Almost a year ago I wrote about my boy wanting to die and “lay in a grave so I can have some peace”. I’ve been asked many times over how he’s doing and where things are at for him these days. Well, today is his 12th Birthday and we’re still here!
Right before Christmas we were driving in the car and had a guest with us. Somehow the topic got around to ‘remember when’, and all of a sudden Mitch blurted out, “Remember Mommy when my sister had to sit on me and hold me down because I was holding a pencil to my neck? And remember all the knives all over the kitchen floor?” He was 9 when that first incident took place. Can you imagine being THAT guest in the vehicle, not knowing any of the history? Yah, me neither! Navigating the conversation utilized some tricky skill so as not to downplay it with my boy listening, but also to take a moment to honour how far we’ve come. Being calm, cool and collected in that particular moment was dicey for this mama!
It has been an emotional journey to say the least, but for anyone needing a ray of hope I would love for our story to provide just that. I know it’s a tough subject to discuss, read or think about but it’s our experience and it’s something neither of us want to hide, nor do I want to feed the shame that often comes with revealing the tough stuff.
What I love about my son is that he lays it all out there. He’s open. He has a deep and caring heart, wants to do what’s right, and he knows he is not alone in his struggles. Over the course of the past several months we have spent countless hours at the counselor’s – where he felt safe and supported. We both participated in the process and I learned so much myself, in how to help him but I also learned things I’d never have considered otherwise. It opened my eyes to new ways of doing things I hadn’t done before. My boy got to express himself in ways he hadn’t fully been able to and there was much, much healing as we drove back and forth every week.
What I’d like to offer other families dealing with a child who expresses suicidal tendencies is that there is hope. You are not alone, and there are many resources in place to help you walk through the valley. If you want the help. If you are willing to put yourself (and your child) into a vulnerable setting. If you are teachable – yes, I said you – parent.
This past year has not been one of handing him off to the professionals hoping they’d fix him, or just praying that it will all get better (albeit there was lots of that!). It has been one of full participation, doing whatever was necessary for the good of my boy, despite what it felt like or what it looked like to others. In the end I’m responsible for my inner dealings, the peace of knowing I did my best for and with my son. Here’s what I know…it was worth the fight, the hard work, the sacrifice. I’m a much better person for it – and my son is doing remarkably well. The tools that have been placed in his hands are ones that can and will carry him through adulthood.
Is every day a good day? No. Do I still have moments of distress, wondering how we’re going to get through the next 5 minutes? For sure. But those days and moments are getting less in number, and we’re having more good days than bad. The lessons? Don’t be afraid to ask for or receive help. Don’t isolate yourselves or live in shame, it only elevates the issue. Do NOT ignore your child’s cries for help. Put yourself in their shoes, seek to understand. Do take a whole bunch of deep breaths. Do take action. Do revel in, soak up and celebrate the happy moments!
Last night Mitch and I definitely had a moment. We both teared up as we talked about his birthday, how special it is to celebrate it. He teased me that next year I’ll cry when he turns 13 because I don’t want him to grow up. He’s right. But for now, I want to enjoy this moment, this victory, this 12th birthday that signifies so much.
Think About It…
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? ~ Mary Oliver