Breaking the Silence

gunman mom

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

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26 Responses to Breaking the Silence

  1. Kids are not responsible for the sins of their parents and I want to believe that it goes the other way around as well. As for “she should have seen,” hard to tell. Maybe she had done her best to her knowledge and capaability. I hate the thought that she feels the need to hide.

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    • mewhoami says:

      I firmly believe that she did everything to the best of her knowledge and ability. The “should have seen” was my perception of what she’s probably feeling…it’s how I would feel. But, *should* she have seen anything else? Doubt it. There was probably nothing else to see. Sadly, we’re only able to see what is shown to us.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. DailyMusings says:

    So very brave of her to come forward and speak- I give her so much credit. My brother suffered from mental illness and we were always afraid of what he might do- would he be one of the people we hear about on TV.( Instead he took his own life.) There was a movie made about the anguish the parents of someone who committed a mass shooting- it really made you think and look at it from a different perspective. Great post

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    • mewhoami says:

      That is so sad to hear. I’m very sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine. Thank you for letting me know about the movie. I’ll have to look for it. I do think that it’s good that they made a movie to show the world the parent’s side in all of this. People need to know that they didn’t ask for their kids to make the choices they made and they certainly didn’t condone it. They do as parents all they know to do, in order to raise their children to be good, happy, successful adults. They unfortunately only have so much control, and the rest is up to the children and/or the mental health professionals to give them the help they need.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. joey says:

    I watch these things, too. It is brave. It’s a sort of bravery in vulnerability that I can’t imagine. But I’m certain, I’m absolutely certain that their interviews help people.
    It’s too hard to tell what she could’ve done or should’ve done. There are so many situations with children, where you just do not know what to do, not just mental illness, but with academia, with sports, with physical ailments. We listen to our guts, we listen to our elders, we listen to the professionals. I’m sure she did what she thought was right, and none of us are fit to expect more of anyone. Her pain must be crushing. But she is not to blame.

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    • mewhoami says:

      I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said. This is such a good description: “bravery in vulnerability.” I cannot imagine being in her shoes. You’re right about that we always question what we do with our children, in all areas of life. With my son it’s the same. I’m constantly asking myself what more I could and should do, what I haven’t done enough of, etc. Being a parent is hard. All we can do is all we know to do. We do our best with the resources we are given. As you said, in her situation, she is certainly not to blame.

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  4. George says:

    I can’t imagine being the parent of a child on either side of this tragedy. I just can’t.

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  5. April says:

    One thing that would also help is making mental health care more affordable. But SOME mentally ill are able to ‘hide’ their true thoughts. My heart breaks for the mother and I’m sure I would be going through the what ifs and should ofs. While I understand myself, it is hard for me to understand other disorders which lead to such horrible endings. I know one thing, for a lot of the mentally ill, we know how to avoid or mislead the professionals when it comes to our thoughts. I don’t know if this was the case for this man because I will never understand it.

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    • mewhoami says:

      You’ve got that right – it definitely needs to be more affordable. Most the people I know, including myself, avoid medical care as much as possible because of how costly it is. That needs to change. With him, I know that people saw signs that he was leading down a dangerous/questionable path, but I don’t think anyone would have ever guessed that he would commit such a violent act. I think in general, we like to see the good in people and always hope for the best. That unfortunately, can cause us to overlook what sometimes may be right in front of us. What all did this man hide in terms of his personal torment? A great deal, obviously. How was anyone to know what horrible thoughts were lurking inside? Such tragedy…even for him. There needs to be more help out there and less fear for those who are struggling to speak up.

      Liked by 1 person

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  7. How tortured she must feel! I think she has shown herself to be very courageous. She will bnefit from doing this—some of her guilt will have been lifted, I hope.

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    • mewhoami says:

      Yes, I can only imagine what she’s going through. It must be incredibly difficult. I hope also that others will benefit from her coming forward. She may not have been able to prevent her son from doing this, but maybe another child will be saved from it in the future.

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  8. Well said. Particularly, No parent is perfect. Even great parents can have kids that are horrible. Parents just have to do the best that they can. Human kindness will go a long way as we don’t know what is happening in someone else’s life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mewhoami says:

      You’re exactly right. Since we don’t know all the details in anyone’s life but our own, it is best not to judge, but to show compassion instead. People need compassion, especially these days. We can do our very best as parents and still find ourselves in situations we never would have imagined.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Excellent post. I hope this lady gets some help in order to deal with the fallout that she is dealing with.

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  10. JoAnna says:

    I hope she reads your post and/or others offering support. She didn’t have to do this interview, but she did to try to help. Besides making mental health care more affordable, we need to decrease the red tape. I’ve worked in the mental health field for over thirty years and I’m cutting back my hours now because the steady increase in paperwork has been trying to make me crazy. We have to constantly justify why a person needs to continue state funded treatment with redundant documentation. Sorry for the rant. I also wonder about the effects of how mass shootings have been covered by media over the years. The most important thing we can do is work to understand what led up to the tragedy and be sure not to sensationalize the shooter. Thanks for writing about the mother’s side.

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    • mewhoami says:

      Rant away. I understand how that could be frustrating. Completing paperwork to explain why people need help has taken priority over actually helping them. Thank you though for the work that you do and have done. I agree with you about the media coverage. People want attention and if we as a society keep giving it to them, they’ll continue to repeat their actions, while sadly…trying to compete with one another. Our mindset should be – Forget the shooter and focus on the victims and the solution. Thank you for this comment!

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  11. amommasview says:

    You bring up a very interesting point: The responsibility we parents have for our children’s action. And I couldn’t agree more with you that it would eat me up if I would be in the position she is in. All those feelings you’ve mentioned. And yet, the actions are not ours, the responsibility is not ours. Maybe nothing was ever done wrong by anybody but him. And still, as parents you will find yourself in this cycle of guilt…

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  13. lbeth1950 says:

    Thank you for writing this.

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