This ‘Blood on the Rocks’ event was a turning point for many reasons. I had spent years hovering over Rose to keep her safe, only to witness her near-death experience just feet away from me in our own home. I realized that Rose’s safety must come from inside Rose’s body and brain, not from her mother.
Another revelation was that I was damaged. I had absolutely no control of my body and brain during those moments. The scream started and I could do nothing but let it pass through me. It was not a catharsis or purge of emotions. It was sheer brokenness.
Neither Rose nor I were safe. I had been so focused on saving Rose, that I did not notice my own unanswered needs much less wants. I am seeing that now as my sister takes care of my ninety-year-old mother with dementia. Care-giver burden is a dangerous thing.
Look in the mirror moms and dads. Is your hair coarse? Is your skin color off? Have you gained or lost weight? Look into your eyes, are you still in there? How is your gait? Do you pick up your feet or shuffle? When is the last time you laughed out loud? Are you still fun to be around, or is time with you a pity party? Do you sigh a lot? Ask your real friends if you have changed. They will be happy to finally talk honestly with you.
The rule on airplanes is that the parent puts on his/her oxygen mask first. That is so he/she can take care of your child while breathing. Are you doing that? Who will take care of your fragile child if something happens to you?
This is not about self-care…this is SURVIVAL. Save yourself! Get support. Ask for help. Demand it if necessary.