Truth in storytelling.

21 Dec

Today I was watching a mediocre movie, and Rosalyn walked by. I snatched her up, her giggles bubbling around the room, bursting into flower as she melted back into me, into this rare, uninvited show of love. The horrid condition of the ceiling didn’t matter, the creature we call a carpet didn’t matter-all I could see and hear was this daughter of mine, my second born, her love on the air.

I’m blinded some days, from how shitty it all really is.

I have horrid temperamental days as well. Days where I could see myself easily heaving a kid through a window, beating them senseless without a thought. I wouldn’t of course, but the rage-it courses through my veins as I try and let it out, quietly, gently, slowly. The rage is there, coloring my eyes, stinking up the air around me.

I was asked if I think my children should see my true self, if it’s worth trying to hide who I really am, what I am.

I think I should hide, to a degree. Not absolutely, but in waves. Should Rosalyn know that I was going to abort her, that I begged to have her placed for adoption, dreamt of her death? Not right now. Perhaps not at 16 or 18 or 20, but when she has a child? Should Vivian know that sometimes I dream of falling asleep and not waking up, and that for me, it’s perfectly utterly normal? That when not otherwise medicated, I will dream of death and gunfire and danger and fear, fear so vivid I wake scared of my own room? Maybe 13 is ok for that, but not 5.

We tell shades of truth. We show shades of ourselves, everyday. Do I disclose everything about my illness to coworkers or my employer? No. Broad strokes, the temperamental moods, the changeling I can be. Do I ever tell my family the worst of my thoughts, the horrid ones that burn in my brain and make me afraid, or ashamed? Never. I can’t burden those I love with the monsters that live in my head. I keep them to myself, hidden, locked down, not to be trifled with.

My daughters have a basic understanding-that Mommy has a sickness in her brain that makes her seem different, maybe angrier or sadder. They know it’s never ever their fault, that even if I react poorly, it’s me reacting, not them causing.

When my mother was sick, I didn’t really know what was happening for a while. I went along with her, sat waiting through her chemo, her radiation, but I didn’t really get it until the day I looked up Cancer in a book and realized she could, and very well likely would die from it. My parents sheltered me from their truth and so I learned it first hand from a book in a library, alone at 9 or 10. The covered the truth so completely that it grabbed me by the neck and shook me, willing me to hear and see it.

I don’t want them to see truth that way.

I want them to know that I’m sick. To understand that some days, Mom won’t be as she was the day before. But I don’t want them to know about my suicide attempts, not yet. I don’t want them to fully understand why there are holes in the walls, why I can’t get around to fixing them, why I’m so fucking overwhelmed so often. I want them to understand that I have in no way brought this on myself, but I don’t want them to know it can be inherited either.

More than anything, I don’t want them to act like they have a sick mother. I don’t want them to have to be careful, to hide their needs while thinking of mine. I don’t want them to be quiet, that unnatural quiet because Mom is about the blow. I don’t want them to worry-worry the way I did about my mother, about my father, about my future. I remember that burning hole in my gut, the one that turned into a real hole by 12. I want them to be normal.

I know it won’t always be normal. I know that just as cancer can go into remission and then come back, I might be fine and then have more hospitalisations. I might sometime be unable to leave the house-but I might not. But I don’t want them to be surprised by anything-I just want them to understand slowly, in ways that make sense. I don’t want truth to be at the end of flaming black eyes.

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7 Responses to “Truth in storytelling.”

  1. Shana December 21, 2008 at 10:11 pm #

    Thank you, Thordora.

    I guess that’s the crucial point you mentioned: that we tell truth in waves, based on the children’s readiness for it – based on how we think they can handle it.

    Good points.

  2. daisybones December 22, 2008 at 11:07 am #

    Yes, it is crucial that they know things as they can process them. You seem to have a good grasp on what to reveal when, and how.

    XO.

  3. Cerra December 22, 2008 at 12:47 pm #

    This is something B.J. and I have talked about and that I think about a lot. I don’t want Clive to think that I’m normal, because then he’ll think people can act like me and it’s okay. I’m glad I have a few years to figure out how and what to tell Clive. Damn this illness, really.

  4. Jennifer December 22, 2008 at 1:00 pm #

    I agree with Daisy.

  5. Hannah December 22, 2008 at 1:58 pm #

    Heartily agree. My dad struggled with severe clinical depression my entire life and I wasn’t told about it until I was a teenager. A little knowledge – “a sickness in her brain that makes her seem different, maybe angrier or sadder. They know it’s never ever their fault, that even if I react poorly, it’s me reacting, not them causing.” – would have gone a long way toward preventing years of bad feeling and sadness and anger for both of us.

  6. summer December 24, 2008 at 2:01 am #

    Everything you write is always so necessary to be read. I don’t always enjoy it, don’t always want to read it but isn’t that what happens when we are faced with the truth? Sometimes the truth is hard to swallow…small doses…appropriate doses.
    Thank you again for writing the necessary.

  7. skye January 5, 2009 at 6:59 am #

    Thank you

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