I See Light at the end of My Dark Night of the Soul

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Welp, I’ve been on Lexapro now for fifteen days. And I cannot believe the difference in how I feel. My doctor put me on the lowest possible 5 mg dose just to see how I would do because he knows I tend to have side effects. And within four days I noticed I was no longer jumping out of my skin. It became evident it was working that quickly as I was shopping at Tuesday Morning and a woman threw a stack of thick paper pads of watercolor and art papers from the craft isle in her buggy making a metallic slamming noise right next to me. And I didn’t hit the roof. I just looked, and then went back to shopping.

Then, I noticed I was a better passenger in the car. I’m not all anxious when someone gets close and I’m no longer holding onto the handle of the door with a sweaty palm telling my husband to slow down or speed up, or look out! I’m just sitting there on my side minding my business watching out the window enjoying the view.

And, I realized I was singing Christmas carols the other day in my craft room and was making Christmas artist trading cards! So not me because I’ve disliked the holiday ever since my boys left the nest. When I told my therapist this, she said that she thinks the little girl in me is feeling safe enough to sing again and feels free from anxiety enough to come out and play. — Cool huh?

And… then, on Thanksgiving Eve, after that rather hopeful and bright therapy session where my therapist said the little girl in me was feeling safe enough to venture out and play, I got a call from my step-son on the way home. We talked as my husband drove, and eventually, he told me my other son (before he transfers out West for the military) is going to stay with his father. You know, the father that was only around when it was convenient for him, refused visitation if he thought I had plans, and quit jobs left and right for years to get out of paying child support. — That father.

And instead of crying and feeling hurt and just sucking in my pain like I usually do, I finally got pissed. Like beyond livid. But livid in a calm way… seriously.

When I found out, I calmly texted my son.

“Can I ask why you choose to go see your father on your way out West and not come to see us?”

He responded:

“Several reasons, but mostly because it’s on my route, there are a few places I want to visit in Ohio, and Chip is riding with me.” (Chip is his friend. One of the kids that have called me mom and said he wished he had the kind of relationship with his mom that my son has with me. — That Chip.)

And I know how this is going to sound to others, probably petty and immature, but I simply went over to FB and deleted and blocked my own sons. The oldest for his constant verbal abuse, devaluation, and disrespect and my youngest for not saying anything to him about how he treats me. Oh, and I deleted all their friends too. All the kids that considered me their mom. Chip, Caitlin, and Sam. Those I welcomed into my home, fed, let stay overnight, listened to all their problems, paid for them to go places, all who called me mom. Bah-bye! Anyone related to him who doesn’t speak up for how my older son treats me — gone. And I don’t feel sad or bad or even mad about it. I feel it’s about fucking time. And I’m loving it.

I swear my body thanked me the second I hit the block button. 

And the next morning I woke up to this text from my son.

“So may I ask what I did this time to be a narcissistic abuser? Ask you for some photos?” (They do shit like that. Treat you like shit, then magically forget and ask for a favor… this time pictures.) He’s into Ancestry dot com and needed photos of his dead ancestors. Yet treats his mom like garbage and has yet to read my book that tells of his ancestors. How’s that for irony? Glorify the dead, ignore the living. We live in a world that only tells us how great they think we are and how much we are loved when we’re dead. Fuck if I’ll help them do that. 

Anyway, this is what I wrote back, and I’m not sorry.

“No. Not at all. I didn’t mind looking for them for you. I’m just not going to be dissed by you anymore. You’ve made it clear that you’re not interested in having me for your mom or Jeff for your step-dad and that we don’t rate with you. You’ve told me I’m drama, negative and a disappointment to you. You have the family you want; your dad and Sam’s family (his fiance’). You know where we are when you need us. But, I’m not going to sit around in pain and agony watching you on FB visit everyone and their brother and shit all over us.” 

I can’t heal around toxic behaviors that no one will say anything about. My sons and I have always been close. But as I have to heal C/PTSD from a childhood I suppressed in order to be their mother and I can’t sit by and watch him visit his father or spend every holiday with his girlfriend’s families as if we don’t exist, and have the other son not want to discuss anything about it.

I have one overt in-your-face-bully son and one passive-aggressive that cuts you off at the knees when he doesn’t want to discuss something. The fake yawns on the phone when I ask. Saying “People are going to do what they want to do.” Or my favorite: “Yeah, he never mentions anything about you.” It’s not helping me at all try to figure out what happened. It’s painful and causes me extreme grief. And I’m done.

Sadly, my therapist says that over half her clientele are parents being treated like this by a child or children they were once close to. She shook her head with tears in her eyes as she said how disgusted she is that so many people in society think it’s just completely acceptable to say whatever the hell they want without consequences. She said someone in her own family is going through this very thing and it has all but killed her. She no longer resembles the person she once was and it has taken a huge toll on her health as a result.

She assures me that narcissism runs rampant in the military and many of her other patients are veterans now trying to adjust to civilian life without their families there to help. The higher military men and women climb up that ladder of success, the more of a stranger some can become to their families. The power and prestige; the trophies and award after award, go right to their heads. Suddenly the mother that taught them to wipe their ass, or hold spoon is a stupid fucking idiot not worth their time to bother with anymore. And the step-dad that was more of a father to them than their own bio father, is now conveniently forgotten as he puts up a picture of him and his sperm donor clinking beers together on Father’s Day. It’s like adding insult to injury and I couldn’t be sicker of it and I don’t have to subject myself to seeing it anymore. — Enjoy. I’m out.

I’d love to have a talk with his military superiors. I’d tell them just what I thought of them. How dare they forget to tell these impressionable kids that go in right out of high school that it’s their family they will need most when they become civilians again. Pretty sad that we can’t learn to be leaders and be civil.

As for my sons, one is choosing to get out in two years, and the other is eligible to retire from the military in six years, which doesn’t mean he’ll leave. That’s a long time to wait to have my kids back again. There will be lots of damage to repair but hopefully, it starts with them looking inside themselves and to their past like I did in my memoir. I hope they find out who they are without all the conditioning and heal their own wounds from childhood like I had to. I can’t do it for them. And I wish them both well.

As for me — there is light at the end of my dark night of the soul. I’m feeling good and have hope again. I’m doing yoga, sleeping well, making art, eating healthily, exercising, lounging extravagantly, eating dinner in bed, sleeping 14 hours, and laughing again. I plan on living the rest of my life doing just whatever the hell I choose to do without guilt, without second-guessing myself and without needing validation from anyone that I was a good mom. I just don’t care anymore.

If you need me, I’m off planning my 2019 in my new planner. I have shit I want to do.

Thank you, Lexapro— for giving me my balls back.