A Story by Jeanmarie Flaherty

I think it was being labeled "neurotic" that did it. Sort if like windows being smashed from the inside and my teeth did a tiny little dance against one another, top molars scraping back molars, controlling and distracting themselves while performing a tiny little rhumba inside my mouth. My tongue sat between them, silent, begging to have her moment but I was hit with the realization that no matter what I said, it would fall upon deaf ears.

People. They only see what they want. When you smile, you're smart, beautiful, funny and loving. Boundaries can feel like rejection, with rejection anger is born and with anger...I became "neurotic".

It's better than boring, at least.

Some people build that road for you, that path to walk away on. Kindness is often mistaken for weakness but I am far from weak and my roads have been lined with willows, weeping the tears that mothers are not allowed. I thank every single one of them for carrying my pain and I am grateful for every moment, every step, every heartbeat.

It's him, that little boy, the one who curls his fingers through my hair when he can't sleep at night and I have trouble keeping my eyes open. He's still here. He's still breathing and I am determined to show him how amazing he is. How strong.

So I will stay neurotic. I will throw my head up high and know who I am, as the willows spoke to me in those moments between sleep and awareness, I will accept who I am, every centimeter of my skin I will love and I will not be stopped or halted with someone else's breath or small words. No one forms me, I am Mother to the boy with half a heart and he has survived.

He has flourished.

He has thrived and he smiles at his mothers neuroticism.

On the fifteenth of this month, August, he will be opened again. They will work on his heart. He will be clinically dead. And I'll wait, I'll pace, I'll grab my tears from the willows that line my path and allow them to trail down my cheeks as time does her thing and forgets to notice the fear that curls up inside my stomach. I'll wait for him to open his eyes, to call for me, to wake up, to thrive again.

And I'll be proud. Of him. Of myself. Of every second that was spent and I'll accept me for who I am so he will never doubt himself. There will be no words that can harm us and no anger that can steer me from where I need to be.

By his side, showing him that sometimes half is what makes us whole.

© 2014 Jeanmarie Flaherty

Author's Note

Jeanmarie Flaherty
Ignore grammar, this phone is itty bitty ;)

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After many years working as a speech therapist in public schools, I can guarantee that there is no such thing as “normal.” Just varying degrees of crazy. Especially in the teachers.

How sad that empathy is considered a form of neurosis. Considering your situation, you have a right to “feel.” Don't let anyone take that away from you. Go out into the parking lot and scream your joy and outrage to the world. You've earned that right.

Posted 7 Years Ago

moving, intense and tender. I love the way you expressed your feelings. I love your strength. my heart goes out to the little guy.

Posted 8 Years Ago

Only a mother knows such things. Being a man, I haven't a clue. We guys are not too sharp, or at least, many of us aren't. But my wife feels these things, and I've watched her cry over them. Her anguish was far greater than anything I can imagine. She lost a son. He was only 13. This writing brought all those things back, and I remember now how much she hurt.
There's something special about a mother's love, and I don't think it's neurotic.

Posted 8 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Jeanmarie Flaherty

8 Years Ago

Your comment made me tear up. Thank you. Give that wife of yours a hug from me, remind her how stron.. read more
Under the circumstances, I would say that neuroticism is less a diagnosis and more an emotional survival strategy. Yes, pace hallways, tear at your hair, go wild if you have to. There is no right or wrong way to handle fear that a child will be lost; to sit with partial relief at partial triumphs. The power of your words in this give us a vision to the strength of the mother behind the pen. Thank you for sharing.

Posted 8 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Beautifully eyes watered...I felt the unconditional Love that you have for your son...such an endearing read...I pray everything will be as you beautifully stated.


Posted 8 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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6 Reviews
Shelved in 1 Library
Added on August 6, 2014
Last Updated on August 6, 2014


Jeanmarie Flaherty
Jeanmarie Flaherty

The Gulf, FL

I am reality, I am art, I am every dream I've ever had and the corners of my childrens lips when they smile. I am tears and laughter, I am shoulders and knees, I am a writer, a photographer, a mother... more..