Sometimes Words Are Everything

Sometimes, late at night, when it’s dark and quiet and I’m completely alone at last, I think:  maybe I should never have had children.

And my heart clenches and I start to cry and I want to argue with myself that it’s not true, but there is some little, hard, honest place inside of me that knows it.  I am a bundle of psychoses, neuroses, maladaptive coping mechanisms and personality disorders.  I am an addict; a temper tantrum prone, emotionally labile woman with more problems than she has years left to sort through them.

When I look at these children, whom I love more than life, I cannot help but think there might be better out there for them.  If I could somehow remove myself from the equation, they might stand a fighting chance at something like a quiet, happy life.

But I can’t.  In fact, it is only because of them that I am still alive at all.

I am acutely aware of the myriad ways parenting can go wrong.  I might never know if my makeup is the result of years of slights and invalidation or one major event that broke a girl and made her grow into a caricature of a woman.  Or maybe it is a merry mix of biochemistry and environment, a perfect storm of serendipity.  Or it may be that nothing happened at all.  Maybe I was just born broken.

But my children are not broken.

And all too often I find myself saying something that could take just the smallest little chip from their health, their potential.  How many chips does it take to ruin a life?  How much work does it take to put it all back together when it’s already halfway over?

I constantly battle with the voice that tells me I am not good enough.  Not worth anyone’s help or love.  I must be so much better than, just to measure up at all.

I’ve mentioned before my thoughts about God and Jesus, and why that kind of love draws people in.  The love!  Oh.  You should see it.

“I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you, to give you a hope and a future. I will restore to you the years the locust has eaten.  I have loved you with an everlasting love.  I have drawn you with lovingkindness.”

Aren’t these the words we long to hear from our parents?  Maybe not so flowery or poetic, but the idea is there.

“You are good.  You are precious to me.  I love you and nothing you do can ever change that.”

When we don’t receive this from our parents, we might just spend our whole lives searching for it elsewhere.  And those places we look?  Trust me.  They are overwhelmingly not good.

I just discovered that a woman I know writes exceedingly well, and might have some things in common with me.  Some difficult things.  I read a blog entry she recently posted, and I sobbed.  And sobbed.  And every time I have recalled her words since then, I’ve bawled again.

I wanted to be able to tell her why, but I think I’ve just sorted it out.  It’s not the sad things she tells that make me cry.  It’s the very ending, where she shows that somehow, despite everything, she figured out the right words to give to herself, and in the process, to me.

I might not believe them yet, but at least I know which words point towards healing.  Towards belief.

I really want to know how she learned them; how she forgives herself for falling short.  I know we all do.  But some of us mind more than others.  She has found a way to love herself anyway, to believe in her intrinsic worth.

I have yet to learn to handle truth.  I take it and turn it into something dark and skittery; I turn it into a weapon to use upon myself.  I can’t imagine finding that place of strength in me that will allow me to see my weakness and faults as a parent and still believe that I can love my children well and keep them whole.  I do not yet have the courage to see myself clearly.

But when I do, I want to remember these words my friend wrote.  So here they are:

“It’s hard to struggle through your own feelings of inadequacy to muster up the courage to ask someone else, “Am I okay? Am I good enough? Do you think I’m pretty only skin-deep, because I know what’s up inside and I’m pretty good in there? Do you like me? Do I please you? Will you love me? Could you? Just love me?” And I guess that’s what we’re all looking for; an honest answer to that question and also the reason the blanket notion of Jesus’ love is so very appealing. Because, I tell you, it’d take the son of God to love some of those people out there.

But I don’t mean you. Because you are okay. You are so beautiful. I do like you and you are pleasing in every way to me. How couldn’t you be? I love you. I love you. I love you.
And I mean it.
Honest.”
Now excuse me while I go dry off my keyboard.
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5 Responses to “Sometimes Words Are Everything”

  1. I’ve only gotten to know you online, but from what I do know of you I don’t have a doubt in the world that your kids know that they are loved unconditionally. That strong base gives them what they need to brush off the not so nice things that may come along here and there. Keep loving them, keep telling them that you love them, keep taking moments to stop and hug them and hold them and tell them how wonderful they are. Then take a moment to hug yourself, hold yourself and tell yourself how wonderful you are!

  2. hmeyer626 Says:

    You are an amazing mother. Just from the things you tell me about your kids and what is going on with them and how you talk about them…seriously…they are lucky to have you. Are any of us perfect moms? No way. We all have our doubts sometimes. Just keep doing the best you can do at any particular moment and give them lots and lots of hugs and you will be doing a great job. There are many times that I go to bed at night and cry because I think I could have been a much better mom that day and I regret the choices I made, but each morning is new and you get to start all over again. Big hugs to you.

  3. I don’t you very well, yet, but when I see you with your children, I see a real mom who loves her kids. Period. Real moms sometimes do or say some not very nice things, but real moms are also able to apologize, ask for forgiveness and a hug, and let their kids know that they are loved. I messed up big time with our son, but God is so gracious, He took the mistakes, used them for good, and grew our son into the man he is today, a man who loves his mom in spite of her imperfections and failings, and loves the Lord with his whole heart. You’ll never be able to be a perfect mom, no such person has ever existed, but you are a real mom, and through Jesus’ love and strength, the good times will be awesome, and the not-so-good times will be made right in His time.

  4. As Ani D says: if you don’t ask the right questions, every answer seems wrong. The question isn’t whether you should have had kids. You have kids. The question is how to do the best you can for them, with what you have to work with. You love your kids very very much, and that is so much of it. As for the rest, keeping stepping back when you need perspective, and try to sort out what you can change, and what you can’t. Love goes SO far. xoxo

  5. Well, I originally came here through bfmom on twitter to read your PPD posts…but this one caught my eye more. I sufferd through PPD for 3yrs, but I’m still suffering through guilty parenting and re-evaluating myself every single day since my daughter was born. actually i started to examine and remold myself before that, and was doing a fine job, until she came along and what i had built up seem to crumble under PPD’s ravaging effects.

    but i didn’t come here to just talk about me…i came here to comment because you’ve written stuff here that i haven’t wanted to…that i haven’t even admitted to my partner, my life, let alone to others in the bloghood.

    sometimes words ARE everything! for me and it sound like for you, they solidify the good within us, and can bring pain to the surface to be bashed within our own heads or others. the words that have zinged me…that have gone straight to my very thirsty heart, those are the ones that i remember. just like you’re friends words…they are so healing, so needing of being heard, so needing of being accepted and recognized as a truth…

    i’m new to you…but your words ring true to me and my heart…

    peace,
    Lil

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