The piece that didn’t make it

So last month, I auditioned for a spot in the “Listen To Your Mother” production. It is a wonderful production of women sharing stories about motherhood.While watching past years shows on their YouTube channel, I knew that my piece was a long shot. However, when I think of motherhood, my children having to deal with my illness comes to mind. It is really something I wanted to share because I knew that there would be other women who needed to hear my words. I know that there are mothers out their to know they are not alone. As always with my mission is to spread awareness and help diminish stigma. Unfortunately, there was not a place for my words in their Pittsburgh production. So I am going to share them here with you.

*Please note that this was meant to be spoken aloud.*

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The Talk

One Thursday evening while my husband was away, I had a to have a conversation with my children that I, honestly, was not ready for. It was not the typical talk most parents have with their children but I, unfortunately, am not like most parents. And as like most things when you have children, it always happens at the most inconvenient times.

“LET’S GO!!!! WE are going to be late. C’mon. C’mon. C’MON!!!”

“Danny, WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES?!?!?”

“Dylan! Please for the love of Jesus get out of the frig.”

“I am GOING TO BE LATE!!!”

“Where are we going Mom? We going to practice?” quips Daniel.

“Practice? ME!! GO, TOO!!” chimes in my 2-year-old Dylan.

“Yes. Mommy has practice tonight” I replied as I watched their eyes light up with excitement. You see, I play roller derby. When my husband is out of town, the kids come to practice with me. It is probably one of the only thing they like when their Dad leaves town. They love seeing their mom step onto the track and become Jersey TurnSpike. But that is a different story for another day.

“We have to make a stop before we head to practice. Mommy has an appointment.”

“Aw. What’s the matter Mommy? Are you sick? You getting a check-up?” questioned my 4 year-old with growing concern. At this moment, my heart sunk because I didn’t know how to answer them. Because the answer was yes. His mommy was very sick. You see I have a serious and potentially deadly illness. Left untreated, my children may possibly have to grow up without their mother. You see I have Bipolar Disorder. Most common cause of death is suicide.

How. How do you explain something like this to a 4 and 2-year-old? We were in a rush so I said the first thing I could think of.

I said,” Sweetie. We are going to a special doctor. You see sometimes it gets very loud in Mommy’s head. And Mom has a hard time being able to do stuff when it gets too loud. So the doctor is going to help me.”

Danny just stared at me for a minute. You could see he was trying to comprehend. Then with a straight face he replayed,” So the doctor is going to drill a hole on your head and let the loud out.”

“ No! No! I just go to the therapist to help me talk the loud out.”

“Ther-PISS” mimicked Dylan.

“NO. no. Ther-ra- PIST”

“Ther-PISS.” My 2 year old repeated with pride.

*Sighs* “Just get in the car. I am late.”

I know for now my answer is acceptable. On Thursdays, Mom goes to the “Loud Doctor”. However, when that answer becomes not satisfactory enough, I have written this letter.

My sweetest loves Daniel and Dylan,

First, I want you to know that you are both the light in my world. There is nothing in my life I would I change if it meant never having the both of you. I know that sometimes you may be confused about what is going on with me. Somedays it may even feel like you have two different moms is one person. Sometimes I am the Mom that reads stories and plays pretend. The Mom that colors and snuggles on the couch. However, sometimes I am the Mom that can’t get off the couch no matter how much you beg. It is not because I do not want to. God. Do I want to. I just. I just can’t. Then there are the days where I couldn’t get my mind grows so loud I go to sleep at 3am and you are up at 7am. I am short and snappy. And I know deep down you don’t understand what is going on.

You see, my dears, your Mommy is sick. I have something called a mental illness. The chemicals in my head aren’t the way they should be. It is why you see me taking those pills before bed. It is also why I have to go to the “Loud” Doctor. This is what helps bring me balance so I can be the mommy I want to be. Most of all, the mother you need me to be.

Yes, I know one day you will receive looks of pity like those other children with a sick parent but it will not be the same. No. It will not be those poor boys may have to go one day without a mom. How hard it must be to watch their mother fight so hard. No. It will be a look of pity is a different light. Those poor, poor boys. How hard it must be to deal with a selfish mother who can’t get herself together. To think of how they must suffer to have a mother too lazy to get out of bed and care for herself. Sick my ass. She just needs to stop being sad…flighty…irresponsible… unreliable. She needs to get passed this “illness” and put her big girl panties on.  Please don’t get angry. People just don’t understand.  Some still believe this is just make believe and you can just snap out of it. All we can do is help educate and move on.

I know this is all unfair. I know that you did not ask for any of this. I understand. Neither did I. Unfortunately, mental illness is cruel and unfair. The cruelest of all is there is no cure for me. Every day is a fight.  But always remember that seeing your sweet faces is why I keep fighting. Please know this, if I ever give up my fight, it is not your fault. It is not because your love wasn’t enough. It wasn’t because you were not strong enough for me. And most of all, it would not be because I didn’t love you both. I want you to not know the love I was capable of giving until I had each of you. If for any reason, this all comes to an end, it because I grew too tired and weak to keep fighting.

The most important thing I need you to remember is NONE OF THIS is your fault. I love you more than I am capable of putting into the words. And there is nothing wrong with having a mental illness, seeking help for it, or talking about it. There is a good genetic chance either one or both of you will have bipolar disorder. You can blame your crappy genetics. But please, please, never ever blame yourself. You are loved beyond belief even if there are days you may not feel it. Remember, you can always talk to your Dad or I because we really do understand.

 

Love you both,

Mom

 

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#NoMore

The other night during the Super Bowl, I was reading City of Bones while taking a break to watch commercials. I was having a pretty relaxing night until one commercial blindsided me. As I watch the 49 secs of advertisement is was all I could do to hold back the tears. It portrayed a situation that I was all too familiar with. It brought back memories poorly buried deep within my soul.

Once upon a time, I was the girl too afraid to go to the party because of what would happen when I returned home. It has been 6 years since I last saw his face. It has been 6 years since he almost choked me to death. Yet, some days I can still hear his voice in my head. I still don’t talk about it. And still affects my everyday life.

The sad fact of the matter is that everyone knows someone who has been a victim of domestic violence. According to NCADV, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. The signs of abuse are not always obvious. The ad from No More shows a very subtle sign of an abusive relationship.  The sad part is too many people brush these cries for help. Too many people see it as the victims fault.

I was in an abusive relationship for 3 years.  I always played down my abuse and his behavior because I was embarrassed. I thought that I was not the kind of girl who would end up in an abusive relationship. I was smart. Being raised in a home where that behavior wasn’t tolerated.  My brothers were often reminded that this was not how a relationship worked. Yet, there I was. Often in the middle of the night crying in the bathroom alone. Trying hard to not to sob too loudly because it would only wake him up and anger him.

I remember once hiding at my mother’s house when I was sick. I wasn’t allowed to have days off so I had to hide. I didn’t tell my mom why I was there. I kept her and my family in the dark. I didn’t tell my brothers because I was afraid of what they would do to him. I felt like this was my burden to bear. No one else. The times I had cried out for help to my friends, it had fallen on deaf ears. I had tried to leave him many times only to gave some convince me to giving it another try. I mean I downplayed the truth so much that no one believed me.

People answer to these kinds of situation is “If he beats her, Why doesn’t she just leave?” The sad fact is they mentally can’t. Just like my relationship with my ex, it didn’t start out that way. He slowly wore me down to the point where I was convinced no one else would want me. Even though I paid most of the bills, he had me convinced I couldn’t survive financially on my own.  I was too proud to move back home. I was afraid to call the police when he become violent. He favorite thing to do is get in my face until I would push him away. Then he would go after me. He claimed that if I call the cops, he would just tell them it was self-defense. 

There are a multitude of reasons why a women may not leave. According to Domestic Violence Intervention program, leaving a battering partner may be the most dangerous time in that relationship. Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the two weeks after leaving than at any other time during the relationship. And like myself and most women, we just want the violence to end not the relationship. When he wasn’t angry, I loved him. My heart and mind was confused on what to do. When things were good, I was genuinely happy. However, the happiness turned into fear because I was afraid of what would happen if I tried to leave. 

Domestic violence is very real. Many woman are too ashamed to talk about it. They feel like they are alone. Staying in the relationship is better than being alone and seen as a failure. The best thing you can do is support the victim. Remind them that they are truly better than what they have. Offer a safe space. Most of all, believe them. Leaving has to be something she needs to decided. She needs to know that she is not crazy, that is not her fault, and that she can do this. Together we can say “No More”.

Mom said there would be days like this

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There I was, like every mother before me, crumpled on the bathroom floor, sobbing as my children pounded on the door. The scales had finally tipped and I could not fight the tears any longer. Repeating to myself over and over about how I can’t do this anymore. Resisting the urge to get my car and drive until the gas in my car runs out. Somehow I found comfort knowing that every mother has been there before. If you have not yet been to this point, no worries one day you will be.

I see it almost as a rite of passage. There comes a point when you realize that you truly are only human. Modern society has created this image that mothers are immortal goddesses of never ending strength and patience. Well. I mean they have some of it right. They seem to forget the part where we too are only human. We grow cranky and irritable. We have limits. Having a child is not the equivalent of eating ambrosia, the food of the Gods, though it feels like it.

When you can’t fill these Titan sized shoes, you begin to be filled with doubt. How can someone like me be so inadequate in raising a child? I shouldn’t be tired. I shouldn’t need to eat.  I shouldn’t be angry or cranky or frustrated. I should love my child to the fullest 24/7. And if I have needs and wants it will take away my ability to love my child. These unfortunate lies are why so many women end up just like myself. Sitting on the cold bathroom floor sobbing for help. For relief. For anything.

There is this helpless feeling as if your world is crumbling to pieces. This isn’t how is was supposed to be. You were supposed to be the perfect Pinterest mom. Your children were supposed to wear adorable little outfits while doing their quiet Montessori activities, just like on Instagram. You sit and think back to where you may have gone wrong. What am I doing wrong? Why is my child naked watching Team Umizoomi eating Cheese Doodles? Then you remember is because you needed that moment of piece.

This is not how it was supposed to be. I was not going to be that kind of mom. But let’s be honest, it is all bullshit. The truth is none of us know what we are doing. Every day is just a struggle to get to the next. You love your child to the best of your ability. In the end, it is all that really matters. Even when you have locked yourself in the bathroom because you had enough, you still love your child. Despite having the temporary urge to put them up for adoption. Because you are only human. And humans have bad days.