My friend Marian said it best.
“I feel like when that boy went into the theater, he jerked me in there with him. Like I’m able to imagine it as my own child doing what I fear the most. And that is just plain flat screwed up. It is impossible for me to look at situations like this objectively.”
He’s a monster. A cold-blooded, heartless killer, dressed as a cartoon character, wielding weapons, wearing a gas mask, shooting indiscriminately. He’s the stereotype of every schizophrenic in every movie and TV drama ever made. He is the projection of one of my greatest fears for my own child.
When I look at the mugshot of James Holmes, now splashed on every Internet news site, I don’t see the shock of orangey-red hair, or the unshaven chin. I see bewilderment, confusion, and fear in his expressive eyes.
And I’ve seen those eyes before on my child, more times than I care to count, nearly always from behind the locked doors of a psychiatric ward.
Now, we don’t yet know if James Holmes has a mental illness. We don’t yet know if he was showing signs of slipping into insanity, if anyone tried to get him help, if he reached out to anyone (other than early reports that he may have sent some sort of manifesto to a psychiatrist).
I take twisted comfort in the fact that my child’s mental illness manifested and was diagnosed in childhood. Unlike Arlene Holmes, who is now living the nightmare that could befall any parent of a child that slips into insanity as a legal adult, I had control. I could insist my child be treated, take his meds, go to therapy and residential treatment. I could shield him from the world when he perceived it as dangerous and felt the overwhelming desire to lash out violently. I could instill in him the importance of continuing his treatment for the rest of his life, making it habit before I lost my grip on his daily routine.
I pray the lessons will stick as he turns 18 this week and I legally lose that control. In the shadowy recesses of the story of Aurora, I can see myself as the mother of the monster. And I fall on my knees nightly and pray that in the shadowy recesses is where that possibility will stay.
You are a wonderful advocate for your own child and many others. And, you help other parents navigate the system – invaluable. You make all of the difference in his life that will help him persevere. It will stick.
When Jeffery Dahlmer was arrested, convicted, and then killed in prison, people openly cheered.
His mother simply stated, "He was thought of as a monster, but he was my son."
When the shooting at the movie theater happened, I felt sorrow, shock, dismay and grief like everyone else in America, but I also felt empathy for Mrs Holmes, and for her son.
My husband is mentally ill, and I know the trials we have coping with his illness, the stigma it still carries. Even with that, I cannot imagine the struggles of parenting a mentally ill child. Thank you for being such an inspiration to others!
Found your blog from Jani's Journey. I appreciate your presenting the side the media never does. These people aren't monsters, and the human mind is capable of things we cannot even imagine, both positive and negative things.
Thanks for coming, Bonnie. I pray this prayer every night, that I don't have to live through what Arlene Holmes is having to live through.
(((Chrisa))) I know this fear so well. I pray that ours never becomes reality. I also pray for the mothers who have to live with what their children did, knowing they've always loved their children the way you and I love our boys, and wishing they had known before something like this happens. My heart breaks for them over and over again. I love you, friend!
I Pray for James Every Night… And I Pray for You, For all your Family.