Ring of Fire

I fell into a burning ring of fire,
I went down, down, down and the flames went higher.
And it burns, burns, burns,
this ring of fire,
this ring of fire.

– June Carter

During my five month hospitalisation this song was perpetually stuck in my head. Perhaps it was a song that seemed appropriate. Particularly in light of my gastrointestinal distress. Did you know that “Ring of Fire”, was once the proposed advertising song for a haemorrhoid cream? Rather unsportingly, I feel,  the Carter/Cash family refused song rights for the advertisment. I can’t think why.

But on a more serious note I could relate to the song. The seemingly endless fall into an all time low that burned. God! It burned! And worst of all, it burned the ones I love.

This last hospitalisation has scarred me. The scalpels, the IV’s, and, yes, the self inflicted tearing at my skin has marked me in a way I will never be able to explain. My skin heals to shiny silveriness, but it will never be the same. A constant reminder to myself, and my loved ones.

But the scar that burns the most is the one inside my heart. The guilt I have, as a mother, for leaving my three year old child during my hospitalisation. Because it wasn’t just for a week, or a month, but for FIVE months of his little life.

He now has a acquaintance with hospitals that I never wished for him to have. If I slip, and mention that I need to see the doctor, he worries, immediately asking if I am ok, If I will go back to hospital again. I have to reassure him that I am not going anywhere and then he climbs up on my lap, ever so gently, telling me that he won’t hurt my tummy. He kisses me and tells me “No more hospital Mummy. You are doing SO well.”

I often say that he was the one who saved me, and this is the honest to God truth. If I didn’t have my son to motivate me into recovery, I don’t know where I would be. But then I think; what a responsibility for a toddler to hold! I never wanted my illness to affect my son, yet it did, from the moment he was born. Unintentionally, I have exposed my son to the ring of fire. And I burned him.

I know…I KNOW that I had no choice. I know I had to get myself better to be there for him. I know that I was “caring for my child by caring for myself”, or whatever it was that the doctors told me to try and make me feel better. But the fact was that I wasn’t there for him. For nearly half a year. I wasn’t there to watch him play. To cook him dinner. To take him to the park. To pick him up from daycare. To kiss him when he fell. To hold him when HE was sick. For nearly half a year.

And of course he takes it in his stride. Because that’s what children do. He loves me no less than he did before.

But this scar over my heart will never heal. How can I forgive myself for putting myself first, when the whole purpose of parenting is to protect your young before yourself.

I fell into a burning ring of fire.

And I took him with me.

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8 thoughts on “Ring of Fire

  1. Self-care is some of the hardest decisions at times, isn’t it.

    On a way tangent — the jukebox at my old dive diner in Dallas was haunted, and the ghost loved Ring of Fire. It would just randomly turn on all the time and we’re all like, whelp. There goes the ghost again.

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  2. You can’t go back and change it, it had to be done. Now all you can do is be the best mom moving forward (not that you were a bad mom being in the hospital) and try try try to let go of the guilt for doing what you had to do. That time kept you safe for him.

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  3. Unfortunately, I know your guilt too well. Recently my son said, in a moment of rage or pain, that I wasn’t there for him when he needed me. Of course, I’ve been there far more than not. But, when he was young I was unable to be there for him in the way that he needed. We are human. We love imperfectly. We do our best. But, yes, of course, we do not want our illness to burden our children. A great-grandmother, Diane, recently wrote a piece for Stigmama (dot com), entitled: FROM ‘DARKNESS’ TO ‘LIGHT’, BY DIANE. Check it out. Her children grew up to be compassionate. Her perspective is wise. She suffered the pain of severe depression, and has also experienced the joy of seeing her children grow up to be loving parents.

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