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Did Charles ever really belong to us?

I birthed him, raised him, loved him. But I always had this feeling that he didn’t belong to me.

I remember when we sat with the minister to plan Charles’ memorial service, and he said, “Our children don’t really belong to us. They pass through us, are part of our families but they are part of something greater.”

I remember thinking how odd it was that he just said what I had spent a lifetime thinking. Of course, we don’t “own” another human being. Our journey is not theirs or visa versa. We cannot control their decisions or take their pain away. We can only love them and guide them if they will let us.

We had this poem printed on back of Charles’ memorial pamphlet. I think it was my friend Martha who suggested it. I think it really does say so much.

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

—-Kahlil Gibran

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

6 thoughts on “Did Charles ever really belong to us?”

  1. You seem like such a wonderful mother, Anne, who cherished her son.

    I’m deeply sorry for your loss.

    It’s so deeply unfair that this happened to you.

    You are doing wonderful work helping people find hope.

    I wish that I myself could find hope. My childhood was a shattering of my spirit which I somehow survived and I became a fierce advocate for the kind treatment of children.
    I worked very hard to
    Build a life and thought I had escaped what I came from. But it wasn’t true. My life absolutely collapsed 2 years ago and left me so traumatized I’m back in the state I was as an infant. It was annihilation then and is now.

    When devastation struck I felt pierced by a fatal arrow and have been dying ever since.

    People need safety and family and a sense of purpose and right livelihood to survive.

    All of that completely disintegrated and the horror and shock has left me disembodied and without an identity or purpose. Just searing pain that dies not stop.

    I never did drugs or took
    Medication but after a year I tried medication and was prescribed a tranquilizer. I’m taking it as directed by a doctor and not a large dose but I found out that it’s a benzodiazepine (like Valium, xanax, klonopin etc) and that they are highly addicting and absolutely horrible to withdraw from.

    While taking them I’ve been suicidal every waking moment. Also now knowing the horror people go through getting off them I’m more hopeless than ever.

    I’m writing this to caution people about taking tranquilizers. Please don’t.

    Anyway, finding this out was the last straw. I watch life and remember all I loved but can never touch or be part of again.

    So many of us have lost our extended families and are living in desperate isolation.

    I have completely broken down with severe PTSD and depression. I’ve done therapy years before and during this crisis. I thought I
    Had made it out. But I
    Collapsed when tragedy struck. It was too much to bear. Early childhood neglect and abuse kills.

    I know that I have no way out of this hell I am in. I have to kill myself.

    I want to just say to all those reading who have children or want them to cherish them with your life.
    If you can’t do that then don’t have them because it can kill them. Alice Miller’s books really describe this – Drama of the Gifted Child especially.

    My heart breaks for all those suffering from despair and loneliness. May your spirits find love and light and peace.

    I must end my life to find peace because I simply cannot survive. The loss was too great. The wound was mortal. My very soul and heart are breaking and I weep at saying this and knowing what I must do because I love my sacred self and the beautiful being and child I was. But I cannot function and survive the agony and the pain.

    You were a wonderful mother, Anne. If only we all were so lucky to have had a mother like you. I pray that your son is finding peace where he is and that his soul has found healing.

    Blessings and love and light to you.

    1. I hope you give us a chance to help you find that spark that just maybe you have something left to give that you would otherwise take with you if you were not here. You still have something to offer. And damn that doctor that prescribed a benzo. I am so sorry. Think of all the others who suffered childhood trauma and how reaching out to them could give you new purpose. You story is so compelling. You still have value to add. I hope you will give this site a chance to give you the spark in the dark to find life again. Thank you so much for commenting

  2. Such a beautiful poem expressing your heart. Thank you for sharing with those of us who were not at Charles’ memorial service. ❤️

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