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This Is the Story I Didn't Want To Share

I'm told these are the stories we should be writing

Click here to read this story on Medium.com

Image by Racool_studio on Freepik

This is a post by my friend Annie Trevaskis, who helps me with my own writing. She wrote this post about the shame a parent sometimes feels, and I identified with it strongly.

Read it if you are a parent, plan to be a parent, or ever had a parent.

Please read this with soft eyes.

Have you heard the saying that you are only as happy as your least happy child? I have never felt this to be true for me. But I understand it now.

The story began less than a week ago when I got a text from my youngest son, Edward*, asking if he could come over the next day to talk to me.

He asked if we could be alone.

He said he didn’t want to talk to his Dad, his brothers, or my husband Roger. Just me.

I knew something was wrong.

I woke early and made a safe space in the garden summerhouse. I took chairs, blankets, a heater, a Bluetooth speaker, candles and incense. I wanted to be prepared for anything and everything.

When he arrived, I asked if he wanted a cup of tea.

“You know what I want, Mum,” he said.

And he fetched himself a bottle of cider. It was 9 am.

We sat in the summer house, and he told me he had been signed off work until Saturday because he had broken down in front of colleagues. Another friend had attempted suicide, and it had brought back memories of all his friends who have died: one murdered, five suicides.

“I think I am cursed,” he said. It is a line I have heard many times.

But there was more.

“You know how I said I was a functioning alcoholic? Well, I’m not. I’m an alcoholic, and it’s affecting my marriage.”

Edward is married to a lovely man who has threatened to leave.

I let my son talk, and I listened.

He needed help, and I didn’t know what to do.

I spoke very little, but I remember one thing I said. It was brutally honest. He said that he wasn’t capable of going cold turkey but knew he needed to cut down on his drinking. My response was: “Ed, you can’t moderate. You will have to stop.” And he cried.

I told him about Bridie’s philosophy. She was an Irish friend of mine who worked with alcoholics. Every time anyone came to her with a story of someone who had lost their home, job, or relationship, she would say, “Well, isn’t that grand?” because Bridie’s philosophy was that the closer anyone came to rock bottom, the closer they came to turning their lives around.

I told Edward that his rock bottom would probably be losing his husband, his home and his job. So why not start to turn things around before he got there? Why not start now?

I drove him home and then returned to do what I do best: copious amounts of research. And I found a 5-star rehab facility with more positive reviews than any other. Edward would need to go for a month, and it is expensive.

I wrote a story here about a Chinese proverb. Its message is simple: do not label things as good or bad because you do not know what the future holds.

Last year, I struggled not to attach the label “bad” to what happened to me. Dealing with a sociopathic neighbour at the beautiful flat I had bought crushed me, and for my own mental health, I needed to get out. But we couldn’t sell the flat. So I cashed in everything I had and managed to buy a small, not very nice house to escape to with the idea that, once the flat did sell, we might be able to extend and renovate it. We haven’t done that yet.

But the flat eventually sold, albeit at a huge loss, so I have money in the bank.

I have always said that the most important thing to spend money on is your health. I got that wrong. The most important thing you can spend money on is your children’s health.

Edward is due to be collected and taken to the clinic this morning.

I have cried quite a lot in the last few days, but never more so than when I got a copy of the welcome letter they sent to Edward, and reached the second paragraph about their pledge to him.

Our pledge to you is a simple one: You will be safe, and you will be cared for.

I am trying to work out why this is so difficult to write and share. There is some shame in the mix. There is shame for my failings as a parent.

But there is also shame, and I’m not quite sure why, that I have the money and can do this for him when so many others would be unable to. The cost is £18,000. I am acutely aware that this is the sort of money that could significantly impact the lives of numerous people, including many of those reading this. It seems so unfair.

Edward says he will pay me back the £18K when he can. But I have let it go willingly without thought of return. Some things are more important than living in a nice house.

I want you to know that Edward is a kind, sensitive soul. He is warm, funny and pure of heart. No parent would choose for their child to go through such pain. As I strive to let go of my desire for him to be healed, I am reminded of a Ram Dass quote:

For your soul, suffering is that which forces you to grow spiritually, and brings you closer to awakening to whom you in truth are.

I love Edward with all my heart. The shame I feel as a parent is balanced by the gratitude I have that he was able to come to me and say that most courageous word: “Help.”

I am sharing this with his permission. He has asked me to include a link to his favourite song, Patience. The original is Sabali by Amadou & Mariam.

To anyone reading this who is struggling with any form of addiction, I say this: you should feel no shame. All addiction is a response to pain or trauma. It is not your fault. You are not flawed or unworthy. I hope you find your way to a place of safety where you feel cared for. I hope you find the courage to ask for help.

*Name changed on my son’s request

  1. If you would like your comment to be seen by Annie - click here to see her post on Medium.com

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