I’m having another episode.
I’m never sure what to do when this happens, and at first I tend to respond by thrashing wildly.
Grasping at nearby surfaces as I plummet, only to watch them loosen and break too.
Far better once I recognize the hopelessness of struggle, as at least I can leave off bringing other objects down with me.
Far better once I surrender to the knowledge that my own strength has failed.
The descent is predictably horrible and long. It happens as if in slow-motion, while I whisper and plead, “Not this far. Please not this far.”
But yes, darling, yes. We’re going this far. I’m so very sorry.
It’s not difficult for me to decipher the elements that conspired to bring me down this time.
If there even were any.
Perhaps it’s not even like that. Perhaps just every so often, I simply miss a step, and it’s as easy as that.
You stop paying attention, miss a step, and you go down.
I’m trying very hard to be grateful for it. I know that every time I’ve gone under before, I’ve come up better, more whole.
But meanwhile I’m just so ruinously sad.
I’ve been crawling into bed at seven at night in order to keep appointments with my demons.
Not sleeping, just getting into bed. Lying still and letting them have their way with me.
I’m not sure what else to do.
Ironically, or serendipitously—I don’t even know—my son’s father has chosen this as the time to confront me.
“I need to talk to you about Django,” he says, when he calls.
“I’m really not well,” I tell The Piranha, grasping my forehead with a shaking hand.
The Piranha told me recently that I was the only woman he ever really loved.
Nonetheless, he now has a schedule that needs to be kept, despite where I am in space and time.
Which, it just so happens, is the bottom of a black pit. In a dirty nightgown.
Where, it feels, I’ve spent the past two eons.
The Piranha, in a biological sense, is Django’s father. Those are indeed the facts, and the center of his argument.
But I myself had a father, and I know the true meaning of the word.
And this is the curse that has been laid upon The Piranha, from time without beginning.
“It’s like starting at ground zero with you two, every time. Do you get that?” he asks.
“Yes, I get that.”
And I do.
I get that not all of the fault of this situation lies with the The Piranha.
I get that, in The Piranha’s absence, I created the relationship that I wanted with my son. A relationship built on such love and tenderness and laughter and trust that it leaves very little room for anyone else to measure up.
It’s unfortunate, I suppose?
I have no idea what to say.
“He’s acting like a coward,” The Piranha says, of our boy’s reluctance to relate with him.
“He’s 13,” I tell him.
“I don’t care. It’s over. I’m done.”
There is absolutely nothing new in this. Not one thing.
It’s not even a tragedy, in that our son, just this week at the pool, told me that he has no father.
Django already decided. I’m not even sure when. A long time ago, I suppose.
So it’s not as if any of this is should upend me. And yet, through it, one of my demon’s faces comes into focus.
My son is brilliant. I suppose this is what any mother would say of her son. So that’s not really the point.
The point is, my son is…
He deserved better.
And really super selfishly, I did, too.
There is one singular devastation in raising Django by myself. And it is this:
I feel so utterly alone in my unconditional love for him.
There are moments when I notice within myself the most ferocious desire to grab someone, anyone, and sceam, “Look at my boy! Look at him! Can you believe it?”
And it makes me frantic, almost, to truly acknowledge to myself that no one will ever see what I see.
I look at this demon and I hate him.
But then I’m struck by the fact that this is the first time we’re truly coming face-to-face, and yet my son has been alive for thirteen years.
“Where in the world have you been lurking?” I ask, and I’m genuinely curious.
The demon stops his snarling a moment, looks taken aback.
“How have I never even noticed you?”
I know that in the big picture Django will be fine and that I’ll be fine and I actually even know that part of the preciousness of our relationship revolves around our being alone in this.
“You’re hurting me fuck-all at the moment,” I tell the demon.
A small strand of slobber releases and suspends from his lower lip.
This demon and I are going to be spending a lot of time together, I suspect.
This demon and I are going to have to make our peace.