I’ve had this thought pass through my mind more times than I could count. I’m sensitive (overly-sensitive, some would say) and sometimes when my feelings get hurt (and no shame in admitting that I have feelings and sometimes they get hurt, because I’m a human and humans have feelings), I think, “This person wouldn’t miss me if I was gone.”
Whenever I’ve expressed this feeling in the past, whoever I’m expressing it to inevitably says, “That’s not true, your kids need you, they would miss you,” to which I would usually respond with, “Lots of kids lose a parent, they get over it.”
Rationally, I still know that none of this bad shit is true. I always knew it wasn’t true, always knew the feelings weren’t valid or rational. A part of me knew, anyway. But another part of me couldn’t stop those thoughts and feelings. And with those thoughts and feelings comes actual, physical pain. I suddenly feel like I am far too deep underwater, a crushing weight over my entire body, as if I’ve turned to stone, and I can’t breathe because all of the air has been sucked out of the room. My vision goes spotty, my eyes won’t focus, and I can hear my blood rushing in my ears and every heartbeat is like a drum in my brain.
It happened yesterday. With my 12-year-old son. He’s fucking 12, you know? Puberty and all. Everyone is out to get him, you can’t ask him a simple question without him getting defensive, we’re all just attacking him whenever we speak to him. It’s… well, normal. This is the third time I’ve gone through puberty with a child so I’ve had some practice, but goddamn did he trigger me yesterday and, before I knew what was happening, I was suddenly made of stone and tears were pouring down my face and I was just pouring these words out all over the place and begging him not to treat me that way because this is how it makes me feel and it doesn’t matter if I know it’s not true, it feels true and it feels like I’m dying, like I’m going to just shrivel up and die - and no one will even miss me.
Part of me was screaming at myself to shut up, shut up, he doesn’t need to hear any of this, but the other part of me, the part that won, decided that yes, he does need to hear this, he needs honesty about my mental illnesses. He needs to learn how to be considerate of others and how to control his own behavior so he doesn’t needlessly hurt people who might be fragile and easily hurt. He needs to learn how to speak respectfully, to understand that it is a choice he makes when he opens his mouth to speak - to be a decent human or to be a jerk who hurts people’s feelings.
I’m not okay, mentally and emotionally, and the people I live with (who just so happen to be my children) need to be aware of that. I learned a long time ago that bottling up my emotions only leads to explosions. It’s more beneficial for everyone around if I just let my emotions out as they’re happening so they can be addressed and dealt with and so I don’t explode on myself or anyone else. It’s hard not to feel shame, though. I don’t know why I feel shame for something I have very little control over, but I do. It feels embarrassing. It feels weak. It feels like I’m being a burden.
I’m working on it. It’s hard. I still bottle things up a lot. I’m trying. I just hope the people I love can have the patience to stick with me while I’m doing this incredibly difficult work. This is the hard path, the path less traveled. I see it all the time, people who think and say, “This is just the way I am, take it or leave it.” They’re taking the easy path. Personal growth is the hard path and I’ll take it any day over throwing my hands up in the air and saying, “Oh well, this is just who I am!” That’s defeat. That’s not taking ownership of your own behavior. Those people, inevitably, get left and then complain about the person who left them - oh, they just weren’t strong enough to handle me. No, you weren’t considerate enough to moderate your own behavior. You expect to be a shitty person and have everyone just accept it because, oh well, that’s just who you are!
Well, you know, I don’t want people to think I’m a shitty person because that is definitely not who I am. So, I try. And I keep trying, keep walking that rough path, dodging the obstacles that I put in my own way. And I put a hell of a lot of obstacles in my own way.