I have an 18 year old daughter who just left for college last week. I recognized that she suffered from severe anxiety and depression early on- well before I started having serious lupus symptoms or was diagnosed. It didn’t come as a surprise as it’s quite common in my family. My mother has never been able to work due to her extreme anxiety, and my younger sister took her own life 12 years ago after a lifetime of battling mental health. Additionally my daughters father and I divorced when she was 6- a month before my sisters death- after he made it clear that he had no interest in child rearing. After years of therapy and psychotherapy, she finally seems to have learned how to control her anxiety and depression and despite COVID , is acclimating well to school.
In a text discussion tonight, my daughter revealed to me that she feels like I’ve always been a bad mother and that she essentially “raised herself”, so that I should leave her alone unless she wants contact otherwise.
I was definitely a crappy mother just after my divorce when I made the terrible mistake of dating an abusive man for a year and then again during the worst of my illness, around the time she was 12/13. I was exhausted and napped almost immediately after getting back from work, getting up only long enough to make a cursory meal. The house was filthy, and my ex husband wasn’t paying child support so we lived in the only shitty apartment in a rich town (specifically for the school system). I was finally diagnosed w SLE, but had a toxic reaction to the medication, dropped down to
88 lbs, and eventually was carted out via ambulance from what was supposed to be a fun visit to the art museum after collapsing at the front door. I spent the next three weeks in the hospital as the majority of my organs were shutting down, then another two weeks at home rehabbing.
Throughout all of this I convinced myself I was a good mother because I went to all of her sports practices and games, saved up for a budget friendly weekly holiday every year, and - as I mentioned- forced myself to cook every dinner.
The reality is that I WAS mostly absent. You can’t be present when you’re asleep all the time. About 1.5 years after that episode, I had another major flare resulting in kidney and pancreas involvement and eventually chemo. By this time I had managed to secure a much better job and a slightly nicer house that quickly became a dump when I got sick. I wasn’t getting better and ended up on life support after a septic reaction to chemo. So once again, I was in useless mother mode. I was in a stable relationship with a man my daughter genuinely loved, which helped, but was fired a month after getting off of life support resulting in more financial hardship. The company was later charged w discrimination after accidentally cc-ing me on a email to their lawyer about getting rid of me since I was driving up their costs. The civil case is still pending as there are no automatic restitutions given for discrimination in MA.
Meanwhile, as I’ve said, I truly thought that I was doing all that I could for my daughter whenever I could. She is very involved in the arts; theater, choir, acapella, sculpture, and I he went missed a performance. Her friends stayed over our house regularly (I managed to keep the living areas clean even at my sickest). I truly thought we had a good relationship despite the setbacks of my year-long bad relationship and intermittent illness.
So I was blindsided tonight when she told me that she’s raised herself since 4th grade and that I’ve been an inattentive crappy mother.
Needless to say I’m vacillating between a complete meltdown and confusion and could really use some help right now. I apologize for the long winded story