Warning: This entry WILL contain swearing.
My son is going to go to therapy this Wednesday. He's 5, soon to be 6, and going to therapy. It hurts. As a parent, you can try not to blame yourself, but you always will. He began spiraling into a crazy sort of anxiety ball a few months ago, but it REALLY began to be obvious recently and my first thought was... shit, my fault. Be it genetics or how I'm raising him... my fault.
Don't wag your finger at me or lecture me on my melodrama. Don't remind me it's not all about me. Logically, I KNOW all this. Believe me, I know. But you see, I suffer from anxiety and depression and it's hard to stop the negativity sometimes. It's hard to stop the spiral.
So in the past couple weeks, as I saw him spiral and saw him fight it, only to break down more when he couldn't, it hurt me more than anything in this world. I KNOW he wants to climb out of it. I KNOW he feels crazy. And I don't know how to help him. And that hurts most of all. I want to hold him, comfort him, fix him, support him, help him find the answers, find the sunshine. I don't want to encourage him to wallow, but I don't want to say that thing that people used to say to me that makes an anxious person just feel MORE bat shit crazy - "snap out of it!" I need to be his wings, not his anchor. Because I miss my son.
I miss the crazy, funny, light-hearted, not-afraid-to-be-an-original, totally uninhibited dude I once knew. But now, as his tee ball coach noted, he can "carry the weight of the world on his shoulders" sometimes. Now he's lost weight. He not only strives for perfection, he beats himself up for not achieving it. He worries about EVERYTHING and complains about EVERYTHING. He's obsessed with his body - what he puts in it, how it feels, how jumpy his stomach is, how often he goes to the bathroom, etc. In the worst of his meltdowns he screamed, in tears, "I HATE MY BODY AND MY MIND. I CANNOT MAKE THEM DO WHAT I WANT! I DON'T KNOW WHY I'M SAD, I CAN'T STOP THINKING THIS WAY!" And I wanted to be the strong, calm mom... but I cried. I cried because I understood every single thing he mentioned.
I tell him not to strive for perfection, but to enjoy the journey. I tell him we'll enjoy the adventure every day and not worry about the destination. I tell him the "sickness in his belly" that is starting to cripple him can be beaten with mind over matter. I tell him it doesn't matter if he ties his shoes perfectly. I tell him he won't be able to do everything the first time he tries. I tell him to take care of his body instead of berating it. Instead of hating it. But I think he can see I'm full of shit. I think he can see that I've yet to enjoy the journey myself. I think he sees my own perfectionism driving me nuts. I think he can see that I'm a bundle of anxiety. I talk too much in crowds to hide my nerves. I laugh too loud. I walk on egg shells one minute and lay out my "if-you-don't-like-me-for-who-I-am-then-fuck-you" attitude the next. I'm a scared little girl trying with all my might not to raise a scared little boy.
It's tough though. As my mom noted when when she just visited and we discussed William, I've always been different. I've always WANTED to be different, but without standing out. I've marched to the beat of my own drum, let my freak-flag fly... whatever tired turn of phrase you prefer. I had no interest in being like everyone else, but at the same time I DID NOT want to be noticed for it. I wanted to be liked and not left out, without having to conform to do it. And we talked about how... was that "difference" what made me feel depressed? Or was my depression what made me seem so different?
And now I'm unsure of how to encourage William. Do I want him to be an original? Do I want him to be totally himself without worrying about what everyone thinks? Of course. But I see in him that same desire I had in me... to please, to be liked, to be included and I think... do I encourage him to fit in then? Or to continue to march along as he wishes... not being afraid to paint his nails, not worried that his interests and vocabulary make him fit in better with adults than kids his own age, not afraid to celebrate with a silly dance in public when he tags someone out in tee ball, not caring what people think when he says his favorite colors include red, blue and PINK (in solidarity with his little sister)?
It's funny... I look back on this entry and think... there I go again. I'm not enjoying the journey. I'm trying to control the turns in the road, instead of finding the adventure. I'm telling my son not to worry in one breath and spilling ALL my worries in the next.
Hmmmm. I wonder if they have joint mother-child therapy? You know... kinda like mommy-and-me-swim. Only without the silly songs and a slightly scarier deep end.