Lately I've been consumed with the seemingly rhetorical questions, "How could you do this to me?" and "What were you thinking?" A~'s response is that he wasn't thinking of me at all. No twinge of guilt, no fleeting anxiety, nothing.
"Then when did you think of me?" I ask. "Right after? The next morning? When you looked down at your ringing cell phone and saw I was calling?" After a moment's contemplation, he admits he doesn't remember thinking of me or the situation until the plane ride home, where he thought of nothing else. "I was in shock," he explains, still absorbing that this had actually happened. He didn't know yet how to handle it, or if he was even going to tell me.
So far, I've been able to accept the facts and grieve accordingly, but to admit to myself that A~ was so completely detached brings me up against a wall. In spite of all good and well-meaning advice to the contrary, what stops me is a sense of shame.
I see now how mother-child our relationship was.
Like a good son, A~ was polite and did his chores (going to work, hugging me, apologizing or offering reassurance of his love when asked). But when there was a chance that something he'd done or said or felt would cause me distress, he evaded my questions. It wasn't my feelings he was concerned about, but whether or not he'd get in trouble.
And like a good mother, I explained and taught and scolded when necessary.
He was so completely terrified of being without me, it wasn't until K~ came along that he even saw it as a possibility. (And he has said as much.)
What's behind this feeling of shame? I ask myself. The response that comes to mind is this: It's a shame, really, that I put up with him as long as I did.