It's a very famous poem, and a very true poem, and it terrifies me. Everybody's parents fuck them up in some way or another - it's unfortunate but unavoidable. Following on from my last post, what worries me is the unique challenge of parenting with mental ill health: not so much that it's hard for me, though it is, but what are the implications for my son? How do I prevent it from ruining his childhood, from creating some kind of role reversal where he's looking after me, from messing with our relationship? When I look ahead to Arthur's becoming increasingly aware of what's going on around him, it is this challenge that daunts me the most.
It's about stability. Children need stability. Everyone knows this. I cannot provide stability, at least not at the moment. I have been in mental health services since I was twelve or thirteen, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at fifteen, and recently I was additionally diagnosed with complex PTSD (often given the erroneous and outdated name of 'borderline personality disorder' - despite Wikipedia's claims, I was assured by the consultant that they are one and the same). But it's not really about labels. The problem is that I am a chronic drama llama and I can't seem to help it.
There is always something going on. Always. It's one crisis after another. Some of them are genuine bad luck - I have led an eventful life thus far - but many of them are of my own making. I overthink things; I overreact; I make mountains out of molehills; I am bizarrely black-and-white about things. I am intense. I genuinely can't help it. It's really not ideal. I honestly do not enjoy it. I experience enormous amounts of distress and I am constantly exhausted. My close friends all eventually get fed up and leave. It all gets too much, they're knackered, they have their own lives, and they drop me. And I don't blame them - it hurts but I don't blame them. I would walk away from me if I could. With everyone in my life that I care about, I am watching the clock, waiting for them to leave. But Arthur can't leave, until he's old enough. He's dependent upon me. I cannot bear the thought of his being hurt, especially by me. Yet I cannot miraculously and suddenly fix myself (or fix myself at all, it seems) just because he's here.
Constant crisis will do him no favours. Nor will growing up too fast to take care of me. I cannot model good boundaries, self-esteem, self-control. I don't have these things most of the time. I need to learn them fast, but how? I fear that I can't have a healthy relationship with my son because I don't have a healthy relationship with anybody. The closest I get is with my husband and that only works because he is endlessly patient. I'm afraid that Arthur will end up like me. How much can I hide from him? How can I change? I have self-awareness coming out of my ears but it doesn't seem to help. I'm supposed to be embarking on a hardcore, year-long course of dialectal behaviour therapy. I'm waiting for the referral to go through. Let's hope it helps.