That feeling of guilt from my last post hasn't dissipated. In fact, I can feel Sylvia Plath's Bell Jar hanging over my head as though it should be renamed the Bell Jar of Damocles (See my previous post). As the end of the school year rolls around I can't help but think of all the things I did wrong this year. The things I could have done better. The things I should have done more.
It seems I'm not alone. I heard a story of a parent this week who was really at breaking point feeling a similar remorse for past choices and not knowing what to do in the present. I was in tears because I knew they were in tears. I need to buy shares in Kleenex after this year. Her boy is a wonderful yet misjudged young man. Told many years ago 'it's probably ADHD - go get a diagnosis', it was apparent to me that wasn't so. He was so emotionally overwrought from years of 'trouble' that he was programmed by his environment to act and react a certain way. I have heard from many sources about him before, none of the stories good.
To never hear a person spoken of in a positive light is such a profound revelation about the environment that person is trapped in; about the lack of support and empathy that person receives for their indiscretions. When you are universally know as 'the naughty boy', what hope do you have of ever getting out of that spiral? You know no-one will ever praise you for trying to be good. You know people will misinterpret your actions because they see them through their lens, rather than clear, objective glass. What's the point in trying?
As adults we can say 'Well it only matters if I know I was trying my best' and to a large extent this is true. If we can sleep at night with a sound conscious knowing we tried to do right by our fellow man then that should be enough. It's like forgiveness; something that comes from within and is irrespective of what it is attributed to. This is a very hard concept to explain to any teenager, let alone one who is struggling on a daily basis. But perhaps this answers my personal dilemma.
If forgiveness is something that we give and is not something that is earned, then why is it so hard to forgive ourselves and lift that feeling of guilt? It should be given knowing that we've tried our best, and not taking into account the judgements of others. I should be able to forgive myself for not doing the home reader, for forgetting the lunchtime pill, for choosing to wipe the benches before sitting down to draw with my girls. I tried my best, and I should forgive myself for not reaching those unrealistic expectations I place on myself. How would this young man's world change if those around him acknowledged he was trying his best, rather than assuming the worst?
The first step towards a new start for the young man of this story was a fairly simple one. It was a phone call. Support is now in place. I hope the second step, and the third, fourth, fifth and every one after that, will be as easy. I have no idea what number step I'm taking. But the future is filled with less self loathing, and trying to do right, do better and do more.