My son left today. He moved out. And he really needed to as his behavior has been so toxic and triggering for me. We needed a break from each other. I knew this day was coming so it’s no surprise. But it’s on the heels of another blowup filled with his manipulation, excuses, disrespect vs my indignation and cruel words.
I’ve written before about how he triggers me. How he causes my anxiety and flight vs fight responses to go into high alert. He’s 19 now. And he is learning EVERYTHING the hard way. It’s been painful to watch. Slowly he has become someone that I don’t understand. Someone that I don’t know anymore.
My childhood trauma/baggage was being ignored. There was always something more important going on. And in retrospect I know it wasn’t intentional or mean. My mom was widowed at 24 with 3 kids under 6, me being the youngest. She was busy. My job was (everyone say it with me now….) to be seen, not heard and not cause my mom any unnecessary stress. She worked nights so she wouldn’t have to miss work if my sisters and I were sick. As a mom now, I know she did an amazing job with what she had on her plate. But, as with most childhoods, there was some form of damage done.
I have done a lot of therapy to understand how my childhood has shaped who I am as a person and have been able to feel at peace with it all. But I never stopped to think how my childhood shaped who I am as a mother.
We are all doomed to repeat the patterns of our past, right? Or at least hold the responsibility to identify the bad patterns and fix them. I always worried about being emotionally unavailable to my kids since it was the only method of parenting I was exposed to. I wanted to BE THERE for them. And I did consciously make certain changes in my life to achieve that. I worked from home just about all their lives so they would know I am always here. I encouraged and supported any and all extracurricular interests, got the great house in the cul-de-sac with the pool in the backyard. Birthday parties, trips, they never “wanted”’for anything. I feel pretty good about the kind of mother I was up until the teenage years. When their emotional needs changed.
But I didn’t fight for the family dinner time every night as they got older and started sprouting their wings. I didn’t want to impose the guilt that was shamed into me by forcing them to choose between family time and what they wanted to do. Slowly we started to all drift into our own worlds and apart from each other. I saw it happening. I knew it was happening. But emotional intimacy was such an uncomfortable thing for me that I just let it happen. I never wanted my kids to feel forced to spend time with me. If they wanted to connect, they knew where I was. I did all the obligatory check-ins through high school to take a temp on their lives, friends, needs. But never pushed beyond that. I told myself because they were boys and I am mom, the connection was foreign to both of us and it was all normal.
Tonight I have realized so much more damage that I have caused. Growing up emotionally ignored transformed me to put my thoughts, opinions and emotions front and center as an adult. I am able to speak with conviction and have no problem asking for what I need. But I am realizing that I have been so focused on my position to defend and protect that ignored little girl, that I have irreparably ignored my childrens needs. Disagreements and arguments have been fueled with my desire to be heard and to be right, instead of listening, supporting, understanding. I have been so focused on standing up for myself that I forced my kids into having to stand up for themselves against their own mother. I am supposed to be there to support them, encourage them, to put their needs first. Instead I put my own emotional baggage in the way. I look back now and see so many missed opportunities where I should have paused, put my subconscious agenda away, and been there for them. I repeated my childhood by ignoring my own children emotional needs.
Tonight I am feeling like a complete failure as a mom. The strings that are supposed to connect a mothers heart to her sons feels severed. And I honestly don’t know if it will ever be recovered. I feel like I have caused permanent damage. I am so ashamed of myself.
Now it has to be said that my son that moved out hasbeen no peach. He proudly acknowledges he is on the train tracks and playing chicken with the train but that this is “how he learns”. That’s a hard process to watch. He has been disrespectful to me, my husband, our home. A lot of it the usual teenage crap, but heightened because he has ADD, depression and anxiety. He has not been an easy child. But my heart is breaking over realizing that I didn’t necessarily make it easier on him. Or maybe I am pointing out all of his shortcomings to ease my guilt. Or maybe I am the reason why he is this way.
What I do know is the guilt, regret, shame and heartache I feel tonight is very very heavy.
And I am so very sorry. #Anxiety #Depression #Motherhood