Saturday, August 13, 2011
An encounter on the train
"You're so inspiring to me. I know what you have to deal with and I see you come in smiling every morning with a positive attitude. That's what gets me up in the morning, if you can do it, so can I."
I'm humbled. I don't think I'm anything special. I'm blessed with my life-with my family. I see people dealing with some serious issues every day-illness, depression, unemployment. I may not know these people but you can see the signs of struggle in some one's resting expression.
I will never forget seeing a woman on the train that had huge circles under her eyes, she was falling asleep on her feet. She was startled awake when she started to lose her grip on the railing and I saw a glimpse of agony in those eyes. Not agony of physical pain, but agony of the mind and heart. An older woman reached out and said, "Whatever it is, it will resolve itself. Trust in God."
In true NY fashion, the woman jerked away and turned her back. Her mask was firmly back in place but regardless, the other woman and I saw it. I said a little pray for her and I think of her often. I wonder if she is happier now and I wonder if anyone on the train ever sees that bleakness in my eyes, catches me in the moment when I doze on the train and have to fully wake up. It takes me a minute before I feel my mask slip back on and I constantly wonder what I look like before it settles in because I have noticed several people do double-takes when they make eye contact in that moment.
My positive attitude is part of my mask, I need it just as much as I need people to believe it. It is a rare day that I cannot ignore the difficulties that I deal with daily.
"Mommy, NOOOOOO! I do it myself!!!!!! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!
Please, please, please. I do it myself!"
It's the begging that shatters me. I watch the transitions rock Bugabuga's world and I try to help her through it but there are days that I'm not enough, my husband's not enough-even Angry Birds can't bring her out of it.
"PLEASE, MOMMY! DADDY, PLEASE! AHAHAHAH! Please, please. I do it myself."
It's not that we don't want her to be independent, we do but some days, we have no idea what she is talking about. We have no idea what set her off so we don't know how to make it better.
It's those days that I cry in the shower and walk in to work with my head down. I know the strangers on the train feel the anguish in me and I wonder if some realize that I am trying to block out the memory of screams by blaring my IPOD at the highest volume. It's not that I want to be inconsiderate-I even bought headphones that angle the sounds into my ear rather than have the sound bleed out-but I cannot deal with that absolute heart-breaking screams that randomly pop into my mind.
"Don't touch me!" I'm jarred out of my deep thoughts and fears about Bugabuga by a random woman looking at me with hatred. In all of the years of travelling on the NYC subway system, I have never had an issue with another passenger.
"Touch me again and I'll hit you."
"What are talking about? The train is crowded, I'm not trying to touch you."
The train jerks forward and the woman's flowing garb touches my bag. The sounds of Bugabuga's screams are still in my mind and I'm so angry that I couldn't figure out where we went wrong. There had to be a reason, but what if there wasn't one, what if she's regressing?
I'm shoved against another person, I turn to apologize to the random stranger and then turn back around to the woman that hates me and it's my turn to release my venom.
"What the FUCK is wrong with you? Touch me again, and I'll take you down."
"You are the devil."
I look in disbelief as she raises her hand to strike me across the face and I decide in that instant to let her see my soul. I look into her eyes with every raging emotion that I have that I need to put into a box before I step out of my bed. I know that there is a frighteningly blank look in my eyes sometimes and I feel it. I see the absolute terror in her eyes as I grab her hand and twist it so hard that she doubled over in pain.
I let go and she moves quickly away from me.
Every day I use the gentlest voice, the softest touch, the most cajoling words I can to have a harmonious house- to avoid the rough transitions that can quickly overwhelm the joy that we have at just existing. There are days that I will get punched in the face, kicked in the ankles, scratched and I just give a hug in return. I pray in every breath for strength and I'm so calm because I'm constantly talking to God.
But on the train, with a stranger, I will not be pushed. I'm not an inspiration. I'm just another person dealing with life. Most days are good and some days I'm the devil.