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The Forgotten Children

There was joy and exhilaration in my mental illness, for many years, forty at least, when one would say I intermittently suffered. Occasionally it was a nightmare from which I could not awaken. More on the joy next post.
There are many victims of mental illness beyond those suffering directly.
There are many victims of mental illness beyond those suffering directly.

There was joy and exhilaration in my mental illness, for many years, forty at least, when one would say I intermittently suffered. Occasionally it was a nightmare from which I could not awaken. More on the joy next post. Others in my world suffered more.

In my last post I promised at least a nod to my family and friends, more particularly my children, who suffered more than I as the illness manifested itself. I remember the despair in my daughter's eyes and the hurt on my son's face when once again I told them I would have to leave them in the care of a relative or friend in order to go to the hospital; someone's inadvertent announcement that their mother was "in jail" – how would two young children understand the ramifications of that when the adults in their lives did not? My mother who whispered behind their backs, therapists who confided in my son and not my daughter as they grew older, the emotional and physical neglect, poor choices of a mother with schizophrenia, depression, eventually smoking and drinking.

The courage of young children. The knowledge that this illness is in our genes as a family. My parents who said I was "bad" and rejected me for many years, a brother whose wife quit her job in order to look after my children...another brother who visited me weekly from Cold Lake when I didn't remember his visits, a sister going through her own challenges at the time...friends who didn't know what to do and ignored my requests for a simple visit or telephone call because I was lonely.

Neighbors who reported me to Social Services which resulted in a visit from a social worker. She checked with my children's teachers and marveled at my clean house and the smell of fresh stew cooking on the stove at lunchtime. In retrospect, she wanted some of that stew!

My children were physically safe but oh, the regret for precious years wasted when they were growing up, for manipulative and dysfunctional "friends" who took money and time from my children, an abusive second husband who also took money, lied about the reason I left, tried to push my son down the stairs, kicked and tormented my cat, and turned off the heat in the basement in winter, where my son slept and the children escaped to PlayStation and television in the family room downstairs. For his family, who took the support I provided to them and the goodwill extended, and saw the children and me move out with just the clothes on our backs and a few items of furniture. For a few of his co-workers and the small dysfunctional church who believed the lies when I was too weak to defend myself.

My children rejoiced when we moved though it was into rented furnished quarters, supported by my mediocre and ill-paying job.

That's why I defend the homeless and the poor, the passive and emotionally abused wives, and children of single parents.

Yes, I suffered less than those in my immediate circle of family and friends – unlike my son and daughter, I "walked with gods" at one time. Now they are the gods in my life at whom I marvel for their beauty and strength, courage, and the resiliency of childhood.

When I was alone and hurting, I brought it on myself. Others suffered more, and I'll never forget that, nor will I stop trying to compensate for their years of struggle.