As a child, I remember thinking my parents could never possibly understand me. How could they? They were old, I was young.. they had always been old and I had always been young (at least in my world), and on the off chance they HAD actually been young once, well that was soooo long ago that it bared no resemblance to how things were for me.
So it's no doubt that my children think the same. After all.. it HAS been "forever" since I was a teenager. Certainly longer than I care to admit. But that doesn't change some things. The thing is, I know better than most people how my daughter feels - even though she doesn't (want to) believe it. Depression, anxiety, PTSD, attachment issues (although in those older than 18 it's called "borderline personality disorder") - like her, those are all diagnoses that have been made for me, and like hers, they were all related to childhood trauma. I know what it's like to sit in darkness and wonder if anything is really worth it. I know what it's like to live in a heightened state of being, on alert for any danger that is coming at any second. I know what it's like to live inside an emotional bubble that prevents anybody from "getting in". I really do. I "get it".
Some might say it's a blessing. To be able to know at least something of what your child is going through helps you relate to them on their level. It gives me more patience and I'm able to come from a place of better understanding. I can see the pain in her eyes and remember what it feels like, how it hurts. It creates an emotional and mental bond between us like nothing else.
On the other hand, it's a curse. To truly know what she's going through and remember what it's like is very very difficult. It's hard to watch your child in pain, and even more so when it's such deep, intense emotional pain that you can relate to. That you can remember being the worst of the worst. Knowing how badly she's hurting inside and there's nothing you can do to ease that. It's one of the worst possible things about being a parent - the helplessness when your child is hurting.
Then on yet another hand (no really, I have three hands... count em!), I used to be where she is but today I'm not. It wasn't easy, and it wasn't quick, but I don't think any therapist or social worker or psychiatrist would label me depressed, or anxious, and certainly no longer suffering from borderline personality disorder. I've come a long way and worked hard to "rejoin" the human race so to speak. Where I was once closed off I can now let light in. Where I once just wanted to sit in the dark, I now welcome the sunrise. Where I used to just "not care", I can love. I can really smile. I can honestly laugh. I can hug without flinching (well, mostly anyway). I beat the darkness.
And that gives me hope for her. She's stronger than I was. She has an ally in healing (me!). Together we can beat this. But she has to let me help her. She has to be willing to do the work. She has to want it.
It won't be easy. It won't be quick. There will be a lot of heartache, and she has a long, painful, personal journey ahead of her. And that makes me sad. I know how hard it will be and she doesn't deserve that. I wish I could make it easy for her. I wish I could wave a magic wand and have her heal overnight. But I can't. None of us can. All we can do is be there for them, no matter what journey they embark on.