I have been working on a post for the other blog for a few days. It is on Self Love, and it is WAY too long. This means I am working through new ideas and having new insights as I write. And that self love was and evidently still is a growing edge for me. Sigh. It’s always good to step away from a piece of writing that’s not flowing, don’t you think? So I thought I would take a break to check in with everyone here and say “Hi.”
And “Happy Memorial Weekend Sunday.” It’s very laid back at our house. Classical music all day, fabulous grill tonight of a selection of fine veggies. Very tasty!
Here’s the thing with me today. This writing I’ve been doing for the other blog about those many depressed years has been a tough process. Trying to look back with objective eyes, hoping to lend someone else an insight, sometimes I get additional insight myself. Sometimes I get triggered and have to stop.
I have not revisited the times I write about for years, in depth. I am pleased to see that I have new and healthier perspectives. But some of it involves facing hard truth.
The hardest part has been facing the ways in which I failed my children when I was so depressed. I had never been willing to understand before why they went to live with their dad and stepmother and why they keep such strong boundaries where I am concerned even today. They wouldn’t even talk to me for long years. Now I hear from them occasionally, and I see them once a year or so, and that’s an improvement. I have fantasies sometimes they will be surprised to find out at my funeral that many people love and respect me and I am not the loser they think I am. That’s just a hook my depression sometimes uses to pull me down. But I can understand that our relationships also don’t ring any “happy” bells when they think of spending time with me.
I was so overwhelmed in that darkness I thought I had hidden so well, that I just didn’t bring much joy to them. I didn’t experience joy, so how could I bring it to them?
I didn’t play, I didn’t laugh, probably didn’t respond to their subtle requests for support or encouragement in the way happier moms do. Oh, I went to Little League games, we had dinner together at the kitchen table, I made sure they did homework, we even cuddled and listened to music together before bedtime, but part of me wasn’t there for them to connect to and I didn’t fully realize it until now.
I gave myself the excuse that being a single mom was hard. And it is, under the best of circumstances.
And I told myself that I had to work, so I couldn’t be there when they got home from school. And that’s true too. But it’s also true that I was often lost in a sad and gloomy world they couldn’t share, very busy fighting dementors I couldn’t tame, who were sucking at my soul. I just learned recently that J.K. Rowling’s dementors actually were meant to represent her depression, as she experienced it.
I know I was easily frustrated, short-tempered and overly rigid. I think I didn’t respond warmly to the details of their lives like a happy mom, “oh, you made a picture, wonderful, let’s put it on the fridge – great job, proud of you.” “You got an A, hallelujah, let’s go get a pizza.” It was especially so with my oldest boy; I didn’t know how to talk to him and he didn’t have a mom to confide in. And my younger boy tried too hard to make me be OK, and it’s hard for him to forgive me today. I didn’t know I was ill. I just knew I had a hard time coping, that I felt overwhelmed. That just reinforced the notion that I was flawed and inadequate, gave the dementors added power. I didn’t think that there was anything that could actually help me. I was in therapy and it didn’t help. I just toughed it out.
Truthfully, I was always jealous of their stepmom because they are so much closer to her than to me. I felt really left out – my boys had a big family, withlots of celebrations and outings and fun – I wasn’t in it. She’s very gregarious and outgoing and I am shy and an introvert. But the grim truth is, I was so lost in that enervating fog, so tired all the time, that as hard as I tried and as much as I loved them, I failed them. Their dad and their stepmom provided a good home and she and I have worked through many of our issues to become friends, definitely family and more like sisters. The boys had lots of extended family there, since none of her parents’ kids ever had kids – my two were their only grandchildren and they were very close. So they had aunts and uncles and grandparents, lots of family, lots of laughter and lots of love and I am grateful they have been loved so dearly. Sigh. This is hard stuff. All the traditions of their lives have been built without me, and now I am 73 and although I get included in their lives – it’s an afterthought. I wanted to be that parent that shared all those holidays and laughter and traditions and events with them. My youngest told me when he was a teen that my home just wasn’t home to him any more OUCH.
Couldn’t change it, tried for years. And cried for years. It isn’t how I want it, it brings me pain if I let myself dwell on it, but it is one of the losses depression brought me and I just have to accept it. I hurt them, I didn’t want to, and I am so sorry. I wish I had known then what I know now. And, I can’t change the past.
Meanwhile I did later raise two other boys, my grandson and my stepson, and they had a very different experience with me – after the hospital and on my meds – and we are part of each other’s lives as they are in their twenties.
I should find out soon whether or not I have become a grandmother again, and that’s pretty exciting. My oldest son and his wife are in their 40’s now and are trying to adopt a baby. So I am hoping for the phone to ring. The new mother had my daughter-in-law in the room with her when she gave birth, having said she wanted to relinquish the little girl, but the papers were to be signed today and we haven’t heard anything. They will be fabulous parents. I SO hope they will get to raise that baby. They have had several disappointments. Fingers crossed. No word since Tuesday. I hope I am allowed to bond with the little one, and maybe things will soften. But I have to keep my expectations down.
And actually, I do look a little like the little cartoon. I walk with a cane, but my hair hasn’t turned grey yet. It’s long and brown and I wear it down… and no one thinks I am 72. Maybe I’ll live to be 102, that’d be pretty cool. It’d make up for some of the years I lost to depression.
I guess at 72 maybe it’s time to grow up, but I’ll kick and scream the whole way, LOL. This is hard work, but important, I think.