The first time he said it, I almost wanted to laugh out loud for a second, because surely this had to be a joke. There’s no way my amazing little boy could ever be having these thoughts…
"I don't belong in this world- I shouldn't be here."
What do you say to this? Well, I said what any parent would naturally say. “Of course you belong in the world! You belong so much, in this family, we all love you. You belong right here with us”. While this was all true…it wasn’t what he needed to hear and it wasn’t helping him.
My first born is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. He is so incredibly sensitive to other people’s feelings and needs. This child will actually come up and hug me and say “did you know that you are the best mom in the world?” and write me notes that include “I can’t believe I got so lucky to have a mom like you” when he can SEE that I may be having a hard day… he will do these things all on his own.
His heart is beyond enormous… his little brother drops his popsicle outside? He will gladly give his away. I cannot believe how amazing this little human is; he is just so very “good” right to his inner core. And to top it all off he’s incredibly smart it’s scary sometimes. I’m actually the lucky one here to have him in my life- I can learn from his kind spirit. Recently, I have found myself thinking that whoever ends up with him as a life partner in the future, will be one insanely lucky individual as well.
But last fall, my world was completely rocked when he disclosed to me things such as :
"I'm horrible at everything"
"You must have been disappointed when you found out you were pregnant with me"
"I wish I wasn't born"
"If I wasn't on this earth, then I wouldn't be so scared of everything- it would be better that way"
"I'm the worst person in the world"
"If my friends knew that I was scared of everything all the time...they wouldn't be friends with me"
At first, he would say these things to me about once every three or four weeks. It was always when I would come into his room to say goodnight and it was almost always when my husband was not home. And then I would tell him that what he wrong, that none of that was true. I would cry, hug him, and tell him I loved him. And then when we were both emotionally drained, I would say that we would talk more about it in the morning. Then off I would go to have a cry on the couch alone. Sometimes, I would call my husband, and other times I couldn’t bear to say the words out loud again.
I’ll also note that he had a hard time adjusting to the new school year as he didn’t have any friends in his new class, which was extremely hard for him. I kept telling him he would make new friends, to be positive…I had no idea all of THIS was happening inside of him though.
He started saying these thing to me more and more. He even said it to me on his birthday! We had just spent the whole day together; we played, did whatever he wanted then had a fun bowing party with his buddies…. yet that night he told me he was the worst person in the world and shouldn’t be here. On the nights that my husband WAS home, I would suggest we all talk about it together; he refused. I needed help. No matter how many times I told him how great we thought he was, it wouldn’t matter. And being the only person he would take to about this was really starting to become more than I could handle emotionally. We sought out professional help and it was the best decision we have ever made as parents. We had an initial session, then he would have three without us, then it would be our turn (just the parents). And repeat.
I won’t go into too many details, but I will share you the MOST IMPORTANT thing I learned because it really changed things for us. When my child was telling me all about how awful he thought he was at everything, how he didn’t belong, how he wished he was never born… No words ever spoken had ever caused me so much pain; it hurt me right to my core- my poor baby was suffering. What he was saying wasn’t true and I all I wanted to do was make him believe that. But, what he really needed was to be heard and acknowledged. This was tough. It was actually so unbelievably hard. It went something like this:
HIM: "I'm the worst person in the world"
ME: "Wow, that must be really hard for you to be feeling that way..."
HIM: "Yeah it is..."
HIM: "I don't belong in this world"
ME: "Oh sweetheart, that must be making you so sad on the inside having those thoughts..."
HIM: "Yeah it is..."
At this point, he could go on to really talk to me. Because before, all I was doing was dismissing the way he was feeling. He was telling me “I am feeling this way” and I was telling him “well you shouldn’t be”. And of course, before I tried asking him why, but our conversation would always be taken over with me telling him that everything he was saying wasn’t true.
It was hard, soooo hard to sit there and not scream “YOU ARE WRONG- YOU ARE GOOD AT SO MANY THINGS!!” Instead, I learned how to validate his feelings, to listen better, to acknowledge that what he was feeling was legitimate and real; I had to show empathy.
This has by far been the most challenging thing I have gone through so far as a parent. I couldn’t always bring myself to talk about it with others because of the way it made me feel. I cried A LOT. Eventually, I was able to talk about this with a dear friend. Slowly the weight lifted off my shoulders a bit and it became a bit easier. Our therapy sessions were really helping; both for my child and for me.
If you are going through something like this: REACH OUT
Please talk to somebody and get help. That is my message here. There is no way I would have come out on the other side of this experience if we hadn’t gotten help. My kind, sweet, and loving child was going through something tough; he was in a dark place. This brought me right down into a dark place of my own. But we are out now; on the other side. Equipped with new knowledge, tools we can use, and more love than you can ever imagine.