Sunday, October 3, 2010

Off Guard

2008 03 18  vulnerable  PAD 365 (day 220) _MG_8124

Don't call me out.

Observe, but don't ask.

It's always the same, I get caught off guard.

We were sitting at an outdoor restaurant in Old Town. They boys were enjoying their huge drinks, and their delicious food. Then Dante looked up at me and caught me in the act.

What was I doing? Missing Michael of course. It was a moment of weakness, where I had some how let down my guard. There were happy people all around me. At the table next to me were two elderly couples enjoying chips and margaritas. They were all smiling and having a good time.
There was a pang in my heart. I took a deep breath, and looked away. That's when it happened, Dante asked me once again, "What's wrong Dad?"

He was doing it again, calling my emotions out, and I needed to respond better this time. I said to both boys that it is often very difficult for me to be out in public. I then started to say that I miss Michael terribly when I see older couples together. I didn't get very far into my response when the wave of grief hit, and tears filled my eyes. I could see that the boys were not prepared for my emotional response. I took a deep breath, turned away, and then reminded myself to breath.

What I really wanted to do was just walk quickly out of there, but I couldn't do that to the boys. I needed to hang in there.

I really hate when this happens. In typical form, I try my best to not get caught off guard.

I'm okay now.

On Guard!


  1. Dante sounds like he has amazing insight for a child.

    I start to panick if this happens to me in public. And have to turn away and breath too.

    I love you Dan

  2. It seems to me that people who are a little sad inside, tend to be the ones who pick up on sadness in others. I've been rather sad inside for years (and now so even more), so I usually notice the signs of sadness in others. Perhaps this is what is happening with Dante.

    It's hard when people call you out. I've had it happen a couple of times in the past few weeks -- both times with old friends I have not seen in person for a few years. They said things that provoked the kind of sadness that makes me feel like my heart is breaking. I know they could not have realized that their questioning would provoke such a strong emotional response. Both times, I managed to hold it together until I was alone. I don't know that these powerful feelings will ever go away. My guess is that they never will. Perhaps that's okay.

  3. Hi Boo and Bev,

    Your both onto to something here. Dante can be quite insightful. The problem is he does recogneize his own sadness in me, but has a difficult time dealing with it once expressed. He can be sweet when I am in this type of space, but runs with avoidance with his own sadness.

    I had to attend a suspension meeting with Dante and his teachers today. He left campus without permission on Friday, and was officially suspended until a meeting this afternoon. When the teachers tried to get to the heart of why he is unwilling to deal with problems as school without running, he ran. He didn't get home until about 7:30pm. I suspect that he is learning that it all catches up with you eventually.

    This is something we all know, but don't always handle well.

    As for me, I am still often surprised with how much sadness is within me.

  4. Do you know if he's having problem expressing his sadness - perhaps feeling too embarrassed to express sadness in public? I think that's what makes many of us turn our faces away, run, retreat to be alone, wear dark sunglasses, or whatever. I know that I feel that pressure not to let down my guard and express sorrow in public. For the first few months after Don died, I avoided situations that might trigger outward expressions of my sadness as I found it too embarrassing and upsetting.

    Unfortunately, our society seems to have this discomfort with sadness, and an expectation that we should put a happy face on everything. The bad thing is that this is totally unrealistic. For young people who are struggling to contain their emotions, I think it can be a pretty tough row to hoe -- this trying to be strong when we don't really feel that way inside. Not so easy for us older folk either.

  5. Yes, that is true. Dante is definitely challenged in this way. Not only is he going through the regular teenage angst, but he also much work through his emotional problems. He is diagnosed as bipolar. Time will tell if this is a correct diagnosis as an adult, but his emotional lability, and cognitive abilities, are clearly compromised. He was just here laying on the couch whining about the consequences for not handling his suspension meeting well at school. He so wants to blame me, or the "fucking teachers" for all his problems. Acutally, I had the "fucking" description aimed at me a few times as well. I know that he is going through an extremely tough time right now, but at the same time, I know that he is growing through a lot of it as well.

  6. but at the same time, I know that he is growing through a lot of it as well.

    This is very true. I often think of how, when we were teenagers, we struggled so much to make sense of ourselves and the world around us. If only we could have known that the difficulties of growing up would soon end (relatively speaking, that is), and the life would look much different a few years further along. But I guess that may be true for widowed people as well.

    Anyhow, sorry to hear that you're both going through a rough spot in the road. Here's hoping that things ease up a bit in the near future.