The second worst thing about the Missing Year (which was actually 17 months, to be exact) other than having to live through it, was watching my parents live through it. As mentioned previously, I was not only absent from my own life, but also from the lives of those I love. I am well aware how lucky I am to have parents who are spry and healthy at their age, but I regret causing them to age exponentially last year. After a previous episode many years ago, I vowed not to put them through that again. I failed.
I have said before that my mother has given me life more than once. Even though she didn’t completely understand what I was going through, didn’t always say the right thing (my last iPhone met its demise when I hurled it on the floor during one of our conversations—a move that is very uncharacteristic of me and also not so smart if you have hardwood floors), she has always made it clear that she is there for me, no matter what. There were many months when I didn’t want my parents to visit and sometimes did not even want to speak on the phone. I know this was hard on them, especially my mom, whom I often chat with on my commute to work when I am in my usual state of mind. She put her feelings aside and let me know that I should do what I needed to do, but that I could always pick up the phone and she would be there. Even as I started to function better “on the outside” (e.g. with strangers, at work), in the comfort of those closest to me, I regressed to being a sullen teen. I hated myself for not being able to act more mature, sitting there with a long face and monosyllabic answers. While it must have been hard, she comforted me by saying that I shouldn’t feel like I had to pretend around family, that I could be whoever I was at the moment and I was still loved.
From what my friends who are parents have explained, there is nothing worse than seeing their child in pain. Worse yet, to feel helpless in the face of pain that they cannot fix. I know I felt awful when I saw my mom crying and knew it was because of me.
So, as much as it has been a joy to me to feel better, it has made me especially happy to see my parents also get back to their normal lives as well. The spark in my mom’s eyes is also back; her posture, the expression on her face, lighter and relaxed. Again, I am so very, very grateful to be feeling like myself again. And so very grateful for the most supportive parents one could ask for.