I hate bipolar disorder. It's not something I can ever make amends with and say anything warm and fuzzy about. It has wreaked havoc in the lives of people I love, which in turn wreaks havoc in my life. I'll admit that a few of the people I have known who have been diagnosed with it were actually fun and awesome to be around. Charming and exuberant. Then there are the others. Others that I have managed to get out of my life for the most part, thank God. And then there is my son. My son. How can a mother say those words and not feel some kind of swell inside of her? I do, even after all of these years of difficulty. When I think about my son, I feel pride and love and affection. Especially lately since he's been having so much trouble, I want to scoop him up and cradle him and rock him back and forth like I did when he was a baby. But there's such a duplicity to the situation. There's the son that I'm in love with, which is the idea of my son, and then there's the reality of my son, which breaks my heart.
Nothing burns my butt more than hearing someone brag about their kids in a way that suggests they had everything to do with the way the kids turned out, as if they are some sort of superior, super parent just because they won the lottery and their kids turned out half way decent. I used to think that way, a million years ago before I had kids. If I was in the grocery store and saw a kid having a tantrum because they couldn't get a candy bar, I'd be swinging my gavel like Judge Judy thinking those parents must have done a horrible job or the kid wouldn't be acting that way. If I saw teenagers acting out, I'd be wondering how they were raised. Then I had Darren.
When he was little, I used to think it was because he was a boy. I had girls and they didn't act that way, it must be because he is too much boy for me to handle. So, every time I got pregnant, I literally prayed for girls. I begged God to have mercy on me and not give me another boy. He answered my prayers and now with a handful of hormonal girls, I'm well aware of the ignorance of my prayers. At this age, boys are much easier to raise for sure. Give them food and video games, tell them to keep it in their pants and you're all set. Easy peasy. Girls? Fuggedaboutit.
You know, I was actually judgmental about other parents (including myself) for years after I had kids. I beat myself up the hardest. I figured that if my son was the one acting so badly, having tantrums, hurting other people, crying all the time, stealing, breaking things, etc then it must be because I failed somewhere as a parent.. One day after his counseling session though, his psychiatrist sent the kids out of the room and held me back to have a talk about my "inappropriate guilt." He said that if I had several children that acted badly, then he would question my parenting skills. But in fact, I had three children that were well- adjusted, well-mannered, friendly and appropriate, and then I had Darren, who was bipolar and unhinged much of the time. And he isn't a pleasant, charming bipolar. When he gets depressed, he is mean and sad and thinks the whole world has dumped on him and deserves to be hurt back. When he is manic, he is mean and destructive and belligerent and rude. Once in a while, there will be little moments when I get a true glimpse of him, and oh how precious those moments are. Because this? This isn't my son. None of this is Darren. This is Darren through the filter of this vile disease. My son, my real son calls or sends a message to say, "Hi mom. Just wanted to say I love you." Those are the moments I live for because they are so fleeting.
He had a few years when he was medicated properly that he was wonderful. But unfortunately, it didn't last because I didn't have the support of my macho, hard-headed ex-husband who was too prideful to think there could be something wrong with his boy. Because of this, when Darren was 15 and I was moving out of the area, Darren asked if he could live with his dad for a while, and I said yes. I also said that I was afraid of allowing it because I was afraid that his dad wouldn't provide any kind of real parenting, but Darren was getting bigger physically and frankly, he can be rather scary when he's in those irrational zones. I thought it would be safer for me and my other kids if he stayed with dad if that's what he wanted. So off he went. I have felt guilty about that decision ever since because everything I was afraid of came true. No supervision, spiraling out of control, he has begun drinking and getting high, which I believe is an attempt to self-medicate because he feels miserable but is too stubborn to acknowledge that it is because he is bipolar and needs medication. I recently found out that he also dropped out of high school half way through his senior year.
Now he's starting to lash out, which he does randomly. If he calls and it goes to voicemail (God forbid you should be in the shower or something), you'll get a message where he is going off on you, cussing and screaming at you. I then call him back and tell him he's not allowed to scream at me or talk to me like that and until he can learn that lesson, I will not be answering the phone. Boundaries are a big deal here, but he doesn't get it. He sees it as rejection. I ask him what he would do if he heard a man talking to me that way and he says he would be pissed. I say, so if I shouldn't let other people talk to me that way, why should I let you talk to me that way? He says because he's my son. Wrong. Especially now that he's 18. He's grown and can't be coddled anymore.
The other night, I signed into facebook and saw that he had begun leaving vile messages on mine and my girls' pages. Mine were somewhat benign as far as Darren's standards go. He called me a retard and a fag and couple of other mildly nasty things. Same with Maddie and Emma. Courtney didn't fare as well with him leaving "ugly bitch" and "S-L-U-T" all over her page and pictures. I deleted the nastiness and sent him a message asking why he did it. He told Courtney because he was bored and because he could. Then he told me that it wasn't even him and that someone else had signed into his account. I wanted to go to bed and couldn't trust that he wouldn't do it all again while we were sleeping, so I deleted him from our pages until we could talk about it more the next day. This didn't sit well with him and he sent messages going off on me, calling me names asking how dare I delete him. Then he launched into the whole "you abandoned me" bit that he likes to pull. Then says that he is disowning me and wishes me a nice life.
I'm exhausted. The thing about being a mother? You're not allowed to get and stay exhausted with one of your kids. You have to keep on coming back to love them. I told him I love him and when he is able to act right, then he is welcome back because he is part of our family, but he needs to realize that he needs to stay sober and get properly medicated for his bipolar. He hasn't responded. I have watched this disease steal so much of his life and now I'm watching it begin to destroy his adult life. I pray for him, I love him, I wish I could save him. But I can't. He's an adult now and I have no option but to sit back and watch it happen.
The latest series being preached at out church is "Jesus is..._________". Jesus is alive, surprising, healer, etc. Fill in the blank. My favorites have always been protector and restorer.
So, we all know the struggles I've been facing with my lupus, chemo, etc. I had failed to take my new chemo for a few weeks now because I was still getting over the old stuff and knowing just how sick I had gotten had scared me enough to procrastinate about the new stuff. When I got my first set of labs drawn after starting the whole process, all of my inflammation tests were cut in HALF! Because of that I was somewhat encouraged, but was still scared. I don't have the luxury of being sick, you know? I don't live a charmed life where I have a husband to take care of me and pay the bills. It's me, myself and I. Which is fine by me, but that means I have to get up and go to work whether I like it or not.
I have FMLA, but the few times I've used it, I've had to listen to B**ch Director give a long, exasperating exhale/sigh into the phone receiver. I mean, come on. Really? Does every person that gets into leadership have to become such stank b**ches (yes, the MEN too!)? Because of this, I go to work even when I'm on death's door. I know every B**ch Director in the world is probably saying, "And that's exactly why we act that way! So you'll be intimidated and not want to call off!" To this I respond... BULLROAR!! Have you ever heard of servant leadership? There are much kinder and gentler ways to get what you want that also won't be so harsh on your karma. But I digress; that's a whole different blog.
So, Saturday's message at church was one of the most emotionally moving ones I have been in for years. Literally. It was very touching and shook my jug in a lot of ways. Not only is the whole "healing" thing close to my heart right now, but our Pastor, who is only a few years older than me, just received a pretty devastating diagnosis within the past several weeks, then a few weeks ago, found out it's even worse than they originally thought. First he was diagnosed with Parkinson's. Now he's also diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy, which is a neurogenic disorder that starts shutting down each of your body systems one by one. The prognosis is 2-9 years maximum after diagnosis. Devastating. I mean, we all could be looking at that kind of life sentence, or even shorter for that matter, but to know that it's all downhill from here and that not only will you be facing the end soon and won't grow old with your wife or see your grandchildren, but you will most likely be becoming severely disabled rather rapidly? Wow. That's a lot to absorb. During this sermon, the pastor said something to the effect that he is actively praying for healing, but even if God chooses not to heal, he will live every day doing the best he can because whether the body is being destroyed or not, it is still the temple of God and he will honor it until God calls him out of it.
Right there. That got me.
At the end of the service we all prayed for the pastor and his health, then as soon as they asked if anyone wanted to come forward for the elders to lay their hands on and pray for them, I bolted to the front. You know how ridiculous I am? As I'm heading to the front of the church for healing from this dreadful disease, all I can think of is that my feet have gotten sweaty inside of my high heels after sitting there all that time and I don't want to slip and fall. My prayers went something like this... "Lord, please heal me of this lupus, I know you can... and please don't let me slip and fall. Not even almost slip and fall. Please let me get to the front and don't let me look stupid in any way, okay? Oh, and please heal my lupus. Help me to get healthy. But please Lord, please, don't let me fall." I know, I know. Now you know how God feels listening to me all the time.
After this service, I felt different. I felt as if something was new. I believe that God is doing His thing. I know it and I feel it. The issue I then faced was, do I take the medicine or not? I don't want to be like the idiots people who don't take blood transfusions when they need them. I mean, maybe that's how God was sending your healing! Like Allison says, don't put God in a box! Don't limit Him to one way of working in your life. So I started praying about it and asking if I should take the pills or not. And I never heard anything back. Yesterday, first my grandma and then my mom each asked if I started taking my pills yet and I confessed that I hadn't. And then today I decided that I would. Those words that the pastor spoke about taking care of my body were kind of haunting me and I believe that God honors obedience. I don't want to not be doing what I'm supposed to be doing just because I'm afraid, or am supposedly waiting for instructions, so I thought about what I tell my kids when they say, "well I didn't know you wanted me to still be doing that because you haven't said anything in a while." I always reply, "But you knew what I had told you to do before, so until you hear something different, you just keep doing what you were told to do." God hasn't told me to do anything different, therefore I will take the pill. He will either tell me to stop, or the doctor will when my lab results come back looking good.
God had to get me through the misery of the first set of meds and to a place where my thoughts and focus could be shifted to a place of seeing taking this medication as an offensive thing in order to take care of this temple and not a defensive thing as in I'm being attacked and it's making me sick. Sometimes you have to believe in the power of just doing it and showing up. Suit up, show up... something's gonna happen. Amen and amen.
unique and unforgettable children...
Courtney, Darren, Madelaine, and Amelia...
you changed my life forever,
all in amazing and different ways.
I am grateful for each and every one of you and
I miss you when you aren't by my side.
I am so proud of you all and am
blessed to be called your mother.
Forever and ever, to the moon and back.