“Don’t judge yourself by what others did to you.”
― C. Kennedy, Omorphi
Suffering from a mental illness such as Generalized Anxiety, Depression, PTSD is devastating, to the person with the illness, and to the friends and family who love and support the person in their ups and downs. It also affects the children, sometimes without realizing it (while we are « in it »). Yet, as I became aware of my self, of my life, of my surroundings, I also understood quite well what was going on.
Before my diagnosis, and before I asked for any help, I often walked around with my head in the clouds, ignoring my deepest desires, much (unconsciously at times) hating myself, and allowing others to treat me like I was some bag of trash sitting on the curb waiting to be thrown out. The worst part of all this.. is that I let my children watch! I allowed them to witness their mother degrading herself, while other’s called her names. I let them just sit there, with sad looks on their faces, while being yelled at or criticized for placing the kettle the wrong way. I even let them stand up for me : « Stop yelling at my mother!!! « One of them would scream.
Even worse, I allowed them to be mistreated too, without me stepping in. Oh, I did at times, yet there were moments when I was too tired or scared to say a word. I felt like a coward.
I didn’t protect them.
To think I was a strict mom when it came to watching violent movies and shows. I wouldn’t allow them to watch anything passed Winnie The Pooh for years on end, until their TV virginity was broken by others. At home, I monitored TV violence, hypocritically, because I allowed them to see family violence in more ways than one.
I thought it all behind me now. Surprise surprise!
This morning, right after my teenagers left for school, and bathed myself in my son’s « I love you mom » for a little while, and noticed a Polaroid picture on the floating floor, upside down. I wondered : « where did you come from? » and proceeded to pick it up. Looking at it I tried to place where it was taken. It was a picture of my children, aged maybe 6 and 8, sitting in a bed at a cottage we used to visit.
Then it all came back to me. I started to feel sad, and put it down on the kitchen table. Gibson (my dog) was yapping at me to go outside, so I started the winter ritual of getting ready and warm for our little walk. As I was looking for my gloves, I felt panic rising all the way up to my throat. I took a deep breath and proceeded out the door, heart pounding and feeling utterly unbalanced. « Hope he does his business quick » I thought to myself.
I was having an anxiety attack.
After a whole week of feeling quite good, I walked back in the house with such fury. Shut the door, took off my winter coat, gave my dog his bone, and sat on my bed. Tears were falling down my face, and I was sobbing uncontrollably. I grabbed the picture of my children that I had left on the table and looked at it with a mother’s love.
I touched their little faces : « I am so sorry. I am so very sorry » I cried.
I hugged the picture tight
« I am sorry I didn’t protect you that day, and all the days he shouted and called you names. I am sorry I didn’t step up every time and sit with you after the fact or even take you out of the situation. I am so sorry for not leaving him sooner. I am sorry, for allowing him to get in your faces, while you just shuddered as his voice got terribly loud. I apologize for allowing you to feel that it was your fault »
« I am sorry for not protecting you. »
I apologized to my children 2 years ago when we first moved here. So, I had no clue all this was going to surface today. My children said they forgave me… We hugged and we cried and we put it in the past.
“I have learned, that the person I have to ask for forgiveness from the most is: myself. You must love yourself. You have to forgive yourself, everyday, whenever you remember a shortcoming, a flaw, you have to tell yourself “That’s just fine”. You have to forgive yourself so much, until you don’t even see those things anymore. Because that’s what love is like.”
― C. JoyBell C.
There is a reason why this picture was on the floor today, and it surely was a trigger. What I know for sure is, I need to still heal this past experience of choosing men who mentally abused me and my children for that matter. I need to comfort myself knowing that I will never EVER choose another man who will disrespect me, as I love myself to bitsies now, furthermore, my children, are my life and my joy.
As they grow, my teens will continue move forward as long as I do, and we can heal this together, in love, respect and unity.
I promised myself and them…