I mentioned this yesterday but I will again just for context. I was asked by a national online news magazine to write an article for them. My choice was to chronicle Thomas' life from his birth to current times. I worked hard on that article and told the whole story leaving a few details out to protect Thomas. I do that here on my page even because I think that some things people just don't need to know. Thomas knows that I write here and he chooses not to read it so I haven't ever really TRULY known how he feels about it. My one concern hasn't been how I portray Thomas rather I think it would be hard for him to read the pain that I go through sometimes trying to deal with what he's going through. I have offered him countless chances to read this blog and always he refuses. So what does that have to do with the current article I am writing?
Yesterday I got my first draft back from the editor. I read through everything and it became more and more apparent that she wanted details put in that I had deliberately left out in order to protect Thomas. My heart sank a little bit because I was nervous to go to Thomas and ask him how he felt about me adding in details about things that, to me, seem deeply personal. One such thing was his experience with his first psychotic break. I more or less talked about it from my point of view but left out the ways in which he coped for the days afterwards because the things that he did, to me, were sad and showed how very terrified he was at the time. I just didn't think it was right to reveal those fear of his.
So, I gathered my courage and I went in to his room and I asked him to come sit with me in the living room. I told him I needed to talk to him about something. I explained to him that I was writing this article, I explained generally what it was about and I asked him what he thought about me writing it. He really didn't care all that much. I asked him to sit with me and comb through the article and its edits and help me decide what I could put in where and what I should leave out.
I asked him about the time that I discovered he had been pulling out his hair. I asked him if I could talk about it in more detail. His response?
"Yeah! That's fine!"
Then I asked him if I could talk about his first psychotic break and explain to everyone what I saw during that time that were behaviors of his. He said,
"Yeah! That's ok with me!"
Then I asked him if I could talk about other things and each question I asked him his response was a resounding "Yeah!" I was surprised. VERY surprised.
So I sat with him and explained to him that he really needed to think this through as far as what the general public would think. I told him that the overwhelming majority of people would be extremely supportive but that there might be some people who will have nasty things to say and might even make fun of him. I explained to him what happened to another mother and son with schizophrenia who did an article for the Washington Post and how they got such amazing support but that they also were attacked for the choices they made about his life and his mental healthcare. Thomas seemed completely unfazed.
I stopped and studied him for a minute and then I asked him,
"Why are you okay with me telling so many details about your life?"
He shrugged his shoulders and said,
"Because I have nothing to hide!!"
Nothing, I thought. Really? I asked him how he would feel if for some reason a friend of his read the article and came to him and made fun of him and he said,
"Mom, my friends already know. And remember I told you before that Cole and Patrick have always understood and supported me. Remember, mom, what I told you? Remember the times I thought I was hallucinating and they checked for me and let me know what they saw? Mom, they're supportive of me and I don't mind if they know this other stuff."
I had forgotten that and I could see that he had a strength in him about this whole article thing that I'm doing.
I was in awe of this kid who has been terrified so many times in his young adult life and he was being beyond brave now and allowing me to write openly, more so than I have done here, about his life and his feelings.
Then the final big question came. The editor asked me if I could interview Thomas and let him make some of his own comments in this article. This is where, to me, it became more beautiful than I ever thought possible. I asked Thomas that, if he would mind being interviewed, and he beamed from ear to ear and said he would like that. I was overjoyed. I told him how good it was that he wanted to do that and I told him that he would get to have a voice in the big deal article too.
He would get to have a voice!!
So, there it is. Right out there naked in the wind (sorry for the graphic thought). The thing is, that is exactly where we'll be though. We are going to lay our lives bare for all the world to see and we're going to do it together and face whatever comes our direction, together. My boy, my young man, is an amazing, strong, candid, big hearted kid and our future looks amazing. A mom and her son, fighting schizophrenia and it's ravages on each of us, will do this, and as it has always been from the time he was put in my arms for the first time, we will do this together. He will have a voice and most importantly he "has nothing to hide."
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