We strive to make their lives normal, and safe, and stable. We create events geared to their specific issues and lives, we try to create structure where often, there is none.
What happens though, when our best is no longer enough?
What happens when we miss the signs?
Motherly Advice: ‘Do your best and it will be enough!’ What happens when my best is not enough? What if I can’t be enough?
He is so small lying there. His sleep is now peaceful and quiet. The smallness and quiet belie the anguish of a few hours ago. It feels like I just barely escaped danger, but that it still hangs in the air. Dementors swarming above.
A few hours ago he grabbed a knife and screamed he wanted to just die. The look on his face told me this was a pain that had been gripping his heart for a long time. His whole body is racked with it. He is fighting so hard to stop it. I have to fight harder to make it end differently. Over an hour passes of us struggling against one another. Me unwilling to let him die or keep trying to die, him determined and scared. We are both exhausted. We are both scared.
I missed the signs. How do you miss the signs when you are with a person day in and day out? How did I not know that his hurt was torturing his soul to the point that death seemed like the most reasonable way to end that pain? I didn’t look hard enough to make sure he was really ok.
He has not even lived a decade. What happened in that time that gripped him with so much anguish? I think of him as a toddler walking along and picking up rocks for his pockets. At the end of the day, I would empty the pockets. The next day, he would start collecting once again. I wonder how many rocks he has picked up that were never set down. How many rocks were still hidden in his heart and mind? I didn’t ask the right questions. I didn’t ask him enough times if he was really ok.
There were times in the last two years that I was so wrapped up in my own grief that I missed his. He needed me, and I wasn’t there. I wasn’t there enough to help him.
You can’t out parent mental illness; in the same way that you can’t out parent cancer. It strikes sharp and quick and rips its way through the fabric of the family. But what if my best isn’t enough for him? What if I can’t do enough? How do I live with doing my best and still not being enough? And there is the truth. I cannot be enough for another person. My enough is never going to be anyone else’s enough. I can only be enough for me and then do my best for them.
So today we will start again as I help him find his own enough. I will keep doing my best. I will be my own enough so that he can begin to find a path that feels like enough to him.