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the guilt - how can I make sure my ds always knows I love him?

(12 Posts)
januaryblues11 Thu 20-Feb-14 17:41:14

I don't even really know where to start.

I split with my exh last November. We split because I'd been unhappy for a long time. We were no longer in love or making eachother happy.

We have a ds together, he is 3.5 years old. He's amazing. I suffer with anxiety and depression, always have done. When the split first happened I became overwhelmed and couldn't see a way out. I took an overdose. I don't remember a lot about it. I didn't want to die. I just wanted the pain to stop.

Because of this, my exh got the social services involved. It has been decided the ds should live with his dad. I don't contest this. My ex is a great dad and he and ds have a lovely relationship. I see my ds 2 full days a week and 2 evenings. I pay my ex 15% of my salary in maintenance. I'd like to pay more but my job isn't high paying and I wouldn't be able to support myself if I gave exh more.

Ds seems fine. He's the happy, funny, bright little boy he's always been. But the guilt I feel. The pain. I've failed my son as a mother. I love him so desperately but I am not mentally well enough to have him live with me. I miss him so much when we're apart.

How can I preserve his emotional health as he gets older? How can I make sure he knows that it's not that I don't want him? the guilt is hard to live with sometimes. My little boy is the best thing I've ever had happen to me and I've let him down.

callamia Thu 20-Feb-14 17:56:25

You are far from letting him down. You have been unselfish enough to make sure that he is safe andived, whike allowinf yourself space to get well again. This makes you an excellent mother.

I an sure that the time you have with him is precious to both of you. He will value love and happiness. Is your ex-h supportive of your recovery? Is he able to be clear with your son about why he doesnt live with his mum? Perhaps in the future you will be more well and able to take on more of his care? For now, just love him and give him lots to smile about. As he gets older, there may be other concersatiins to have, but while he's little focus on getting yourself well and hopefully you and your son's dad will continue to do just fine.

I admire what you're doing, i can't imagine how difficult it is, and i hope you're really giving yourself some love too.

Rooble Thu 20-Feb-14 18:00:21

Well you haven't let him down. You've made sure he is living with a great father who is able to care for him in a way that your illness prevents you from doing. You are seeing him regularly. He is healthy and happy and lovely and I'm sure knows he is loved by both his parents.
He is so little that even if he remembers his very earliest years right now, he is unlikely to do so much longer unless you talk about them lots.
Lots and lots of children grow up in separated families and totally accept it because they know no different. In my child's class there are children who live with two parents full-time, children with split residency, children with same-sex parents, children who have not seen one parent since birth.... You name it, they have experienced it. And they accept it as the status quo because that's what it is.
The way you go on from here is not to dwell on the past in front of your son (even if you're inclined to do so when you're alone), continue to be kind and loving and to just be his mum.

Most importantly, Please look after yourself - your emotional and physical wellbeing - this will be important to your son, not the details of what has happened in the past. Take care xx

clangermum Thu 20-Feb-14 18:03:43

On a practical, very simple level, how about a talking photo book - pictures of you and him enjoying doing things, with you talking about it. Will help reinforce that love when you're not there. Could keep it by his bed.

Key ring you can record a message on, to put on his bag for nursery etc.

I know it's much bigger than this, but lots of small things like this can make a huge difference to a child and might help you too, knowing he has these physical reminders of you always by him.

wellcoveredsparerib Thu 20-Feb-14 18:05:35

January, you have not let your son down. You have put his interests before your own feelings, despite societal norms and this makes you a brave woman and a very good mother. Your son is a lucky boy as he has two parents who love him and put his needs first. You will all be fine. x

boomoohoo Thu 20-Feb-14 18:16:14

Have you had therapy January? This may be a good place to start.

You need to forgive yourself. You are a good mother because you care deeply and love your son. But you are also human and we are all flawed and make mistakes. You realise he is safest with your ex. I think this is incredibly brave and self-less of you. X

januaryblues11 Thu 20-Feb-14 18:24:10

Oh thankyou. Your lovely replies have made smile and almost feel like a normal person again for 5 minutes. Thankyou.

I know that this is what's best for my son. But it just hurts when he asks for his dad, or has a new saying or outfit that I've never seen before. I know I'll certainly never leave him though and one day I hope to be strong enough to have him with me more.

You are all so lovely smile

callamia Thu 20-Feb-14 18:33:09

Good luck to you. I wish all of you every happiness.
Come back to this whenever you start to feel guilty. Remind yourself that you're a lovely and loved mum.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 20-Feb-14 18:35:39

As far as your DS is concerned, you and his Dad are his whole world. That you don't live with him all the time is completely usual because that's the way it's set up, it's what he knows and he feels safe and secure with that arrangement. So you haven't let him down at all.

LadyofSpain Thu 20-Feb-14 18:37:43

January.....make this "one day I hope to be strong enough to have him with me more" your mantra in life, for now. One day at a time.

Why not start up a little memory box, to keep all the precious little mementoes of your time together. He will feel the love you have for him, never fear, but one day he may like to look at all the things that meant so much to you, whilst he wasn`t with you.

I think you are exceptionally brave, and wish you all the luck in the world.

Fairy1303 Thu 20-Feb-14 18:44:13

Sweetheart, I had my DSD full time with DH. Her mother gave her up virtually at birth and had one day a week with her, never paid a penny.

Even with that, DSD ADORES her mum.

You clearly love your son very much. It radiates through your post. You have not failed him. You have thought entirely of him when it would have been less painful for you to soldier on even if it hadn't been the right thing.

Your son will always know you love him. How could he not?

IsitwrongtofancyHarryStyles Thu 20-Feb-14 18:50:30

My mother was in a very very similar position to you - suicide attempt, lost custody (I'm not sure if she contested or not) when myself and sisters were 7,8 and 10 after years of mental ill health. I remember lots of painful incidents from the age of about four onwards.

But I didn't and don't blame her for being ill. I never have. I feel so bad for her going through what she went through.

We had a largely suppportive larger family and an okay dad we lived with (they divorced). We understood as much as we could, we didn't feel abandoned.

I'm not going to lie there was a lot of unhappiness but actually this was really very little to do with her illness, but other crap I won't go into to remain anonymous.

Unfortunately I'm not a big fan of my mother though I see her regularly and have an agreeable relationship - but this is 95% nothing to do with her past problems.

I guess I'm saying it was bad handling of many other things including new partners and other family members' anger issues, not my mother's illness that caused sadness and other issues for myself and sisters. As long as you love him (you do so much don't you?) and your dh loves him, there is stability, talking, openness, he will be fine and he'll know you did what was best when he's older. So sorry you've been through all of this xxx

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