The Mother of Pain


For the first six weeks I was in too much emotional pain to cry.


Last week the levy of tears was breached and the leak is still a constant


There’s an irony, that the diagnosis my son has been given echoes so much about my own emotional and neurological struggles since childhood.


We are both needy, and self-loathing, and live our lives in a fairly constant state of fight or flight.  The big difference between the two of us being, I point my pain inward and my child tends to explode.


For the next 2-5 years our gorgeous and charming child will be receiving intensive therapy to help him feel safe and secure.  He is being cared for by my parents in an environment of calm and stability that I cannot offer him at this stage of my own (and his) existence.  He’s already showing great progress and I’m placing my faith in the team who offered this diagnosis.


The standard response from people when they find out I have lost custody of my child ranges from shock, to embarrassment, to misguided kindnesses and platitudes that include: “Oh honey, this isn’t your fault.”


This. Is. My. Fault.


Any person who knows me knows that while I want desperately to be a steadfast and reliable force for good, more-often-than-not, I am frankly a hot mess.  There’s a bit of a superpower in my freneticism.  When the chemicals in my brain line up in the proper proportions I can be a creative savant of sorts.  Likewise, when our beautiful boy is calm and content, he is charming, and clever, and oozes a contagious kind of joy that I’ve never known from any other source.


Being busy and travelling around the globe championing change and begging for recognition has cost a heavy fare.  I see my son for 30 minutes a week currently, and this is just long enough for my heart to tear and my arms to ache for his signature hugs.


As any educated or inquiring mother would, I took the liberty of looking into the diagnosis we were given for our beautiful boy.  It is called Reactive Attachment Disorder or RAD.


There’s a lot more cases of this disorder from a larger range of households and backgrounds.  The diagnosis was once reserved for children of war torn, abusive or severely neglectful environments.  Today, there’s a growing number of children, diagnosed and undiagnosed, who have not formed strong bonds with a primary caregiver.  This can be for a multitude of reasons.  Parents who work a lot, letting devices raise our children, depression and despondent patches of varying degrees experiences by the PCG (Primary Care Giver) and even being consistently inconsistent.  I’m guilty of all of this.  I won’s sugar coat it or fall into the trap of blaming external forces or making excuses.  I struggle and enlist the help of masses layers of scaffolding to raise our kids and just make it through life on a daily basis.


So why am I telling you all this?


Because I need to apologise.  I have been distant, and angry, and absent, and lost.  I’ve neglected my friends and rejected the care and concern of family and friends.  I’ve asked my long-suffering soul mate Phteven for a divorce (which luckily he wasn’t having a bar of) and I’ve been unable to complete the simplest of tasks as my heart and mind are heavy and broken.


The irony in all of this, is that the shiny veneer that I show of my life and my self may lead people to believe that I’ve got some semblance of control and continuity in my personal and professional life.


I don’t.


I struggle with my own demons daily, and fear the future and pine at the predicaments of the present consistently and with unrelenting angst.


Today is like most other days lately.  I am perched at my keyboard, wishing words to come, trying to focus on even the simplest of tasks at hand.


But the internal dialogue is screaming at me that I am a phony, and a failure, a fraud, and a fuck up.


There’s an epic level of intervention and support being claimed by our entire nuclear family.  Couples counselling, family therapy, child therapy, individual cognitive therapy.  Walks and gym and soon I’ll return to some soothing yoga and mindfulness.


Currently, it feels like I will never feel okay again.  I’m terrified of acceptance, and equally so of rejection (from my children, my family, my friends and the world) and paralyzed with fear and self-loathing.


Thank you to everyone who’s reached out, tolerated, and treated me with respect and kindness.


I realise that everyone is fighting a hard battle, and I know that I’m lucky to have the resources to get the best help available.  Sadly, this results in a vast amount of guilt as I think about the kids who cannot or do not get the help and intervention they need.


Life’s tough and full of stuff.  I say this to the children so much.  And it’s true.  I want them to be resilient and battle through the ups and downs that flow to them… But how can I expect that of any of them when I am a nanometer away from giving in and I sincerely just want to run away and go hide in the forest for a few years until I feel like I can handle life again.


Thanks for reading, and whatever your ups and downs may be, I wish you strength, support, hope, and kindness as you face them in the year that is coming up very fast upon us all.



8 thoughts on “The Mother of Pain

  1. Thank you for your honesty about what is such an incredibly hard situation for you xx sending all the lovely sentiments back to you in return – peace,love and hope

  2. Pain can be a prison.. but lucky for you (i hope) you get to share your cell with all of us too.. so you have plenty of shoulders to rest upon as you may need 🙂

    and Pain can be very subjective.. what is painful ‘now’ often becomes but a memory over time and a point of strength in your future.

  3. Dee, my darling, I cannot know struggles you are going through, nor can I judge you for anything you’ve done…I have no right to judge:) all I can say is….I love u and ur family and WHATEVER I can do, I’ll do it:) if all you need is a hug and love, you got it!! Love to you and ALL your WONDERFULLY AWESOME kids and husband:) xoxoxoxo

  4. Hey Dee
    Thankyou for posting your thoughts, fears and feelings. I know how hard it is to share with a human brain that trys to contort and distort. Many of us are/have been/may feel some of what you do too. Different but similar, it feels for me that something is continuously shadowing, waiting to ankle-tap me at any moment. We are all human, prone to tripping up, stumbling and sometimes breaking some stuff! But we get up, ask for help, forgiveness, support, love and joy.
    Perceive, persist and you (and all of us) will persevere. (And perfection is nowhere near that sentence!)
    Best wishes

  5. Hi Dee, Wow, that level of honesty takes a huge amount of courage . My heart goes out to you and your family xxx Can I offer a peaceful space for you to come have a cuppa sometime this week? Just me and you and the birds in the backyard. Janice

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