When Loving Means Leaving

Because mental illness is so taboo, because I’ve always been in such awe of those who share their truths, because I know so many people suffer from the stigma of mental illness in silence, because it’s taken me 35 years to have the courage to talk about my mothers struggle, because a book I read last week, and because we constantly “share” all the good things as they happen in the moment and rarely talk about all the hard things…. because I know there are other caretakers and people who love someone who is suffering. Because of it all…..

Sometimes you need to tell someone something they will never get to really hear or understand…I think it can be energetically beyond powerful to share it with the world, and as scary as this is…here it goes….

mom2

Mom,

I hope someday you come to understand how desperately I’ve longed for you my entire existence. How many times in one lifetime I’ve sobbed myself to sleep in the days weeks or months you’ve been so consumed by anger or paranoia or depression that you can not separate the love, caring, and protection I try to give you from your delusional belief systems that everyone is out to get you and that you are unlovable. You made me your enemy for loving you. You pushed, and pushed, and pushed me to leave to see if I had the capacity to stay because let’s be honest; in your experience, no one really stays.

There have been moments… flashes where you can actually process how much we are all fighting for you to get better and in those moments we hold onto the tiniest amounts of time that you (not your illness) are back again and understand that yes, we do love you and we only want what’s best for you. But it’s only a matter of time before your delusions of control and mistrust that keep you from ever really letting go and getting the kind of help and love you so desperately need reemerge to take you away again. 

You call my father evil, twisted, and narcissistic, and I’m a little bitch for being just like him. Little bitch has been your name for me since I was six years old whenever you’re in one of those “angry zones”. You also tell me that everyone will come to find out about me and who I really am inside and leave me. That I will have my own children taken from me. That no man will ever stay, and I am destined to end up completely alone. All men leave and I am a manipulative little snake whom everyone will also leave one day. This message started when I was too young to even understand what it meant, and this morning it reared it’s ugly head again when I tried again to set a boundary with your illness.

This, after sitting in the pharmacy for an hour last night, after forcing myself to come pick you up from the hospital once again as the anxiety raged through my pregnant body as I kept telling myself “you’ve got this.” This morning after you stared directly into my eyes last night and told me “what comes around goes around and you’ll get yours.”

Even at 35 with my husband only five minutes away and two babies in my belly, I am still completely terrified in these moments.

It would be so much easier if I could just hate you. I wish I could just stop loving you and believe that you are just some insane angry horrible person who I should just cut out of my life.

momBut you are not a horrible person. You too were just a little girl when really awful and dark things started happening to you. You were barely 16 years old when your own mother took her own life with a shot to the head. Your life is one horrible tragedy too sad to even speak out loud most of the time.

It’s because I know your darkest secrets that I know you are kicking and screaming and pushing me to leave you because all you have ever known since you were a tiny little baby is that everything you love you lose, and no one is to be counted on to stay.

Once you became an adult you learned that men can make promises and not keep them. And now you truly believe somewhere in the most hidden places in your heart that your illness is so horrific and unmanageable that even your own children don’t visit the hospital and fall apart under the burden of it all because you are a monster that everyone will run from.

You hurt people… the ones you love the most. And the guilt is so heavy and so intense that you often check out of this world completely. And in those moments I am going to marry Prince Henry and your son is Jesus. I’ve grown to find so much relief in those moments that you are “someplace else” in your mind. Because you are free.

And I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve wanted to be the one to undo that story for you….

How hard I’ve fought to find forgiveness every time you reemerge from the hospital ward after being pricked and prodded into submission and the anger has left you this pathetic and pitiful lost soul just begging for forgiveness and reassurance that yes, I am still here.

And I want to hold you and reassure you that I will never leave you alone.

So I have tried with everything I have to be able to be there at that moment saying yes, I am here and I still love you. I hold my breath and feel the sweat pour down my sides and struggle to catch my breath as I try and push down the anger and resentment that wants to just have permission to yell and scream at you. I want to look at you and tell you to go F yourself.

My subconscious wants so desperately to hold you accountable. I don’t understand how you don’t even remember the words you used, the way it hurt, how long it’s taken me to get to a place to let you go since you disappeared in that white padded world for weeks and months and sometimes years. I want to look you in the eyes and have you understand for five minutes what it has been like for me while you were gone. How much you broke me before you left and how terrified I am of letting you anywhere near my heart or my life or my children again. I want to sob and tell you how exhausted I am of being on this rollercoaster and having my emotions yanked around like a damned yo-yo as I’ve tried to save you while also saving myself.

And sometimes in that moment, you call me sweetheart. You tell me how proud of me you are. How I am so talented and magical and powerful and capable of so many things. And that you love me. And as crazy as it is, I know you love me. Quite possibly more than you love anything.

And because I have longed so desperately to hear those words; and because I worried about you from the time I was born; and because I have compassion and empathy beyond what I wish I had the capacity for… I look you in the eyes once again put you before me.

I think to myself, “you need me more than I need to be free of all of this.” I tell myself once again that this warmth and love and kindness is who you really are inside and all the other words and violent rages and scars I have to show for it all are really just your diseases and that I have to do whatever it takes from leaving you all alone in this world. No one should have to live a life feeling as alone as you have.

The truth is I’ve wrestled with fears my entire adult life that somehow I too could snap and end up just like you…..what you promised would happen to me. That somehow I am going to become “someone who once people really knew…they would leave.” That I could to become  “too much “ for everyone and that everyone would need to leave to me survive themselves. I mean if it could happen to you, and to my grandmother (and I was created in your body) than of course it would probably happen to me – I too would end up totally and utterly alone. Left to have my teeth rot out in the psych ward while my daughter is away on her honeymoon because no one really gives two shits about any level of humanity in those places. You were a walking and living example of all of my worst fears of what I do not want my life to become.

And so I chained myself to you.

Over and over and over again I have chained myself to you.

I have lived my entire existence with this epic tragedy playing out in the background of my day-to day life. I have left business meetings to navigate your suicide attempts. I have sat in guardianship meetings, and lawyer’s offices and screamed and fought for your rights. I have blocked your number and power called your phone and decided to leave you then come back one thousand times. There have been months where I wished you would just die so that you could find some peace. There have been months that I renewed my hope that I could fix it, and that I am strong enough to be able to get you the right kind of facilities and doctors, and yoga and vitamins to bring “you” back to me. I have loved you and missed you and hated you and needed you and wanted to never see you again. But I have never been able to get you to really understand that all of it, even in the six million versions of what it looks like; the leaving and the closing down and the pushing and the screaming at you; all of it was because I loved you and wanted so much more for you. All I ever wanted was for you to find some place of peace.

And I suppose that is the real devastation of arriving at the decision this morning that I cannot keep living like this… and that it is the time in my life to free myself of these chains. That I didn’t have what it took to stay, but not because I was too weak, but simply because I am incapable of loving you less.

It’s been a long painful journey for me, but the recognition that no matter what I do in this lifetime, no matter how deeply I long for you, how long I stay, or how many times I come back. No matter how much I tell you, or fight you, or show up or shut down…. you will never really believe or know that I really do love you, and thus it is a futile fight that I can no longer fight.

As I feel four little legs kick and push from inside of me, I know in a way that I never have that I have to choose me. I have no power to go back and undo what has been done to you in the past to make you unable to feel my love, I can only change how I move forward.

I am also choosing happy. I am choosing to shut down the fear. I am saying no to the whispers in my head that say your fate and the fate of your mother (my grandmother) is coming for me. Today I will not let myself question if I am like you anymore.

I am not you.

I don’t hurt the people I love, and I believe that life can be good and people can stay. I forgive you for not being able to stop from hurting me, and I am letting go of you believing all of this can be true while still fully loving you. You don’t have to believe me. For once I know my truth.

I am free.

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