This is the tattoo I had put on my forearm to always remind me of my sons accident. A constant reminder to never waver on taking the key of a loved one if you feel their thinking is impaired at all, and also as a conversation starter. Many people have seen my tattoo, (probably more so before I added so many more) and many have asked of its meaning. I’m then able to share our story in hopes of saving a life.
I want to visit the statement I made yesterday about thinking hospitals should offer some sort of counseling for this sort of trauma situation, or at least advise the patient and their family to seek therapy and perhaps give a list of options. The last I knew, my son still hadn’t dealt with this incident in its entirety. They fix you up the best they can and then send you on your way. Now, when he was in the hospital, those first couple days, we found out that he no longer had health insurance. His father in fact had lost it and not kept it up without any word to our children or myself. I often wonder, was it because he didn’t have insurance that they did only what was necessary, or is that the way it is for everyone? Since that time, I have had friends in the hospital after motorcycle accidents, and even when they have insurance, no one suggests therapy to them. I personally think this is horrible. Our mental health is as important as our physical health. In fact, if our mental health is horrible, it will take a toll on our physical health as well and then they will both be injured.
In our situation, mom telling a mid 20 something year old he should seek counseling was not enough. He always responded with, “I’m fine”, or “mom you have no idea what all I’ve dealt with”, “this is just another example of my bad luck”, “you’re over reacting”, or my favorite, “it was way worse for you then it was for me”. Let’s be real here, had a doctor written a script for him to seek therapy, and told him how important it was for him to follow through…he probably would have. After all, they did just save his life, they must know something. But a dramatic mother suggesting it??? Forget it, probably not going to happen. ………and it didn’t.
I’ll be honest, it took a while for me to seek therapy. My son was the injured one, I needed to get a grip and move on. I was a MOM, therefore I did not have time to be weak. Immediately following the accident, I was on hyper drive. My employer had given my job away two days after the accident, so I was busy looking for a job and trying so hard to be there for my sons every need and more. While at the same time trying to be mom for my other 3 boys. I had come so close to losing one, I was convinced I needed to be with him as much as possible. All I could remember was not taking his key, the call, his bloody face, the look of fear in his eyes and “I’m scared”. I was his mother, I failed to protect him once, there was no way I was going to fail again.
Even after he was able to walk on his own without difficulty and eat real food, I found myself constantly worrying he would make a dangerous choice so I hovered like I had never hovered before. After all, it was my fault this had happened to him….I felt so sure of that. More surgery, court, a girl giving false statements because she was afraid of admitting she made the choice to get on a bike when she shouldn’t have. My son looking at who knows what for his future. I couldn’t stop thinking about how I promised him we would rule the world together. I couldn’t stop thinking about how I failed him and I needed to make up for it.
After I started my new job, I reluctantly left him at home to fend for himself. My new workplace was less than 2 blocks from an ambulance station. This is when I found that sirens would debilitate me. I would find myself sitting on the floor, under my office window, shaking, crying and many times texting my boys or searching the local emergency Facebook sights to see if they were all OK. After my health started to become an issue due to my stress taking its toll, my doctor finally convinced me it was necessary for me to seek therapy. I was diagnosed with complex PTSD. Which basically meant I had a ridiculous amount of anxiety, debilitating panic attacks, and insomnia. “Complex” because if I understand correctly, I had dealt with many large life stressers that for me, was just too much, and this was the final straw. They explained it to me like we all carry a backpack through life. Every persons strength and their abilities to cope are different. In life we continue to add to our backpack while we move along. Sometimes we may need a little help, some of us will ask for help, and some won’t. Either way, if we don’t take a break but we continue to add to our backpack continuing to make it heavier, at some point either the backpack breaks, or we injure ourselves carrying too much for too long. I was told I had carried to much for to long for my ability. My biggest stresser????? MOM GUILT. DAMN THAT MOM GUILT.
Not just mother guilt about the accident, but this brought up mother guilt that started when I was a new mom at the young age of 17. All the things I should have, could have done differently, all of the mistakes I made. All of that low self worth and self hate came back like a vengeance. I was convinced that I was a bad person and now my punishment for being a bad person was being doled out to my children as well.
A year or so later one of my dearest friends disappeared. We knew it was most likely drug related and that he didn’t want to face anyone so he just bailed out of town. He had become like a brother to me. Here I will add that my brother had not been in my life for about 5 years so this friendship was very special. My husband and I had a very good relationship and we talked about everything, but talking to a friend that isn’t your spouse is a different talk. ya know? Months later…we got an update on him, he committed suicide. The shock, the hurt, the sadness was just so much to bear. The feeling of guilt that “was I a good enough friend”, and “maybe I should have looked for him and helped him”. GEEZ…DAMN THAT SELF GUILT JUST DOESN’T STOP. However…..I must tell you, there WAS a silver lining to my world that same week. I thought for certain it was a higher power telling me that everything would be ok. Telling me that life wasn’t just about hurt, reminding me that good things do happen. This was the week that my first grandchild was born. MY HEART OVERFLOWED. I had been spending a lot of time crying again, but now I had the promise of new life, the promise of innocence, and that gave me strength to trudge on. After all, I wasn’t just a mom now, I was also a grandma. The relationship I had with my Grandma was one of the best relationships of my life. I wanted more than anything to do for my grandchildren, what she did for me. Now as wonderful as this was, this feeling of excitement and love was accompanied by fear of not being a good enough grandma, the fear of failing…..AND….. the cycle of low self worth continues.
Now, I’m going to back up a bit. As I told you early on, there is so much of my story that I left out. I’m going to sum several other things up for you. When the boys’ dad and I divorced, I tried so hard to be enough for my younger 2. It was a huge stress because my youngest was definitely a daddies boy. I worried every day that they would want to be with their dad instead of me. This was a new feeling for me, because my older 2 didn’t have active fathers around and I always knew they were going to be with me. This time I was worried that these 2 would not want me, after all, I was such a horrible mother (or I thought). I had to make some very big and very tough decisions when we divorced. We were behind on our house payments, behind on insurance, behind on car payments, utilities…every bill we had, we were behind on. I decided to take a job in another town (the oil fields actually) and leave my youngest 2 in our house with their dad while I went to work 9 hours from home in an effort to get caught up financially. I was not going to let us lose everything we had worked so damn hard to get. After all, we had so little as it was, I would rather make the tough decision and hold on to some dignity rather than ask for help or rely on government funding for single moms again. I have carried a ton of MOM GUILT about working away from home for those 5 months. Yes, I came home to be with my boys every 11 days and stayed for 3 then would drive back to work for another 11. Yes, I made better money than I would have staying here, and got things caught up, but even with all of that, I felt like I was a mom that left her boys (for just a small moment in time), and that made me a failure in my eyes. I don’t think anything could ever make me feel like I did enough, had enough, or gave enough to my children. All I ever really had for my children was my word. When I said I would make something happen, or I would do everything I could do to make it happen, I meant it and lived up to those promises as best I could even when it was nearly impossible. After all, my word was the only thing I had that no one could take from me.
This is where I must leave you for now. (I do need to take care of my daily duties even though I could write forever) 😉 My thought today for you is to always do your best to remind yourself that you are so much more. And again, most importantly, please show and tell your loved ones how you feel while you have the chance, because I can’t stress enough to you….you never know when tomorrow won’t come.