The following post was written by Daylee, one of our Spring ’15 interns, and her mother.
When we got the call to fly Daylee home, everyone was on board. I committed to love and be there for her, but secretly I was terrified. I had no experience with self-injury. I worried about the reality that she could unintentionally hurt herself far more than she planned. I worried that she would get hepatitis or an infection. But I knew that, as frightened as I was, my fear could not compare to the terror Daylee felt in the face of the inner war she was waging.
Daylee and I worked together to find professionals to help her, and I sought information for myself at the same time. Even after Daylee was told she was “too old” to attend Children’s Hospital in Seattle, we stayed with providers and nurses she deemed safe. It was her healing and her program; I was her advocate. We sought out a psychologist who provided us both with the room to heal and grow through this experience together. Some days my presence was needed in sessions and some days it wasn’t, but I was always ready afterward with cups of tea, nurturing food, and an abundance of love.
Getting up with Daylee was different every single day; it depended what she was struggling with and what the day’s events might trigger within her. I shut down outside activities and focused on Daylee and my family. I decided day-to-day tasks, like getting the laundry done and shopping, would become opportunities to share and communicate. Some days we walked in the park; other days we drank copious amounts of tea while she shared music or a saying and we talked. I gave her permission to come and see me at work whenever she needed to. Some days it was, “Yes, I need you to drive me to appointments.” Other days it was, “Driving alone will give me time to process.” I cannot emphasize enough that, as with life, every day was different.
One evening, Daylee, her sister, and I ended up in the emergency room; Daylee had tried to find a way out of pain through the use of prescription drugs. She didn’t want to bother me when she became concerned about her choices since I was asleep, but, thank God, she reached out to her sister. One step forward as we found the path to healing, two back.
She found TWLOHA through a friend. A little at a time she would share what she knew about the organization with me. I encouraged her to grow her circle of support knowing she would need a peer group and others who had walked where she did. It was difficult as there was not as much understanding of self-injury out there and depression was a subject people were not comfortable talking about. None of this was easy; it was a process and that was just fine. We continued to practice presence and encouragement as we went. One step at a time and one breath at a time.
If I, as a parent, can stay centered in who I am, if I, as a parent, can remember my intention, my belief system, and stay grounded in my core values, then I, as a parent, can be available to help my child. Daylee needed the peace of knowing that, as things felt like they were falling apart, her anchor would be steadfast. When I told her I was not going anywhere it was as much a promise to her as it was to myself. It does not mean it was easy, far from it. It took courage, tears, and speaking out my own fears to keep myself centered.
When I became a mother, I realized that nothing – and everything – you experience prepares you to be a parent. Before Daylee was born, I struggled with self-worth, feelings of brokenness, and depression. I come from a difficult and good past, and I learned that joy and pain could walk side-by-side. I think it’s because of all of this that God knew Daylee needed to be my child. God kept me safe through it all, and he knew I could keep Daylee safe as well.
So Daylee, my dear sweet child, please know this: I see you. I hear you. I love you, unconditionally. Past, present, and always. I promise: I’m not going anywhere.
There’s this thing called unconditional love. It’s something I have for a very special person in my life: my mother. Although she loves me unconditionally, the truth is I’m still learning how to trust this love she has for me. I’m still learning how to receive this love. When she would tell me, as I sat blinded by my own pain, “I am not going anywhere,” I learned to trust her. But she wasn’t the one I was convinced might leave: I was worried about myself. As I struggled day-by-day, moment-by-moment with self-injury, she would say, “I’m not going anywhere.” And I would recommit to being clean. But I could not make the same promise. I couldn’t promise that I wasn’t going anywhere. The only promise I could make was that I loved her. Unconditionally.
At the time, that was enough. I am alive today because I held on to the unconditional love I have for my mother. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her the mess I had made. Time and time again, she helped me pick up the broken pieces. She hugged me tight, no matter how numb I was. She promised me the same thing every day: “I am not going anywhere.” And she didn’t. She showed up. No matter how ugly the situation was, no matter how scared we all were. She showed up.
This is the part I must emphasize: They all showed up. My family and close friends were there. We did life together. We made our new normal, something that looked different every day. Some days it looked like long, tearful conversations that were scarily honest. Some days it looked like a long hug between work shifts and therapy sessions. We kept the conversation going no matter what life looked like. And conversations are a powerful thing—they are windows of opportunity, chances at recovery. This was how my mom continued to teach me how to practice presence. I’ve come to believe there is no greater way to love someone than to simply be there for them.
However, my habit had a tendency to overshadow this amazing love. Self-injury was like a familiar friend—a constant companion that promised control, stability, and a temporary escape. But this “friend” would often keep me from my loved ones. My mom lovingly checking on me would intensify the guilt that waged a war in my brain. Whenever I was around people my mind would spin in circles, taunting me with all the things I wasn’t and all the ways I wasn’t living a good enough life. I hated myself. I felt worthless, empty, and alone. That was my “friend’s” best trick: making me feel alone by isolating me from those who were always there for me. It was a never-ending cycle and temporary relief was seemingly the only escape. This only further reiterated the tape playing on repeat in my mind saying I was unworthy of love, acceptance, and a life away from my “friend.”
Even when I was not able to truly believe that I was loved unconditionally, even as I struggled with self-injury, I held on to my mom. And she held on to hope. She held on to faith. Her consistency and words of encouragement kept me going, kept me alive. I will never truly be able to convey the depth of how much she means to me. But, maybe that’s the best part about unconditional love. We are given the promise: “I’m not going anywhere.” And while on the dark days we may not believe that, no matter what, we have each other.
So mom, please know this. I hear you. I see you. I love you unconditionally. Always. I promise: I’m not going anywhere.
This was exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you for sharing this story. It gives me hope. And makes me realize that even if it’s one person. I am loved.
this made me tear up, beautiful.
Thanks for sharing such a powerful story!
Wishing you both the very best life has to offer without too much self deprecation and much joy ahead always
Wow, that’s powerful stuff right there. I’m proud to know you and love you both so much.
Thanks for this amazing story
Thank you for sharing your journey. What a beautiful relationship you both have! God is glorified thru that! Thinking and prays are near our hearts when we think of you all fondly.
Love you sweet sister, you’re AMAZING 🙂 God bless all of you!
Two incredibly strong women with such a special relationship. Thank you for sharing your story on here xx
You both are amazing ladies. Love you heaps.
You are both exceedingly brave. And beautiful. Thank you for allowing God to work through you, and for sharing your journey.
This was such a special thing to read, because although the things I struggle with are different from the things Daylee struggles with, she very perfectly summed up a lot of things I feel about my incredibly special mom. I want to thank Daylee’s mom for being one of those special people, because I can truly say how important it is to have an advocate like that. And I want to thank Daylee for her beautiful honesty. You’ve clearly touched and helped so many other people going through hardships. Much love to you two amazing women.
This story real touch my heart because it reminds me of me and my mom. I am currently in the middle of a huge battle with self harm, suicide and depression. My mom is my reason to keep going forward too. To hear your story and know that I am not alone make me feel some hope. Thank you for your courage to share this. I will keep you two in my prayers.
Thank you both so much for sharing! I went through something very similar in the past year and my mom has been my rock, encourager, and advocate through all my struggles when most of my friends left my side because my problems made them uncomfortable. This article meant a lot to my mom and was a reminder to me that I am loved unconditionally 🙂 For those with loved ones going through difficult times, Daylee’s mom sets an example that patient love, reassurance, and presence are the best gifts you can give!
Thank you for sharing your stories, your hearts, your relationships, your vulnerabilities, your hope, your love. My mum died almost 14 years ago. I miss her more than words could convey but I’m blessed to have a relationship with her. You two are a blessing to one another and to us readers. God bless
I’ve just read your story, a little uncomfortably as its so close to home. The hardest part is trusting the fact that they arent going anywhere and that someone does love us. I’ve battled with self harm for over ten years now, and I haven’t _____ since August. Since I’ve met my partner Hollie, she’s kept me grounded and reassured me every step of the way. Being someone that doesn’t understand self harm it’s extremely difficult at times. She can’t comprehend why people would want to do that to themselves. As a result, it has made things harder, the pressure of not being able to get the feelings or emotions out. Dreading the break downs and not being able to hold it together in front of her. Each time, all I have to do is call her and she’ll be straight there. It is hard to ask for that help though. My mum was a big support throughout my early teens, she had vey little understanding for self harm too. But even still she would sit with me till the early hours of the morning while I cried, unable to express the pain I was feeling. She would take me to my appointments and did everything in her power to get me the help I needed. Even that wasn’t enough, Id still find a way. I too couldnt make the promise of sticking around, but the turmoil I would leave behind was more than I could bare. I had to carry on, and in a way that was punishment too; having to re live it every day. I havent cut for four months now, and things will always be difficult; there’s always going to be ups and downs. The main thing is that we’re still here, still fighting. You’ve got some great support by the sounds of things, and it takes a lot to share the darkest times of your life. Im proud to have read your story and of you for being such a strong person. You and your mum. People like you inspire me, and give me more of a drive to fight for this life and not against it. We are truly blessed to have amazing people in our lives who will support us regardless. And one day we will trust it completely. Keep fighting x
This is so beautiful. I pray to be the mom you have and love unconditionally. I want to be there for the ones i love, looking at them in the face, telling them i love you, and I’m not going anywhere; because I’ve struggled with self harm and addiction all on my own for also 10 years, and it was agonizing and exhausting. I understand the hurt, the loneliness, and especially the obstacle of hiding my pain. I’ve been through it all and back again, the cycle, as my brother calls it. Thank you so much for your story, it means a lot to someone who is helping her sibling through his road of self destruction.
Thank you for writing this. God bless you and all the moms and caretakers out there who struggle daily with our kiddos. Don’t ever give up!
It’s nice that your mother and family are there for you. I’m glad for you.
But I dont know how to write this in a way that’s acceptable here…
My mother said she didn’t get psychiatric help for me because she thought it would “scare me.”
The truth was, she was afraid the violence and sexual abuse by my father would be exposed.
She continued to protect his public image and allowed me to be labeled the sick one.
The abuse was so bad that I didn’t have the safety to remember it until she and then he were long dead, when I was 38 years old.
I’m 72 now and still struggle with shaking free from my rage, to drag myself out of chronic major depression and CPTSD and feel worthy of taking up space and having someone prepare food for me.
Many many blog posts here on The Hopeful help me get through the day and the night.
I can finally say, that I do have one person who knows everything about me and isn’t going anywhere. It sure wasn’t my mother—— but after 14 years, this person and I know each other completely and are 100% committed to being here for each other.
We are so very sorry for all the pain and hardship you’ve faced. Thank you for finding the courage to share these experiences with us and for opening up to this friend who now supports you and vice versa. You do not need to carry this alone and we believe healing is possible.
Please feel free to email us at [email protected] if you need or want another safe space to share and ask for support or encouragement. It would be our honor.
I find it hard to go beyond a person’s ignorance. Medical professionals and society, mental health specialists believe that self harm is suicide I do it for stress relief. Not suicide it is a way of coping self harm can include substance abuse, not washing hair for example