This morning I watched as the mother of the Colorado theater gunman broke her silence. As she sat in the interview chair, with her body shivering, there was no denying her fear of speaking to the masses. Speaking to all of those people, of who many are certain to offer their criticism and judgement.
Coming forward, stepping out of the silence and opening herself up to the public was incredibly brave. As I watched her, I imagined the great deal of mental and emotional torment she must be suffering. The emotions she must be feeling are many – Fear of speaking to the people. Guilt, anger and disappointment in herself for not doing enough, for not seeing what she probably believes she should have. Anger at her son. Sadness for her son. Loss. Not to mention the desire she likely has, to hide away from the world, forever.
So for her to come out and speak, was again, incredibly brave and I commend her for doing so.
As a parent, I think the self-blame would be the most difficult part. I can only imagine the blame I would place on myself if it were my son who committed such a horrendous act. I would tear myself up, wondering what I missed and how I missed it. Constantly thinking about what I did and what I did not do.
But the fact is, is that none of us know what we do in a situation such as hers. How many of us would look over at our child and imagine them doing the unimaginable? Not many. I don’t think I would, not unless the signs were clearly obvious. As parents, we do all that we know to do to raise our children the best we can. And the fact of the matter is, is that we all fail at something along the way. No parent is perfect and no parent sees everything.
People in general are very good at disguising their true feelings, their thoughts and their own personal torment. We see only what they allow us to see and unfortunately sometimes that’s only a small glimpse into their world.
For this young man, who committed this awful act, what was his behavior like on most days? Perhaps the fact that he was struggling heavily with mental illness was only obvious every now and then, but on most days he appeared fine. He sought help. He was on medication. Everything should have turned out fine. Obviously it didn’t. It wasn’t enough. What would have been enough?
Unfortunately, when dealing with someone with mental illness we are typically given only two options: therapy and medication. This mother did those two things. That’s all she knew to do. Clearly, there needs to be more options.
Was it the mother’s fault that the two methods suggested to her didn’t work? No, absolutely not. Could she have done more? Possibly. But, couldn’t we all do more?
No parent is perfect. We all look back on different stages of our child’s life and wish that we would have done this or that.
Many people lost their loved ones that day, including the mother of the gunman and I hope that people will understand that. That they will also understand that she did what she knew to do and that what happened was not her fault. And I hope that she can forgive herself for all those same reasons.
Lastly, as she stated in the interview, I hope that her story will inspire more people to become educated about mental illness and that as a result, it will lead to more resources and more effective treatments for those who suffer from it.
Daily Post Prompt: Hope