When you’re in the middle of a shit storm, you long to see the sun, breathe the air, and rest from fighting your way out of it. You look for little glimpses of the storm’s passing, a break in the swirl of emotions and the tidal wave of feelings. And people lovingly ask you what they can do and you are thankful for them but you just want to scream because thinking about anything other than your child and the hospital and all of the feelings is impossible so how can you think of what you need or what people can do for you. You just want someone to throw you a rope, a life preserver, a bottle of wine.
And all the while you have to move through life, go to work, cook dinner, care for you other child. And you walk into your child’s room and see all things young teen from posters of cute boys to makeup scattered on the floor to Barbie dolls in a drawer. And you remember how happy she was as a baby and a young child and how you could make it all better by kissing her all of over face and hugging her tight. And the realization that you can’t help her yourself right now is both frustrating and relieving at the same time. Accepting that she needs more intensive help than you can offer is a giant step. So as you read the manual of McLean’s ART program and see her schedule packed with groups such as mindfulness and living skills and self esteem you try to assure her that no she’s not in prison, she’s getting what she needs. And she begs you to please take her home on that first day as she transitions into this new program and part of you wants to smuggle her out and into your car and take her home. But you know that for her to get better she must do this so you give her a hug and say, honey I know you want to come home but do you still want to kill yourself and she says yes and you give her a big hug and say goodbye, you’ll visit tomorrow.
And you go home and worry that she’s never going to get better and you worry yourself into a frenzy so that you can’t talk, you can’t eat, you can’t sleep. But then you go visit her and the first ray of light shines out from her eyes and you think you can see beyond the storm. And she looks better, sounds better, is adjusting, is doing all the work. You go home feeling like you can shed a piece of storm gear. You go back and your child reads you her life story that she had to write and in it you hear things that start to put all the pieces together and you start to understand and you start to know inside that she can get better. And this time, when you ask how she’s doing, she says well I don’t have thoughts of killing myself anymore but I’m feeling all these emotions and I still want to cut myself. And you hear yourself saying that’s so good honey, that’s progress and you can’t believe you’re actually saying that but you are and it’s good. She’s feeling all the feelings and at the same time gathering all the tools and resources to live through them, to cope with them, to love herself in spite of them. And for the first time in a long time, you feel that the storm is pushing away ever so slowly and you feel the seeds of hope budding.