Guess what; your kid doesn’t *have* to love you.

To paraphrase Cable from Deadpool 2, which I’ve seen at least a dozen times, but can’t recall the exact quote:

“People think they understand pain, but they have no concept of it, beyond their own worst experience.”

It’s the same when you declare to the world at large that you don’t love one, or both, of your parents.

When I tell people I haven’t spoken to my mother in 15 years, most react with horror and/or disbelief. Then, disgust.  I’ve broken one of the most basic social covenants, so there must be  something wrong with me. I must be some terrible, callous, incredibly selfish, and supremely hateful human being to even think such a thing, much less say it out loud.  There can be no other explanation, because that woman gave me life. I am a monster for cutting her out of mine.

Other people? They get it. This post isn’t for them.

Most of society has no real concept of what it’s like to have a truly bad parent. Annoying parent? Sure. Embarrassing parent? Of course. But truly piece of shit parents? No. They have no concept of it, beyond their own worst experience.  Ever been accused of something you didn’t do? Ever been grounded for longer than you thought was fair? Were you told no, you couldn’t go out on a school night?

I am sorry, but your childhood trauma is rated E for Everyone.

Now, to be fair, I realize that there’s no such thing as a perfect parent.  We are human, and as such, we make mistakes. Raising productive members of society is hard, and the standard is impossibly high. There are some good parents out there that screw up. Hell, they screw up big, and it doesn’t make them bad parents. But—and I can’t stress this strongly enough—there are some really bad parents out there. People so bad at being parents, they don’t even deserve the title.

The dirty details of why I cut my mother and her husband out of my life are no one’s business.  It should be enough to say that I have my reasons. Was my mother an alcoholic/drug addict that pimped me out for her next fix? No, to all of that.  Was she abusive? Not physically, sexually, mentally, or emotionally.  She was negligent, but name one teenager that wouldn’t delight in having a mother that didn’t care where they went, what they did, or who they were with. Right, you can’t.  Did we not get along growing up? Actually, my mother and I got along very well.  I left home the week after I turned 18 to get away from the toilet stain she married, not her. Again, the details aren’t important.

My mother is a pathological liar, and a thief.  She is completely selfish, and was never interested in being a mother or grandmother.  However, while she gave nothing, she demanded everything in return.

And that’s where the crux of the problem lies.  People seem to think that giving birth is all that’s required to claim the honor of being a parent. Yeah, that’s bull.  Exhibit A: all of the baby-mamas and baby-daddies running around out there that don’t pay child support or even go out of their way to see their kid.

Think about it. Some random idiot doesn’t like the way condoms feel, never calls, never writes, never shows even the slightest interest in their child, but they have the brass cajones to demand love and respect? How about no, jackass?

Exhibit B: the step parents that stepped the hell up when they didn’t have to. For them, I have nothing but respect.

Ted Bundy had a kid. John Wayne Gacy had kids. Fred and Mary West had a lot of kids.  These people were monsters, and have no right to demand anything from anyone.  Granted, these are extreme example, but where the line is drawn depends on who is drawing that line. Bad  Behavior is only acceptable as long as there are people around who are willing to accept it. Me? My willingness to accept unacceptable behavior came to a screeching halt a very long time ago.  I realized, maybe too late, that some people will take everything you have to give, then demand more. Once finished, once you’re completely empty and strip mined to the bare bones, they’ll toss you aside like used Kleenex and never give you a second thought.

And sometimes that person is your mother.

Do my kids love me? I think as much as any two people are capable of loving someone they’re forced to live with.  I know I annoy them. I embarrass them. They are overwhelmed by my ignorance at times. We argue.  If someone has figured out how to live with two teenagers without that being an issue, please, what’s your secret? Throw a bitch a bone.

The thing is, I don’t expect them to love me. They’re people, not my personal property.  They have thoughts, feelings,  inner lives, and interests as diverse as mine.  They are two human beings that did not exist before I came along, and wouldn’t exist without me, but here’s the thing about that…the decision to bring them into the world was mine.  I wanted to have kids.  They don’t “owe” me anything.

If they love me, it’s because I’ve earned it. Every day, since the day they were born, I’ve earned it. I am their biggest cheerleader, because I sincerely think they’re incredible at everything they try.  Sure, I can’t be trusted to be impartial where they’re concerned, but who cares? I don’t have to be impartial. I laugh at their jokes, because they’re funny.  I cook their dinner,  I do their laundry and—gods help me—I even pick up their room for them sometimes. My kids know I’d fight for them. They know I’d kill for them, because I 100% beyond the shadow of any doubt love them.  Not because it’s my job,  not because God commanded me to, but because I do. As people, not just because they’re my kids.

If they love me back, it’s because they genuinely love me. Now because they are obligated to by religion or society.  So, let’s take both equations out of it.  Disregard “honor thy father and mother.“  Consider, just for a moment, if that ancient adage wasn’t so deeply ingrained in societal consciousness…

Do you think your kids would still love you? Would you still love your parents ?

I asked myself that question.  The answer was no. It’s ugly, but the truth often is.

Where the hell have I been?

I’ll bet you thought this webpage had been abandoned, didn’t you? That’s extremely fair. I only ignored it for a year and a half, let the paid subscription lapse, and stopped writing altogether for roughly 15 months.  I can see were you might have gotten that impression.

Where have I been? The short answer is I finally got treatment for my anxiety disorder. The long answer; I started taking Paxil, then lost all interest in writing. I got a second low-paying job to supplement the income of my first low-paying job, then I sort of got lost in the endless grind of existence for a few months.

Until, Writer Kate stepped up, then I broke free.

So, hi. I’m Kati. I have social anxiety disorder, which causes occasional depression, and I choose not to treat it. That doesn’t make sense, you say. No, it doesn’t, but hello, anxiety disorder. I don’t want chemicals messing with my already messed up brain. Plus, the meds I’ve tried didn’t help much. Paxil is really just apathy in pill form, and Doxepin made me…a little violent and extremely hateful. Luckily, I didn’t take it long.

Which leaves treating myself with diet, exercise, and a can-do attitude. Unfortunately, I only have one of those things. My diet consists of whatever I can grab, not have to cook, and eat on the run. My exercise regimen is bust my ass at work and home, be constantly on the move, because if I stop at any point, I will fall asleep.

The thing is, I’m a lot luckier than most. I can function outside the home, even though it sucks and I have an awesome support system. I know a few people with the same disorder, or other equally scary mental illnesses, that can’t say the same.

So, what does that mean for my writing? While I was taking Paxil, I still had story ideas, absent any desire to actually write them down.  When I decided, essentially, that writing was more important than my mental health, the need to write came back. I’ve been working on Book 4 in the Watcher series for about 4 months now and I’m getting close to finishing the rough outline. Oh, it’s not a 600 page book, or anything. It’s just coming to me as easily as a Barbie doll giving birth to a 15 pound baby. And, writing another book absent an audience to actually read it is an exercise in pointlessness that pushed me onto the Paxil in the first place.

Who’s fault is that? Oh, it is 100% my fault. I wrote those books, published them, then never, ever looked at them again. The very idea of talking about my books with other people triggers a mini panic attack.  I don’t have a publisher or literary agent to back me up, so building an audience was supposed to be my job. I dropped the ball off a cliff.

So, here’s my dilemma. How do you build a social media presence when your mental predisposition is to keep EVERYONE at bay? It kind of feels like being on the bomb squad. If you’re successful, nothing happens. If you screw up, everything blows up in your face.

I am a wife, and I love being a wife. I’ve got 23 years experience at it. I used to do it professionally, until the economy tanked. I can talk to other people about being married, and I know I could give them good advice.

I am a mom. I absolutely love being a mom. I could talk to other people about what it’s like to raise kids in this world.

I am a writer. I could talk about writing all day,  and I like helping people with the stuff that they are writing. I offer a second pair of eyes and give honest feedback, which is essential for any artist.

I also have social anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder. It affects every aspect of my life. It drains me mentally, it affects my physical health, my ability to think clearly at times, and severely limits my social interactions. And so, this thing that I’ve kept hidden for the most part from everyone I know is the part of me that everyone needs to see.

There are a lot of people like me.  They’ve been made to feel ashamed. They’ve been told that there’s nothing really wrong with them. They get accused  of making it all up, or of acting out for attention.  So,  they’re the ones that need my help. Even if it’s just me changing the way I do things, to show them they’re not alone, and that it is possible to do the things that freak you out. Maybe, in the long run, doing those things will help you.

Because I’m broken, not useless.