What I thought 1...My partner blames me for Harrys condition.
I blamed myself so why shouldn't he? I touched on this a couple of weeks ago but this thought lead me to shut communication down completely with him and confide in my mum instead which proved fatal for our marriage.
What I know now...I didn't know my own mind let alone his! I was overthinking like a boss, super paranoid and hyper sensitive to anything and everything he did and said. He reassured me years later that he had never blamed me.
What I wish I'd done...I should have asked him and trusted his answer. I should have also focused more on the what can I do now rather than looking back and obsessing about how we had got here. On a good day it was exhausting, on a bad day, it was really dangerous for my own mental health.
What I thought 2...I'm not up to this challenge for the rest of my life
The responsibility and pressure of this new, scary world was crushing at times and I swung between resentment and fear of having to navigate a new path not just short term but for EVER! Forever is a long friggin time.
What I know now...Forever takes care of itself if you just manage one day at a time. Yes, the responsibility is immense but within that, there were tiny simple moments that I had to deal with day to day. When my boys were born, 16 years felt like another lifetime away and yet here we are after only 5840 days, taking one of them at a time.
What I wish I'd done...I really wish I had recorded my wins. Journaled or kept a note (today it would be on my phone) of even just one thing I had done every day with and for Harry that had been positive, productive or just made me happy. How powerful would it be now to look back and read 5840 statements?
What I thought 3...I'm not even sure I can love this baby. Ive saved the big one to the end because as much as I say our feelings are valid, even typing it evokes a bit of shame on my part. But its how I felt and I know someone (maybe you) will feel it too at some point. It wasn't the life I had been dreaming of. He wasn't the baby I have visualised raising. I was genuinely terrified that I just wasn't up to the task of being his Mum.
What I know now...There might be days when I dont like either of my boys much and I am 100% certain that there were times when my Mum could have swung for me particularly through the turbulent teen years but I have always loved them both. My fear around not being able to love Harry was actually my fear about not being able to forgive myself. It was nothing to do with his appearance and everything to do with my sense of failure. As I got to know his personality, his differences mattered less and though there are days even now when he drives me to gin (not that I need much excuse) I adore him and always have.
What I wish I'd done....Honestly, I dont know what I could have done differently. No-one I knew understood. No-one I knew had lived a life remotely like mine. I do think that this is where professional help would have helped me a little bit but there was none to access.
So thats why I am here for you now. To bridge the gap between what you need and the support that is available. I hope in some way, its helping even just a bit.
With love from Our Altered Life to yours, Charlie xx
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