I am not Kelli Stapleton.
I am Zita, Sam and Charlie’s mom.
I am my own person and I am capable of making my own decisions. I am capable of acknowledging my failings and seeking support and help in being a better person and a better parent to my children every day.
What is often forgotten when discussing what happened to Issy Stapleton is this:
There was a series of events that led up to the awful, horrific climax of the attempted murder on her life. And these were not as they have been so often depicted by the media and by the cult following of the Status Woe.
Yes, there had been a long time struggle; one in which systematic and chronic abuse took place. Yes, there had been fights and yes, there had been harm.
But what is neglected is that- long before the attempt on her life- Issy Stapleton was the victim.
She was the one being fought. She was the one being abused. She was the one being harmed.
It was Issy who was fighting back in self-defense. It was Issy who struggled against dehumanization and degradation. It was Issy who lived a life in fear, in captivity, in oppression, and in abuse.
Long before Issy Stapleton was the victim of an attempted murder, she was the victim of a parent’s oppressive quest to destroy who she was.
What is also forgotten too often by the mass media accounts is this: Issy Stapleton was a child.
Kelli Stapleton was an adult.
Kelli Stapleton held the power in the relationship. Long before Issy had grown to be a strong young woman capable of fighting off her aggressors, she had once been a baby. A toddler. A preschooler. A tween. A pre-teen.
And in each of these stages of her life, Issy held no power.
Her communication was rejected. Her voice- her body- was silenced. Her rights were ignored. Her life was trivialized, ridiculed and even jokingly dismissed.
Repeatedly. For fourteen years.
From her very first posts, Stapleton’s obsession with ‘fixing’ her child indicated a mentality that extends far beyond the scope of mental illness.
So no, I am not Kelli Stapleton.
And I never could be.
Because what Kelli did- what was done to Issy- started a long time before she lit the charcoal barbecue. It started long before she struggled with the school system and reached a breaking point.
It started when she decided that her “wants” for her child should trump her child’s “needs”. It started when she decided that her child’s life was a burden and not a gift.
Kelli Stapleton’s decision to end her child’s life started when she discarded the reality that her child was a human being.
And while I may not be immune to mental illness, while I struggle with my own set of demons and obstacles to overcome, that is simply not something I could ever do.
I could never believe that my child does not have a life worth living.
My child is a person. My child is a human being. My child has the right to life, independent on how that affects me.
These are immutable facts, things that simply can never change.
I am not Kelli Stapleton.
I am Zita. I am Sam’s mom.
And I love him enough to recognize that his life, as unconventional as it may be, is valuable and beautiful.
That is my truth. That is my reality.
My decision to not be Kelli Stapleton started the day my son was born.
And that will never change.
I am not Kelli Stapleton. But I wish Issy had been my daughter.
Issy, I promise you this: I will do better for my son than what has been done to you.
Your pain will not be forgotten.