This I Believe

Jean - Edina, Minnesota
Entered on April 28, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

Some Channels Just Can’t Be Changed

Before moving in with my father a few years ago, I was a mother. At least, I was my mother’s replacement. She has been chronically ill my entire life; I’ve cared for her more than she has for me. And at a very young age I had accepted that as normal. I truly believed that if I worked hard enough, gave her everything my little fingers could muster, my valiant soul could save her from the pain. But one day this belief that I could fix everything exploded within the depths of my soul. Something happened that forced me to realize that watching your mother inhale 40 pills a day while picking up her snotty Kleneexs wasn’t normal at all.

I remember sitting in the kitchen watching my sister play with a ball, looking carefree and completely oblivious. But that memory never stays with me too long because it is always shattered by what happens next. My mind always ends up in the same place: looking directly into the eyes of my mother who just walked into the kitchen. She wore only a T-shirt. Tragic weakness apparent; her eyes only existing as a gateway to emptiness. I shivered with fear as my mother stood broken before me. Her appearance shocked me to the bone, but what she asked of me severed my soul. “Can you pull my pants up?” That one question did more to me than words ever had before; it forced me to see that she was beyond repair, that I couldn’t fix her. I would never be able to change her into the woman I needed. But this tragic discovery also helped me to develop the philosophy I live by every day: you can’t fix people, you can’t change them into what you need them to be. I learned that I have no more control over other’s actions or life long afflictions than I do over the elements. You only have power over what kind of person you want the world to see. People are who they are and no one can change that but them. I know now that you just have to let people change their own channels, even if it hurts. This I believe.