Strong CW: Contains discussion of the abuse and neglect of my children, by me. References spankings and not being at home.
Been hiding my scars in broad daylight bars
Behind laugh tracks on TV
If you can’t see the forest for the trees
Just burn it all down, and bring the ashes to me
You hear your mother screaming
You hear your daddy shout
You try to figure it out
You never figure it out
Your mother’s screaming
That you don’t deserve love
If you don’t deserve love
And if I don’t deserve love
Could we deserve?
Come down off your cross
And tell me!
~ Arcade Fire, We Don’t Deserve Love
I don’t wanna write this. My brain keeps reaching out and grabbing the words, stuffing them into little boxes and padlocking them closed. The people who live here with me are whining and weeping, clutching at me with greedy fingers – Don’t leave. The place i’m going is one where they can accompany me (they’re with me always and everywhere), but they won’t. This is a back alley neighbourhood, with only the occasional dusty patch of light. The shadows are full-throated and hungry. My precious Bits N’ Pieces will hover at the entrance and pule for my return.
It’s not like i want to visit this place, it’s that i must. I come here as infrequently as i can. Here i feel wretched and monstrous. Here i can sense my mother around every corner, i can fairly smell her stench in the air. There are rooms here where we live together, and pipe organs play funereal dirges. Everything is coated with oil and dust, like a poorly kept diner’s flat top hood.
I’m waxing poetic because i truly do not want to be in this place.
Oh, my heart.
Oh, my heart.
I’ve written of my children a number of times, careful to respect their privacy and mention them only as it pertains to my journey through mental illness and neuroatypicality (may not be a word – zero fux). Today i’m going to skate along the razor’s edge, and if i slice some off here and there, it’s as it must be.
Because if i don’t, my guilt will pulverise me and the cold depths of my sorrow will suck me down and hold me until i am nothing.
This is one of the things that i write about that seems to make people the most uncomfortable – my many and terrible failures as a parent. It scores right up there with the times i mention that i will never be completely healed or well. I’ve learned to dance around these issues, because i can feel the need of others to believe that it isn’t true. People hold on to these beliefs with respect to me, mostly because they love me, and i appreciate it. I can feel the warm and supportive place it’s coming from, and i decided to accept it and not press the issue. I also tread lightly and rarely because i’m trying to build and foster hope here on this blog, and i know many, if not most, find my stance on these issues counterintuitive.
I’m sorry if you find these beliefs of mine stressful.
Gently i will say that this is life as me, and this is how my brain works.
Your mileage will vary, and this blog has never been to tell you how to save your own life, only to give you some hope that you might be able to, because i am. I’m saving my own life, and these are my thoughts, opinions, and beliefs – this is my path, my road, my mountain, my ocean, my internal universe.
My children are all grown now, and i’m living in the days of the damage i’ve wrought, the price they’ve had to pay, and the consequences to them, to me, and to us.
I remember most of my first son’s early years. When he was somewhere between 6-9mos was the first time i heard 1 of my parts speak loudly, in a voice that was not mine, and seemed to come from outside me. I was changing his diaper when a voice in the kitchen told me something very specific about an abuse committed by my mother. And then there was the time when he was 5 and i slid to the back of my brain and watched as i hurt him. It was awful, and i watched helplessly, unable to stop it, and completely lacking understanding of what was happening. These 2 events might have been what finally opened me up to the possibility of being a multiple.
I remember some of my middle son’s early years. The first 4 were clear: i had a couple of solid friendships where we spent a lot of time together, and the religions (yes, 2) i was practising at the time were working somewhat. The problem with one was that it required a great deal of my time, and i left both boys with sitters too often, and for too long. And although i wasn’t abusive by some standards, the other required physical punishment, i.e. spankings, which i employed with some regularity. I deeply regret both things.
Then i fell in love, got married, and gave birth to my youngest son. To sum up, because i’ve written about this a LOT: falling in love scared the crap outta me, i dissociated, put on a tremendous amount of weight, had weight loss surgery, experienced my first obvious mania and was diagnosed bipolar.
It is one of the saddest truths of my life that i can’t recall much at all of his early years. Although i had abandoned religion entirely and stopped spanking my children, my neglect increased. Both older ones were struggling at school, and i was no support. I let the television babysit my one that was still at home, and eventually i was on some combination of pills and booze every day. As soon as their father came home from work i would leave until all hours.
I was receiving treatment for both multiplicity and bipolar disorder, but it wasn’t helping much. I was in and out of the Bin (of the Looney variety), in and out of detox, treatment facilities, and a handful of p-doc’s offices. My husband and i decided we needed to get out of the big city. My MIL took me in, and her gentle, quiet love helped calm me down for a time.
But the damage had been done.
My oldest son had become increasingly angry and refused to move with us. He emancipated himself and lived with relatives, eventually moving in with his girlfriend and having a child.
My middle boy continued to have big problems at school, and was paraded in front of many school counsellors and p-docs who threw a number of diagnoses at us. He got the worst of me. My oldest got some good stuff on the front end, and my youngest on the back. I was incredibly sick for the majority of my second son’s upbringing.
My youngest did well in school and was zero problem at home, but over a period of time he began manifesting his own serious issues, that have stalled his development into a fully functioning adult.
I have 1 son that wants nothing to do with me, 1 that purposely hurts me, and 1 that cannot currently function in the world on life’s terms. One has serious addiction issues, and 2 have mental illness diagnoses. All 3 are closed doors when it comes to getting to know them. They all have thick walls around them, they all wrestle with rage. They trust few, seldom, and not very much. They’re highly critical of others and hardest of all on themselves. One functions in the world by shutting everything down, one by wearing a mask, and one simply doesn’t.
And this is my responsibility. This is my doing.
Yes, i was abused. Yes, i’m seriously mentally ill.
But whether or not it’s my fault (it is), and whether or not i meant to (i didn’t), doesn’t change the way my parenting affected them.
I’ve communicated to them in every way i can think of, how sorry i am.
I’ve made it abundantly clear that i’m available for anything that they might want to say to me. I’ll show up and pay for every appointment. I will never offer an excuse.
I live every day working on myself, not just for my own benefit, but for theirs.
As none of them have taken me up on my offer of therapy, it is the only amends i can give them.
Trying to force them to tell me off and get angry at me would be for me, not for them. I have to respect how they choose to live their lives and handle their childhood.
I want to fix it, so badly, but i cannot without an invitation, and even then…
One son who has a successful life and happy family without me.
One son whose life is going straight off the rails.
One son who is okay as long as he doesn’t have to interact with the rest of the world.
I’m not good at balance, but i damn sure work at it all the time. I do not know where balance is, here. How much to carry and what to lay down. I know some of it is mine, but not all. I know there comes a time when, regardless of who did what, the responsibility for what comes next lies with the individual. I know what it’s like to be dealt a shitty hand, and i’m beyond convinced, convicted, and contrite that i was their dealer.
I don’t know where the line is, between doing the best i could, and my best not being nearly enough.
I mourn my broken relationships with them, and i mourn the lack of opportunity to make it better in some way. I see my mother’s hand in this, and my daddy’s, and my stepfather’s, but if i only cut them so much slack for their actions, i must also hold myself accountable.
This is treacherous territory.
I will continue to do the work in front of me; to live and learn and try always to be a better human. For me, of course. For my husband, absolutely. For the betterment of the human community, ideally.
For my children, because it is the least of what they’re due from me.
Put your money on me
If you think I’m losing you, you must be crazy
All your money on me
I’m never gonna let you go, even when it’s easy
Put your money on me
Or tuck me into bed, and wake me when I’m dead
I know that you gotta be free
But I’m never gonna let it go
All my presents are broken before they’re open
And the promises, the second they’re spoken
I know I’ve been different
My skin keeps shedding
~ Arcade Fire, Put Your Money On Me
Here’s to a better tomorrow, with hope that i’ll feel a bit less heavy inside.
Love and Peace to All,