Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bad Mothers Make Good Mothers.

I didn’t intend to write such a heavy post so early in my blogdom but because of this my mind was taken back to a time when I felt similar to Mr. Zeller.

I have post-traumatic stress disorder and major depression with disassociative tendencies. That’s psycho-speak for something bad happened to me when I was young and now as an adult it interrupts my life in large ways and I deal with it by disconnecting from reality.

Me, circa 1986

My mom left our family when I was eight or nine. I am the oldest of three kids. My father was a stellar example of what a single parent should be. My jury is still out on whether she was justified in leaving and frankly it doesn’t matter this far after the fact. I attempted to reestablish a relationship with her when I was in my 20s and after three years of that I saw her for what she is and cut off all ties.

There are gory details that I’m leaving out only because I’ve thought about them and written about them and cried about them so often that it feels like old news to me. I’d rather not rehash it all as it doesn’t seem to do much good outside of a professional therapy setting.

My point in this post is that Mr. Zeller’s suicide note covers his feelings about his desire/avoidance of having a family. He makes a remark I resonate with:

"I will never have children, and I wanted to be a father so badly. I think I would have made a good dad. And even if I had fought through the darkness and married and had children all while being unable to feel intimacy, I could have never done that if suicide were a possibility."I understand the idea of raising children while feeling broken inside. For a very long time, I outwardly told people that I didn’t want kids, making it seem like I was too ambitious and exciting to be bogged down with tiny humans. Inwardly, however, I knew I wanted to be a mother but I felt that my own mother had either screwed me up (nurture) or passed on genes that made me screwed up (nature) and that I could never be a good mother.

I spent most of my teenage and young adult years in varying degrees of turmoil with regard to my mental health. I can say that I was suicidal in my darkest hours. I had learned how to deal with my inner emotional pain by cutting or burning the skin on my inner left forearm. Feeling the physical pain and watching it heal over time gave a real-life face to the faceless monsters in my head. This went on from age eleven to well into my 20s.

Original Doodle:  "Bewildering Thoughts" by Christina Boykin

Then in January of 2010 I got pregnant.

Me, 15 weeks pregnant

I’ll save the details of how that happened for another post but suffice it to say that I am now a single mom. When the reality of what I was about to embark on set in for me, I found myself wondering how I would explain what I was doing should my child ever catch me cutting or burning myself.

19 weeks sonogram

I realized that there was no explanation that I could give to a toddler for why his favorite person in the world who he loved so much who gave him everything that he needed that he thought was the most wonderful person could ever hurt herself ON PURPOSE.

I imagined him offering me a Batman bandaid.
I imagined him trying to kiss my boo-boos.
I imagined him saying something about it to the kids at school and realizing from their reaction that his mom wasn’t like their moms thereby making him the "weird kid."

I imagined him trying it himself one day.

I immediately stopped hurting myself that day. I dug in my heels and told the monsters in my head that if they wanted to come out, they would have to find another way to do it.

Over the course of my pregnancy my eyes were opened to what a wonderful and supportive village I have around me. And that village extended its warm and generous arms to my son as well. There was so much love and gratitude and selflessness radiating from my friends and family that I wondered why I was hurting someone they thought of so highly.

Each day my decision to honor myself and my body and respect my son by learning how to cope in a healthy way so as to pass it on to him is cemented by the positivity I see all around me. I’m too busy receiving hugs and phone calls to look around for something to hurt myself with. I’m too busy thinking of ways to help my son grow to try to devise a hiding place for hurting myself.

As a reminder of the tremendous love in my life, I got this tattoo:

It is the shining star of love atop the scarred ladder of hurt. The hurt is still there but love’s big fat butt is sitting on its head. Right where it is supposed to be.


Anonymous said...

Well said and insightful. I'm just sorry for you that it took so long for you to see how much we care. I too have had the same thoughts regarding motherhood, I'm happy to let you blaze the trail on this one (and Brian for fatherhood). <3 Jennifer

Brianne said...

You know of my love and support for you already, but honestly, Christina, I couldn't be prouder of you and of what you've done. I think the scars on your arms are going to prove to your son that mistakes get made but that it's never, ever too late for everything to turn around completely. Your "flaws" on the outside will, I hope, make it easier to accept his flaws on the inside (not that he has any :P) as well.

I never fail to be impressed with you when these things come up.

-Brianne the Great

Christina Boykin said...

@Jennifer: Thanks for your thoughts on this. I've kind of wondered where you stood. :)

@Brianne: Thank you for those nice words! Have you had experiences with outside flaws vs. inside flaws and turning them around? (Don't reveal anything you're not comfortable with. Just curious about people like me.)

Electric Burrito said...

Um, CHYAH. I think anytime we put someone on a pedestal of any kind we're inevitably setting ourselves up for a big emotional boo-boo when we discover that they too are human and fallable and subject to weakness. I had a mother who engaged in some pretty self-destructive tendencies (although I was the cutter, not her, and I'll tell you about the time she found out about it at a later date- it was a Big Fucking Episode), and while I demonized her for them for a long time, I look back at it now and see it for what it is: human weakness, no worse than anything I'm capable of, and nothing to be ashamed of. Trust me when I say that if I'm capable of that kind of revelation, anyone is.

Christina Boykin said...

@ Electric Burrito: I think there are more cutters out there than we think. And I don't just mean the physical kind. In fact, I'd venture to guess that MOST people do it in some way or another, if not ALL people. Except for maybe the Dalai Lama.

Ananda said...

Hey doll. Super proud of you for everything you have overcome. I wanted to say that it is incredibly brave of you to bare all for complete strangers and it sheds epic gallons of light upon your character - most people cringe over the thought of having such brightness on all the dark shadows of their being. We tend to hide away behind the fantasy that we are perfect and infallible. so I applaud your bravery.

I also want to share that up until the point when I had my first childling offspring midget thing.... I was fairly self destructive as well -suffering from addictions and also from severe eating disorders. I cycled through anorexia and bullemia up until the point that I was pregnant with my daughter. Everything changed when I became a host... and I've grown so large and so monumental because of those two lil buggers. I would probably be dead if it weren't for them... they growed me up to be the woman I am today. I Love them with all four chambers of my <3.

and guess what....

I Love you too. xoxo