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.