Is it time to be tough?

*Disclaimer- I am in no way a professional counselor, just a mom with her own thoughts*

Well everyone, I know why, without a doubt, that more people don't make podcast, run websites and do outreach (free of charge of course). There are not enough hours in the day. Especially, when life has a way of coming at you even harder when you make plans to do any of these things. Well, in my experience that is. I have made plans to see a girlfriend or two, do a few photos and hop on for some recording time for a month or so now; the day of the recording session finally arrives and I get a call that is sure to stop any mother in her tracks regardless of your plans.


" Mrs Hayden?" 


"Yes, how can I help you?" 


" We need you to come to the school, your son is going to need to be admitted to the hospitals Cope unit for protective suicide measures." 



*Deep breath*  This is not our first go around. I know the idea is shocking and painful, but I was so angry. How could I possibly be angry in this situation? Well, I'll tell you. See, my son has been working with a counselor for years now, and yes, he did experience a few terrible events. Our whole family did, however, my son has needed the most help moving forward. Without going to far into his case I will say he has someone to reach out to 24/7 and we (His family) have tried our best to show empathy, understanding and to give support in all areas while also healing from the same traumas. Unfortunately however, you can only help someone who is willing to accept help, and I have had to learn this the hard way. I also feel I should tell you that I'm sure that my son has a resentment towards me because I couldn't save him from his trials. At the time I couldn't save myself either. He has gotten much older and now is much bigger than I am, to give you an idea on that he's about the size my father is. almost 6 ft tall and 250lbs. Why mention that, well, because I get told quite often that, "You are the parent, he has to do what you tell him to do" 

Newsflash- I can't MAKE him do anything, even if I had to. He's  very bull headed and has been ever since I can remember. Since coming into his teens and gaining such size he has decided that he's in charge of his life and I'm stupid for thinking otherwise, however, I need to pay for his game pass and he needs new socks (You feelin' me?). 


Fast forward- He tells me on Sunday night that he'd rather hang himself than go to school the next day, they have virtual so he doesn't see why he can't just do that instead. (Does he remember the part about him skipping school for 30 days straight because there was little way for me to know during COVID? )  DISCLAIMER -he did not live with me at this time, he was with his grandmother in another one of our attempts to make life better for him which is why I wasn't informed by the school and she didn't even get notice until the 30 day mark, tbf the schools are a bit overworked atm.

Anyway...

I told him absolutely not and that he had already had that chance, he grumbled a bit then went to bed. The next morning his shirt is missing, he has no other shirts, and he sits down on the couch looking at his phone while I look. Obviously this irritates me and I fuss at him to please help because there isn't much time. He misses the bus, and again thinks he's going to get to do virtual school, nope. I bring him to Walmart, buy a shirt for $17 and bring him to school, and yes, I was irritated and a bit snappy, but I was not degrading or yelling. We get to school, he checks in, I go to pick up my other child for an early dentist appointment. 


Then the call. 


Skipping some minor details we get him to the COPE unit for children in Baton Rouge, he speaks with a doctor. The doctor comes to me and is concerned, and not in the way a doctor typically is in this type of case. He says that while he seems to know what to say and not to say he does not seem like the typical patient that arrives in his unit. He does have some superficial wounds on the tops of his arms but he doesn't really feel he is suicidal and that he (my son) can't or won't tell him anything to allow him to help him either, which to him was very strange. I tell him the story of the day before and a few others and we both came to the same conclusion, one that's really hard to swallow for both of us- He may be faking it.  It has happened before the doctor said- he could be faking it and using the system he's learned to get out of school or to get the sympathy which kept him free of discipline like he had just received. He just thought his actions at school wouldn't be a big deal, he'd get some extra counseling if he said the right things and get sent home for some "rest" . This obviously is not what my son told me was the plan or happened during school, in his version he suddenly was having a mental breakdown in class and crying *for no reason*-which he did not look to be disheveled in anyway when I arrived nor did the school admins tell me this.- He's been caught lying to me about tears before, he just isn't aware of it.- Well, this doctor wasn't having that it looked like. We talked some more about his case and all the little things that have been occuring, and I told him I would always take my son seriously in a matter like this because one day it may be true, and I don't want to ever bury my child. He agreed but also felt like maybe there's more to it. 


A talk with his grandmother brought me to a few new thoughts, new girl in town he's been talking to and suddenly he's back not wanting to go to school and wanting to be back at his grandmothers to be closer. It's also easier for him to sneak out and do any other life changing things while he's there. So, how can I be angry? Easy, I think he's manipulating the system using the terms he's been taught and throwing his life away for temporary satisfaction. A quick " feel good moment" whether it be drugs, lovers or anything else, I'll never know, but I do know that these are permanent decisions for temporary people. That makes me angry, because he had every opportunity to live a much happier and fulfilling life but he has chosen to take paths and make decisions that hurt other people and himself. Right now, he's not too happy about those choices because the doctor decided he needed to be taken in for extended care. He is awiting housing now. Let me be absolutely clear, I LOVE MY SON, I DO WANT HIM TO TAKE THE HELP HE HAS BEEN GIVEN. I do believe he is hurting, I know it all takes time and I am empathetic towards his situation, however, I am not alone in my thinking, and I have spoken to many therapist/psychologist about this.


So, why am I sharing yet another brutal part of my life? Because, this has had to have been my hardest battle yet.  I know there is another mother out there blaming herself, wondering if it's true, and how she should feel. There's some dads too. We want to know what we did wrong, and I want to be here to tell you that if you are doing all that loving, I doubt it's your fault. i wouldn't hear that for a long time and I spent years crying an destroying myself everytime we had another issue. It took me too long to realize that even if it did come about as a product of your life decisions, (ie. married the wrong guy, you know just an example) blaming yourself isn't going to help, in fact, it's going to hurt you and your child. 


How? 

Blame tends to take away the feeling of responsibility, and you and your your child needs to understand that even if there is someone to blame, that part doesn't really matter in the long run. You / They are the only ones responsible for your healing, the only ones who can take the steps needed to heal themselves. YES, as a good parent we should do your best to provide them with all the tools and help we can give them, but in the end, they have to take the help. They have to reach out when it gets bad, they have to talk about the issues. Counselors are trained to gently pull the words from them, younger and older, and it does take time, lots of time, years at times. Don't give up, don't blame yourself, and I think my true main point after paragraphs of rambling, do not get so blinded by grief you overlook the normal teenage tendencies and stop being a parent because you are afraid of the backlash. I think that's what I did when this all started, I stopped any sort of discipline because he learned to throw suicide in my face any time he was scolded. When I did double down he went from being "depressed" to raging- he would puff his chest and look down at me for affect, knowing how many times I've been beaten by men, having seen it himself, and I always relented. Even as I left the hospital he gruffed his voice to tell me I "Better not let them keep him more than a week" When I told him it was not my choice he said "Oh don't worry, I won't let them". I left so angry, and I am now just sad, but also, I am seeing clearer. After long talks on all sides, I think it's time for a bit of tough love. I won't feel guilty for it either. 


Thanks for reading and all the love and support! 

Stephanie Marie 

 


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