How can one do deep work when they’re struggling to find existence?
I’m supposed to be editing a video right now, which requires this great intense introverted concentration that I’m dreading to push through. I’ve already sacrificed hours into this project and one can only take so much feedback until you simply fall into pieces, where you want to say “fuck it, why continue?”
What’s more is my extroverted manic brain is thinking about all the other projects that are due in the next few days and the stress has numbed the right side of my back. We’re talking knots on knots on knots. I have a hard time moving my neck.
This is why I’m writing.
It’s my release.
It’s my yoga.
Because the only way I can start the process of this deep work, before I can get into a flow state, I need to write about what happened. The moment that broke me this week.
We just ended my brother’s birthday dinner and my three brothers decided we should continue the night by heading to a bougie lounge in Santa Monica, California. We’re talking about a crowd of young women in tight outfits, men in pickup attire, three bars to make sure everyone has a chance to get high, and a DJ to sparkle musical fairy dust so everything and everyone would tie together.
And right in the center of all of this energy stood my effervescent sixty-four year old mother. Her eyes closed, drink in hand, dancing while the flashing lights showed the edges of her smile. In the center with her four sons danced in unison. I told myself to stop for a second.
I told myself to take in this moment.
God froze time to say that this is what matters.
This is everything.
This is beauty.
This is what life is…
She was in her own world and she was simply, happy. And I, for a rare moment, was one of the reasons why she was happy. She could be herself, and I knew that my presence wasn’t making her feel uncomfortable.
To be honest, unlike my other brothers, I don’t know how to be consistently vulnerable with my mother. They laugh with her, converse with her, in ways where I’m stuck as the third or fifth or seventh wheel of a conversation that many times I don’t really care for…
I love her. I respect her. I am so proud of the woman she has become in all the years to not only raise seven phenomenal and creative kids alone. What’s even more important is that she’s living a vibrant, adventurous, and social life right now.
Though on her journey of figuring it all out, I’ve been one of the children who has carried the weight of much of her emotional trauma without given the time to be seen.
But there is no one to blame because when could there have been time to reciprocate?
I’m the oldest. I was in college when she was growing her new life. I’m the oldest where every mistake I made would make a dent to the new life she was building. I’m the oldest where there is a hidden secret feeling that I had to be strong enough to silence my emotions from her and my younger siblings.
The biggest fights have come about when I’ve opened up. The biggest turn offs have come about when I’ve opened up. The times I’ve felt most alone in my family is when I’ve opened up.
Of course it bothers me… but it’s my role. If I don’t act this way then I won’t receive those calls of “Jonathan can you talk? I need your advice”. The calls that I cherish so much because it at least means that they respect me as a person.
The night ended with her holding my other brother and I while I guided her into the uber. “Are you having fun?” she asked. We could only laugh and honestly respond, “Mom you’re so much fun”.
“You know when I was younger I did ketamine, sneak out, party, and get away with so many things”
“Mom you’re the best”
That night I fell into bed reminiscing about my mother dancing, and the next morning in the hotel I wanted to let her know how amazing of a night I had. But, she was long gone.
I check out of the hotel and hours later I’m unpacking at an Airbnb when I realize my laptop is nowhere to be found. I call the hotel, I text my brothers, and no one seems to have it in their possession.
But because we were sharing hotel rooms I decided to text my mother, “Do you have my laptop? When packing your bags did you accidentally take my laptop?”
I realized I could’ve texted smoother, so I called.
“Hey mom, I lost my laptop and I’m wondering if you unpacked yet?”
“No I haven’t”
“When you have the time could you check your bags to see if my laptop is in there?”
Moments later I receive “not here” I respond “okay. I might drive there because I’ll use one of the idle laptops that are there”
I begin packing my things to get ready to drive two hours down south when suddenly my phone rings… it’s one of my younger brothers:
“Hey, letting you know that you shouldn’t drive down here?”
“Why? What’s happening”
“Mom’s throwing things in her room and having a breakdown right now”
And I can hear it in the background. Her voice. Her pain. Her breakdown. Her screams of “I DIDN’T TAKE HIS LAPTOP! WHY AM I ALWAYS BEING BLAMED FOR EVERYTHING! I DIDN’T TAKE HIS LAPTOP”
I’ve seen this before. I can sense her sniffling. I can sense her desperation. I can sense the exhaustion of her life, the stress, and everything in between. She’s going through it right now and I just happened to be her fly that landed on the pile of weights on her back.
I was her trigger. again. her once again. Ouch.
“Okay. Sounds good”
I hung up the phone.
Tossed it to the side.
Sitting on the floor.
Thinking of all the work I needed to get done.
Thinking of the deadlines.
Thinking of what I had just done.
Thinking of my mother.
I couldn’t anymore.
Tears slowly pushing through my closed tired eyes.
Tears screaming silently for help.
Tears howling in whispers for a chance to be heard.
Thanks for listening – time to get to work
Apple Valley, CA 9:01pm