Parent

‘He said, ‘I can’t do this,’ and left. I got a late-night call from the pastor. ‘He’s gone.’ As soon as he said it, I knew. He lost his battle with PTSD.’: Woman loses Army veteran boyfriend to suicide, ‘I was terrified to be a single mother. It’s not supposed to be this way.’

“As a combat veteran, he faced mental illness. We agreed to tackle everything as a team. I was pregnant again, but this time everything shifted. He left. I was so confused and hurt. ‘Where did he go? Is he okay?’ I found out he was living two completely separate lives, lying about his marital status. My entire world turned upside down. But I still couldn’t find him. I searched. I drove around aimlessly. ‘He is gone.’ As soon as he said it, I knew. My heart started pounding. ‘Oh my gosh,’ I said over and over again. The man I love took his life.”

‘Oooh tough week? What happened, honey?’ I was 15. Women I’d never met were commenting on my weight.’: Woman discovers intuitive eating, self-love after struggling with weight for years, ‘My children will see a vibrant, smart, STRONG woman’

“’Really? That’s what you’re going to eat for breakfast?’ I vividly remember holding my two pieces of cinnamon toast in my trembling hands. Every single one of my siblings had already toasted their bread, buttered it, and sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar. Yet, I was the only one singled out by my grandpa. Age 15, I began attending meetings every week with my mother. Strange adult women would applaud and beam at me. I was given jewelry to celebrate my ‘hard work.’ Women twice my age would ask what my ‘secret’ was.”

‘I miss you already, my baby. You used to need me so much. I cherish the times I was the one to feed you, hold you, calm you. Time is a funny thing.’: Mom warns ‘it goes by so fast’

“So tonight, while you were sleeping, I went to your room and counted your freckles. I gently tangled my fingers in your curls. I listened to you breathe. I sat beside your bed and tried to meet you in your dreams. We laughed and sang in silly voices until it was time for me to go to my own room. I whispered, ‘I love you,’ in your ear. I knew from the beginning you were going to grow. I had no idea how it would simultaneously rip me to pieces.”

‘Please God, give her back! We already knew, she’s gone. I was weak from grief.’: Mom recalls loss of daughter, uses music to keep her memory alive, ‘No matter what I’m singing, I know she’s there, because she is my song’

“It was just me and Alice at the hospital. There was a soft glow from the bathroom, the door barely cracked. She laid on my chest, we were just there together, soaking each other in. Time stood still. She was so feminine, petite. I say, ‘I know whenever I sing, you are there,’ and I truly mean it. It’s as if I am sharing my beautiful, perfect daughter, and that brings me joy. I would find her singing to herself in her bed. I knew we would be connected through music forever.”

‘Hey, you look swollen by your collarbone,’ my coworker stopped me. I groaned. I had a huge trip planned. The pain skyrocketed.’: Young woman lives with a chronic desmoid tumor, advocates so her ‘struggles can become guidance for someone else’

“My diagnosis began in a yoga studio. I noticed something was wrong when I couldn’t hold my balance easily. I developed a tight pinching and dull ache in my right shoulder. As I came out from anesthesia, my mom asked the doctor how it went. ‘Well, confusing,’ he replied. ‘The cause of your swelling and pain remains a mystery.’ I was stunned. I ended up in a surgeon’s office. ‘This is suspicious for a sarcoma.’ I had to interrupt. ‘I’m sorry, you said sarcoma? Do you mean I have cancer?’ I stammered in disbelief.”

‘You are GOOD FOR NOTHING!’ I sat in the bathroom, crying, asking, ‘Please, send me a new dad. Please!’: Young man creates his own adopted ‘family’ after surviving traumatic childhood, ‘We may not have the same bloodline, but they gave me life’

“My dad was the disciplinarian at home. DO NOT MAKE DAD ANGRY. I don’t remember hearing ‘I love you.’ From my dad. Ever. He was brought up in the traditional ‘macho’ way. He’d constantly tell me, ‘I had it MUCH worse than you growing up!’ But then something really weird began to happen at school – it made me feel warm and fuzzy. I was validated and encouraged by teachers. Wait, what? A hurricane of hormones was wreaking havoc on me. I was an angry teen who needed to fill the hole in my heart.”

‘Who are you hiding from?’ I was forbidden from closing the door while I showered or used the restroom. I wasn’t daddy’s little girl anymore.’: Woman overcomes childhood abuse, ‘You will survive. Your life is worth saving and fighting for’

“My dad was a dangerous man. After I was born, he endeared himself to me. ‘I’ve seen 100 girls like you,’ he said. He found my diary. He read it. Humiliated me. They tracked my periods. They would time how long it took me to walk from the bus stop to the apartment. I hid who I really was. I got smarter. I knew how long it took to go from the bedroom window to the front door, which I’d deadbolt when he left. I hid notes in menstrual pad packaging. I tell myself, ‘You tried to break me. You told me to kill myself. But YOU WON’T WIN.’”

‘My ears got hot, my blood was boiling. I took a screen shot of his soul-crushing report card. My mommy instinct was pissed.’: Mom appalled by son with Down syndrome’s report card, ‘Stay angry. Keep fighting for your child.’

“The envelope showed up in Judah’s backpack. I wasn’t expecting his report card, but I was eager to see how the goals we put in place manifested themselves. Imagine my surprise when that paper was littered with the lowest scores possible. My stomach lurched. My logical brain understood, but my mommy instinct was still pissed. Imagine how this little boy will feel when he understands what those 1’s will signify?!”

‘They’re gone, we lost them.’ A substitute teacher touched my belly. There was no belly. I had to mutter these words.’: Couple struggling with Fragile X Syndrome, infertility, finally pregnant with rainbow baby, ‘People tell me how strong I am. I wasn’t given another choice.’

“We were having identical twin girls. My husband and I were overjoyed. But our twins did not develop their brains. We lost both our little girls. Because I am a teacher, I had to write to all of my students’ parents about what happened, asking them to explain it to their 5-year-old children. There was no belly. I had to mutter the words, ‘They’re gone, we lost them.’ It leaves behind scars, fears, and triggers.”

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