Archive for September, 2013

Dear Mom and Dad,

You’re not my parents, but I still love you.

I don’t know when we disconnected, but it happened. I started taking care of myself and my sister without a second thought towards you. You may not have realized, but us kids saw that you were no longer there for us. Caring for ourselves became the natural, because nobody else would do it. Even when we asked, you wouldn’t DO anything.

You didn’t help physically or emotionally. In fact you emotionally abused us. Well Mom did the abusing, but, Dad… you let it happen and helped place the blame on us when in situations out of our control. Neither of you parented. I don’t think you even remembered how to do it or noticed whether we were even there. All you knew was the Illness. All you saw was the Illness.

I’m not sad about your absence. My world without you shone with curiosity and exploration and love for my siblings and friends. I knew I could handle things on my own. Only when you decided to show up and wreck my carefully constructed life with misconstrued ideas of what parenting means did I have a problem. Just seriously, fuck off on the parenting shit. All you managed to accomplish was a serious mind-fucking. It’s a full time job, not a fair-weather hobby. It’s not something to do to look socially acceptable or to give yourself confidence in your life status.

These are futures.

So, no. I never considered you my parents. I played along to make our lives easier, because honestly what parent enjoys hearing that they are not parents?

None. And nobody wants to deal with the drama following it either.

But I remember the good times. I close my eyes and look back on the smiles, the laughs. I love seeing you on occasion. Really, I just love you. I want a relationship with you, but I want it to be real. I’m tired of playing into these roles that don’t really exist. I’m old enough now that you can wrap you head around the idea of an OTHER category of relationship.

Mom and Dad,

You’re not my parents, but can we be friends?

All of You.

You create the social structure¬†with every passing jab about crazy people and every stereotypical comment on families, making a standard to live up to. It becomes a joke to You and You don’t leave space for differences. Mental illness is The Big Secret, the dirt swept under the rug and covered with a smile, because in society, its only exists as sarcastic comment to lighten the mood.

So, fuck You all.

In a backwards way, physical abuse is more accepted. More understood. Everybody has been spanked or hit at some point and You can relate to the pain. There are institutions designed to save these children. Foster care may not be perfect but it is a resource for these kids. You can find a way to help them. People only want to acknowledge what they have the power to change. It’s the same reason people ignore homeless people: they’re scared there is nothing they can really do or they think it’s a lost cause.

An entire subgroup of our society has been forgotten, left to fend for themselves. In a home with mental illness, there is no simple solution. It becomes a battle between the rights of the parent and the health of the child. Since the parent is ill, they have not consciously done anything wrong and still have full rights. I have yet to see a child given the option of leaving their home due to severe verbal abuse or occasional physical abuse. Unless a child shows up with bruises every day, nothing’s done because their parent is ‘sick.’

In reality, You would never know a child is being verbally abused by a mentally ill parent. Probably not even their closest friends would suspect a thing, because mental illness is something to be ashamed of. Even if You understand that it is a biological illness, You’d judge them just a little in the back of Your mind. Do you honestly think they don’t notice?

So in the end, the children are forced into silence and left uneducated, because nobody takes children seriously. These kids are expected to take care of their ill parents, clean up after them, and support them, all without understanding what is going on. Adults like to believe that kids can’t see things and that by not talking about something, they are protected.

But that’s a lie. If even one adult took the time to explain the illness in terms they could understand or took the time to explain that things aren’t the kid’s fault, they might not have suffered as much. Many children of mentally ill parents develop depression and other mental illnesses of their own. They blame themselves for their parents illness and carry the guilt into their adulthood. They may even continue the cycle with their own kids, like my mother did to us. They are essentially doomed from the beginning by You. This is the cause of the century and many don’t even know it exists.

One thing that gets me is the expectations set for these children. In a two parent household, the ‘other’ parent relies on the children to help control the emotions of the mentally ill parent. It becomes the responsibility of the child to keep the mentally ill parent happy, and their failure if they aren’t happy. That’s bullshit. A person with a mental illness will feel and act however they feel and act no matter what ANYONE does.

This video shows this well.

 

 

Growing up, nobody explained anything or helped me emotionally understand what was happening. Someone told me quickly that my mom had Bipolar Disorder and that she was sick and it wasn’t my fault, then that was never mentioned again. I may have been told once that it wasn’t my fault, but my father’s behavior perpetuated the idea that it was. Also, he never disagreed when my mother said the reason she was ‘this way’ was because of me. Everyone just assumed we could put up with the verbal abuse, take care of our parent’s emotions and suicide attempts, and take care of ourselves with only the understanding that it was because our parent was ill. Yet, nobody sat down and really explained that to us. Go figure.

In Britain, there are more sophisticated forms of assistance for mentally ill and their caretaker children and there are still movements to improve these and include the kids more in the process. I mean, they already have to live with it.

This is a speaker promoting increased education and assistance for these children, who are essentially raising their parents as well as themselves.

You are just as responsible. Save our children.