Most children look up to their parents with adoration and hold them on a pedestal above all else. No one could be as cool, as smart, or as perfect as them in your innocent eyes. They were the greatest parents in the world and you wanted to be just like them when you grew up. Not me.
Maybe it was because I have always been slightly empathic and much wiser than my years, but I never thought of my parents as someone I could look up to. It was just this understood feeling I had inside, knowing unlike most other children the example they were setting was dysfunctional at best. Reckless, careless, functioning alcoholics; they were selfish and superficial in nature, often absent as they fulfilled their own lives with great exuberance. Babysitters and family members were shuffled through because my dad and stepmom always had somewhere to go when the sun went down every night. My brother and I always had our necessities and were spoiled with materialistic desires every Christmas, but we never had our parents. My biggest fear back then was growing up and becoming just like them one day despite trying my damnedest not to.
When I had my first child, I would worry incessantly over how I was doing as a mother. I went out of my way to be contrary to my parents way of raising me. It was my mission to prove the dysfunction of my childhood did not affect me as an adult. I stopped drinking socially, refused to leave my babies with babysitters for socialization, and focused all of my attention on meeting their needs before my own. People would try to tell me it wasn’t my monkeys, wasn’t my circus; my parents lived in different times, under different circumstances, making different choices and none of it had anything to do with the way I would parent. Despite all of my premature wisdom, I lacked the maturity to realize carrying the weight of their mistakes into my own parenting journey would only set me up for failure.
And I almost did succumb to my fears. Not in the same exact way as my parents, but close enough. Thanks to genetics, I inherited a chronic bone disease called Degenerative Disc Disease with Spinal Bone Spurs. In the beginning of its rapid progression, but before a diagnosis sent me outside of my family physician network, it was assumed my symptoms were from Fibromyalgia and they treated me accordingly with pain medications alone. By the time I got my diagnosis and realized the extent and severity of my problems, I was fully addicted to the narcotics my physicians handed out as readily as vaccines.
During this time, I thought I was super-mom, because the medications made me feel hyper-alert and energetic. I could keep up with my daily responsibilities around the house, work three twelve-hour shifts at the hospital a week, and still be able to give my kids all the attention they craved from me. It never crossed my mind that I was still doing exactly what my parents did to me….because even though I was there in the moment, I wasn’t fully present. My mind was always plotting my next move, thinking ahead, running a mile a minute. I was going through the motions without remembering a thing about it. I was high. My daily routines revolved around my next dose. My schedules revolved around my monthly appointments for refills. I wasn’t me. I was continuing the cycle. The one I so desperately had fought to break.
So I did what I had to do to hold true to my vow never tob never become my parents. Never to let addiction and mental health issues come before myself and my children. It’s been five and a half years since the day I got myself help and got off the addictive opiates. Four and a half years since I went through a rehabilitation program to heal my mind and learn to cope with my metal illness so I never relapse. Three years since I became licenced for medical marijuana to continue to reduce the (non-opioid) pharmaceuticals I still require.
It truly was my monkeys and my circus for awhile there; those people who told me it couldn’t be had lied. Unfortunately, we live in a society where the doctor’s who are supposed to protect our health and serve our well-being do just the opposite, causing millions of people to end up dependant on medications with great consequence. Surviving my greatest fear as a child and overcoming odds stacked to the ceiling against me, humbles me…. I am a great mother today, because I was a bad one yesterday…. not many people can make that work so well.
~Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:
Baking In A Tornado
Spatulas on Parade
Sparkly Poetic Weirdo
Never Ever Give Up Hope
The Lieber Family Blog
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy
The Bergham Chronicles
Confessions of a part-time working mom
Just a Lovely Day
Someone Else’s Genius
My subject is “ Your “Secret Subject” is:
We keep seeing “Not my circus, not my monkeys” all over Facebook. But what if it is your circus and monkeys . . .tell us what happened”. It was submitted by Dinosaur Superhero Mommy.
Day 5 prompt: What was your greatest fear as a child?
By: Kristina Hammer, aka, The Angrivated Mom