Tuesday, June 27, 2017

That moment you realize you know nothing at all

This post is a long time coming. It's been one I've been thinking about, but wasn't quite sure how much to share. I'm a pretty private person. Funny, right? I have a blog here, I've shared so much already, but when it comes to the details of my immediate family, I always struggle with what I'm okay with sharing, and what they're okay with me sharing. I've said I want to help people, but really, I'm struggling in finding my own way, so what help can I really be?

Have I mentioned parenting is hard? I have children ranging in age from 19 down to 4. With six kids, you'd think I'd be a pro by now. You'd be wrong. I have no idea what the heck I'm doing here! And the stress! Who knew that I'd lay in bed at night and over-analyze every single detail of every choice I'm making with each kid, and how that may have shaped them to become who they are and influence what they're choosing to do now?

I remember a day--and please don't judge me too harshly if you already know better (I was pretty blissfully ignorant back then)--when I was talking to a friend about raising kids, and how I took the job so seriously because literally who they became was based on how I raised them. Then I went on to say that if my kids grew up making wrong choices which made their lives a mess, that it would be my fault for not teaching them the right things. This ideal on the surface may seem sound to some, as it did to me then, but it really is flawed. I've been learning this the hard way, repeatedly. It's so much more than that.

Kids have their own minds, their own spirits, their own way of making sense of things and their own free will. Sure, we as parents can influence some of that, but we're far from the only influence, especially in this day and age. We don't have control of all they see, hear, think, or believe. We can try to limit certain things, and push others, but really, we have no control over so many other factors in the world. None. At all.

One of my children, who was once so hopeful, so inspired and inspiring, has taken those extra things and viewed the world in such a dark, meaningless way. As a consequence of several choices made, starting a few years ago with small ones and going on from there, he is no longer sure what he should believe, think or feel about anything. I see the struggle in the daily choices, the consequences of the bad ones, the hopelessness and that lost feeling that increases day by day. And no matter what I say, no matter what I do, no matter how I pray, I can't seem to break through and change what's happening. I'm watching my child struggle to even find purpose, meaning and love for life. It's agonizing. I can't fix it.

I've spent more nights than I care to remember, getting up in the middle of the night to make sure he's still breathing. I've cried more tears and begged and bargained with God to the point of being physically ill. I've spent moments almost crippled by fear of saying/doing/or even thinking the wrong things and making it all worse. A month ago, I spent a few hours talking my child down from a building. Literally. What am I doing?!

And without meaning to, or wanting to, I fear what people would think of me if they knew how much I really am struggling here. Many of those who know anything of what's going on, I'm sure think we must've done something wrong. We must've failed our child in some way. God knows I find myself thinking this very thing. I just don't know.

I find myself wondering how much of this hopelessness stems from choices he made, and how much comes from the genetic predisposition he was given for depression? Depression is real. It is ugly. It is terrifying. It lacks in sense and it is obstinate.

Looking from the outside, I see someone smart in all the ways I wished I were. I see talent. I see a beautiful heart. I see so many possibilities. I try to encourage, to guide, to advise. It does nothing. Because all he sees in the mirror is someone worthless. A "dumb ass", to quote him exactly.  Hearing that pierced my being in ways I can't begin to describe.

And I'm fighting against the world here. The world says whether or not you have worth, and our children believe that determination. The world says there's no harm in sharing everything you've got if you want to find out who you really are and if you've got potential, and then it tears you down with those very intimate details you shared. It tells you that the things which bind you with another person are no big deal and can and should be explored with whomever, whenever. All this so it can tear you down when you eventually don't measure up to impossible and changing standards.

And who am I to compete? I'm just me. I thought my voice would count because it's been there longest. I thought my opinion would count more because it's the most informed, and it comes from a good place. But it appears this isn't the case. How do I get through that louder, more prominent voice and say that YOU are the one who determines YOUR own future? YOU decide who YOU are. And God is the only important judge to measure yourself by, and He's always willing to forgive and guide you to make changes.

So what do I do? I wake up everyday, I keep trying to break through that dark cloud, I keep reading, researching and trying to learn more. I keep putting resources out in front of him. But ultimately, it's up to him, and all I can do is pray.


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