If you ask me what’s going on in my life and I don’t answer all of your questions as fully as you would like, please do not take offense.
Some of what I am not telling you is not my story to tell. Some of what I am not telling you is in respect for another person’s privacy. Some of what I am not telling is for another person’s safety and well-being.
The rest of what I am not telling you is because I don’t want to hear you say that you know what I’m going through, or that my situation is similar to something you went through, or that you are going to tell me that everything is going to be okay.
If I say that our son is having a difficult time, do not tell me that he’s making bad choices because he chooses to be around the wrong people. Yes, yes, bad company corrupts good morals. But how many adults choose to surround themselves with people who help them become better versions of themselves? Why do you expect a teenager to do that? It’s really easy to say that he should hang out with “better” kids, but honestly, most of you have taught your own kids to stay away from kids like mine, so when he tries to reach out to your kids, he’s rejected. And that sucks, so why try? And who’s to say who is better to hang out with? Is it the ones with whom he has to pretend to be something he’s not to be accepted? Or is it the ones who always stand up for him, no matter what anyone else thinks even if they sometimes help him get into trouble?
If I say that I don’t know how to handle things with our son, do not tell me that it’s just like when you were rejected by your stepkids and they took out all their anger against their parents on you. I know that is a big problem for you. I get that. I understand that in a lot of ways myself because I am also the recipient of displaced anger. But not knowing how to handle things isn’t not knowing how to try to reach out to a kid who claims he hates me, it’s not knowing how to keep him safe. Do his comments hurt? Yes. But I’m a lot more concerned about what he’s doing to his own life. I’m more concerned that he’s making decisions that could irreparably harm him or possibly even end his life. I’m more concerned that he doesn’t think his own life is worth living than I am that he doesn’t like me.
If I say that my son is having difficulty respecting authority, don’t tell me that he needs more rules or more discipline or less privileges. Yes, he needs structure, and admittedly, this is where I need the most work, but he does not need heavy-handed tactics. You cannot beat the depression out of him. The reason he has difficulty respecting authority is because most of the “authorities” in his early life caused him harm, so he doesn’t trust authority. He will only learn that when the authority figures in his life demonstrate over and over and over and over again that they are trustworthy and demonstrate over and over and over and over again that they care about him, his thoughts, his feelings — him.
If I say that my son is having trouble in school, don’t tell me how important a good education is for his future well-being. I don’t care about his grades. I care about his heart. I care about his mind. When he is whole, he will figure those things out. Right now, they’re not very high on the priority list.
If I say that my son is doing anything that you think is “normal teen behavior,” don’t say, “Oh, all teens do that at some time.” Yes, lots of kids do. The difference is that my kid does it more often and with more intensity and for different reasons than yours. We have seen doctors and psychologists and therapists and parenting experts. Every single one of them has said that he is a complicated kid with a lot of complex issues. There is some “normal”, but it’s mixed in with a whole lot of other stuff.
For those of you who are kind and compassionate and trusted friends who respond empathetically when I do say something, also know that sometimes when you ask, I just don’t want to talk about it. A lot of times I have to repeat the same story to multiple therapists, a doctor, my husband, and a case manager. Other times I have to repeat the same story to 3 different assessors and then to a nurse and a therapist. Sometimes I just don’t want to talk about it. I want to hear about you and your life. I need to have a break from my own chaotic world. Sometimes I’m just tired.
If you care about me and you care about my family, you will not take it personally when I don’t say anything. Unless you are involved in our daily family life or are a professional providing services to us, you don’t actually need to know. If you think you still do, then you aren’t asking out of concern for me but out of your own curiosity, and I just don’t have the energy to try to meet those needs.
Basically, answers to your questions are given on a need to know basis. If you knowing doesn’t benefit me and my family, then you don’t need to know.
A trauma mama