The Fear of Revealing I’m Far from Perfect

I am afraid.

The other week I was praying a novena for my mentally ill daughter Felicity. I begged Mary to untie the knots in her sometimes difficult life. It just occurred to me I am also in need of those prayers. I can just imagine Mary saying, “Untie the knots in Felicity’s life? What about those in your own?” Somehow our knots are all entangled together.

Prayers are never answered in a straightforward way. God doesn’t just take away the situation we want to be released from. Oh no, He leads us on an unexpected journey. He takes us where we would never ask to go. It could be exciting beyond imagination. It certainly is frightening. Do I want to go there?
I am afraid.

By writing about my experiences raising a child with mental illness, as I promised in my last post, I am afraid I’m going to have to face up to all the mistakes of the past. I will have to relive those days I’d rather forget. I will be admitting I am far from perfect.

Part of me wants to retreat right now while I have a chance. I don’t want people to know who I was, and what I still struggle with. Perhaps I should just swap some private letters with Felicity. There is no reason I have to post our story in public, is there?

I want to say, “I’m Sue, an unschooling mother. My life is almost perfect. It’s always been that way. I’ve got everything worked out.” I want to fool you. I want to fool myself.

Have you ever noticed that the greatest graces come from the greatest challenges? If only we are able to accept the invitation. If only we weren’t afraid to take the first step.

“God, Who does nothing in vain, 
does not give us either strength or courage 
when we don’t need them, but only when we do.  
He never fails us.”  

St Francis de Sales

I found this quote on Nancy’s blog, The Breadbox Letters

So I am going to be brave. I will write my series of posts. I shall be honest. Will I lose credibility? I don’t know. Does it matter?

All that really matters is Felicity, and how she loves me… despite everything.

“I really love you, Mum,” she says, every time we chat on the phone. I really love her too.

I am no longer afraid.

Image: I thought this would be a fun photo to lighten the mood of the post. but then I remembered the circumstances in which it was taken. Again, appearances can be deceiving.

Can you see Sophie’s tear streaked face? This photo was taken a few years ago, just before we said goodbye to Felicity, as she set off back to Perth after a short holiday at home. Felicity was trying to cheer everyone up with her funny faces and rabbit ears. Sophie and I couldn’t smile. We cried,

PS You may be wondering what all this has to do with unschooling. I think it’s got a lot to do with it. I shall explain as we go along…

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  1. Reply

    Thank you, Sue. You and Felicity are so brave – I can learn a lot from you.

    1. Reply


      I appreciate your kind words. It is hard to reveal intimate thoughts. I was wondering whether to delete this post. Your comment changed my mind!

      God bless you!

    2. Reply

      I can understand you. I am not always sure myself. Recently I deleted part of an older post. I worried that I might get misunderstood. I believe it is important how you feel and think yourself. You need to feel comfortabel. But sometimes you might just need some affirmation to stick to it. And sometimes we should just do God's will regardless of our own worries.

    3. Reply


      We can get misunderstood. It's a problem. I like how we can chat in the comments section to clarify our thoughts. Doing God's will regardless of our worries? Yes, sometimes He asks us to do things we would rather not do. But when we go ahead it all works out. I think this series is going to be fine. I have really appreciated everyone's support and encouraging words and that has made things so much easier. Thank you Bernice.

      May God bless you!

  2. Reply

    Thank you so much, Sue. I cannot tell you how healing it is for you to share this. Every family has their "underneath story" as I like to call it. Not the one you would want on your book jacket, but what is really inside that has made you all who you are. Your being brave will help you and Felicity and who knows how many others.

    1. Reply


      I keep thinking about your words 'underneath story'. Yes, we all have one. Maybe sharing the difficult times helps us all to be more open. We tend to go around hiding our problems for fear of what others will say, unaware everyone is struggling with something. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. God bless you!

    • Dawn
    • January 5, 2014

    I think so many of us moms struggle with guilt. I too have a huge amount from the way I raised my oldest daughter. She and I have talked about it, and although SHE says it is "ok", I struggle to let go and forgive MYSELF. I think I might join you on your journey and write my own thoughts. Scary for me too.

    1. Reply


      Oh your comment makes me feel better about sharing! Thank you so much. I hope you will share some of your own thoughts with me as we take this journey together. God bless!

    • Hwee
    • January 5, 2014

    It is true that while many people live with many psychological and emotional baggages, there are equally numerous diverse ways to find redemption (not sure whether there is the correct word here). Some people feel the need to heal through sharing publicly, while other find relief through private introspection. All are valid as long as they work for the people involved.

    Share our weaknesses and failures in public can make us feel very vulnerable which is why few people do so. I applaud your bravery for doing what feels right for you. No doubt your courage will inspire and heal many others at the same time as it empowers you. 🙂

    1. Reply


      I think you are so right about the different ways to find healing and forgiveness. We don't necessarily have to make a public declaration of our mistakes. Some things are just between ourselves and God and whoever is involved. So yes, I don't really think it is necessary for me to share our story here on my blog in order to move on. But there are positive aspects of sharing publicly. We all have our hidden struggles, and some can make us feel isolated and alone. I felt that way when I was grieving. No one around me seemed to understand what I was going through. Maybe mental illness is similar. By talking about it we can come to a better understanding of it, and encourage each other through the struggles. "No doubt your courage will inspire and heal many others at the same time as it empowers you." Yes! Maybe we can inspire and help heal each other!

      Thank you so much for your very thoughtful comment. I appreciate your words.

  3. Reply

    We all have things in our life that we wish we had dealt with differently. We are constantly growing and learning as people, hopefully for the better. 😉

    Mental illness is so unbearablely difficult to live with and also so hard for other people to understand and deal with. By bringing issues like this further out into the open it will lessen the stigma that has stupidly been attached to it.

    1. Reply


      Oh I do agree with you about constantly growing and learning! I have been thinking a lot about how this relates to parenting. We can't read the right book at the beginning and put everything into action, and be a perfect parent from day one. It just doesn't work that way. We learn on the job, I suppose!

      I have to admit I don't really understand mental illness, but I'm trying. This has been a real stumbling block for me. It's one of the things I want to write about. We can't see what's going on inside someone else's head, and we tend to judge others on our own experiences. I do like your reason for "bringing issues like this further out into the open." The more we learn about each other's experiences, the more compassionate we become. There will always be people who dismiss our struggles, who'll tell us to stop talking and just get on with life. I've had that when writing about grief. But I write anyway. I guess I'm just about ready to write about the experience of living with a teenager who has a mental illness! Writing is easy. Having the illness isn't.

      God bless!

    • Gina
    • January 6, 2014

    Sue, thanks for writing this series of posts. I, too, have a child will mood issues. I made a ton of mistakes but I think it was partially because this child is more challenging. Everyone told me early on that it was something I was doing wrong, but he has a legitimate problem and that is why it was so much tougher than it is for other mothers. We need to about this so others in similar situations will not feel badly about themselves.

    1. Reply


      I am sorry you and your son are also having a difficult time. Yes, when we realise our children have legitimate problems, we can at least stop blaming ourselves for their behaviour. It's not a problem resulting from poor mothering. I think I did many things though that didn't help the situation but I wasn't to know and I was inexperienced. I also hope talking about this topic will help someone else. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and thoughts.

  4. Reply

    I was never diagnosed with bipolar disorder but I have suffered from anxiety and depression for much of my life. I can remember being in the 4th grade and throwing myself on my knees and begging the Lord to take these feelings of wanting to end my life away from me. Anxiety and depression came and went in varying degrees up until a few years ago when I discovered healing through diet and supplementation. I can't explain the transformation in me adequately except to say it feels as though a cloud and a boulder has been lifted off of my soul. I am still prone to worrying (it became a habit that I'm slowly changing for the better through prayer and behavioral therapy techniques) but it's not the same kind of worry and it's not an everyday occurence. I can't explain it…I don't feel like a loaded gun about to go off. I will be praying for you and Felicity. I think your written exchanges about this issue will be very healing for the both of you and I pray that Felicity will be able to find complete healing…because I believe, based on my own life experience and the stories of others I've read about, that mental healing is possible. God Bless You! XO!

    1. Reply


      Thank you so much for sharing your story. Oh you were affected at such a young age! I have never suffered depression or anxiety but observing Felicity, I can imagine it is a great burden to bear. A cloud and a boulder lifting off your soul… that image is so vivid. I am very glad you found healing. Your story is so encouraging,. Diet and supplementation… I'm going to do some reading!

      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing. May God bless you too!

  5. Sue, I'm so glad you didn't delete this post! I agree with Hwee, your courage in sharing these stories will touch the hearts and lives of many. I am so present to the love between you and Felicity as I read both your posts.

    1. Reply


      I guess it's too late to hide so I might as well keep writing. Everyone has been so kind so it hasn't been as frightening as I anticipated. Thank you so much for reading my posts and for your encouragement. God bless!

    • Anna
    • September 27, 2016

    I'm so glad that you are brave. It helps me be brave too. Thank you.

    1. Reply


      Maybe we all share similar worries. When we're brave we can talk about things and that is good for everyone. Being brave, isn't so hard because I have kind friends. I have never been made to feel bad because I have revealed my thoughts and worries. It's always good to share! Thank you so much for your comment.

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