It happened again yesterday. I’ve tried to hide this piece of me, my grief, my pain and yes, my shame that comes from deep within. That small persistent voice that whispers over and over “You Failed”. I try to hide this from new people that I come in contact with in an attempt to redefine myself. In an attempt to be normal.
Very strange thing that happened right after Billy died I said to my ex, “I will always be known as that girl. I will always be the one who’s son died.” and this is horrifying to me because it puts my greatest fear on display. I failed. I failed him. Regardless of the truth, that is how it feels. There is no way around it. It is the job of the parent. The Mother. To protect her children. Mine did not survive and therefore I did not do my job.
In the early days I had to leave my job that I loved so much. For those who don’t know, I am a therapist. I work with the mentally ill and addicted. The population, who in my eyes, needs the love the most. No one despises the addict more than the addict herself. So, I had to leave my job because when there was an announcement to staff and they talked about it amongst themselves, the patients there found out what had happened to me, to my son, it became about me. And the very last thing a person fighting for their lives against the disease of addiction needs is a distraction.
So I took some time off and when the time was right, I started working at a new job and again, I fell in love with my patients and my colleagues. I found myself in a warm, accepting, loving nest of people who didn’t judge my bad days and who would call me out if they felt I needed it. I needed this environment like I needed air. It was my survival. It is what kept me going and kept me sane. Helping people and not being judged by my past. And then we got a new management company in and I was told that the loss of my son made me unable to do my job. I was told by the person doing the telling that because if something happened to her children that she couldn’t do her job that now, by default, I can’t do mine. And this cut me to the core. Not because I believed her or agreed with her but because I had my shame of failing my son glaring at me again. In my safe place, in my nest of good fairies and good eggs, I was exposed and vulnerable. And it hurt. And very soon after that I was let go by the people who said I couldn’t do my job because I am not able to do my job because my son died.
So I took some time off and when the time was right I got a new job and I thought to myself, this time. This time will be different. This time I will hide it and I will do my job and I will help people and when I was asked “Do you have any kids?’ in normal conversation I choked out the answer “No” and I went home cried into my pillow and swallowed my shame at denying my son ever existed. The shame that I failed him and the shame that I have to hide his existence.
And then, just yesterday, I was asked by the new lady in charge: What was I hiding? And I knew that she knew because the field that I work in is small and some of the people are very very sick and they gossip and they are mean and so I told her, “My son died.”
And she hugged me. And my other boss lady told me everything would be ok..
And maybe this time it will be different.