It was so long ago now, but I remember the weight of his head in the crook of my arm, the elvish kink in the top of his ear, the dreams that flickered across his face. I was overwhelmed with love for him, this tiny child, even if he always woke the moment I laid him down.

Now he is a room in my mind I’m afraid to enter because if I do, I won’t be able to breathe. He rages, hurling whatever he can reach and making dents in the doors. He threatens and yells terrible words. His insults are merciless, and his siblings worship and cower. I am his slave, the one who buys him things and feeds him and takes him places. He is the entitled tyrant I never dreamed I’d raise. My words to him are calm and reasoned – and ignored.

There is no softness underneath, no small boy who sneaks out sometimes for a hug. His father did not drop his body over the edge as he threatened to, but he dropped his heart. I hoped it might be retrievable now he is gone, but it still seems out of reach. In its place are obsessions – busy thoughts that crowd everything else from his mind. Nothing else is allowed to be spoken of. No one can break through and find the heart that is lost somewhere in the undergrowth, dying of cold, not even if I make appointments and pay them to try. They are too easily diverted by his relentless arguments.

I fear that to him, I am weakness. I couldn’t stop the hurt. I froze when I should have gathered him in my arms and run and not looked back. Instead I had more children, hoping they would change the dynamic and somehow bring us peace. It was a foolish hope, too heavy for their small oblivious shoulders.

My son’s behaviour has been my shame – evidence of my failure to rescue and redeem. But I have come to see that a mother’s love, though fundamental, is not enough to retrieve the heart that went missing beneath a father’s lofty expectations and rejection. I can’t do it, and I am worn out with the futility of trying. I will always be his mama, loving him as fiercely as I did when he was small enough to comfort, but it won’t be me who rescues him. I must hand him over, like Hannah at the temple, to the seeker and the healer of hearts.

I hope he hears the insistent call in the night. I hope he comes to know the love that restores all things. I hope he finds the courage to walk into the pain and emerges strong enough to love and to let himself be loved. I hope the hurt does not pass like a curse to another generation.

Such beautiful, important and heart-squeezing writing is coming out of this group. If you would like to help mothers on low incomes to attend our first BRILLIANT + AMAZING Writers’ Retreat, please visit our Givealittle page. Every dollar helps! Thanks!

 

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