It's Not Your Fault

We have a situation in my family. It’s not an entirely new situation, but the way it’s manifesting recently pushed me to the edge.

My youngest son is nine years old. And he is missing antidiuretic hormone (ADH), which tells the brain it needs to slow down urine production at night. The medical term is enuresis. And it creates a lot of laundry!
Raising the bar on the laundry situation, a recent house guest necessitated him sharing my bed for three and a half months. One recent night he went to the bathroom at 9:30 p.m., was up again for the bathroom at 11:30 p.m., had a bad dream and was up at 2:30 a.m. (so why not make another trip to the bathroom?).
Despite all of these trips to the bathroom, my bed was drenched in the morning. My comforter, my sheets, my mattress pad, right to the water-resistant zipped mattress cover. Really?

With all the laundry and the frustration of years of this situation mounting, I called the doctor. I had heard it all before – it’s a genetic condition (beware to future misses reading this!) - that is not known to last beyond age ten or so. But with sleep deprivation combined with laundry overload, a trip to the doctor seemed worth another try. Maybe there were new treatments in the last year that could help?

In many ways, it seemed like a waste of a visit to the doctor’s. I heard nothing new about the condition or the different options for dealing with it, but my little guy heard something HE had never heard before. More than once, the doctor said, “It’s not your fault.”

How had I missed that? I should have told him that myself. I had explained it was a genetic condition, but I never said, “It’s not your fault.” Steeped in my frustration, I suspect I was unable to see past the end of my own irritation to actually say those words.

But to hear those words — “It’s not your fault” — was like a revelation from the most high! The message that he had done nothing wrong delivered in very clear and direct language was the most important news anyone could have given him. And I saw the effect very quickly. Later that evening when his siblings asked about the doctor visit, my son proclaimed loudly, “It’s not my fault,” with a big smile on his face. Ahhhhh, sweet relief!

The next morning, he called to me. “Hey Mom, guess what I just did?” Still hoping for that magical dry morning, I crossed my fingers. “What did you do, honey?” I called back. His proud reply? “I took the sheets off the bed by myself!”

It occurred to me later that day that I had not wasted our time by going back to the doctor. What the doctor gave my son that day was something far more important than a dry night. He gave him his pride and freedom from shame.

And what an important lesson for us all! Our experiences, both personal and worldly, inform our conscience about the choices we make. Maybe we were abused or neglected as children, maybe our normal was not really normal at all, but rather what we came to expect as normal. ( )

As a woman who chose abortion, I have cycled through my own healing process and I understand better why I made that choice. I can take responsibility for my choice and understand it, but I also know that choosing an abortion when it wasn’t practical for me to bring a new life into the world wasn’t "my fault" either.

There is freedom in those words — “it wasn’t my fault” — a freedom that transforms the past with an awareness that brings acceptance and forgiveness to the present. I feel the same freedom as my sweet little boy who now willingly changes his bed-sheets in the morning.

The lesson of abortion is global. As we open our hearts to our pasts, may we not only find a sense of freedom, but also the compassion the world needs to change the underlying conditions that inform our hard choices. When we learn our own lessons, we can bring a new level of healing to the world.


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