it was going to cost me being as how I'd graciously offered to pay for his medical expenses while he was floundering around trying to figure out his life. Being Tyler's mom has calmed me down to the point where I rarely react with frustration as I might have used to.
This time in his life now, this decade of the 20s, is a shit show. High school was the shit preview, your 20s is the shit show. Full screen, HD, Surround Sound. It's a period of self-doubt, anxiety, desperation, excess and, sometimes just good ole sheer panic and possibly a couple run ins with death. I'm going to lessen his decade of panic by paying for a few things so he doesn't have to panic AND pay.
I had to pay for every damn thing myself which is why I'm so bitter and mean now. It would have been nice if someone would have stepped in to take care of a thing or two for me but nope. None of that. Fuckers.
Anyway, It's important to have a safety net in your life, a plan B. There should always be a person, whether family or friend, who will let you sleep on their couch and answer the phone when you call late at night having a panic attack about life. Somewhere between me being a hot mess for 10 years in my 20s and now, I've become someones back up plan and I should be as a parent. Even if I've previously wanted to push you down the stairs, thought about moving away in the middle of the night and not telling you where I went, I will still answer the phone at 1:36 am and sit with you in the hospital. Because I needed a plan B when I was 20 and I didn't have one. So, even if I'm inconvenienced and tired, it makes me feel good that my child has one less thing to worry about.
Somewhere in the chaos of my life, my role changed. I used to be this frazzled single parent on a Lexapro and beer diet. Through love and loss and a few cups thrown at a few peoples heads, I've become trustworthy and stable. You can count on me.
Tyler, like me, has anxiety, and if there was such a thing as double anxiety or anxiety to the nth degree, we have it. When Tyler was in the hospital bed he was all a flurry with thoughts of getting fired. He had to leave the store unattended and be rushed to the ER. I calmly told him that most people are good, most people are compassionate, and that I'm sure whomever the manager is will understand what an emergency is. Then I told him a story because now I have stories to tell that tie to life lessons, ugh. But I told him the story of being 25 and in the hospital bed after being in ICU with a heart problem for 5 days. I was panic stricken I'd be dropped from my full time load of summer classes the semester I was to graduate with an Associates Degree. I called all my professors from that hospital bed and one by one they all told me to get well, get the notes when you come back, don't worry, take care of yourself. Because most people are good.
Most people will care. I tell my girls now when they fight that we are here to lift each other up, empower each other to be better, to be calmer, to be peaceful. Yeah, someones going to be an asshole. Someones going to screw you over, take your money, and steal your shit. Someones also going to make life more difficult for you. But those aren't the people we focus on. We focus on being and becoming people who answer the phone in the early morning, who say, don't worry, be well, who want just one person to worry less, panic less, cry less. We seek these people but before we find them, we need to be them.
The decade of 20 is a long one. It's wrought with assholes and bad relationships, but one day, around 29 1/2, when hard work and panic attacks turn into wisdom and maturity, we become what we needed other people to be all along. We find ourselves. We stop dwelling on the victim we perceive we are and extend ourselves to others in ways that would have made us too vulnerable before. We stop wanting others to be a certain way, we stop wishing people would change. Instead, we change. We make the change in ourselves one year at a time waiting for someone to see us, but what we are looking for isn't someone else, it's us. The recognition of self doesn't come without struggle and vulnerability. Many people can't or aren't willing to get there and many become trapped in substance abuse to hide from themselves. If you want to be better, you will be.
Somewhere around sobriety and honesty, I became a dependable person. As I drove away from the hospital knowing the bill would come to me, I smiled through tired recognition that I'd become the person I wanted to be. I don't want him to be different or the situation to change. I wasn't frustrated or angry. I just was. I was there. Sometimes that's all we need someone to be, is there.