You know what no one ever talks about…how sometimes you end up living with, and caring for, someone you don’t even like. Your mind probably goes to the place where you think I’m talking about a significant other or a roommate. Or if you’ve been raised in a culture different than my white bread mayonnaise one, you might be living with your mother-in-law or auntie or some other family. No. Not who I’m talking about. You can get away from those folks. It’s expensive and/or painful but there’s usually a mechanism to escape that situation. I’m talking about your kid, your under-the-age-of-majority kid.
Before you roast me, just listen. I didn’t say “I don’t love him.” I do. But the kid I have now isn’t the kid I used to have. Mental illness has moved in and displaced a lot of the personality I used to adore. And meds? I’m all for meds but honestly I think it’s like a 60/40 split with the 60 being the benefit and the 40 being the harm or additional weirdness it causes. When the meds are off, the kid I knew BEFORE disappears and the evil clone that remains is frankly an A-hole. There. I said it. Hate me now. Get it over with. By the way, BEFORE is the life-before-the-big-crash-that-led-to-the-psych-hospital-for-the-first-of-16-times.
Sometimes, during those better moments when I can feel my feelings, I look at my son and hold on to some shred of hope that things might turn around for him and he might have a “normal” life, hell, I might have a “normal” parenting life. If he wasn’t always like this, isn’t there a chance that someday he might be what he once was, BEFORE? Sometimes, to be honest, I count the years until he moves out of the house. BTW, it’s still a LONG FREAKING TIME.
What do you do when the person you were given, or the person that you chose, changes? I get into my pity party and then, and then, occasionally I find some perspective. I am not the only one who lives this. I think about those people who watch their child or their siblings or their significant other suffer a head injury, stroke, neurological event, etc.. One that changes someone they knew into someone they don’t. My path isn’t so different from theirs and yet we go about our days feeling so painfully alone.
How do you continue to love someone who isn’t the person they used to be… who is not the one you chose, not the one you gave birth to, not the one who gave birth to you? They’re a different individual altogether. I’m angry and resentful about this…hell I’m flat out pissed, practically all the time. I just don’t know who I’m angry at. It’s like someone died, but they didn’t. They left someone behind as a placeholder. And I really dislike or resent or I might go as far as to say hate the person that’s the stand in….sometimes. The world sees a somewhat cleaned-up version of the stand in. To them he seems different, more quiet, more reserved, more robotic maybe. In the privacy of our own life, there are times when he’s flat-out verbally abusive.
Don’t get me wrong, back in the BEFORE, he was still a handful. He was still a kid who was a danger to himself and, by accident and clumsiness, a danger to others. But at the end of every night he snuggled down beside me (that’s the only way he could go to sleep) and he would say “I sorry mommy. I do better tomorrow mommy. I love you mommy. “ and my frustration and my anger would melt away and I would humble myself and get in touch with my love for him and vow to try again tomorrow.
Sadly, it’s not the same anymore. Time has changed both of us. Mental illness and probably medication side effects have overshadowed the piece of him that I could connect with. That’s not always the case but it seems to be more often than not. The years of constant frustration, hurt and sadness have hardened me I think. Maybe he’s having some of that too and just can’t express it.
If you’re waiting for the resolve, the place where I find the lesson or the light in this darkness, it’s not happening today. I’m in a serious season of one-foot-in-front-of-the-other, dry shampoo, stretchy pants, drive through chicken strips, 2% phone battery, credit card late fees & grown out roots. What the what UNIVERSE?! Maybe the only redeeming thing about reading my rant is that you might see some of yourself in it. Maybe for a short time today you realize you are not alone. Maybe…you forgive yourself for feeling something other than that warm, comforting, easy love for the stand-in in your own life. Who knows.
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