Mother knows best
It's three AM and my throat is sore. My eyes are swollen, and I can barely see. Dried vomit is matted to my hair. My surrounding pillows are soaked with tears, and my stomach is killing me. I can feel my throat get warm as the "pins and needles" feeling covers every inch of my body. I am not safe.
The panic attack begins. I run to my bathroom and throw myself to the floor before I start hyperventilating. Clutching my chest, I assume the fetal position to crunch the nauseating butterflies in my stomach. Everything hurts. I want out of my skin.
My mother hears my screaming cries from across the hall and comes to hold me as I cry. Soon, my stomach muscles are in knots from the heaving sobs, and I begin to throw up. My mother holds my hair back and cries with me.
Later, I wake up, still in her arms. We are leaning against the bathroom wall, the sun is peeking through the window. When she realizes I am awake, I ask her, "What’s wrong with me?" And as she caresses my face and stares blankly into my eyes, I realize she can not answer me.
In this moment, it doesn't matter how much we fought the night before. In this moment, she is the most beautiful woman I know, and I need her as much as I need air.
I am just like my mother. I am a stubborn yet caring young woman with a mind of her own. I feel stuck in my home town and want the big city and a higher education. When she was my age she moved to a private school hours away from home, and lately I had been trying to do the same. I wanted out just like she did, and yet she was the only one holding me back from leaving. For this, I hated her. For this, we argued the night before for hours. I screamed at her, calling her a hypocrite, saying she was trying to trap me. I slammed doors in her face, and stomped my feet in anger. She reacted little to my anger, and after I cried myself to sleep, she was still awake; waiting for the panic attack to begin. Waiting to help me.
Unlike most parents, my mother doesn’t elevate herself on a pedestal of perfection as an example to live by. Instead, she teaches me to be an individual of my own persona. We don't see eye to eye on anything superficial, but my heart is identical to hers. Like her, I am not bold enough to share my heart with anyone else. Even though at this stage in my life I am afraid of vulnerability, deep down, like her, I crave intimacy and will do anything to get it. Maybe this is why she is so relentless in her love and care for me, and why I so resist it.
My parents divorced when I was in fifth grade, and my mother immediately became an independent woman. She wasn't prejudice against long hours or manual labor that men usually do. She took a job at Home Depot (her favorite store) and took the night and morning shift. Whether it be day care or a sweet friend willing to watch me in her absence, my mother did what it took to take care of me.
When my father was gone, my mother pursued her dreams as becoming a police officer. She didn’t give up or rely on child support or the government to get by. My mother had given up everything to follow my father around the country for his six-figure salary, and I believe she was ready to finally be her own person.
After the divorce, my mother had to assume the role of both a mother and father because of the long distance relationship my father I maintained. She taught me how to cook and how to change tires, how to dress modestly, and how to install toilets. She told me to be confident and believe that I could overcome anything, even my anxiety disorder.
That night after my panic attack, I slept in her bed just like I did when I was a little girl. That night, we could silently admit that we needed each other.
I have seen her struggle with depression, just as I have, and I used her example of victory to overcome it. Because of her example, I have not had a panic attack since my sophomore year of high school. I have learned to become a responsible, smart, and respectful young lady. We are all victims of imperfection and insecurity, but that doesn’t mean we have to let our imperfections or circumstances define who we are. Just by being her imperfect self, my mother saves my life every day. Although I am horrible at showing it, I do not believe that a more treasured woman exists.