The skin color of their child, the fact that Meghan asked for help and didn’t get it was vulnerable, shocking, revealing. And so much more.
How different the perception was from the truth. I’ve learned not to believe speculation and I know from experience more goes on behind closed doors than what we can see. I’ve hovered behind those doors of perception myself, curled up into a ball in despair wondering how to fix my child who was depressed and misusing substances.
Meghan and Harry had to leave the royal family for the sake of her life, their mental health, and the safety of their child. I did know there was more to their story of why they left the U.K. because I saw pain behind their smiles when they did. Harry lost his mother at a vulnerable time in his life.
No amount of wealth and privilege fixes that loss. And I imagine the loss he must feel now having to leave his family, especially his brother, and the country in which he was raised.
The interview was the very definition of emotionally naked.
Meghan, the more seasoned and comfortable in front of a camera despite the personal nature of the interview. She trusted her interviewee. Harry, more out of his element, was more uncomfortable revealing such personal details. But as a grieving son still, he wasn’t going to watch his wife’s future become a replay of how his mother’s life unfolded under the weight of the press and the royal family. And he, too, was compelled to tell his painful truth.
The part that made my heart seize was one statement in particular. Because I heard it so many times from Charles and never knew how to interpret it.
Meghan said, “I was afraid of being alone. I couldn’t be alone.” And Oprah asked, “Because you were afraid of what you might do to yourself?” Meghan replied yes. And to make sure, Oprah emphasized that she was struggling with thoughts of suicide.
Those words, that part, sat heavy on my heart and tugged at my conscious.
For years, Charles wanted people at the house, 24/7. We wondered why, as a teenager, he was so focused on sleepovers at his age. He didn’t want to be alone.
I remember Charles standing in his room. It was late morning and the sun was casting a surreal light on his bedhead curls which looked wiry as the dust particles danced in the light to the right of his sweet face. He was bare-chested and looking for a shirt, well into his morning routine of calling friends until one of them said they’d hang out that day.
I held back from saying, “Aren’t you going to look for a job,” having learned that sounded like I was passing judgment. As a parent, I was frustrated with his lack of motivation and wasn’t sure how to translate it. Each day he made a desperate attempt to find someone free to go to the river, play basketball, or some other game.
This was a few months after he returned from boarding school and I was struggling to figure out why he didn’t seem to be progressing and stayed stuck in a mundane pattern of existence of treading water. Why wasn’t he moving forward like his friends were? Making some kind of plans to get a job, go to school?
That morning, he stared at me. I know now he wanted to tell me. He wanted to say the words, “Mom I want to kill myself.” But he didn’t trust us. Or he just couldn’t say it. After all, we were the brutes who kidnapped him out of his bed and sent him to wilderness for ten weeks followed by months of therapeutic boarding school. I’m sure he wondered what I’d do with that confession if he did say it. Whisk him away to somewhere else he didn’t want to go? He loved us but he was still angry that we had put him on layaway.
I asked, “Why do you have to have friends with you every minute of every day?” And he looked at me with a painful expression on his face. “Mom. I don’t like being alone….I can’t be alone.”
That pause in between is where I felt there was a chasm where his confession lay unsaid. My mother’s instinct roared in my ear at the time. But I didn’t translate it until years later. Instead, I bookmarked the memory and came back later to fill in the blanks that my mind couldn’t answer until after his death– after I read his music. At the time, I returned a pained and puzzled look which I’m sure he took as disappointment. Frustration, shame, pain all flashed across his face in all of about two seconds.
I know now my son never wanted to be alone because he feared he would take his life if he was. He was terrified. And he had felt this way not once or twice but for years. He lived with that and never told us. I never asked because I never knew to ask. Several times, his body language was begging me to ask or he was on the verge of telling me and didn’t.
But hearing in the interview that Meghan was all but begging for help and no one responded? That made me ache. And we wonder why people don’t tell? But now that Meghan has, she gives others permission to. That is the most valuable part of this story at least to me.