I had a powerful phone conversation with my SMI son today. We spoke about a thousand things but, most importantly, he said, “Mom, I think you and I needed separation.”
Before his first episode, my son was functioning optimally and had a high paying position in San Francisco. Then everything crumbled. He had a serious injury that almost took his life and we were sent into a tail spin as a family. I had my heels dug in because I was losing the son I knew. I was riddled with grief. It was his radiance that I missed so much. He was known for his kindness and big hugs.
As time has moved along, we’ve endured some very scary and difficult experiences. We’re finally admitting that that the son we once had no longer exists. He doesn’t look like he used to. His eyes are no longer relaxed and kind. It’s weird how his looks have changed so drastically. People are mostly afraid of him.
Now, the one in my son’s place is someone we know and can love. He’s on his own in Denver and on a warrior path. I don’t always understand it, but I finally embrace it. I dread him being 50 and homeless when I’m gone, but I cherish that we can have connection in our new normal. The emotional separation has been healthy for me.
Today, I’m refocused on my younger son. He’s a doctor and has a son of his own whom I just took care of for eight days. We’re lucky that he’s a doctor who understands medications. He has a skill set that most of our family doesn’t have. I am so grateful.
Please don’t take my post as simplifying the gravity of our situations. We are all one episode away from devastation, but I want to harness every little piece of happiness and connection I can.