There it is. The deception, again. The hiding, the lying, the misleading- so often a part of relating to a loved one who struggles with mental illness. The broken trust, the processing, the rebuilding. Helping them have healthier coping skills and responses to distress. Being supportive, drawing loving and firm boundaries.

But… but… but… What about the fact that I am down-deep hurt? What about that knife wound of betrayal? What about my anger and frustration?

As caregivers and support system members, we are supposed to recognize that the illness is the enemy, not the one we love. We are not supposed to take it personally. We are supposed to stay the course with kindness and good training. Especially when we are the parents- we are the ones who need to be mature and act like grown-ups.

But you know what? It does hurt. We do get angry.

When my kids were little, one of the hardest things for them to learn was that it is right to say sorry even if you hurt someone unintentially. If they threw a ball that missed the mark and bonked someone in the head, they should apologize. An apology is not an admission of guilt in that circumstance, but a recognition of being the cause of someone else’s pain.

My kid can cause a wound with behavior that is not aimed at me personally with the intention to inflict hurt. But I still have the wound. What do I do with that?

Forgive. Recognize he is the cause, even if he didn’t mean to. Every good answer starts with: bring it to Jesus. Talk about it. And listen to His gentle but implacable command to forgive.

Reminding myself that my kid is not the enemy and to not take it personally might take some of the sting out. But only forgiveness cleans out the wound and allows for healing.