An excerpt from my upcoming book, He’s Not Broken: A Mother’s Journey to Acceptance
I have a photo of my son Jacob in the pilot’s seat on his first flight. He was six-years-old. His hands are on the controls, with the pilot’s hat perched on his head. It’s one of my favorite pictures of him because you can see how happy he is. His face was alive with excitement, no trace of anxiety or sadness to be seen, no sign of Tourette’s, or OCD. In that frozen moment, he was just a regular kid having the time of his life.
We got in on a Thursday and everything was going fine. By Thursday evening Jacob’s mood had darkened. As we were getting ready to go to dinner, he started crying.
“Momma, I can’t not love you and Daddy, right?”
“What do you mean, Jacob?” Warner asked.
Jacob’s voice cracked and his eyes darted frantically from me to Warner.
“Right? Right? Tell me. I can’t, right?”
Warner and I exchanged a confused look. I walked around the bed to Jacob. Before I could reach out to him he dropped to the floor and buried his face in his hands. He began to rock back and forth and between sobs he repeated, “Right? Right? You know that, right?”
At that point it became pretty clear that he needed a definitive answer to put his mind to rest. He looked up at us, his face a sticky mix of snot and tears. Warner knelt down on one side of him, me on the other. He wiped Jacob’s face and assured him. “It’s okay, Jacob. Of course you love us. You have to.”
“And we love you too. So much.” I added as I wrapped my arms around him.
He wriggled out of my embrace, stepped around Warner and began to pace the floor.
“But my head is thinking things I don’t mean.” He began to hit the sides of his head. “AHHHH! I CAN’T MAKE IT STOP. THEY WON’T GO AWAY.” He fell to the floor once again.
Warner and I stood over him, wiping away our own tears and searching for composure. We were lost. How do you explain to a six-year-old that his mind is screwing with him? I sat down on the floor and held him while he cried. Warner sat with us, his arms around me. And we sat there, the three of us in our buttoned up coats, locked in an embrace and an emotional battle we didn’t understand.
After 30 minutes Jacob had calmed down enough for us to go to dinner where we sat trying to forget the scene that had just played out—trying to blend in with the other families that we saw—the families whose lives seemed so perfect.
I had pretty much convinced myself that the excitement of the trip was just too much for him, and nothing else.