Watching my daughter struggle through high school was like watching a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis, only to see that its wings were torn. I didn’t know how she would survive. I didn’t know how to help. Only, I knew I had to help, because not even broken things are trash 100% of the time.
I recognize that a lot of Amy’s pain was because of my own choices. I thought her father would treat me (and her) better—he didn’t. We fought constantly. I knew he wasn’t a good man. But I kept telling myself, he had rights like me, that Amy needed a dad, that it wasn’t so bad.
From the time she was little, Amy gravitated to music. She’d listen to my old LP records in the basement. She couldn’t have friends over because of her dad. But Brahms and Bach and Beethoven, those were her buddies. She worked babysitting to buy a used clarinet. Then a saxophone. Then an oboe. She even wrote music by hand. She got into honors bands.
But her father saw it all as noise. He hated when she practiced. He hated it when I encouraged her, complaining about all the money she was spending on music and reeds (even though she paid for it all herself). Rip, rip rip. And to make things worse, the kids teased her, not just for the music, but because she beat them in everything. Teachers complimented her, but they never made any suggestions for her, never pointed out opportunities she could take. Rip, rip, rip. And in our rural town, there was nothing for her to do except get more and more isolated.
I knew Amy’s dream was to be a performer. But instead of her preparing for auditions, she put all her energy into math. It was her worst subject, although she got great grades, and she’d get so frustrated she’d throw her books across the room. I tried to talk to her about it. Performers didn’t get jobs, she said. But scientists, engineers, computer people—they did. At least there she could make some money and “get out of Dodge”. And I knew she was right, in a way. So I didn’t say anything, even as formula after formula tore more pieces of her away. Rip, rip, rip.
When Amy came back from college for Christmas break, I was almost afraid to hug her, she was so bone thin. How could she have lost that much weight in just a few months? She wouldn’t talk about her classes, except to say they were fine.
When her father passed away in an accident, I was heartbroken. And it wasn’t like Amy was happy. But she seemed distracted, and I didn’t know why. She lost more weight. And finally, I said she should talk to somebody, anybody. She cried.
“Mom,” she said, “All this time, I’ve been running away from myself because I wanted to get away from him. Now that he’s not here I don’t know what to do.”
Amy knew her purpose. She was (is) here on this Earth to make beautiful sounds come out of silence. But she denied that purpose. She thought the only way out was to mold herself out of what she is and into something other people wanted. I made the mistake of not seeing that not understanding it. But now I have new eyes. I fight for her every day. And it hurts that I didn’t before. But we’re finding the way together. She’s getting counseling. She’s doing Destiny Code. She smiles more. And yes, she’s switched, majors. She’s proof you can get your wings back. Sometimes, you just need somebody to show you the way.
New York, NY