Tell The Truth
I have been holding something in for a long time; maybe some of you will even be able to relate to this. Lately, it’s been weighing heavily on my mind. Every time someone inquires about my family and how things are going, I feel like I am not able to be 100% truthful. I’ve decided that it was time to come clean with you all, so that you know what my truth is; truth is freeing.
If you have been reading my blog for a while or even if you are a new reader, you’ll know that I openly discuss and face mental health issues and the stigma associated with a mental health crisis head on. This situation is even more personal and in many ways as stigma laden as the subject that I have been writing about for several years now, which is why I have kept it quiet until now.
Ok, here I go….
I am a childless mother.
For the past 6 months, and honestly on and off over the past several years, my children have made the choice to sever their relationship with me.
My older son, who I have shared little about on the blog, has completely shut me out of his life. During this time, he graduated from college, started at a new school to pursue his Bachelors degree and let Christmas come and go without a word. My younger son will respond to a text now and again, and did stop by for a visit Christmas morning but also made it very clear that he does not feel he can have a relationship with me right now.
Whoa! Right? What kind of mother loses their relationship with not one but both of her children? This kind of mother… The kind that loves unconditionally, that refuses to enable unhealthy behavior, that chooses to be a parent over being a friend, and that believes in accountability and facing consequences. These are among the very reasons why my children are choosing not to have a relationship with me right now.
In the case of my older child, I was given an ultimatum; “do this thing that I am demanding (which wasn’t my responsibility or obligation) or you will be dead to me”. This, of course, wasn’t the first time that I was faced with bullying behavior, a learned behavior that is often a “go to” last -ditch effort to get their way. This last time though, I needed to make a choice for me. Knowing that if I were to relent and do as my son demanded, it would only keep the door open for more of the same type of behavior. I left my marriage years ago because I chose not to be bullied any longer (though the bullying continued for years and I relented for years because I thought I was protecting my children – but that is for a future blog post). While my children learned it to be an effective way to get what they wanted, it was no longer going to be the way they would get what they wanted from me. Heartbreak.
My younger son, not surprisingly, cannot forgive me at this point for choosing to seek care for him when he was in the deepest depths of his crisis. He is unable to see that his choices were directly related to the decisions that were made for his treatment. He is unable to forgive me for the “hell” that those choices put him through. To make matters worse, his father made a unilateral decision to pull him out of treatment, against the recommendation of the attending doctors and treatment team which further vilified my attempts to get him the support and treatment that he needed. Heartbreak.
I cannot begin to put into words the depth of pain and grief that I have been feeling and working through over these past several months. There are days where I truly feel like I am mourning a death and at times find myself on my knees at the edge of the pit of hell and not sure how to find my way back.
But, I am healing. It will take me some time to piece my heart back together and while it’s not completely healed, the healing has begun.
I am sharing this now because just as the stigma and shame around mental illness keeps many people quiet, I believe so does the stigma around being a “Childless Parent”. I am sharing because this is my truth and it’s part of my story. I also hope to create a space where parents who are hurting, confused, or angry because of similar circumstances can find a safe, non-judgmental place to feel understood.