I needed a break. From the memories. From having the past work its way back into my body and begin wreaking havoc. That is what happens sometimes when blogging about such personal events. Those hurdles we have gone through, dealt with, and moved on from, can come back with such force that it is challenging to let it go.
For me, it was remembering how tough it was on us when we moved to Virginia, but mostly how difficult it was for the kids. I had no idea how hard it was going to be. Some say that is because I live in a fantasy world but I think I just never could have foreseen some of what Ashley mentioned in her last blog. It took years to get my family on an even footing and I always felt in the middle. Much has changed since then but not the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about it.
Ashley brought up her stay in a mental hospital between her sophomore and junior years of high school. She had been living in Colorado for a year and within weeks had wanted to come back to Virginia. The hardest decision I had to make then was to tell her she had to stick out the school year. My feeling was, if she came back home, things may go back exactly the way they had been. I will never know if that was the right decision but it was my best one at the time. Would things have been different? Who knows?
Suicide notes? I didn’t notice chunks of hair missing or signs of cutting. Trying to strangle yourself with plastic bags? This was my daughter! Those behaviors were so foreign to me that I never had a clue. Plus, she hid it all so well. Ash tells me I would have had no way of knowing. And I think, but I am her mom. I should have known. Still working on that one but have come a long way.
Shortly after she was back from Colorado, her brother graduated. She seemed fine. Then I took her to our family doctor and he spent some time talking with her. When I was ushered back into the room and told that Ash needed help right away, I was shocked. There were so many things living inside her which she kept so well hidden. But she had a plan. Within the hour we were checking her in to the hospital. A place where she would be watched and kept safe. Where she could not hurt herself.
It is a blur. I to return to the house to pick up her things. Later that night, my husband and I dropped them off. We were allowed to visit in the evening and she would be there for a week. One of the things I do remember is she wanted us to bring her food. So we did. The staff felt she was anorexic but they would not let her have the food we brought. She was not anorexic but she was tiny.
“My daughter is in a mental hospital. She wanted to kill herself. How can this happen to her? What did I do wrong? Was it because I moved them to Virginia? Why won’t they let her have the food? ” It was a week of little sleep, constant questioning, nauseous most of the time, and trying to put on as there was nothing amiss in my life. Maybe one or two people knew.
The guilt, not knowing why, and the struggle to find peace within myself so I could help her haunted me every single minute. I did not share this with many people. Feeling it was my fault prompted me to think the judgements would be harsh. I had no friends or family that I knew of who had this type of situation. Even though I felt alone, I knew I had the strength to work through it and come out on the other side. I had to do it.
She came home after the week and I felt that everything was so fragile. I didn’t want to helicopter but I didn’t want to miss any signs that she could be heading down a dark dark place again. That beast inside her head is not the person I birthed, raised and loved with all my heart. We always said “I love you” to each other. I blew good dreams into her head at night after we read The BFG. We sang and made up songs together. Danced crazy dances whenever we felt like it. We had fun. We talked. She was not the “perfect” child and had experiences I never had, but I saw no beast.
I would like to tell you that this was the only time she was in a psych hospital. But I can’t.
So, I am just going to post this without going back and rereading and correcting and making better word and phrase choices because it has been so long. Stream of consciousness is what we have here. The next will definitely be about her next trip to a psych hospital. Nobody wants their daughter to be in the place mine was.
On a happier note, Ashley was just here in Virginia for a ten day visit. She said she had a magical time and so did we. My daughter looks great physically and kept us laughing She was able to attend the wedding of a very dear friend of hers from high school and see many of her friends at the event. There was more time for family this trip and I was a content and happy mom.
I love love love my recovering addict.