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"My child's mental health issues make me want to run away."

I’m tired of this particular journey. It’s not what I signed up for.

Go on, you can call me self-absorbed, I already know I’m not up for any “Mother Of The Year” award. I’m the parent who loves her child but who has grown tired of this arduous journey by his side.

I’m tired of not sleeping, the stomach pains and the disagreements about the best way to raise him; I’m particularly tired of giving everything I have to someone who doesn’t want it. I’m exhausted from trying to work and remain professional; when on the inside I’m hurting. If I was married to my son I could leave him if I felt this way, but parenting is unconditional.

And it must be, because I still love him.

Or is it? Should we really be expected to put our children first when they refuse to play happy families or conform to society’s most essential rules? Before our partners, before the needs of our other children and before our own dreams?

"I’m the parent who loves her child but who has grown tired of this arduous journey by his side." Image via iStock. 

Everyone has their problems and our boy has had a rougher ride than some, nevertheless he is luckier than many. Just as are we.

He has a family who loves him. Unless you’ve walked in our shoes, you have no idea how destructive a child with mental health issues with no realistic grasp of responsibility, dependency issues and a trajectory hell-bent on self-destruction can be.

If only it was as simple as helping them. It would be easy if kids like mine were receptive to help, like the “crazy” kids depicted in films; if they accepted support with a few tears of remorse and a big feel-good hug.

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But kids like mine don’t behave like that in the real world. Trauma changes people indelibly. They kick out at support and pity, they resent intrusion. They know best. They live for the moment and have no fear of consequences, until there are consequences.

"..you forget about how often they’ve refused to commit to the few rules of respect you’ve asked of them." Image via iStock. 

Sometimes, out of nowhere, they allow you a glimmer of hope, let you walk forward a few steps for a few precious days and you breathe more freely again. You dare to believe. They allow you to think for that short gift of time that you’re out of the woods, you’ve made it; that they’ve grown up, moved beyond that phase, matured even.

And you can’t help yourself envisaging a normal future together, like the one the parenting books promised or those families on Facebook and in the movies – one big, happy Waltons family.

You picture the Mediterranean-style family lunch in the garden in the sun, laughter and hugs and brightly-coloured lanterns, and for that short moment of denial, you forget about how often they’ve refused to commit to the few rules of respect you’ve asked of them, time and time again, that you deserve.

Because they can’t. Not even for you, even though they insist that they love you. And in your heart, you know that they do.

Then, like in a board game, you throw the wrong number again, pick up the wrong card and are forced back several spaces or sent straight to jail.

This post was originally published on My Midlife Mayhem and was republished here with full permission. 

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