Today I made a decision that I may regret for the rest of my life. I have no idea what the long term effects of that decision will be, all I know is that this morning my heart broke; not completely and irrevocably, but enough for a sliver to break away and leave an empty space.
There are many types of heartbreak. I’ve felt a few of them, but have also been lucky enough to have escaped some of the worst kinds. For me, there is nothing more heartbreaking than loving someone who won’t be loved, or wanting to help someone who won’t be helped. It’s hard to make a decision to turn your back on someone when every ounce of your being wants to be there, wants to make it alright. Some of life’s smallest decisions can have the most dramatic impact, and today my decision to say “No” was one of those. I pray that ‘no’ doesn’t haunt me.
I have a nephew. He is 18. And he hasn’t had the greatest of starts in life. Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD at a young age he has worn the badge too proudly through his life. The conditions became a reason, an excuse not to have a better life. I could spend all night telling you about his life, his broken home, the failures of people both professionally and personally, those that should have been there but weren’t, those that were there but shouldn’t have been. I could tell you about a father that let him down, and when given the opportunity to help him change his stars, let him down again. I wish I could tell you all of that, and then tell you the part where he does indeed change his stars and mould a new life for himself. He’s not reached that part yet. Given his current path, I’m not sure he ever will.
Having no better option at home (which I might add is 300 miles away from my own), he asked today if he could spend Christmas with me and my family. He says he wants a family Christmas like we used to have, I’m guessing he means when he was young and still part of a stable family unit. That I even had to hesitate made my heart ache. But at some point over the last few years, my nephew has become a person that I don’t recognise. He is two people. The one he shows to me; funny and sweet, still a child at heart. And there is the one that I see on his social media pages, openly sharing his choices and habits with the world. He thinks that I’m too past it to understand the code words hidden in his comments. He talks a lot about his friend Mandy. Cute huh?! Except “Mandy” is street slang for MDMA or Ecstasy. I’ve had to unfollow him so that my feed isn’t constantly peppered with images of my sweet stoned nephew. Because of the untamed conditions, he is a loose cannon. Because of the drugs, he is a liar and a thief.
The nephew I wanted here for Christmas is in there somewhere. I know that turning my back on him when I was one of the last people he felt he could depend on is probably one of the worst things I could do. I have cried all day about the decision that I made. But I had to think about my family, and me and the baby. Whilst I do believe that he wouldn’t bring drugs into my home, I cannot risk it. Whilst I want to believe that his desire for a proper family Christmas would keep him calm, I cannot guarantee that the combination of him + Dad won’t result in the usual fireworks. My kids aren’t used to aggression or abusive language – I don’t want their bubble burst at Christmas.
For most of my life I have put the needs of others above my own. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Mother Teresa, but I have on many occasions made myself miserable for the sake of keeping other people happy. But I’m battling with my own demons at the moment, and I was just starting to feel like things were on the up. A Christmas on egg shells is not what I need right now – this baby has already had to deal with its’ share of stress. And so I broke my heart, and maybe I broke his? Maybe I’m over analysing the whole thing and he really doesn’t care? Perhaps I don’t give him adequate credit for understanding my decision? I don’t know. I just hope that this small decision, cemented with a tiny little word, hasn’t made him feel like I have turned my back on him forever.
I cried for the best part of today. Tickets to see British Comedian John Bishop could not have been more untimely. I went, I laughed. He didn’t fix my broken heart.