As a person who has struggled to tell the truth in the past, I work very hard these days at being 100% open and transparent. Sometimes I overstep the mark, tell people too much in one go, but I generally feel like it is my responsibility to be more truthful than deceitful. What I'm trying to say in a round-about way is that I am always happy to tell the complete truth, especially if it can be helpful to someone else. Example? Being open about post-natal depression, and how serious it really is. If telling my story in all it's gory details can help someone identify PND early on, the shame is worth it. If after hearing my mushy tale of woe, someone takes themselves off to the doctor to seek help, it is so worth it. And if it gives people compassion for their fellow woe-man, then it is so so so worth it.
For me at the moment, the painfully hard part is the follow-up. I should hardly be surprised that some, if not all, of my misery has rubbed off on those I love the most. Indeed, I suspected and expected it. You cannot go that low without expecting the black dog to come back and bite you in the butt. But really, my children? My two golden babies with their quirky senses of humour, flashing blue eyes and sweet awkward embraces? Why them? If it had been an adult close to me, it would be manageable. As adults we are, after all, mostly responsible for our emotions, and I would have been better equipped to help them through the turmoil.
I always have known that Maddy, beautiful, crazy, sensitive Madeline, had things going on that were bigger than us. What started out as funny quirks, and unique traits, are now things that separate her obviously from the crowd. So emotionally I thought I had prepared myself for this period of life, where I would need to atone for my past sorrows. But of course you can never prepare yourself fully for a trained professional that does not know you or your child in any way other than as a client says the words you have most feared. Words which mean very little in themselves, but involve so much more, words that you lie in bed at night agonising over. Just medical labels for 'differently abled' children, but the heavy implications of a long journey ahead.
So all my melodramatic thoughts have been keeping my head and heart busy over the last few days, although of course nothing is set in stone, and nothing has been ruled out or ruled in. Emotions on the See-saw of Hope and Despair. etc etc.
At least, I have been telling myself, at least Lewis seems to have come through unscathed. No signs in him, as far as I could tell, of any post-traumatic stress. That's what I thought to myself. He's the busy, loud, active, social, loveable, cuddly, easy-to-please ragamuffin in the family. But of course, no one can come through anything in their family entirely without scarring. His sweet babbling and endless gibber, without any words, have given me occasional cause for alarm, but each time I have scolded myself. Calm down, every child develops differently, just because one has issues does not mean that the other will. I have urged myself repeatedly to let Lewis enjoy a normal childhood, rejoicing in his messiness and chaos, which in my head equals 'happy child'. But when an intelligent and professional friend mentions the possibility of some long term developmental delays arising from a likely lack of attachment in the early months, I smile and nod and concur, and inside my heart breaks a little bit more.
I honestly don't know when I will get a break. My life in the next few years looks increasingly bleak and fraught with difficulty. It seems probable that my heart and my sorrowful past will be pulled out and picked through over and over by various clinical and medical experts like the organs of a deceased person awaiting autopsy. Why did it happen, how did it happen, what does it mean? All questions that I feel have been answered in my own way, in my own life, but which I will live by again. The resurrection of the darkness, for the sake of the children. Not anywhere near the ultimate sacrifice, but at the moment it seems too large for me.
Instead of moving on, instead of goals and moments to look forward to, we must once again turn to the past. I must be unravelled slowly, sticky threads peeling off one by one as the experts spinning me. The bandages falling off the mummy, the scientists gasping as they glimpse the decay of centuries. For the children. I cannot say I am 'happy' to do it for them. But there is no question, I will expose my soft underbelly. I have spent two years putting my brain back together again, piece by piece, and really, there is not much worse for a person with depressive issues than to go back into the past and dwell in those issues.
Now, Lewis is in the lounge, incredibly tired, rubbing his eyes, cranky. I cannot put him to bed, because he will cry. I cannot bear the guilt of all the times he has cried as I put him to bed, because that was the best thing for me: a routine for the children, boundaries, sleep training. But not the best thing for them apparently. I must do everything possible to assure both of them through words and actions, that I love them more than anything, that I am stable and reliable and normal and strong and trustworthy.
It is very hard to imagine how I will maintain the happiness and calm of 'holiday-spirit' amongst this new misery. A poor joke to play. A bad hand for the beginner. I grit my teeth, and steel my resolve. I will do whatever is necessary to help my children heal. Absolutely anything and everything. It bites.