Earlier today a friend of mine e-mailed me at work and invited me to go to the game with him. I thought about it for a minute, then e-mailed him back and told him I probably wouldn't be going. Instead of making a lame excuse, I was just totally honest with him:
"maybe i'll come. but i'll be perfectly honest with you...going to high school events after what i went through with [my son's name] at south is really, really hard for me. that probably sounds dumb, but it's just something i struggle with. so don't be surprised if i don't show up."
After I sent that e-mail, I wondered if what I said would sound crazy to my friend. But I felt some comfort when I remembered a passage from the book Addict in the Family: Stories of Loss, Hope, and Recovery by Beverly Conyers (which I've quoted in my blog before). I happened to have that book with me at work, so I pulled it out of my backpack and re-read the passage I was thinking of:
"Todd scratched his head, causing the silver-brown hair to stand on end. He took a long time getting to his next point, which for him seemed to be the most difficult. 'I listen to our friends talk about what their kids are doing: graduating from college, starting careers, getting married and settling down. Normal stuff, you know? I just change the subject. What did they know that I didn't? Where did I go wrong?'"
Unfortunately, this is something I struggle with almost every day. Seeing "normal," well-adjusted kids around my son's age is hard. Being around their parents? That's even harder. It's why I avoided the graduation parties when my son's class graduated last summer. It's why I have trouble hearing my friends talk about their kids' high school and college activities. And it's why I just don't feel like going to the local high school football games. All those normal kids and normal parents in one place? Man, that would just smother me.
A few hours later, my friend e-mailed me back, and the words in his reply made me realize that he is indeed a good friend:
"That is not dumb at all. I thought of that potential issue when I invited you. I am sure almost everyone would have those same thoughts."
It felt so good to know that somebody else understood how I felt.