I don’t really care about Mother’s Day. I did once, when I was a new mom. But new mom’s don’t get celebrated on Mother’s Day, old moms do.
I felt like more was done for my mother in law and expected for my own mother than I got.
I still feel that way but I don’t care as much. Mother’s Day has nothing to do with me. I became a mom the day my son was born. Today is just the second Sunday in May.
My relationship with my own mother isn’t good. Never was, I just didn’t realize it until a few years ago.
In the age of social media, people post all these flowery words about their mothers. Not just on Mother’s Day but just in general. “So thankful for my mommy.” “My mom is my best friend” “Happy birthday to the person that made me who I am”. All my friends on Facebook do this, including my sisters. I never did. And I felt bad about that.
I never did because I don’t feel that way. I would have never been able to articulate that a few years ago. I don’t feel like my mother is a martyr or that she did her best or that she’s my best friends. Since that’s how I felt deep in my core and I’m incapable of being fake, I didn’t post those flowery things.
I felt like a bad daughter. What kind of person doesn’t feel that way about her mother? A bad one.
My gut was right, I later learned. And that’s tough. It makes today tough.
I am doing everything in my power to be different than her so my kids don’t feel like I do.
My sons and I say “I love you” a lot. In silly ways sometimes. My oldest will ask me if I love him and I’ll say yes and he’ll say “yay!” like it’s a surprise.
Yesterday he said “you’re the best mom” in the silly way he does and I said thanks. Then he said, “I know you’re the best mom. I say it so you’ll know it too”. My sweet boy. The one that made me a mother.
Everyday I hope to be better so you and your brother never feel like I do. So you never feel so much uncertainty and anxiety and pain. So you only feel love and support from me. Like you should from a mother.
Another gem from my trauma therapist – the difference between shame and guilt. Shame is the feeling that you are bad. Guilt is the feeling that your actions are bad. A normal amount of both is necessary to live in world with others. They keep a person (most of us 😉 ) from scratching their butt in public and make sure they hold the door for someone a reasonable distance behind them. It’s when shame and guilt are at consistent abnormal levels that they are a problem.
Mine is the latter. I feel responsible for nearly everything and like I have control of almost nothing. It’s pretty terrible. But this isn’t about me or guilt. It’s about shame. I heard something on a podcast (Terrible, Thanks for Asking) about shame and in particular about alcoholism. The guest said that shame prevents a person from taking responsibility. That made absolute sense to me.
Whereas my anxiety and guilt often paralyze me into procrastination or downright avoidance because the amount options and fear of judgement are too overwhelming, shame prevents a person from seeing their actions as a problem. They are the problem. It’s easy for that person to slip into denial because they literally cannot see their actions as being wrong – they are blind in that way. All they can see is how bad they are. So they drink. Or use drugs. Or throw themselves unhealthily into some activity. Or make a comfy blanket of that denial and sink further and further into it unable to see the world around them.
For comic book fans: Bruce Wayne (Batman) feels shame, Barry Allen (The Flash) feels guilt.
My son will enter his last elementary school for the first time tomorrow. We moved a week into the pandemic and he started this school year at the neighborhood school; literally across the street from our house. He’s never been inside.
He’s in the 5th grade. He will be attending two days per week due to the district’s social distancing policies. I am glad he’ll get some in person school; beggars can’t be choosers right now. He’s getting more and more depressed and unmotivated being home for over a year. I hope he’ll meet some friends with families of similar risk assessments of our family.
I’m nervous. Not because I think he’ll catch COVID but because he’s entering a world I don’t have to. I’ve worked from home this whole time. I only need to wear a mask when I go out to the store which I don’t do often. I may never be in a position to wear a mask all day. My office has no plans to let folks back in on a regular basis. The rumors are that when it does happen it will be on a rotating basis and masked. If my favorite co-workers are on a different cycle than me, there’s no point. My son, on the other hand, will be masked for 6.5 hours with only a break for eating. It feels wrong to require him do something I won’t have to do. Parents shouldn’t ask that of their kids. No one should.
The teacher’s union that represents the majority of the staff considers him to be not a student but a vector of a fatal disease. He doesn’t know this, of course. But I do. I also know the statistics that staff transmits the virus to other staff in around 60% of the rare cases of in school transmission. They don’t seem to care about that. His very presence is a danger to their existence, they say. Will that idea cause them to treat hum differently? I don’t know this school or these teaches like I did at the old school that between both my boys we were at for 7 years.
Nothing about schools during COVID has been about children. Every policy has been adult centric. My state is in the the bottom 5 of students with access to in person learning. My county refuses to commit to 5 days in the fall. Children have sacrificed the most for a disease that affects them the least.
I know he’ll be fine. He’s not the first group of kids to return and anecdotally things are going great. Kids come home happy and lighter than they’ve been in over a year.
My oldest starts in two weeks for the same two days my youngest will be at school. The school system is staggering the starts; they are dragging their feet.
I’m glad they will be able to make friends and be in person with their teachers. I know how good it will be for them and for us. It’s just bittersweet.
This is the first in a series of blogs I intend to write about my experience being homeless as a young child and the events leading up to it as I have come to understand them.
My mother joined the Army in late 1981/early 1982. My sister Sara and I were 1 and 2, respectively. Barely; our birthdays are both in August. We were babies. Not even potty trained.
I’ve always known this about my mother. Even the approximate time when she joined. When I was in elementary school I had to interview a family member on tape and I interviewed her about joining the Army. It never occurred to me what what a strange choice that was for a young mother at that time. She was 24 or almost 24. It was a time when 9% of enlisted Army members were women.1 Approximately 17% were women in 2020.2 Just over half of women even worked in 1982 and about 45% of women with children under 3 compared to 56% and 63% now, respectively.3 It wasn’t rare for women with children that age to work or join the military, it just wasn’t common.
What makes it more strange for my mother is that her husband, our father, was an addict and unable to hold down a job. That’s the reason I was told she joined the Army in the first place. It never occurred to me to ask where Sara and I lived. I assumed it was with him. It wasn’t. We lived with my mom’s parents; my grandmother and grandfather. I found that out just a few years ago.
At my dad’s memorial service (June 2018) I reconnected with some of his family, including his younger cousin, T. They were best friends growing up and lived together on and off both as children and as adults. Their mother’s were sisters, single and raising children alone. One was a widow and one was divorced (my dad’s mom). The boys had lots of adventures running around the Annapolis areas of Eastport and Parole, downtown.
He told me so many great stories about him and gave me a lot of information about that time that I didn’t know. One that has stuck with me was about my mom’s choice to leave her babies with her parents to join the Army. When T talked about this he said in a sort of solemn tone, “your mom decided to join the Army and we all thought it was a good idea”. A good idea? Does anyone ever describe someone’s choice to enlist as a “good idea”? Yes, when they are a screw up.
She was a screw up, too. Not just my dad. That means even before the homelessness things weren’t good. In fact things were so bad that she felt her only option was to leave us, even if temporarily, at 1 and 2 years old. In 1982. Were there no factory jobs where she could pull mid or swing shifts? That would have made more sense that the Army. Was her intention to run away from us? Did she ever intend on coming back?
My dad didn’t have a stable place to live or work so we lived with my grandparents two hours away. Two babies without either of their parents. But it didn’t last long.
One night my dad came to my grandparent’s house to have dinner with us all. Sweet potatoes were on the menu. I have a very vivid memory of sitting at a table in my grandmother’s kitchen with sweet potatoes and being told I couldn’t get up until I ate them. It’s a story I recounted to my mother many times over the years as the reason I didn’t like sweet potatoes. It’s a story I told my own kids about a different time when sitting at the table with a cold dinner was how people dealt with picky eaters. That incident is why my dad took us from my grandparents’ and was the start of what would be almost 3 years of homelessness. My mother kept that from me for over 35 years.
My grandmother wanted me to finish the sweet potatoes. My dad did not. My grandmother said something to the affect of “well it’s my house” and that was all it took. He packed us up and took us. It’s seems like it’s really not that big of a deal, I guess. He and his mother-in-law had differing ideas of how to parent, of course they did. But he didn’t have a stable living situation and our mother was gone. It was a big deal.
I’m sure there was arguing. My grandmother took us in because she knew it wouldn’t be good for us to be with him. She wasn’t going to give us up easily. Voices were probably raised and then hushed so we wouldn’t get upset. I have no memory of any of that but I remember everything about that kitchen. The table I sat at. The refrigerator to the left. How small it seemed. How long it seemed that I sat there. The rest of what happened must have been so traumatic that my little brain blocked it out.
Did I feel like it was my fault? All this fighting because I wouldn’t eat mushed up sweet potato goo. If I had just done what I was told everyone would be happy and safe. It’s no wonder the memory of the sweet potatoes is so vivid for me.
My mother didn’t think it was a big deal to have not said anything to me. She’d brainwashed us to think that even the homelessness wasn’t a big deal. I asked her what she thought of him taking us like he did. She said that she was worried but she would have done the same thing.
Even with hindsight it was the right call? How different would our lives have been if we’d stayed there with them? Does she really think it was an okay thing to have done or is she just too stubborn to admit it was a mistake?
During the time we were with my dad in Maryland, before the big road trip (see On the Road), we stayed with cousin T. According to my grandmother, my dad spent most of the money he had on educational toys for me. She would talk to his mother and aunts on the phone and suggest that if they were going to help us out, to buy us food and milk and not to give him money. When she talked to him she told him things like kids need to drink milk not Coke. I have no idea if he worked during that time and if he did, who kept an eye on Sara and I. He was a 30 year old man but he had no idea what he was doing. We were babies. Our mother was gone and our dad was not capable of creating a safe and stable home for us. But he was all we had.
We had a roof over our head but it wasn’t stable. It wasn’t ours. It wasn’t a home. And it wouldn’t be long before we didn’t even have that.
This pandemic has been tough on me. It’s been tough on everyone in different ways. I try hard to not shame myself into thinking my struggles are not valid.
We moved during this. Not that it matters but it was never our intention to move during a global pandemic. As the world closed down we had to reschedule closings, movers and were on edge every time we drove from our old house to our new house. I still can’t believe we pulled it off.
I was just coming out of a near breakdown, caused I think by a second bout of diverticulitis and a bad reaction to antibiotics. And the stress of moving.
Schools shut down here on March 13th, as they did many places in the country. My oldest had been out sick that entire week due to flu (positive for flu B). I stayed home with him 4 of those days and, knowing everything was shutting down, I chose to go to work on Friday the 13th in order to have one more day of normalcy before the apocalypse. Since my son had chosen to attend the school assigned to our new house, my husband raced to the school to clean out his locker.
I had a panic attack in the parking lot of the Giant near my work. I had gone in to get some things, I panic bought pads and tampons, and started to dry heave in the self checkout – just the thing the other patrons wanted to see at the start of a pandemic, I’m sure. My breathing became heavy and the gagging continued as I took my purchases to the car. I started to breakdown hysterically. I called my youngest sister. I cried to her about my fears about the pandemic, the move, my teeth. Everything was crushing me.
Not the best way to start what would be a year of isolation and fear.
Part of why this pandemic has hit my mental health so hard is because I had high expectations of the move. My oldest didn’t have a good experience at his middle school and was looking forward to a new school. I was finally in a place where I felt I could handle friendships well and a little court right near the community pool was the perfect place.
None of that happened.
The thing that brought me to therapy back in 2017 was the constant uncertainty and judgement I felt about every action I made. The “shoulds” had gotten so loud that I wasn’t able to function. Fast forward to a global pandemic and you can imagine how I reacted to all the “shoulds” placed upon me.
I am a smart person. I know that given some effort I could learn pretty much anything. I have read and listened to a lot about COVID and how it spreads. The policies are not science based. The COVID narrative became less about science and more about shaming. It was treated as both inevitable and totally preventable at the same time. It was the latter that caused the shaming and became the loudest “should”.
Getting COVID was a moral failure. You broke the rules and got COVID, you deserve it. If you left the house for any non-essential reason you were guilty of murder. If you stay home, you save the lives of millions of people from your neighbor to someone half way across the world. Masks don’t work, oh wait they do. Hand sanitizer, virus on surfaces, playgrounds closed. As the summer approached and numbers dwindled things became better. No pool but summer camp was on, shorter and with COVID protocols but it helped my oldest deal with the depression and mood swings from the isolation. My youngest wanted to join Cub Scouts so we did that. Things were looking up.
Then the fall spike. Everything shut down again. Cubs became virtual, schools refused to reopen, my oldest’s new neighborhood friends stopped going outside. The election.
The “shoulds” were still loud. I worried that if people saw us as being less strict than they were being, we would become neighborhood pariahs before even getting a chance to show people how nice we were. That my sons would have no friends because their parent were “racist COVID deniers”. There was no evidence to suggest that. If anything we followed the rules tighter than most people we knew. We hadn’t left the state, barely left the house, wore masks wherever required without incident. But I was still afraid. I saw the rhetoric online and figured people must be thinking these things in real life. I thought everyone was judging everyone else all the time. It made me difficult to be with, I’m sure.
I wanted to start over in this new place but it didn’t happen. I am afraid I lost my chance. We’ve been here almost a year now and we have no friends. What does that say about us? Is it just us that is having a hard time? My kids have never set foot in their new schools. My youngest’s Cub Scout experience has been depressing and no one really tried to get to know him; I have reacted badly toward some of the leadership because of that. (Although a touch of empathy from them for how difficult it must been to join a group only virtually would have helped.)
Data has shown the lockdowns to this extent were not necessary, schools did not need to remain closed in the fall, outdoor gatherings do not spread COVID and had no reason to be regulated. No one is sorry for the damage done and it infuriates me. It brings out all the OCPD thoughts I’ve worked so hard to eliminate. Thankfully I’ve only had a handful of outbursts and most of the OCPD behaviors haven’t come back. But I feel awful about any hurt I caused, anytime I was impatient and lacked empathy. Why don’t others feel the same? They “should”.
The “shoulds” get me every time. This pandemic has been mostly a pandemic of “shoulds”. It’s crushing me.
My therapist recommended IFS or Internal Family Systems therapy to me several months ago. The idea behind the therapy is that a person is made up parts and sometimes those parts do more harm than good.
We all have parts. We talk about them often. “There’s a part of me that’s happy this happened but another part that is nervous.” For some of us, our parts are in conflict that can cause us mental anguish.
The point of IFS is learning to engage with those parts as if they are individuals within a “family”, asking them their thoughts and about their actions. Tim Ferris had IFS developer Richard Schwartz on his podcast recently and they go through an IFS session live. It’s amazing and worth a listen. It’s linked here. https://tim.blog/2021/01/14/richard-schwartz-internal-family-systems/
I tweeted recently that I dissociate sometimes. Lately I notice it happens when I am feeling happy and confident. I get this overwhelming feeling that I am being fake. Like I’m putting on a performance. It’s similar to how I feel when I drink; like I’m a passenger in my own mind. It’s called depersonalization.
When I talked to my therapist about it she said next time it happens I need to engage with that part and ask it what is so bad about being happy and confident.
The answer I got back was not surprising. Being happy and confident means I won’t be ready if something bad happens. That makes sense, however my follow up question is why this depersonalization? Why is this the way this “part” deals with the happy confident feeling?
That answer came a little while later. The part said being happy and confident isn’t real. There’s nothing to be happy and confident about. I must be faking it.
What I need to do is try to convince that part that happiness and confidence are good things. I can still be ready for potential bad things. Being happy about a new vase and flower arrangement is good. It’s progress. It’s not bad.
It’s important to know where this comes from. My early childhood was rough. Homelessness, poverty, neglect, parents ill-equipped to emotionally support their children. My later childhood was more stable but I still had a big lack of emotional supports from my parents.
It’s no wonder I feel like a fraud when a moment of happiness or confidence comes. But times are different. Those coping mechanisms that were so important to protect me as a child are no longer necessary. I just need to work on convincing that “part”.
Four years ago I had a nervous breakdown. I wasn’t hospitalized, but that doesn’t matter. It was a mental health crisis.
One thing that’s important to know is that a nervous breakdown doesn’t just happen overnight. There’s a slow build. For me there was an event that caused the slow build to speed toward the cliff. The event? Getting a new beagle puppy.
We’d been looking for the perfect baby beagle for about a month. A few pet stores and the local animal shelter. Then we found this sweetie. She was the perfect pup for us. We named her Sophie, after the little girl in Roald Dahl’s The BFG.
I had never had a puppy before. Or at least I’d never been responsible for one before. For some reason my husband and I decided getting her right before he went out of town for work was a good idea. My thoughts were that I would need to leave work early to get the kids from the bus (usually his job) and that would give me an excuse to come home early to walk the puppy.
My husband was gone the first 3-4 weekdays we had her. He didn’t realize how little I knew. I didn’t know about crate training. I barely slept. I was hysterical texting him throughout the day and night. I had no idea how to stop her from peeing or biting or how to get her to sleep. It was winter so it was cold at night when I took her out. It was hard to fall back to sleep. She cried all night.
At her first vet visit I mentioned her sleeping issues. They said her crate was too big and that a smaller sleeping area would help her sleep better. We also got one of those beating heart puppies to keep her company. That helped immensely. But as far as my mental health was concerned, the damage was done.
Even after my husband got home, I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating much either. I lost about 7lbs in the week and a half leading up to the breakdown. My husband was worried I was dehydrated or malnourished. Did I have a virus or a parasite or something? He thought it was physical. I knew it was mental. I knew I was breaking down. But I didn’t know how to stop it.
What’s so frustrating about severe mental illness is that it makes you unable to see how to get better. I had a psychiatrist, I was on a mood stabilizer, I had a bottle of Ativan in my purse for emergencies. It never occurred to me to call my psychiatrist or take an Ativan. Not once.
Not even the day of the breakdown. It was a Monday. It was my day to run home at lunch to walk and fed the pup. We had a staff meeting at 10:45am. When it was my turn to give my status, my speech was slurred. I apologized for it and a co-worker joked that it was okay, they knew I was tired from the puppy. I knew that wasn’t it but smiled and laughed anyway.
I still have no idea how I drove all the way home and back without getting into an accident. In the afternoon, after more frantic texting to my husband, I decided I needed to go to the ER. I wanted to be admitted so I could sleep. But I didn’t want to go alone.
My own mother was living out of state (and would have made it worse in the long run). My husband had two kids under 9 and a new puppy to deal with. I had no friend I felt comfortable asking for help from. So it was ask his mother to deal with the kids and puppy or ask her to sit at the ER with me for hours. We decided on the latter.
When I called she wasn’t home. I left a message with my father-in-law. I was so upset sounding that he called her cell phone and she called me back before she got home. With tears in my voice I told her I was having a hard time and needed to go to the ER and would she meet me there. She said yes.
We sat there for hours. I cried in triage that I just wanted to get some sleep. I had blood drawn and got an IV for dehydration. I wasn’t sick, I was exhausted. Exhausted from anxiety and the puppy and work and kids and the unresolved trauma from my childhood that I was carrying but had no idea existed. I was broken into pieces I had no idea how to put back together. I just wanted to sleep. I thought that would fix it.
When they were checking me out, I told them that if they didn’t help me get some sleep I’d be back there the next day. I probably sounded like a drug addict. “Take two Ativan and 50mg of Benadryl and then call your psychiatrist in the morning”. So simple, I was just too sick to figure that out on my own.
I went back to my mother in law’s house, took the medication and slept for nearly 12 hours. I stayed her house the next morning. She got me some of those Odwalla smoothie drinks for breakfast. Early in the afternoon, she took me back to the ER so I could get my car and go home.
When I got home we got more smoothie drinks for me to put some calories into my system. I drank those for months afterward. My psychiatrist was able to work me in fairly quickly and advised I take the Ativan at night for sleep. I took .5 mg of it every night for about 2 months (more on that in a later blog). The 25 mg of Benadryl I took for about 18 months, even though after all that time it wasn’t doing anything. I was too afraid of not sleeping.
In the weeks after the ER visit I started therapy with a cognitive behavioral therapist and started to get real help for the first time in the 16 years I’d been in therapy.
Four years later I still am not all the way better. I may never be. I try harder now than I ever did in the years before. What I learned in therapy, the techniques, about my own childhood, would change me forever. It helped me deal with the sudden illness and death of my estranged father in the summer/fall of 2017 and the murder of one of my sisters in June 2019. Without the breakdown, I may still be in the hospital from one or both of those events.
For that I am thankful. I could not have handled those things or this pandemic without the nervous breakdown. Sometimes things need to break before they can be healed.
Repost from my Facebook page. Written Thanksgiving 2019.
I’ve never liked Thanksgiving. I think it’s stupid. It’s food based and the drama that comes with it isn’t worth roast turkey and stuffing. But I’m grateful we did our Sisters’ Thanksgiving last year.
It was the first time we’d all four been together since my wedding 11 years earlier. It was the last time I saw my sister Sara before she was killed. Her arm was in a sling. She told us it was from pushing her cart at work. She was a nurse on a prison’s death row. It seemed plausible. Looking back now, that’s probably not what happened.
I remember that she fell asleep on my sister’s couch. We thought that was funny and made fun of her a little bit. I regret that. She probably just felt safe enough there to sleep. She may have been grateful to be with us and away from him. But we didn’t know that. We didn’t know he was there. We didn’t know he was hurting her.
Sister #2 (daughter #3), J, hosted. She had a full spread for us and had made a table and benches for the occasion. It was really impressive. My husband and sons were there. We were at the end of a Disney/Universal Studios vacation. One of my nephews was there and he and my sons had a good time visiting. Sara’s son wasn’t there. He was with his dad. He wasn’t with his dad when she was killed. He saw everything. He was hurt too.
My youngest sister, A, was there with her dog. She didn’t bring her boyfriend. It was a new relationship and all four of us at once is a lot. Sara never got to meet him.
Sara was dressed in old clothes. Her hair probably needed a good wash and trim. But that really wasn’t abnormal. Her skin looked rough but better than when I’d seen her in June for our dad’s memorial. Stress can take a toll. She’d been under more stress than just this guy was causing. Back then I’d given her the bunch of moisturizer samples I’d been hoarding. Her skin just looked so dry and thirsty. Much older than her 38 years.
Sara left earlier than the rest of us. She had to work the next morning. She worked 12 hour shifts that started at 4 or 5am. She wanted to get some sleep before getting up again. I wonder if she did. I wonder if it was restful.
I didn’t bring anything to dinner because we were on vacation and staying at a hotel near the airport. It had a weird indoor/outdoor pool. The indoor part was in the lobby. Very strange. When I flew down less than a year later to be with family and help out after she was killed, I stayed in that same hotel. I had a nice moment with the concierge. She asked why I was visiting and I was honest. My sister died. Her’s had died too. From cancer a few months previously. We cried together and she came out from behind the desk and we hugged for longer than strangers would.
Last Thanksgiving was a nice visit. I didn’t realize it would be the last visit with her. I didn’t realize all the pain that was to come. My youngest sister was 27 when Sara was killed. We’d been four for 27 years. It’s way too soon to be only three.
I’ve only hosted Thanksgiving once. Back in college my roommate and I hosted. Sara came. Another friend came as well. I’d been watching a lot of Food Network and made several of Alton Brown’s recipes. I brined the turkey overnight and scalded the milk for the mashed potatoes. It was good. It was hard to coordinate all the dishes, though. Making sure everything was warm but not overcooked. Like I said, it’s a lot of work and a lot of drama and no one appreciates it. You don’t even get presents. It’s just food.
But I guess it’s more than just food. It is a time to get together. No matter the real story of the “first Thanksgiving” or any of the “colonialism is bad” narrative, it’s a time to be with family. It’s an appointment on a calendar. It can be celebrated without mention of people in tall black hats and colorful feather headbands sharing fish and wild boar on a long table in the woods of Massachusetts. Thanksgiving is the last time I saw my sister. Maybe that makes me like it a bit more.
I didn’t do normal kid rebellious stuff. I didn’t sneak out, I wasn’t on the phone late. I didn’t really go out with friends much at all. I was an easy teenager. I made good grades, felt bad when I didn’t. I was a Girl Scout.
But there were warning signs. There had to be. I didn’t get this depressed and anxious overnight. I remember one summer in college I took too many Tylenol on purpose and was up all night vomiting and crying. No one intervened.
No one ever did. I went to therapy once as a kid for me. My mom told the therapist I needed to talk about my dad. The therapist told her I wasn’t ready. It wasn’t my dad I needed to talk about.
I want help. I need help. I ask. I don’t get it. Or I do but it’s not the kind I want. People aren’t proactive enough to not require asking. People aren’t observant enough to notice the need.
Maybe help isn’t want I want. Maybe it’s validation.
I relate so hard to Randall Pearson on This Is Us. From the stuff with his dad, his family, his need to succeed, his breakdowns, his anxiety. He’s textbook Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. Just like me.
His conversation with Kate at the cabin in this week’s episode hit me hard. I know he was talking about his experience living life as a black man, but the words he said could have been mine.
Hiding the hurt from your family is exhausting. Knowing they need you to hide it is heart-breaking. It’s not sustainable. Eventually it has to stop. After 41 years, it has to stop.