Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Keep Swimming

The last couple of weeks have turned into one of the most hectic, emotionally draining times of my life. I have a couple of hours now to myself, and I almost wish I didn't--because a few minutes ago, it all caught up to me and I found myself weeping.
The 13YO sibling of my daugther's best friend did commit suicide, by overdosing on pills. I know a little more than I did yesterday, and I've been reminded of a basic truth: that no service will be of use if the one receiving the service doesn't take advantage of it. That's true of teens as well as adults. The larger point remains true. There should be a systemic approach to youth mental health, and services more readily available for those that cannot afford private counseling and therapy, and that it was a choice of our elected officials in this county to discontinue those services. Those elected officials need to stop being elected, and officials put in their place that have better senses of priorities. This is today's reminder that Preston must go.
The emotional turmoil with the deepest reach took a positive, if gut-wrenching, turn last night. Somebody is now in the crisis center. For all its faults, it is certainly an improvement over being on the streets and actively in addiction. I have few illusions about whether this will turn out to be a long-term turning point--that will ultimately be up to her. There are a few reasons to believe that something is changing--the one that has been asked to tend to her affairs while she is away--she is almost certain to be sent to a long-term facility from here--is not the person that gave birth to her and who is her biggest impediment to positive change, but me. I have the keys to her apartment, I've been asked to pack it up, I was the one that was asked to even take her to the crisis center. We've talked a lot in the last week or so, and I think, paradoxically, with the stresses of being romantically involved removed, she is more dependent than ever on me to be stable and supportive...A position I find difficult. I've been in close contact with several in my own support group while all this has been going on, and one of them told me that the depth of my feeling for her really hasn't changed, despite the fact that we've not been together for months. And I didn't argue the point. I know it's not what it was in the winter, but it's still there, and I'm not going to deny that. It is over on some levels--but it will never be over on others. Right now, I can deal with it. I will deal with whatever emotional cost and baggage come in the future as it happens.
For now, I'm just feeling more relief than anything else. And I've already done a few things that are going to be a change for her and for me. I talked to her sister this morning, the one reasonably healthy family member that lives 1500 miles away (and those two things are not coincidental). Of course, she had no idea of how bad it had gotten... I also have Somebody's phone. It's off, and it's going to stay off. I'm not going to be as invested in time or money in Somebody as in previous times--but I'm not going to let her go without stuff like socks, either. It's more effort than I would choose, in an ideal world, to make, but if not me, who?
I am aware that it is a fuzzy line, in pencil, between helping and enabling. But I also have realized, in a way I never have before, how much it means emotionally to those who are in the absolute depths of despair to have hope, to know that at least one person has not given up on them. She told me last night that when she was in the crisis center recently, one reason it didn't help was that she was emotionally devastated that her and I had had a serious blowout, and that she really felt that I was now permanently out of her life--and it was eating her up. I hadn't heard from her over the weekend, after she went squirrelly Friday afternoon. I had sent her a couple of texts Sunday AM and yesterday, and she told me yesterday she had received them, but hadn't read them--because she thought I was angry with her. The texts were supportive and encouraging, and she read them while she was in my car--and I swear to God, the look of wonder on her face and in her tone of voice as she said, "This isn't bad or mean at all" told me what I needed to know.
Because I've been wondering whether I've been doing the right thing. I've been wondering if I'm just setting myself up to be hurt even more than I already have. I've been wondering if it's the emotional equivalent of "good money after bad." I've been wondering if I've been delusional, whether I actually have a real place in her heart or whether she's just cold and unfeeling and soulless. But in that moment, I saw how lost she is, how starved for love she is and always has been, how little of it she has received, how much self-loathing she has--how low she actually was feeling. I'd love to tell you that it was her Eureka moment, that after three years of being the best man I could be, that who I am and what I feel about her finally penetrated the emotional rubble to her core and that now we can all move forward.
I know that's not realistic. But I also know, from mine and others' experience, that these instances are called "moments of clarity." That eventual healing and recovery is built on dozens and even hundreds of these moments of clarity. They don't last, but the impression that they make is never completely erased, either. And I truly believe that, as much time as we've been together in the past, as much as I've been there for her over the years, as supportive as I have been--she never really believed that my interest in her was because I truly cared about her, rather than seeing what I could get from her, until that moment in the car yesterday. It might be one of those "you had to be there" things, but it was real. She's told me a few times recently, for the first time in all the time we've known each other, without feeling under any kind of duress, that she loves me. But she told me six different times yesterday after that moment in the car that she loved me. And even two days ago, the idea of leaving her apartment keys with me, of trusting me to take care of her outside affairs while she went for help, simply would not have happened.
And I'd be a fool to assume that it's only forward from here on out. But it's progress, not perfection, and life is a journey, not a destination. I am glad that her journey, at least for today, has not led to another jail and penal institution. I am glad that, for the last ten hours, she has not had to chase the next one, and hopefully will not for the rest of the day.
Blessed are the merciful, indeed. It was and is hard to do, and I may not feel this way much past this moment. But I know I did God's work yesterday. And I can feel no better feeling than that.

No comments: