I have never been someone who is comfortable asking for help. I seem to have this irrational notion that to ask for help is to expose my fallibility and weakness. One short month ago I dropped all the heavy armour that I have been hauling around for so long and reluctantly surrendered to the enemy…or so I thought. It turns out that there is no battle, no enemy and there are no sides. There is simply a beautiful little boy with curly hair and a dazzling smile that needs me to finally admit that I am human, that I cannot do it on my own and that I need some help.
Michael came to me in the kitchen an hour after I wrote ‘Scared and Confused’ with panic written all over his face. He knew that we were going to school that morning to ‘face the music’ and he was utterly terrified. I was feeling emotionally shaky myself having just admitted that I cannot live with my family or this child any longer. As Michael approached me in the kitchen all I could think was; ‘I am absolutely done, I have nothing left to give you.’ Michael is not a child who cries, he chokes up when he is moved but he does not cry. That morning he had big tears threatening to spill down his cheeks as he pulled on my arm so that we were face to face. He told me “I don’t want this life Mommy. I want to start my life over. I don’t want this life.” Michael’s words struck me like a devastatingly painful blow and my knees buckled from the force. As I crumpled I took Michael with me and we ended up crying together on the kitchen floor.
Weeping on the floor with my beloved child in my arms was the final breaking point. I had no defences left and felt completely shattered. I wept with grief, frustration, disappointment, empathy and a love so fierce I was choking on it. At seven years of age Michael is not supposed to have profound worries. His biggest concern should be who he is playing with in the park with after school or whether he gets new shoes on the weekend. No seven-year-old should have to suffer the way Michael is suffering. I just wanted it to stop. I needed to figure out a way to make it stop.
As I arrived in the schoolyard that morning a dear friend took one look at me and opened her arms. I quietly wept on her shoulder without a care for the curious onlookers; I simply didn’t have the energy to hide it any longer. After drying my tears Simon and I headed into a meeting with the principal. She told us that Michael would end up on medication regardless of what we tried and that his behaviour needed to be under control by September. I dragged myself home from that meeting feeling like a balloon with the air let out. I was exhausted and overwhelmed with hundreds of questions and no answers. I felt utterly alone in my suffering and had to resist the urge to either crawl into bed or run for my life.
Shortly after returning home I received a telephone call. I found myself on the other end of the phone with a mother whom I had met briefly the previous week. She had seen me crying in the schoolyard that morning and was calling to offer her help. She told me she did not want to invade my privacy but that she had a story I might want to hear. She proceeded to give me the account of her son who has Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD. She told me that he is not on medication and that with a radical change in diet, naturopathy, osteopathy and supplements, her son is now attending our local school. She gave me all the names and numbers of the professionals with whom she has worked and titles of books to get me started. Suddenly, I not only had a place to begin my journey but also a new friend who was prepared to hold my hand as I took my first uncertain steps on this dauntingly treacherous path.
In one phone call, suddenly there was hope and a light in the dark tunnel. One woman had the courage and depth of compassion to reach out to a virtual stranger and offer empathy and love. She offered me a safe harbour in the storm and she changed the course of my journey with her willingness to be vulnerable. She shared her own open secret. It is this brave mother who is living her own enormous challenges who inspired me to share my journey and open my secret for all those others who feel hopeless, helpless and scared.
Hopefully, someone will read my words and realize that there is light, hope and love ‘out there’ in community with one another. That opening our secrets to each other is the first step to healing our own wounds and then healing our beloved children.