Walls of Consequence

There may come a point when having a mentally ill person in your life becomes too much.

Too much to bear.

Too much to manage.

Too much to take in while trying to live your own life.

In the last 43 years I have had both “no choice” and “total choice” when it comes to having a relationship with my mentally ill parent.

My childhood “the no choice phase” consisted of running into walls of consequence built from bricks of poor choice made by the adults around me. These bricks of chaos, confusion, rejection, and anger surrounded me and kept me blind to “total choice” world that eventually breaks through.

The path taken in life to “total choice” may not look the same for everyone. My path included building new walls. Walls made from trust, commitment, motherhood and love. As my new walls grew, so did my new life.

I met an incredible man, married him, started a family, chose to be a good person, give to others, and try to be the mother that I believe every child deserves. I do this by protecting my new walls fiercely. If the brick doesn’t fit, it doesn’t get placed.

Except building these new walls involved some tough choices. Choices that included rejecting anything that didn’t work for my new house in life

Part of that was rejecting the bricks that represented family.

The rejection was deliberate. Those bricks didn’t build good walls then. They can’t be used now.

“You know you have 2 grandma’s right? Grandma S who passed away last year, who was my mom, and your mom’s mom, Grandma G” My husband says to my younger son.

“Yeah….” He replies.

I’m already stressed to the max deciding to bring my family, my new life, to meet part of my old life.

We walk in and the receptionist says “Hello, who are you here to see?”

I give the name and she replies “Oh, I think she’s out right now with her daughter, she has a daughter right?”

I pause.

“Yeah, she does.”

She mentions that I should check with her nurse just to make sure so we make our way to her wing.

We meet her nurse and she confirms that she is out.

“I think her daughter came and got her” She says.

I wonder if my kids pick up on the nuances of the conversation.

I ask if I can write her a note saying we stopped by, knowing that a written note is my “proof” of appearance. I begin to write and I immediately feel excluded.

While I was building new walls, the consequence of excluding certain bricks meant that other walls were being built without bricks of me.

It’s a humbling thought that your parent has excluded you from their life as much as you have them in yours.

Are my new walls strong enough now to take a few weak bricks?

The next day the phone rings.

“Hi, Jen, I got your note…….”

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