The Best of You.
Dave Grohl is a genius.
He sings my heart, and his voice is one of my favorite sounds. (Especially when he screams.) I have several beloved Foo Fighters songs, but one that has always made me cry is “Best of You.”
The first time I heard it, I really only paid attention to the chorus, which asks, “Is someone getting the best of you?”
I thought it was a profound, beautiful question, and I assumed that it was asking if you were giving your whole self, your “best,” to someone you loved. When I hear it, I always think of my husband. I ask myself if he’s getting the best parts of me, if he’s bringing those best qualities out of me, so hearing that question sung always brings tears of mingled conviction and love. It makes me stop and examine myself. It makes me want to be a better person, to love him the best I can.
May is both National Foster Care Month and when Mother’s Day occurs, so this question has weighed heavy on my heart: Is someone getting the best of you?
I’ve got another confession to make: Having a young foster daughter has been trying. She is constantly redefining love for me in confusing and frustrating ways, and lately, I haven’t been able to give her the “best of me.” I haven’t always wanted to, to be honest. Things have been exhausting and hard, and I have found myself wondering if I am emotionally strong enough to do foster care anymore. At times, she is downright cruel to me. At times, I am downright cruel back. (We both have hearts to protect, after all.) So listening to the song again lately has given it new meaning: “Is someone getting the best of you?”
Yes. Someone is.
She is “getting the best of me,” in the other sense of the phrase. She is gaining an emotional advantage over me, and I find myself scrambling to keep her from doing it, so the cycle of cruelty continues. We exist in a strange tension of suffocating closeness and cool indifference, and we are each trying to one-up the other, to have the upper hand, to hoard our love instead of sharing it. So I am acting like an eight-year-old. I’m engaging in this awful dance on her primitive level, and it’s embarrassing.
I am ashamed of myself.
I want to do better. I want to be the saint I’m often made out to be by virtue of being a foster parent. (I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “You’re a saint” in regards to our fostering. It’s a daunting compliment.) But right now, I am no saint. I am a mess. I am plagued by self-doubt and discouragement.
I’m a human being. So is she. That little girl is torn between two worlds, and her confusion and pain are coming out in ways that frustrate, annoy, provoke, and hurt me. The unspoken question of, “Will we still be this family in six months?” is the proverbial elephant in the room. The closer we grow, the larger that elephant grows. It is a terrible ratio, and it is impossible to ignore.
I’ve been reacting in ways that are not giving my “best to her.”
We’ve reached a level of closeness and comfort that is scaring us both, and there is no deadline, no closure, no assurance that we will still be together in six months, so it is easier for both of us to shut each other out than to invest any more of ourselves into this uncertain relationship. We are tied together yet separately bound.
I’m letting the stress and circumstances get the best of me.
And that’s keeping her from getting the best parts of me.
Tomorrow I’m going to the Mayo Clinic for a brain surgery consult.
It’s not surgery (yet). It’s just the consult. Still, I am scared shitless.
I’m scared because I have been backed into a corner by my own body. I don’t exactly have any other options (other than continuing to have seizures, and those are slowly causing me brain damage). If I want to have any shot at a normal life again, this is pretty much the only thing left for me to do.
I’m just not all that excited about having a part of my brain...killed. Or zapped with a laser. Or scooped out with a spoon or whatever. I’m not exactly sure what they do, but I know that it does involve removal of the part of the brain where there’s seizure activity.
My doctor seems to think that I’m a strong surgical candidate. He’s been suggesting this option for a long time, and I’ve been hesitant to pursue it because...well, would you want part of your brain destroyed?
Any other organ, I’d be totally down.
But my brain? Um...not so much.
Especially since no one seems to be quite sure what the right temporal lobe even does in right-handed people. (They know in left-handed people, but not in right-handed ones.) I’m right-handed, but I'm also slightly ambidextrous (I can only shoot pool left-handed, I favor my left hand when I use a pottery wheel, and I can write fairly well with my left hand, among other things), so the thought of them messing with this particular region really freaks me out. They said I’ll probably lose...something. I mean, of course I would--part of my brain would be gone. But they can’t tell me what I’d lose, and that’s terrifying.
However, living in fear and expectation of seizures freaks me out, too.
I cannot decide which fear is greater.
I am so weary of my identity being wrapped up in this disorder. I can’t go anywhere without someone asking me how things are going. I’m grateful for people’s interest and concern, but the answer is always the same: The seizures are still happening. Nothing has worked to stop them. And having to tell the story over and over sucks.
Being able to drive myself to the grocery store again is a small dream.
Being able to leave my house alone is one, too.
Surgery could make those small dreams possibilities, but I can’t help but wonder: at what cost?