By Donna K. Lay, MS, LPC, CCMHC
I am not your birth mother. I was not present when your bodies were thrust upon a cruel world. I became your parent many years later after your souls had already been wounded and scarred. I try to heal your wounds. I should be able to. After all, I am supposed to have the knowledge to do so. I have pieces of paper that say I can do this. I can even call your wounds and scars by name. I use words and letters like Major Depression, Mental Retardation, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Intermittent Explosive Disorder. No matter how hard I try, how much I love, the wounds and scars are still there, ruling our lives, robbing us all of the sweetness that should have been yours.
I have been mother for both of you for eleven extraordinary years now. I have watched you grow from little girls who were like little scared rabbits into teenage girls full of life, promise, and questions. Adolescents jam-packed full of contradictions: giggles and tears, uncertainty and independence. One redhead and one blonde, not my own blood but still of my heart. I love you both so much and want to take away all your hurts and wipe away all traces of the scars that went before. Faith and knowledge argue that I can do this. Given strength from above, I continue to hope and love.
But when old memories come, the hole that reaches soul-wide is there, remembering and haunting you both. I want to erase the memories that made the hole, but can't. I feel so inadequate and insignificant when faced with the cold hard truth of that. But I can't go back and change the past.
As your mother, I watch as you both struggle with your memories and scars. Too often, you turn your rage against yourselves. You hurt and strike out, only to succeed in harming yourselves. I beg you to stop. You have already been hurt enough. You try to drive me away with your anger, but I must stay. I can't and won't abandon you now. You are both in my heart.
I have been told I have my own label: "Situational Depression." I think it is a bit of an understatement; but smile and continue my labor of love. When I allow the black pit of my "situation" to consume me, I feel so alone and full of despair. I am powerless and a failure. All is black. I have come to know that these feelings are lies told to me by my depression. I can't afford be fooled by the lies any longer.
My training and spirit tell me to use the anger I feel for my daughter’s scars to give me the strength and courage to fight for them. I harness it to bring about positive change, to battle the stigma of mental illness. This fight brings me out of my own black pit into the light. It is my salvation, and that of my children.
I can't take away the pain of the memories. I do not have the power to do away with the scars. But I can fight for my children and those others with the same battles. I know I cannot solve all the problems, but maybe I can make a difference. Perhaps I can bring some light to someone else's black pit. Maybe I can share the hope that has kept us going.
My own path pales to insignificance when compared to the road the daughters of my heart have already trod. Their path ahead is not smooth. I can only be there to help them over the rough spots ahead. We will conquer our paths together, hand in hand, and heart in heart. Hope will keep us strong.
Copyright by Donna K Lay
Library of Congress: TXu1-149-135