When I agreed to move me and the children back in with my ex, I truly believed that he had changed and after experiencing the loss of his family, he had decided that we were more important. Finding out that we weren’t was like a tipping point for me. This is truly when I stopped caring about him or myself. My sole focus became on raising our children the best I could and I was destined to not know what a happy relationship with a partner could be.
Around this time, my son began to play hockey and my daughter involved in dance. I was working full time and all other energy went into taking the kids to their various events and tending to their needs. I no longer slept with my ex, instead choosing to sleep with one or both of my children. My ex continued his weekend drinking Behaviour and the hatred I had for him grew and grew.
During this time, my sons behaviours began to escalate. During the separation from my ex, he had engaged in self harming and exploding into rages when frustrated or angry. I began to give in to his every demand to try and pacify him….not knowing that I was causing more harm than good. He was having trouble in school already and even with his hockey team. I had had him seeing a play therapist from age five but things were going downhill.
Fast forward a few years and we are now in our own new home. However, it wasn’t long before soon there were holes punched in the walls, doors broken, and things destroyed. My son was now almost nine years old and my daughter was seven. I was still the primary caregiver and nurturer. My ex had been having seizures over the last few years that would happen after he had been on a bender and the alcohol was leaving his system. So not only could I not trust him with the children when he was drinking, I couldn’t leave them alone with him the day after. Anger and resentment grew stronger everyday until suddenly I found myself wishing every day that he would die.
This is around the time that my own illness could not be held back any longer. I began to experience insomnia and soon found my worlds turned upside down. I was continuing to seek services for my son and was able to secure a child psychiatrist in the city. Finally! Some help!
They had to place my son in the Children’s Mental Health Hospital for three weeks to do a complete assessment on him. Leaving him there alone was the most difficult thing to date that I had to deal with. I felt that I was abandoning him when I know that I was doing what was best. His father undermined my decision at every opportunity and openly criticized me in front of our son about the choices. This was the beginning of the end.
My son came out of the assessment with a diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder, ADHD and a non verbal learning disability. Finally I could start figuring out how to best parent him with his conditions and I set out to get the services we needed. He was started on medication and therapy. Within a few weeks he was refusing to take his medications and his behaviours were escalating into more extreme and dangerous things. He became fascinated with fire and took great delight in trying to scare his sister all the time. He began to take out his anger and rage on the family pets and I became afraid to leave him around them. He also began to refuse to go to school – it would be me literally dragging him to the car, taking him to school and within an hour getting a call that he needed to come home, or that he had simply walked out. The police began to be frequent visitors to my home as he became involved in vandalism. I was feeling at my wits end and no longer confident in myself to keep him or my daughter safe. Their dad in the meantime continued to bury his head in the sand and pretend nothing was wrong. My days consisted of being yelled at or even hit by my son as his rages continued to escalate. Other children in the small community were not allowed to play with him and rumors were swirling about my ability to parent. Everyone thought that I was just a permissive parent and my son a spoiled brat. They truly had no idea what I was battling.
In April of 2006, I experienced my first psychotic break. I was laying in bed, exhausted from driving relatives to the airport and being up all night. Financially we were in bankruptcy and my world was falling apart. My daughter came in to see me and I started to make this horrible agonizing wail that didn’t sound human. I was no longer in control – I broke. I couldn’t move from the bed, nor could I form words. All I could do was wail. The ambulance came and I was admitted to the hospital for three days with “exhaustion” – no mention of my own festering mental illness at this point.
I returned home to a situation that had only gotten worse. My son had been prescribed a new mood stabilizer and it caused him to be drowsy for the first couple of days, but on day three all hell broke loose. He flew into a rage and hurled insults and names at me with pure venom in his voice. He even told me that he would kill me while I was sleeping. I began to really fear what he might do. I had heard rumors that he had threatened to burn down people’s homes while they were in them and I felt I had no choice but to call the children’s services for help.
Upon coming out and witnessing what I would consider minor Behaviour from my son (name calling, door slamming, etc) the worker could see that I was no longer capable of dealing with him. They agreed thAt he needed to be in a group home with 24 hour staff and supervision. I remember the day they took him – I was throwing up from crying and I felt like my child was being ripped from me. I felt like a total failure as a mother and even my family judged me harshly for doing this. Despite being honest with them, they all thought that I owed it to him to keep trying to parent him. When he went into the group home, I was visiting almost every day (it was an hour away) and I was working closely with the team on getting him back home. They needed to stabilize him and get him back into school.
Around this time I also began to see a therapist on a weekly basis. I had to make a final decision about the kids dad and I – our son needed a clear message that we were either going to stay together and work towards bringing our son home to a stable environment or we were going to end it to stop the chaos.
I finally made the decision that after Xmas Stacy would have to move out in February. I told him this with plenty of warning and wanted nothing from him except for child support. Come February 1st he still hadn’t made any move to leave so I packed his things for him and told him to leave. Well, we lived in a small town and immediately he became the victim as I had thrown him on the street. I held firm though and when he refused to stop bothering me, I obtained a restraining order. At this time in life, I felt in control of my decision and felt that I was doing what was best.
In May of 2007, my son was still living in the group home and was not making significant improvements at all. My daughter lived with me and I continued to struggle with feelings of worthlessness and shame. I had developed a friendship with a girl named Tina and confided many secrets about what was happening with me ex, etc. and then the ultimate betrayal – I found out she was having an affair with my ex and telling him everything about me.
At that moment, I gave up. I was so tired from fighting and the betrayals and I sat down that evening and wrote goodbye letters to my children. I then proceeded to take an overdose of pills, enough to seriously harm myself. I had called my mom as I didn’t want my daughter to find me in the morning and my mom heard something in my voice and raced over. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital where I was stabilized and held for a few days. Even after this, I still wasn’t referred to a psychiatrist – instead my family doc just kept upping my pills. I didn’t know where I was going to find the strength to head down the next path…..the path to awareness.