October 08, 2005

Tightness Inside

When I was in fifth grade, I went on my first thrill ride: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland. I remember standing in line with my Dad, watching the trains whistle around the artificial buttes and peaks, emerging from pitch black tunnels and caves, and quickly disappearing back into the mountain's mysterious interior.

I studied the ride as we waited. A ride on Big Thunder, I noticed, was almost exactly three minutes long. I kept watching. I wanted to know everything about the ride before I rode. Knowing, I thought, would help calm the fear, anxiety, and apprehension that revealed itself physically in the tightness I felt deep inside me.

Roller coasters no longer cause me to experience that tightness. Instead, if I ride too many, they give me a headache. Now, I get that tightness from just being a parent.... but being a parent lasts a lot longer than just three minutes.

The tightness has been especially strong lately because of Chris. Chris is the 16 year-old who has been living in my house since July 16. Two weeks ago, I filed a petition for guardianship in the courts. This week, a court investigator stopped by to visit.

I've been struggling to figure out what's best for Chris, a kid who's known very little in the way of good parenting. I've been waking up at night, the tightness preventing me from returning to sleep. To cope, I've had to force myself to keep up with my workouts, and I've sought out quiet place --- rose gardens, shady picnic tables --- to keep from having a full-blown anxiety attack.

I think we're starting to figure things out now. At least I hope so. I'm on the ride, deep inside the cave, but I see the light, and I think we may be pulling into a station soon. I don't know for sure. I do know, however, that the tightness isn't quite as severe, and that I am now able to write about it. At least I'm able to do that much.

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