I could tell by her face that she was tired. And not the kind of tired you can fix with a good night’s sleep.

The kind of tired that breaks you from the inside. The kind of tired you can’t easily fix. The kind of tired you contain within your whole being, even when it threatens to burst at the seams.

I am familiar with that kind of tired.

That kind of messy.

Like a clean, presentable room where all of the junk is shoved so hard and far into the closet you have to quickly slam the door so it doesn’t all come toppling out.

My friend has a teenage daughter who is struggling.

My friend wondered where she had gone wrong as a mom and how bad she had screwed her up.

16 years ago I was her daughter.

A bright, brilliant girl with the entire world in front of her. But something was off. Something was wrong.

I tried to fill the cracks with food, drugs, alcohol and boys in an attempt to drown out the overwhelming feeling of inadequacy and discomfort.

Suddenly in the middle of a store the young damaged girl inside of me was telling my grown up friend all of the things to watch out for. All of the things that she can do as her mom to care for her. To love her. To get her through this. What I hope she heard above everything I rambled on about was “She needs you. You need to be her first line of defense. She needs to trust you. She needs to know you’ll always be there to catch her when she falls. She needs to feel safe at home or she’s going to go find something or someone else that is only an illusion of safety.”

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about her.

About her daughter.

I was her age when I fell to the floor sobbing in a friends house simply because I felt as though my entire existence was a waste of time. I was wearing black wool pants and a red striped sweater. I’m not sure I’ve ever cried so hard again in my life.

I couldn’t talk to my mom about it. She never seemed to understand that I was different. That I needed to be handled differently. She seemed to only view me as difficult. It was at that point that I retreated farther and father away from the life a 13 year old should have had.

My path has not been a smooth one.

But it has been made smooth by years of traveling back and forth between okay and not okay.

I have people to walk with me now. People to carry me when I can’t make it back to okay on my own. And all these wonderful people traveling my road with me pack it down and smooth it out even more.

I will pray for my friend. Pray she has the patience and understanding to carry her wild and wonderfully imperfect daughter through the rough road ahead of her when she can’t carry herself.

As for her daughter?

She is one of the special ones.

One with so much fight in her that things have to be difficult in order to for her to grow stronger rather than weak and complacent.

Generations will be blessed because of her struggles and strength.

She is going to grow in ways that cannot be taught in books or learned from others. She is going to feel in a way most people are incapable of feeling. Empathy and understanding are going to be two of her greatest strengths. She is going to make an amazing friend and mother.

We both broke down early in life so we could grow stronger from the very beginning, and I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything.

Holliday park. Addie and me.

I hope someday she can say the same.

 

Comments

  1. You are so amazing. Your friend is incredibly blessed to have you in her life.

  2. This is such a beautiful message of hope, strength, and courage. I fear sometimes for my intense, private, and sensitive older daughter (and she’s not yet four!), about what will happen when she reaches the teenage years. If we do face that struggle, I hope I will remember these words, and be able to share them with her. Break early to grow stronger from the beginning.

  3. All good in theory – the hard part is to put that theory into practice. I hope the mother can – and does. I hope the daughter can – and does.

    I hope.

  4. They are lucky to have you and this perspective. You know it won’t be an easy journey for them but you also know how to support them through it.

  5. Casey, I am so grateful for your writing about depression, this one especially, drilled into my heart, as the teen you described could have been my daughter and I could have been the mom you spoke to. It is never easy to watch our children struggle and to watch them struggle with an unreachable demon, like depression, is a bitter pill to swallow. I hope and pray that your friend and her daughter know what a treasure they have in you. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  6. I’m glad you’re stronger now after all you’ve gone through. Once upon a time I felt that way but since I keep breaking I question my own theory.

  7. “She is going to grow in ways that cannot be taught in books or learned from others. She is going to feel in a way most people are incapable of feeling. Empathy and understanding are going to be two of her greatest strengths. She is going to make an amazing friend and mother.”

    yes.

  8. Thank you so much for this post.

  9. Well and beautifully said. I am the mom of just such a teenage daughter too. Mine is Bipolar. Please feel free to share my email with your friend, I would be happy to help/listen in any way I can…

  10. This is amazing. You captured everything I’ve felt about my struggle with and through depression into words and expressed it for me in a way I never could. Thank you for writing this.

  11. this is just perfect. much love to you, your friend and her daughter.

  12. Praying I can be that kind of parent if I am giving a wayward child.

  13. mommabird2345 says:

    I’ve been that kind of tired. Lately, I’ve been struggling with my 13yo daughter. Would you mind telling me what to watch for? I just don’t know what to do anymore. Thank you so much.

  14. You have such a gift for writing. Your ability to express and articulate your wisdom and insight is simply beautiful. I’m right in the midst of being broken, the process of refinement can be so excruciating but your words…give me hope. I absolutely needed to read this TODAY. thank you. thank you. thank you.

  15. Such a heartbreaking journey for her. I’m glad you were able to be there to help.

    This just about broke my heart:
    “My path has not been a smooth one.

    But it has been made smooth by years of traveling back and forth between okay and not okay.”

    Love you, friend.

  16. I hope you realize just how many people you help! You are a blessing to many. :)

    I struggled for my own reasons at that age. My mom understood but didn’t know how to help. But just having a caring, involved parent helped me. So much.

  17. I was that girl, once upon a time. She has a fighting spirit, a mother who cares and a friend who champions her. I gotta believe she’ll make through. I did without any of that. And I’m not that special.

  18. Glad to hear I’m not alone. Thanks for these posts, they’re always timely for me.

  19. Your friend is so lucky to have you for a friend. To have a close someone who has ‘been there, done that!’ and is not embarrassed to share that knowledge.

  20. I love this a thousand times over

  21. You are a blessing.

  22. You’re an amazing friend. I think that was excellent advice you gave her. I never could turn to my parents, in fact it was that simple fact that I think made everything so much worse. When you can’t count on your family, who are you left with?

    I hope the best for your friend and daughter (and of course, always, you and your family!)

  23. This gave me goosebumps. I wish someone like you had been around to have this discussion with my Mom 10 years ago.
    You are such an amazing friend, and your heart – it is SO big.