At this point in my life, my responsibilities center on being a SAHM and maintaining a routine for self-care for my stability due to my psychiatric illness. I do not work outside the home as it has been determined health wise to no longer be an option.
However, do you know what I find to be the biggest roadblock while living my current situation? The messages. The messages that have followed me since childhood are still throwing me off my path. Let me explain.
A consistent message communicated to me by my parents from an early age was that I was lazy. It was often stated that I didn’t have a work ethic or the ability and/or drive to work. I clearly remember my father once stating, “you better hope you don’t have to actually work for a living because you’re lazy.”
Of course, in my stubborn way of thinking, these comments led me to be a person who overworked herself. It was not unusual for me to hold two or three jobs, be involved in several organizations, and overextend myself to prove to someone… anyone… I could do it. I was also sure I could do more and push myself harder if I just tried. I was driven by an intense fear of truly being lazy and in the end, I did myself much more harm than good.
Now, I am unable to work as my disease has progressed. Rationally, I am fully aware of this fact and truly accept it. I am also grateful that I have the opportunity to spend this amazing time with my son. But, those messages… and that fear. It is a tape player on a continual loop that plays the words of my parents at random times in my head. Also, when you have spent your life running to prove something to someone (though, not sure who), it is hard to drop that futile campaign.
The aftermath of this is anxiety and rumination. You feel anxious that the message of laziness may win- and you may actually be lazy. I find myself ruminating on the possibility and hearing my father’s voice. To combat this, I have to talk back in my voice… my adult voice. Sometimes even just telling the message to shut the Hell up. My hope is that by standing up to the messages, I am standing up for myself. I also have to perform reality checks often. I think back to my last months at work and how I was barely able to finish… and how I even had to employ the ADA to keep and finish my job. I know if I met another person in my situation, I would never call them lazy. I would commend them for the self care they were exhibiting by leaving the workforce. So, I fight back and perform reality checks along the way.
But most important, there is a great lesson here. As a parent, myself, I have to learn from my own parent’s actions. Whether it was intended or not, the damaging messages they communicated have carried with me into my late 30s. When I look at my son, I remember that fact. I have a choice… I can impart messages for growth, positivity, and love… or impart messages that will cause him to battle himself along life’s journey. I choose growth, positivity, and love.
I have all the supplies for the big Thanksgiving meal. Today, my boy and I ventured out and rented several DVDs for my little family of three to enjoy over the long weekend. There are decorations- leaves swinging down from the ceiling and festive decorations on the French doors.
But, I feel like I forgot something.
Fifteen years ago this holiday season, I severed my relationship with my parents. It was both the correct and best decision I could have made. Furthermore, now that I have a son, this decision is even more resolute. I wish my parents no ill will or harm, but they are not welcome in my life. Of course, this makes me parentless by choice.
Many ask why when they learn of this aspect of my life. I generally try to be as vague as possible out of respect for them. I will now say that my childhood was abusive in varied ways. I can also say that the dysfunction within my relationship with them was so extreme that they were, in actuality, toxic for me. Even as an adult, I would be pulled back in so easy; feeding into the dysfunction and manipulation. It truly is best for them to have their life, and me to have my life. Parentless by choice is the healthiest choice for me.
But, I cannot deny that you feel a loss through this process. It is not necessarily that you miss that exact parent, but you have to let go of the dream that somehow the parent you deserved was going to emerge. The loss of a dream is difficult. There is a unique grieving process involved. And after you have worked through that grieving process, you can still sometimes feel like you are missing something… or forgot something.
And that is where I am at. I am all prepared to celebrate the day of thanks with my husband, son, sister-in-law, and father-in-law… and that sneaky forgetful feeling nags a bit. But, that is okay, I have my family from scratch. Nothing forgotten.
May we all give thanks this week for the family we have… whether that family is blood, marriage, partnerships, friendships, or any other kinship relation. May we give thanks for those we trust, love, and value.
Wife, mother, activist, writer, blogger, and queen living her life at the DSM diagnostic code 295.7 (Schizoaffective Disorder).
A Writer Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder (Bipolar, Peripartum Onset)
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