Give and Take

In life, I believe, there is give and take. I also believe that without give and take, we shrivel and die. Well, we die anyway, but without give and take, I don’t think we really live.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this, about how relationships thrive when there is give and take. Countries reach peace when there is give and take. Crops grow stronger, heartier, with only the perfect balance of give and take. They take nurture and care, fuel and attention to grow and they give us sustenance. Life.

Sometimes the good guy doesn’t win, but in the end, the bad guy doesn’t either. It’s all about how we ride the line.

Through the ups and downs and give and take of life, I have tried to become a better version of myself. More often than I hurt a loved one, stood by judging apathetic and angry, shut down entirely, or drank myself into nothingness, because I have done them all, I’d like to think I at least tried, more than I didn’t, to give. In the spirit that happiness or success was found through giving I did my best. That’s the crux, I think. To give without giving in. To take without be taken over. I believe it still. But I lived through trial by fire to speak my truth with confidence.

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Some of life is choosing what and when to give and take, and some of life is choosing how to react to both the low, holy crap moments and the high, magic Christmas moments that come our way faster and harder than we could ever be strong enough to survive intact. I am not saying I’m good at either, but the options exist with or without my choices.

I was traveling my route of give of take, life and lessons, without doubt until one day all the rules changed. One random day the seizures started, and then day after another and another and another they continued to come. They didn’t give they only took.

When Buddha got sick, when the seizing began, so did the taking. I wasn’t being tested, I was being stripped. I was relieved of my sanity, my faith, my place in this world, my marriage, my relationship with my son, of my little boy himself. All I had been given was slowly, and with cruel precision, taken from me over the endless hours of each endless day of that turnpike year.

I could never have been ready for the year my son was taken from me.

It was the year of Take and I almost didn’t survive.

Almost.

I did survive. It changed me and beat me, but I survived and I believe it’s partly because the years I had to practice, to hone, this give and take philosophy.

Since my first sense of awareness I have been a teacher, an observer, a listener, a person picker-a-parter, and a curious dissector of human emotion and behaviors. Life, to me, has always been a series of manic swats between trying to understand our human nature and trying to fix the hurt. I have come to wonder lately how much experience I missed in my picking apart our emotional drives and cracked mental sidewalks. I’ve come to wonder if it was worth it. Did I spend so much time being a picker, for I am truly a picker, that unless I was on stage, I could never sit back and enjoy, just be? I can pretty much attest to that as truth. Except for a few precious moments, mostly memories of my family, there was always more picking than being.

Growing up I figured it was because I wanted to be a star, to shine on a Broadway stage, and that acute awareness was my innate drive routing me in the right direction. I did shine on stage, but the lights dimmed for me. Or rather, I took an early exit. I never lost the need to pick apart character but my objectives changed and so did my dreams.

It turns out this need to uncover why people hurt each other, how we love, and why it takes so damn long to evolve and grow peaceful within ourselves was because I was being groomed for the role of a lifetime. I was given the proper back story needed to become the mother of a son with a “condition”, a boy with special needs.

“I was given the back story needed to become the mother of a son with special needs.”

It has now been over a year and the seizing continues and so does the taking, but, as I had once believed to be true, so again did the giving begin. So did the universal need for balance begin to shift my experience and Buddha’s health trying to right itself. I don’t think it ever will balance, completely, but, at least, the cycle was beginning to churn once more. This diagnosis, this epilepsy, this backward-brained-heathen hasn’t made life easy or fair, but in many profound ways it has made us better. For all it has taken it has also given us much, or at least that’s how we choose to see it. In a way, it has given us each other. And depending on the lens through which I choose to view my situation I can see a Hell of Holy Crap or one damn magical Christmas. I can’t ignore the pain, the unfairness of it all, I can’t ignore the hole that now permanently vents my soul, but I can chose to experience the magic. To be in the magic of the moments we get.

“What I’ve been given in return for all I’ve lost.”

WHAT EPILEPSY TOOK AND WHAT IT GAVE

  • It gave me insight.
    • I took these lessons and I am better for it. I learned that I am stronger than I thought but not nearly as strong as I presumed.
  • It gave me new lenses to view life.
    • I take in the magic of life as I never have before and now even the air looks different. When I step outside my house each day, or every few days, as one does who cares for a son with special needs, I am embraced by the sheer miracle and impossibility of it all. Yes, the son I knew was taken from me and I will never fully adjust to that, in a way I will never recover from it, and yes there are many days life is a sucking dark parasite. But my appreciation for life was also fortified beyond measure because of this loss. If you want to appreciate every molecule of every day, know in your bones it could be taken away in an instant.
  • It gave me patience. Kind of. Well, more than I had to begin with.
    • I take time now to slow down and catch my breath. When Buddha started raging I lost the option to blow up and react. It was that or lose my son.
  • It gave me do-overs.
    • I took permission to not be perfect. I am a classic perfectionist with abandonment issues. A day lost, a mistake made was a mar on my very soul until Buddha’s diagnosis. If we are lucky enough for another day then we can always try again.
  • It gave me the the ability to hold love and loss, hate and respect, fear and joy in both hands…and go on.
    • I took the opportunity to learn to hold conflicting emotions without it splitting me in two. Ok, that’s not true, I was split in two more times than I can count but somehow, I was able go on. I could come back together. I had to. I to for him, and I am better for it.
  • It gave me the chance to forgive.
    • I took the chance and let myself forgive. In my perfectionist way I couldn’t let go of hurts. I could see things from the offending point of view, I could even understand how it happened, but I could never let it go. Right is just right. Then one day, there was no room left to hold those old hurts and being right wasn’t really what mattered anyway. There was simply too much present pain. But when the cycle of give began to return I found that the old hurts were gone. I finally understood the freedom that people kept talking about when I let it go.
  • It gave me the push I needed to learn to love my husband in ways I would never have before. To take him for who he is and love him completely, even in the moments he leaves me wanting.
  • It gave me the right to create boundaries I didn’t feel I could enforce before.
  • It gave me friends and allowed me to take the strength they offered.
  • It gave me the freedom to accept and take help.
  • It gave me the freedom to stop the clock and start again. I could take the moment and start again as the woman I was then and there, not who I thought I should be.
  • It gave me love from a flawed and beautiful family. Even if it their communication was lacking in what I thought I needed, I could take their love and let it restore me.
  • It gave me faith.
    • When I see my husband, weary to the bone, never give up on us, never lose hope, my heart opens in ways I never believed possible and I take in a love that overwhelms me with gratitude.
  • It gave me perspective.
    • I took the pain to see the miracles. I can see that when my little man’s brain goes backwards his heart grows 100 times bigger, that when he can’t put two sentences together his knack for humor makes him the smartest funniest kid in the room. I can see now that when he falls down the stairs because he is shaking from head to toe he creates a little dance to pick himself up and keep going.
  • It gave me the most special son a mother could ever hope to deserve but never really be worthy of.

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One Reply to “Give and Take”

  1. What a beautiful post. Brought me to tears … literally… as I sat on the train reading it. So brave and generous of you to share your experience dealing with your son’s epilepsy. And oh my he is absolutely adorable!

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