A beautiful and exotic 24 hours trip into the land of guilt, where everything will painfully remind you of your own failure as a mother.
Welcome to the world of comparison. Let us hit you with everything you missed, let us tell you what should have been and what you don't have. Dance to the rhythm of the music of your guilt. Dive into your sense of failure that will accompany you until your last breathe. Test your emotional abilities to falsely feel peace by trying to rationalize the past, your choices,. Come! Come and live the most intense guilt trip of your life on a yearly basis!
If I could skip Mother's Day, I would.
A day like this reminds me of the mess our family is in. I'll be honest with you, between the 6 of us (my husband and I each have 2 children from previous relationships) , I feel like we all have giving up on each other and on our family.
I even think we all mostly think it's for the best for everyone for now.
While my husband is understanding with a new perspective his relationship with his own children, the reason of their behavior -past and present- as well as his own, since he's more able to position himself as the father that he feels that he was, he's learning to let go about his expectations concerning them, slowly but surely. For years, he was looking for solutions, identity and respect. Today, I feel like he's understanding more and more the true meaning of «working on himself» in order to make in better for the their future relationships. In my husband's case, you could say that he always ends up alone «against» his children. Basically, if he fights with one, the other will follow the other one and the other way around is also true: when one comes back, the other one follows within a number of weeks.
As for my internal family's dynamic, it's a complete different story and a totally different culture. When a situation occur, we fight for our principals rather than looking for a guilty. When confronted to a resistance, we end up ignoring each other and until something is not properly solved, we cannot fake a relationship. So my children haven't spoken to each other for more than a year; my daughter and I for a number of months.
2 families, 2 cultures, same result.
It would be terribly wrong to say that our dysfunctional family is all because of my husband's PTSD.
PTSD is not why *everything* goes wrong.
Of course, it impacted my husband as a father. I can only talk about what I saw: Yes, he was demanding, rude, tough. Yes, he was emotionally detached, absent. He didn't know how to be a father when his children came to live with us. He was mentally a mess, dealing with the symptoms of PTSD but trying to ignore them as much as he could.
Yes, he is a PTSD dad. But nobody will make me say that he is a bad one, a mean one. He is a suffering Dad, not an asshole.
You know, I feel like his ex-wife should be a facilitator after all those years. She should be humble enough to say, at one point, «I was wrong about your father, he is and was wounded and I never realized that he was, even when he was serving and that we were a family.» I'm not ashamed to say that I hate this woman for the pain she inflicted to my husband using their children. Especially now that the whole worlds knows that her ex-husband is invalidated with PTSD.
She is a mother too, if you ask me.
And God knows how much she was able to trigger my husband when his children were living with us. Her sneaky ways would come from everywhere. I remember when she would call our fortress to talk to their son at 5 pm on my husband's birthday, knowing that we would be celebrating.
Not to mention that I was the one dealing with the family crisis she would directly create.
That's the past, now that their children are close to thirty years old and are parents themselves, they make their own choices too... It's hard to have a family crisis when there is no more family.
As for me, as my own children's mother, my husband's PTSD impacted me on many ways. But can I say that if I feel like I could have been a better mother, it's completely because of my husband's PTSD?
I had my own family culture; I had my own responsibility regarding the choices I was making. I had my own weaknesses.
So I fought PTSD without knowing I was fighting PTSD..and Rambo. I fought. I fought for everything: from the food I was serving to the family, to the rules of the house, to the vacations and activities we would make, to the way he would answer or criticize a child, to his limitations as a step-father...
...to his attitude regarding his ex-wife, his children and his role as a father. His responsibility that he left upon my shoulders.
Sometimes, I closed my eyes on situations, just like I closed my eyes on the crowbar that he left on the headboard of our bed for 11 years. It is when my 15 years old son told us that he was sleeping with a huge mass in his bedroom in case of a home invasion, that I realized that if I ignored the crowbar for 11 years, 4 sets of eyes saw it all this time.
It destroyed me inside.
Too many times, we left family parties suddenly, making them feel all the emotions related to a departure based on hurry and anger. They would feel their uncles and aunts discomfort or their grand-parents discontent.
They ended up impacted by our own isolation, as we would avoid family meetings or continuously change our minds at the last minute. «Gatherings» never were truly fun as we always walked on eggshells, trying to avoid the unexpected.
The only official tradition is to have no tradition... at all.
They ended up being so complicated (I didn't realize my husband's PTSD, my son was car-sick and it was a challenge to have all 4 children at the same time....) to organize, to plan or to decide spontaneously that we had very little.
I remember feeling so guilty about not being able to provide them a sense of security and stability. I remember feeling so guilty when I saw fear into their eyes, when I knew they were not guilty of what they were accused of, when they didn't deserve the words they were told, when they were Rambo's innocent enemies.
I always took the fight in the name of the children. Every single one of them for all four children. I probably minimized the Rambo's energy focused on them but in the end, I didn't protect them from those situations to begin with. They saw me pack my things. They heard me say that I couldn't take it anymore. They heard me scream, yell, shut the doors. They suffered from the impacts of my own depressions regarding my lack of interest, presence, enthusiasm, energy.
They saw the physical wounds I inflicted myself.
In reality, my lack of education was the real problem. The absence of support and respite too. I drowned in my own isolated and excruciating life trying to be what I could not be.
Ladies and gentlemen, you have the result in front of you: a mother who hates Mother's Day.
This year, Mother's Day as a daughter eased the guilt trip. I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days at my mother's place, we took long walks. We talked a lot.
My mother is the very first one outside the fortress who opened her heart to PTSD. She's the one who asks questions, who listens to my husbands and make him talk too. She's the first one who accepted that he would smoke pot to have a sense of relief and would insist that he feels welcome to take a nap if he needed one.
My mother is 70 years old.14 years ago, when I informed her that I was in love with an ex-military, she questioned me abruptly: «Are you sure? I hear they are aggressive!!!?!!».
I remember laughing:
«Trust me, Mom! I know what I'm doing!». I was 29 years old and felt like I was on top of the world.
Today, when I shared with her my guilt and I remembered her about this conversation she just said:
«Maybe you didn't know what you were doing but you did a great job. It's your time to trust them. It's your time to let go of the guilt. Everything will be fine».
Mother's Love on a Mother's day.
So reassuring on one hand, so painful on the other one.