Love is Not a Mistake

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wpid-wp-1413783567264.jpegI have made many mistakes. Many of those mistakes have in return fundamentally changed who I am.

Motherhood started out as a mistake, a responsibility thrust into my young arms that felt too weak to bear the weight. I made so many mistakes but my son was not one of them. He was a gift. A gift I just wasn’t quite ready to receive or fully appreciate. As a result I fumbled around the world of motherhood very lost and distrustful of my instincts. How could I know anything? How could I possibly get anything right?

But I did get one thing right.

Love.

I just forgot sometimes….

Even early on in my pregnancy when my son’s biological father was encouraging me to “get an abortion”, I chose life for my unborn child. I walked out into the world and looked into the eyes of the people around me and wondered why they had any more right to life than my child did?

In that moment I chose love.

I didn’t even recognize it as love until I looked into my son’s eyes and finally met him in the quiet of the hospital room after everyone had gone home. When the nurse came to get him after his feed and I asked her to leave him with me for a while so I could really meet him, fall in love with him, just hold him and smell his beautiful smell. I didn’t want to send him back to the nursery. He was mine and I loved him.

Love didn’t pave our path with bricks of gold or lay pillows on the ground to cushion us when we stumbled and many times we lost the path completely. Loving someone is hard and it is work and it is staying when you want to run and learning from and apologizing for mistakes and most of all its forgiveness when forgiveness seems impossible.

I wear layers upon layers of bruises from all the mistakes I’ve made in the last eighteen years of motherhood. I don’t doubt my son has his own layers of bruising. Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair that my introduction to motherhood and his introduction to the world had to come with such painful lessons. The effects of those lessons still ripple through our lives and we’re trying to find forgiveness in a chaos that seems unyielding to any efforts at finding peace. Even in the good moments anger breaks through and smashes the fragility of the bubble that is encapsulating the laughter and connecting fibers being forged by our moment of happiness. As the bubble disperses it is like our world is exploding and though I try to keep it together as with the thin film of a bubble when it pops, it disappears like it was never there and we find ourselves yet again staring across a painful abyss filled with blame, repercussions, anger and resentments.

Many tell me they would have given up on my son by now, that it’s time for some tough love, “let him learn his lessons the hard way” they say. It feels like he’s learned too many lessons the hard way. Moments where I ignored my instincts, made uneducated choices, gave into pressure to follow society’s ideas and notions, or failed to ask for or find help or apologize when I should have or hold my temper when my depression was raging out of control and the pressures of meeting the outside world’s demands trumped meeting my son’s need for love, like the day I lost my cool because he was struggling to practice French dictation words and I screamed out in frustration and smashed my head into the wall leaving a hole in the drywall. Then there were tears and broken spirits and emotional bruises as we tried to pick up the pieces.

I had no idea what I was doing. What I should have done was let the dictation go and pull him into my arms and hold him and tell him it was okay, the dictation didn’t matter, I loved him and would help him. The pressures of meeting the demands of the teacher, the school system, the expectations of society in general that were labeling him a problem child overwhelmed me. I just wanted to prove them all wrong.

They were wrong. They are wrong. I never had to prove them wrong because there was nothing to prove. Love was more important than all that, but I didn’t understand that then.

I do now.

And I’m sorry.

Sorry doesn’t fix the broken walls or broken spirits. That takes work, a lot of painful, slogging through mud and emotional trenches work, not to mention the willingness to dive head first into the trenches and face the demons of the past, the demons of our emotions and behaviours that created the abyss I find myself staring across into the blue eyes of a soul so broken he hides from me in his video games where he finds an outlet for his pain and anger by blowing things and other characters/people up. His video game world is safer than the real world and it was my mistakes that drove him into that world because I forgot that love is more important than anything, than video games, or toys, or money, or meeting society’s expectations, or getting our way and insisting on showing him who’s in charge and that we can make him do what we want him to do regardless of his own will and desires – an illusion of power at best.

After eighteen years I’m trying to hold the memory of looking into the trusting eyes of the seven and a half pound child laid in my arms by a twist of fate he had no control over, and remember the overwhelming waves of love I felt and my need to hold him close and protect him. If only I had spent more time listening to that instinct like when he had night terrors and I sat next to him singing “Jesus Loves You” over and over, drawing him out of the terror with my soothing voice that had rocked him to sleep so many times.

Now my soul is doing the singing, calling to my son to remember the moments in the chaos where love conquered the fear and anger, to remember the love that holds him and surrounds him no matter what because society is wrong and I was wrong. He is amazing and wonderful and talented. He may not fit into the mold society wants him to but it just means he thinks different, he sees the world around him in a different light and somehow he will make it work for him, despite society trying very hard to stuff him in a box and get him to “get in line”.

It will take time, patience, healing and most of all it will take love. That’s my commitment going forward, I will radiate, enclose him and even smother him in love, until the raw wounds become aching scabs, then itchy scars and with some luck at some point even the scars will fade to a barely visible lightness, and we will find our peace, rebuilt upon a solid foundation of love. The scars may never disappear but some day I want the memories to be faint whispers of by-gone stories instead of festering wounds filling an abyss that separates us.

I’m ready  to let love build us a bridge over the abyss. I am ready to heal. I’m ready to do the hard work. I’m ready to forgive myself and let my mistakes go and I am hoping that my son can eventually forgive me too, and help me build that bridge. Surrender the future to love and we will find our way, the path will meet us where we are and if we stay true to love, it’ll show us the way forward.

To my son: you are the child that made me a mother and I will always love you and that isn’t and never was a mistake.

 

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My Tug-of-War

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WARNING – SUICIDE DISCUSSION
hog-s-back-fallsI fought to live to give my son life.

There were some days on my walks home from my many doctor’s appointments I would cross over Hog’s Back Falls and I’d think about jumping. I’d stare at the rushing water and think of the blissful silence death would bring as I was pulled along and under, filling my lungs with water instead of air, ending it for me and the child I had yet to meet.

I would no longer have to face the pain that tore at my insides 24/7. I wouldn’t have to find out if I was a good or bad parent, or make anymore monumental choices that I felt too young, too immature, too lonely to make. I just wanted to escape, to hide somewhere no one could find me, no one could look at me with disapproving eyes for impossible decisions that I never seemed to get right, really I couldn’t get right even if I’d had a cheat sheet at my disposal.

But jumping would have been the easy choice and I’d have simply been transferring my burden of pain and guilt to my friends and loved ones. I was more worried about their happiness than whether I was strong enough to carry my pain alone. So every time I walked over that bridge and the waters called to me, I held tight to the railing and pulled my eyes away to look at where I was going and face my decisions, my choices, my mistakes, and live whatever life they made for me.

Eighteen years on I’m still fighting every day for my child to live, to find happiness and peace within himself. A combination of genetic codes, bad parenting choices from my lack of experience and lack of knowledge have left my son struggling through a fog of diagnoses, jumping from one social net to the next and hiding inside his video games where he finds an outlet for his intense anger and an escape from a world where he can’t get it right no matter what he does.

Right now I’m caught in an epic tug-of-war. I’m the rope and the divided parties are pulling very hard, so h2972358342_6af6e789f0_oard I sometimes think I will snap in two. On one side I have my son and his long list of needs and his cries for help and a mother’s love unwilling to abandon her child. On the other the voice of “reason” that he needs to learn for himself and I can’t save him if he doesn’t want to be saved, as well as the needs of my other children and my husband and how I’m going to lose the rest of my family if I don’t let the oldest go.

How do you win that game of tug-of-war?

I can’t. My soul and heart are being torn in two. I will lose a part of me no matter which side wins and if the rope snaps, I fear I will lose everything, even myself.

I drive over Hog’s Back Falls a fair bit in my travels now and sometimes I still wonder what that cold solitude where you feel nothing would be like. I wonder what it would be like to not hurt anymore. Not to have to choose between my oldest son and the rest of my family. And I wonder how I fought so hard to save my son and I’s life eighteen years ago to still be fighting that same fight today, sometimes feeling like my oldest resents the fact I gave him life at all.

My son and I are bleeding out slowly and the tourniquets aren’t holding. Something has to give but I’m afraid of what that will look like for all of us.

For now I’m just trying to keep the tug-of-war going long enough to get help, real lasting help that opens everyone’s eyes and makes them realize what’s truly on the line. It is a life or death struggle, and while I can’t speak for my oldest, I want to live, and I want a family where everyone’s needs are met, everyone feels loved and accepted for who they are, and we work together to support, honour and help each other overcome our problems and follow our dreams.

Til then I pray I am strong enough.

How do you heal when your soul aches?

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*********TRIGGER WARNING*************

Discussion of rape.  Contains difficult content.

Footsteps in the Sand.

My sons footsteps in the sand on a beach in New Jersey. The impact of a choice made for me.

*

NOW WHAT?

The white ceiling.

It’s all I remember

of his conception.

*

A joke cracked

as I rolled into a ball

his needs satisfied.

*

Shocked.

I dressed. I left.

What just happened?

*

Sitting on the bus,

In the very back corner

Trying to put together the pieces.

*

Trying not to cry.

I clutch my stomach,

It churns with anger.

*

Anxiety.

I feel sick. Alone.

And lost.

*

And I know,

I simply just know

I am pregnant.

*

Now what?

*****

That was almost exactly eighteen years ago but it’s still incredibly fresh in my mind. It would be Valentine’s Day before I confirmed my gut instincts.  Sitting in the bathroom, shaking and feeling like the world, my world, had shuddered with a violent earthquake and cracked in two, swallowing my future in a single moment of utter chaos.  All because he didn’t want me to say no to having sex.  There were condoms not two feet away.

Was it rape?  I believe it was.  He knew I didn’t want to.  It wasn’t the first time we had had a little fun, previously he would always ask and I would say no.  I always said no.  That night he didn’t ask, he just took, perhaps in his mind he’d been patient enough, perhaps he thought he deserved it or that it was his moment to take.

It wasn’t.

Neither was my future his to rearrange or my dreams his to squash but he did all that and then cracked a joke to break the tension, like somehow that would cleanse him of his wrong doing.

It didn’t.

When I told him that I was pregnant, his response was to encourage me to “get an abortion” because I “was a child having a child”, like somehow making the child disappear would absolve him of his guilt.

I was enough of a woman the night he pleasured himself….

He was leaving either way, that was clear, so I made the decision for myself and I chose to keep the pregnancy and the child growing inside of me.  Either way, no matter what choice I made, my life would never be the same so I had to make the choice I could live with.

I was blamed and shamed as a pregnant teenager.  If I hadn’t been messing around, if I hadn’t had sex so young, if I had waited, if I’d kept my clothes on that night, etc….

He walked away.  No one ever shamed him for not controlling his impulses, for not keeping his clothes on, for messing around, for walking away, etc… He never had to deal with the fall out, or take any responsibility for his moment of self-pleasuring greed.

He’s never even met the child he planted in my womb that night.

I tried desperately to find a way to end this entry on a positive note, but perhaps that will come in another entry.  This entry was about what happened to me that night.  The truth is that moment defined the rest of my life for better or for worse.  Yes, I love my family, and wouldn’t trade them or send them back, and over the last 18 years I have found ways to make peace with elements of what happened but there is no denying this was a pivotal moment in my life and it influenced everything that followed.

There is still anger, a lot of anger.  No one in my circle of friends and family truly knows or understands the depths of my anger and resentment that I carry.  Or the guilt of also resenting my first-born child, and yet he is the most innocent of all.

How do you come to terms with such an emotionally devastating moment in time? How do you forgive? Who do you forgive?  And probably most importantly, how does your soul heal? There will always be a scar, but a scar means you’ve survived. Some days this still feels like a gaping wound, oozing with puss….

But I’m working on it….