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Why? Mama, why?

So, yesterday I got a small envelope from my Aunt Bert. Initially, I got excited because I thought it might be some cash because there was no reason for her to have sent such a small letter in the mail when we talk every other day anyway. But, when I opened it, I found a letter from my mom, Patricia, and it was not one bearing good news.

I love my mother with all my heart. We have a lot in common, including our issues with addiction.


My mother and father have both battled drug addiction and other legal problems related to that for many many years, my entire life to be exact.  I've never lived with them in the same household so it has never really presented itself as a serious problem for me, or at least I didn't allow it to look like it was to the people around me.  The truth is, yes, it hurt to have your parents locked up for any reason. Even if it's their fault, it still hurts.  Well, that hurt that I thought I'd left behind and wouldn't have to feel anymore came back when I read that my mom was locked up once again.

Although I was sad to hear that news, I can't deny that I was also angry. I was angry with her because I felt like she let me down.  I understand that drug addiction is a problem. I also understand that she's probably dealing with depression and other things just like I am and many other folk do on a daily basis.  But, the part that I don't get is how and why she continues to do things illegal that end her back in jail.  I could understand if she had an anger problem and she kept going to jail for threatening people or issues relative to that specific disability.  But no, her situations have always been drug-related, just like the larceny charge she is facing now. I love her with all my heart and I want her to be okay, but I can no longer act as if this is always some bad trick of the law... she has got to take responsibility and fix her own life.

I took it extra hard for another reason.  I have tried very hard in my life not to be just like my mother and father, especially when it comes to drugs and dealings with the law.  But, I feel I've failed myself because that's exactly where I find myself today.  There are people in my life, friends and family, who try to support and encourage me by telling me that I'm so much more than what I give myself credit for.  They remind me that I've accomplished my goal of graduating college, and although I haven't worked recently, they have always known me to be someone with a job and who liked to have his own resources in life.  It's just hard for me to accept that anyone could still see me as that person I was before, and I really take it to heart when I find myself feeling more and more like the people I have tried so very hard not to emulate.

I heard that Sesame Street now has a muppett that talks about having a dad in jail and I had to check it out to see how they touch on such a sensitive subject.  During the YouTube clip, I found myself tearing up as a little Black boy talked about how his mom writes him every day and his dad leaves the letters on his desk to read after he gets home from school.  That story drew me in and almost had me crying on the spot.  I know what it's like to have your most regular correspondence with your own mother be letters written from inside a correctional institution for women.  It's great that she and her son are staying in touch, but it would be better if she was right there with him in the physical.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes things happen in life and we have to roll with the punches.  Nobody can deny that fact.  We all know people who have made bad decisions and aren't necessarily bad people.  But, sometimes I believe that we don't truly look deeply into the consequences that our decisions might bring about in the lives of other people.  For example, there have been many times since my birth parents and I have gotten better in our relationship and our levels of communication when we engaged in the conversation about them giving custody of me and my brother to our Aunt and Uncle, and how that decision came about and how it made everyone feel.  Having grown up with my Aunt and Uncle in a very stable home and a safe and friendly community, I had to reassure them that the decision they made was the best one.  But, looking back I have to admit that I might have lied.  I didn't lie about how great my upbringing was with my Aunt and Uncle.  But I did lie in saying that was the best choice they could have made at the time.

 There is one thing they could have done that would have been better than everything else, they could have loved me and my brother more than they loved to get high. They could have kept us and worked at their issues with us as an intact family. They could have just faced life head on and took on the challenges that everyone faces in this world. But, unfortunately they didn't do that.  They did what they thought was in the best interest of me (and them). They made sure I was safe and taken care of, but in doing that they also made sure they would be free to come and go and do whatever it is that they pleased.

It's too late to bring up an old grudge, and holding on to anger from things of the past is completely pointless. But, in order for me to move on in my life I find that talking about things sometimes helps me work my way through my own thoughts and feelings.  And in that process, hopefully someone reading this who has experienced the same or a similar situation, can learn that they aren't alone.  I guess I simply need to understand and accept that I am not my mother or father's mistakes.  I am part of them because they created me and they gave me life.  But, I do not have to confine myself only to what I see of them when it comes to what goals and accomplishments I want for my own life.  It doesn't matter what they did right or wrong, what they almost accomplished or failed miserably at... none of their issues should determine where my life will go and what great things I can do if my mind is focused on making something happen.

For the longest time I carried around the burden of feeling like I had to make it or everyone else would suffer. And even now I beat myself up about not having been perfect in situations where I truly believe I could have been.  I get mad at myself because I wasn't dedicated enough to keep straight A's in high school and college. I know I had what it takes intellectually, but I simply did not put in the effort to make it happen.  People say I shouldn't be so hard on myself because of stuff like that, but being hard on myself is the only way I know how to learn from a mistake and not repeat it. I can't just accept a failure from my own doing and ignore it as being vitally important to the rest of my life.

I want to let go of all the bullshit that's keeping me from stepping out and making my way towards my dream.  But, I simply don't know where to start. There are people in my life who want to help me, but I believe they are so scared of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time to me, it leaves them paralyzed in not knowing what to say or do when I probably need it most.  I'm consciously trying to do a better job of talking to people and allowing myself to feel down or sad without taking it out on everyone around me, or thinking that it's the end of the world as I know it. That's harder than it seems. But, in order to get better, I have to do it because I've already seen that there is no real help for brothers with mental issues who still want to be normal, productive and dare I say professional citizens.

I really do hope my mom is alright, but I'm almost sorry to say that I can't help her. I really wish I was at the point in my life where I could just drop what I was doing and drive down to Isle of Wight and work all of my First Born Son magic, but I'm simply not at that point in my life.  One day, I will be. But I hope that by then I won't need to rescue or help her out of a situation like this. I'd much rather get a call asking to cut some grass, than a letter from jail asking to secure a bond.

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