The innards and guts spilled over like a cluster of tubeworms. They were shiny from fresh-death yet alive with the color of lobster bisque. The raccoon was on its side, face smashed, teeth revealed. I turned my wheel slightly to the right to avoid rubbing the remains like paint on the concrete with my tires. My mouth watered with revolt as my stomach rebelled against the gore. The idea of colliding with a force hard enough to push intestines through bones and fur was just too much.
It struck me as odd to see another luckless raccoon after I’d just seen an injured one on my street the week before. Raccoons don’t seem nearly as common to me as squirrels, or even possum. It had been a virus-dreary day, just yucky, when I noticed the critter staggering around in the street in front of my house. Its little claws were scratching at a utility post, and then it turned its attention to the hubcap of a parked car. It climbed on top of my recycling bin, fingering the empty beer cans and wine bottles with a drunken look on its face. It didn’t notice the joggers passing by, or the families with kids on bikes and infants in strollers.
I didn’t see any obvious wound, but the animal was definitely either sick, or suffering from a head trauma. Its fur was flat and matted, and dull like dead skin, I assumed the creature smelled awful just by the way it looked. I held my nose without touching it (an art I’ve mastered) even though I was standing on a second story porch about twelve feet away.
At one point it sat up on its hind legs in the middle of the road and started clawing at the air. The kids were watching and laughing from the deck with me. They could hear the panic in my voice. “Stop laughing! There is something wrong with him.”
My son said, “Aw, mommy, what’s the matter with him? Should I take him some water?”
“ No, neither one of you is allowed to go outside. I’m not sure what’s wrong with him buddy. He’s not suppose to be out this time of day, nor is he usually found of people seeing him, something isn’t right.”
My daughter said, “Mommy, go get him.”
“I can’t baby, he’s a wild animal, and he’s sick. I’ll call wildlife rescue.”
She said, “But he’s so cute.” “He is cute but he needs help.”
I went inside and called animal control. The kids followed, listening in on my conversation. They buzzed and flitted around me, paced the length of my desk, alternating opening the snack cabinet. I hung up the phone, “The city worker said they’re on the way to pick up the Raccoon.” Miles asked, “Are they going to take him to the Chattahoochee River Animal Preserve? I lied, “Maybe.” I knew they weren’t taking the exposed bandit anywhere but the incinerator.
Thirty minutes later we had to leave the house. The sky darkened and began to melt. I ushered the kids into the car as we watched for our injured friend in disguise. We backed out of the driveway, and drove halfway down the road in silence. As we approached the first intersection, we saw the little guy sitting on the corner, eyes waiting for death to approach. The kids shouted and pointed out the window, “Look! There he is, Mommy, there he is.” I said, “I know, I see him.” The rain was pounding on his head so hard that it was parting his fur. His little skull dropped in retaliation.
I had to turn away. He was on the brink and in his last few moments the weather was just fucking him even harder.
The idea of the masks I choose to wear resonated with me when I swerved to miss the dead Raccoon in the road.
I knew parts of me had to die, and I was forced to morn them just like the Raccoon had to accept his impending death, It was time for me to say goodbye to a few of my disguises.
“I’m making a fearless and searching inventory of myself.” (Step 4 of 12. AA)
Can you imagine what it’s like to make a list of all the people you resent and then to figure out your part in the resentment? It sucks, I tell you. There’s no fun in letting go of my ego long enough to admit my wrong doings, but nonetheless, it’s freeing.
I’ve discovered for the most part, the things about people in my life that upset me the most are the ideals I’ve placed on them. I’m saying their inability to meet MY expectations (something I’ve put on them) is what hurts me, not them. I allow other people to cause me discomfort by my reactions to them, therefore I’m to blame.
For example, my children bring out a lot of resentment. I hate admitting that about myself, but it’s who I am at the center of my being. That doesn’t for one second mean that I don’t love them with all I have to give.
Why do I resent them? I thought having kids would turn the sour, into sweet, but it didn’t. Having children just added more of the variety, added pain in the ass, and more to love, additional work, and a richer life, more drippy noses to wipe and bouncy cheeks to kiss. Kids give it all and them some.
I don’t really resent them- I dislike some of the realities of parenthood. Being a mother, even a part-time mom is draining, demanding, anxiety causing, serious business. They’re the biggest responsibility in my life and I’m scared that I’m going to fuck them up. (That’s pretty stressful, and egotistical on my part.)
When I think I’m going to fail them is when they anger me the most, and even then I’m not really upset with them, I’m mad at me. If I didn’t love them it would be easier for me not to try so hard. But, I do try hard, sometimes so much so that I loathe my efforts.
Good lord, if I could ever find the balance in parenting, and the way to parent without guilt I’d be awarded the Humanitarian Of The Year award. Can you imagine how well my children would grow up without being parented from a place of guilt? What if I just came out with my shit and acted on behalf of faith as opposed to fear? But, it’s hard to let go.
I saw myself in the innards of the road kill. I held on so tight to the idea of making my children feel my love that it was starting to kill the real love. Real love doesn’t thrive in guilt. I needed to open my flesh and examine my motivations.
Admitting to myself that I was trying too hard and hating it because I was afraid of not showing enough love, and possibly losing their love, was devastating. It made me feel disgusted with myself, but now I know better. I’m determined to love them in the most authentic way possible; even if my love doesn’t add up to what my head thinks it should be.
The truth of my love isn’t disguised as a bandit. It’s open and revealing, honest beyond my limitations.