Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wake-Up Call

Depression held me in its tight grip for years. I never anticipated being a single mom. I never anticipated being solely responsible for raising a very troubled daughter. Most days felt as though I was barely keeping my head above water, trying not to drown in the tumultuous waters of my life.

When my daughter was small, I could make her conform to society's rules. This was not always easy. She would have terrible tantrums and meltdowns in situations which were comfortable and untroubled for most people. As she got older, this became much more of a problem because she was stronger and consequently more dangerous in her irrational rages. Holes in walls and broken doors became the norm. In my depressed state, it became impossible for me to keep up with the clutter as my house literally fell apart. I stopped inviting friends over, afraid that if they saw the state of my home they would know my secret--that I had major problems I did not know how to deal with.

I became quite good at keeping up the facade. I kept the kids in outside activities they were interested in and encouraged them to pursue their talents. I helped with their homework, cooked them dinner, did their laundry and continued to work fulltime. I was getting by until the summer my daughter turned sixteen.

By this time, my daughter was as big as me and very rebellious. Trying to tell her to do anything would set her off on some out-of-control rage. My sons, my new husband and I always felt like we were walking on eggshells whenever she was around. She did what she wanted. Grounding her did no good. Where the boys would stay confined in their room, my daughter would laugh in my face and walk out the door.

One day toward the end of the summer, my daughter came to me and told me she was pregnant. We took her to the doctor where this was confirmed. Less than a week later just as we were getting used to the idea of her being a mom and me being a grandma, she had to be rushed to the emergency room because she was having a miscarriage. I felt guilty in being relieved by how things worked out because my daughter was hurting.

If all that trauma wasn't bad enough, about a month later, she was attacked and nearly raped while walking by herself after dark in our neighborhood. She was only saved because she was carrying her cell phone and managed to text some friends nearby who rescued her. She had been introduced to her attacker once by a mutual friend so he was caught and brought to justice. However, because he had a large number of friends and family members who lived in our neighborhood, life for my daughter got that much harder. Always a little paranoid and not very social, now she was getting accused of "lying" about the attack and getting their friend in trouble. It had always been difficult to get my daughter to go to school--most of our major fights happened in the morning before school. Now it was impossible to even get her out of bed. I tried to move her to her father's school district where she wouldn't come into contact with these kids, but that did not work either. My brilliant daughter, who actually won the Algebra award at her high school her freshman year for having the highest GPA in the class, was now a high school dropout. Because of her trauma, she also suffered from nightmares, panic attacks and PTSD.

Through the entire process, I fought with myself. I worked so hard to keep up appearances--to pretend that nothing was wrong. I found myself judging my daughter at every turn because she did not follow what my head told me was the "right" way to do things. The whole time, my heart pleaded with me, "Stop it! You are living a lie--a world created in your imagination out of all those things you were taught were 'truths'!" The voice in my heart continued to get louder and the problems in my life continued to get bigger until my body could take no more. I screamed back, "Enough! I am ready to stop fighting the truth and accept my daughter for who she is!"

As hard and as painful as this realization was, it continues to be the best thing that has ever happened to me. It is only in accepting my life as it truly IS that I can finally see past the lies I have been taught to believe in. What I believed to be "the rules" was merely a construct designed to maintain order and control. I now understand the judgment I held was part of this construct. Finally, I can look past the judgment to the beauty of the soul which resides in each person--to the Divinity of each one, including myself. I see my daughter's light and the blessing she is to me, and for the first time I am thankful.

I slept most of my forty-five years because I lived from the teachings in my head instead of the truth in my heart. If there is confusion and discord in your life, understand it is here to tell you something. Ask what it is you need to learn from this experience. It may just wake you up to truth!

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