Forever My Child
By Patricia Van Remmen
At times, a parent of a mentally ill child is not able to differentiate between self and offspring. So pervasive and personal is the affliction that it becomes the pseudo-umbilical connection that makes the son again a part of the mother. He/she.
His pain, more or less, is my pain. But at one place in our shared history, I decided not to live his life, and simultaneously, freed him to make choices and assume responsibility. This is salutary to us both. A sympathetic but reasoned distance is an effective ally for a parent of an adult child with such an illness.
Hope is the air we parents breathe. We have made it a staple of daily living and, if we are successful, we have conveyed it to the ill child. We preach it, we practice it. We insist on it and I dare not speculate on a future devoid of it.
I see my son today and the toll the illness has taken, and I want the “old” Mark back. Barring that, I try to understand the man he has become, who, I am happy to say, is still the child I love.
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