Monday, September 03, 2007

Regret

I have been wanting-no-needing to write this post for some time, and even now, I am not sure i am ready. I am not sure that I can write with the soul-baring words required to make anyone understand my feelings. This would be the biggest regret that i have in my life. It would be the biggest mistake I feel I have ever made. It is the one thing that haunts me...still. Every day.

After the separation of my first husband and myself, my children were in shock. I was in shock. I don't really understand my reaction now, looking back, but I honestly, seriously---never thought that he and i would split. Once we had, I began to understand that it had to be forever, that I couldn't live that way any more. Constant worry for me, constant walking on eggshells, constantly afraid that he would become "upset" and then life would become hard and sad, once again. But i really didn't understand or even know this while we were together. I had become so busy trying to hold him and everything else together that I hadn't the time to figure it all out.

By now, we had been split for several months, and finally, the divorce was final. He was crazy, seriously, but even that had begun to improve. He seemed to be coming back around and i felt it was okay to let my kids spend time with him again...they needed to do that. I also needed them to, as I was really having trouble trying to be the only financial support, and i was really into having a good time. I was trying to keep all things together---my house was a home, at least it looked like one. I tried to keep food in the refrigerator, and I tried to keep my three kids happy---a daughter, fourteen---a son, nine---another son, eight. While I worked, they stayed home with the oldest most of the time....it was hard on them, and i was having some trouble with my daughter, she was really ugly to her brothers, but frankly, I had little choice. Alot of that time was a blur, from one problem to another, not enough money, bad boyfriend choices in myself and my daughter, work problems...hassles with the ex. I felt at that time that i was doing the very best i could do, and it was never, ever good enough. I was all tied up in "love" with a much older man...one that made me completely crazy, 100% of the time. I could never get it right, and yet, I kept trying. Why??? I have zero idea, even today. I just knew that if I could hold that relationship together, then all things would be okay. I also knew, deep in my heart that I wasn't taking care of the most important things at least not the way I should---my kids. I justified it with feelings that I had a right to my own life, you know all the excuses. I felt that it was not my fault that life had been turned completely upside down...and that somehow made my behavior excusable.

It was getting close to Christmas, and i was trying to provide a decent one, at least for all appearances. I had actually been spending more down time with my kids, as my relationship was now apparently "over", for the six millionth time in that 18 month period. We went out a got a Christmas tree, and it looked beautiful. It was a real tree, the best I could afford, and i was trying so hard financially. It was a constant source of contention because we also had a cat. And the cat really LOVED that tree. So, I made it known that the cat and the tree could not be together. And of course, my daughter, D---didn't listen to me. She had other things to worry about at that time in her life, and watching her brothers and the cat were not that high priority on her list. As would be the case with any fourteen year old...anyway, I came home and the cat had knocked the Christmas tree all the way over. And I freaked out. Really freaked out. All things came crashing down on me in that moment, and I lost control. I screamed, I yelled,I threw a fit. I made all of my kids cry. When I look back at the monster I was that day, I am so ashamed. I was awful. It is hard for me to remember my behavior. I seriously do not remember the exact sequence of things after that point, but i believe that it was in the afternoon that this happened, and i realized late in the evening that i had not seen D for awhile...she was, as usual...in her room. I went up to see what was up, and maybe to apologize, I really don't know.

When I walked in, i knew something was wrong...she was asleep, I could not get her awake. She barely could talk, but managed to tell me she had taken an entire bottle of Tylenol-at least a hundred pills! I died a thousand deaths in that moment. I ran downstairs, called 911, and of course, we were in the middle of the worst ice storm in many years, and we lived in the middle of nowhere, in a rented farm house. There was some question as to whether the ambulance could get here. They promised to try. I got her up, i walked her around, I cried, I freaked out, I called a girl that lived in town to come and stay with the boys so that i could get her to the hospital. I opened the door, and realized I would not be able to even walk to the car, it was so icy. I was amazed that we still had power. I prayed. I told God that if this problem, that was all my fault, could be worked out, that i would be the best mother to these kids ever. I swore on the lives of all my children and my own family. I told God that this was my fault, that He should not make D pay. It took forever for help to arrive. But they did. And she was completely gone when they got there---by gone, I mean passed out....unable to walk, function....or talk at all. It had been at least six hours since she had taken the pills. That was a long time, and i knew that meant trouble.

The ambulance wouldn't allow me to ride along---besides, my friend had not yet arrived, and the boys were asleep in bed, and I did not want them to see all that had happened. Within minutes, my friend arrived, a miracle in itself, as the weather was impossible. I had to get to the hospital...it was eight miles away. I could not get the ice scraped of of my windshield, and it was still coming down in sheets...you know the kind of watery, melty, immediately slippery ice, falling from the sky. There must have been a solid inch of it on the sidewalk, the steps, my car. I beat on the door long enough to get the passenger side open and crawled over to the driver side. I couldn't see a thing---but miraculously, my driver side window opened. I backed out of the driveway, on to the gravel road that we lived on. I took the longer way because there were less hills that way, although I couldn't avoid them completely. I drove the whole way with my head and shoulders out of the drivers side window. I had ice coating my eyeballs, and I tried driving with my sunglasses on (I didn't wear glasses yet). That worked for a little while, but they quickly coated over, too. I slid into the ditch three times on the way. Three times I made it back out. It took more that 45 minutes to go that eight miles. I was scared to death to walk into that hospital, I was afraid she would be dead. But I did---and she was still hanging on. They wouldn't let me in to see her, they were still quite busy with her. I hung out in the emergency waiting room and watched in horror as a well known man in town died from electrocution, he had been trying to get the power back on ---clearing ice from the transformer....and i listened to his family--his wife---scream and cry. I just sat there and shook. I was all alone, I had called the kids dad, but he wasn't able to get there because of the ice storm, and my mother and sister seemed rather concerned, but didn't offer to try and come, and there was no way I was going to ask. Eventually, they let me in to see her, they had pumped her stomach and felt that she would survive, if they could get the antidote that would help the liver damage. There was a short period of time that it would help and of course, the medication was in Iowa City and wouldn't get there until the storm subsided. The doctor said that her chances would be considerably better once she had it. She was barely coherent, and i sat with her all night. And prayed. And cried. And asked God to forgive me, for the terrible mother I had been. The antidote was to arrive early, as the weather had cleared. In the morning, I had to go home to get the boys off to daycare so that i could get back to the hospital. My friend had to get home to her own kids. As soon as I walked into my house, the phone rang and it was D's doctor---the actual doctor---on the phone. Things had taken a turn for the worse, they thought that she had had a stroke and had requested an air ambulance for her to be transferred to Des Moines. He told me to hurry if I wanted to see her.I knew what he meant...he meant if I wanted to see her alive... I thought i had no more tears left in me. But I was wrong---and i cried and drove like a maniac back to the hospital, thank god the ice had stopped and the roads were now passable. I ran---literally RAN---into the icu, and the dr met me at her door. He said that it had been a mistake, that they had given her medication for nausea, compazine, and that she had had a reaction to it. Once they figured that out, they knew what to do. I collapsed at that point, literally, i had no legs under me. I cried, and I don't think she knew what had transpired, because she looked at me like i was crazy, but i grabbed her, and hung on.The medication she needed so badly arrived, and how she hated it, but it did save her liver. And they saved her life. She was in the ICU for a few days, then I had her transferred to an adolescent mental facility for her to get the help she needed, and for me to get my head on straight before she came home. We had a very rocky relationship, and had for quite some time. But I knew I was going to save her, no matter what it took.

And all things were not rosy with she and i after that, it took a long time, and alot of help, help that involved living with a foster family in town for a few months, a good but strict family, and suddenly, i didn't look like a monster to her anymore. And I grew up. Actually, I grew up the night that happened, December 6th, 1994. That was the last of any little bit of youth left in me, i knew what my priorities were, and they never faltered from that point on. Never. I was never going to be responsible for any more drama in my kids lives. She was only being the kid she was, and I was not there for her to prevent what could have been the very end of her. I still cannot forgive myself and I probably never will. I would give anything to take that period of my life back and change it. I do realize however, that cannot be. So, I have learned from my mistakes. And i have been the very best mom I know how. And i will continue to be. I love you, D. I'm sorry.

14 comments:

Maria said...

Oh, sweetie...

I am just at a loss for words. The only thing I can think to say is "oh, sweetie."

We all have those elephants in our living rooms but most of us never speak of them. I think you are very brave.

And how awful it all was for you...

How strong you are, really. That is what I retrieved from this post. That you were a strong, very scared woman and you found help for your child.

Good for you and thanks for finding the strength to show us this part of you. We all have a side just like that but we don't show it to others much. I admire you.

Josie Two Shoes said...

Dearest Jamie, I just got here... started reading, and almost stopped breathing - what you don't know is that in sharing this, you are writing my story too. My daugher od'd in high school - injected enough insulin to put down an elephant - then fell asleep in my office, and I didn't have a clue - until it almost was too late, just as you have written here.

Just as Maria said, Jamie, it takes a very brave woman to write about this - to say that we have regrets that we missed something that maybe we shouldn't have. I have beat myself up over that a million times and I know that you have. Why didn't I know what all was going on in her life? Was I that distracted by my own recent independence from another hellish marriage? Yes, sure I was - and trying just like you to pay the bills, keep the family afloat, and on and on. Life is full of what-if's and if-only's. But the real proof of what kind of mother you are and how much you love your daughter is what you went thru at that moment and from there on - hell on earth wasn't gonna stop you from getting to that hospital. And nothing has prevented you from being there for her ever since. Sometimes God gives us wake-up calls in the harshest of ways, though I want to say that you could have been the perfect, in-tune, attentive mother, and you still might have missed the signs - it happens all the time, Jamie. We don't always know what's going on with our kids, no matter how much we love them. The important thing is - that you DO have your daughter,and a lifetime ahead of loving and learning together. My relationship with my daughter during her growing up years was troubled for many reasons, including some of the ones you have mentioned here - but I can tell you that now, with her at 32, we are closer in heart than we've ever been. I think you'll see that happen too. Please, as much as possible, find a way to forgive yourself and realize that you did, the very best you could, with who you were and what you had to work with at the time. She is alive, she is well, that is what matters - and you learned something very important that day - men can come and go in our lives, but children are forever! I wish I had always known that too. BIG HUGS to you, Jamie... thank you so much for sharing - I have wanted to for some time, and just couldn't find the words for it. Maybe now, because of you, at some point I can. God bless you and your daughter!

Josie Two Shoes said...

Please check your email, I had more that I wanted to share.

JYankee said...

jamie... all i got was tears in my eyes as i had read this...but yes..like Maria and Josie said, you are very brave and god gave you a second opportunity...which you already know have and are taking full advantage of... i have those kinds of worries with aly...she's only 5 so we are just getting started... thanks for sharing.. i know it must've been hard...

simonsays said...

I cannot tell you what all of your kind words mean to me. Thank you all so much for your support.

Josie Two Shoes said...

Jamie, I truly believe that one of the best gifts we can give our children, is the awareness that we know we aren't perfect parents, that we also make mistakes. Then when they screw up in life, now and later, they will know that they too are only human, and also capable of change. When kids see their parents as perfect, it becomes very hard for them to live up to that image, and in reality its rarely the truth.

Alissa said...

Wow, someday, I want the courage you have to tell my stories. I bet you feel better just having shared that. I've always believed that we make mistakes simply to learn from them, if we don't learn from them, then we are only full of heart ache, and pain and experienced it for nothing. I admire your strength, because you are strong, and you did everything that you knew how then, and found something different when it wasn't working. What happened was a turning point in your family. Imagine what things would have been like if she hadn't taken the tylenol, but things stayed the same with working, boyfriends, and your relationships with your kids. It may have been a very traumatic wake up call, but it seems like that's exactly what it was to get your family on track, and look at you now.

Portia said...

Jamie,
you amaze me. you really, really do. because i know that you must blame yourself, but i also know that it could NOT have been all your fault. but there is nowhere else a mother can look after something like that, but at herself. there is always the feeling that we are ultimately responsible. you have jumped some major hurdles in your course through motherhood and i pray for half the strength you have shown in the few stories i have read. you and your daughter are both extremely fortunate to have each other today, and i'm so, so glad you do! thank you for sharing; i imagine it was not plesant to relive, especially still carrying the guilt, but it is true stories like this that make me look at my family and just want to stop time and soak up what i've got while i've got it. you are an incredible woman and an incredible mother.

SOUL: said...

hi jamie.
just came by to check in on ya.
hey, btw.. take that cigarette out of your lip! you "TOB"
HUGS my friend. i know it's a bad day. i hope tomorrow is much better for you.

Beth said...

Ohgirl...what a heart-wrenching post, and so hard to write. i know you said that if you could go back you would change it..........but then you wouldn't have made the changes you needed to and D wouldn't have gotten the help she needed. i think you are a wonderfuly, strong, loving mother.

I remember being a teeneager and wanting to die. I just wanted to be dead so that I wouldn't hurt anymore....and I wanted to hurt my mother for hurting me all those years. But I'm so glad that it never worked, cuz I wouldn't have the life I have now.

No one really understands the love a mother has for her kids....you will do ANYTHING for them...jump in front of a speeding car, give ever last drop of blood you have in your body if it will make them live forever...leave awful men who only hurt you to make a better life for your kids......

I commend you. This was a beautiful post...full of love for your daughter.

Thanks for sharing that painful part of your past and making all of us realize why we love you so much.

LastStand said...

I cannot begin to tell you how much I understand both the need to get a story out and the immediate end to youth. I am sincerely sorry you and D went through this and I am eternally grateful to what ever powers that be actually exist that you both survived.

If this were in person, I'd be huggin ya so hard your ribs hurt. Unfortunately, I can only offer this e-hug.

Amanda said...

Jamie...I'm so glad you wrote this. Believe me when I say, I don't think less of you because of what happened, but even more than I ever thought I would.

There is one time in a child's life where a parent MUST rise to the occasion, and you, Jamie, did this. Passed with flying colors!

((((((((((Jamie)))))))))))

CCC said...

Oh lady. How did I miss this post!! My sentiments match everyone here. I wish I could somehow alleviate your heavy heart over this tragedy from the past. You daughter was young...youngsters do stupid shit (like trying to take a bottle of tylenol sleeping pills). I'm sure your D (much older now) regrets what she did as well. We should focus on how grateful we are that she didn't end up with brain damage, like so often those "attempts" end in. We should celebrate that you are still a family. And that you are doing the best you can. Everyday. That's all anyone can ask of you.

You always impress the hell outta me lady. ;)

:::peaceful memories:::

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled upon your blog today and this post made me cry. You are so amazingly strong. And this also made me think about my relationship with my mother when I was 14. At that time I thought I hated her, but I was wrong. Moms like you (and my own mom) are truly a blessing.