I hope you have had some time to read over and digest my previous post "13 Reasons Why You Should Watch 13 Reasons Why". I hope that my words did not fall on blind eyes (because you couldn't hear them, you could only read them). Nevertheless, I told you I would be following up with second post and I had to take some time to digest how I wanted to approach it.
Please keep in mind, I love my children with all of my heart and I've always told them to be a beacon of light for others. It is my hope that this story, while extremely personal, will be a light for others who have been in or are currently in situations similar to these.
This is a true story.
Days turn in to months, and then years. She is in middle school. She seems distant, but you attribute that to her personality. She is more likely to carry on conversations with adults than kids her age because she is so mature. She doesn't find pleasure in getting muddy, or playing dolls. She dresses up like a princess and loves to sing and dance. She is always happy but still, different.
Several more years pass and she is in high school. On the day of her 15th birthday, she comes home from school in tears. Something that has been happening more often than not in the past few months. You inquire on what's wrong over and over and get the same story each time: nothing mom. It's just that time of the month.
Ok. I can understand that.
But on this day - her very special day - she is livid! Her tears are huge as they roll down her reddened cheeks. I ask her once again, what is wrong. She proceeds to tell me something no mother wants to hear. She was a victim of sexual bullying. A girl on the bus had wished her happy birthday just before reaching our driveway. A boy in a seat in front of her heard the exchange and turned around to ask, "today's your birthday?".
"Yes," she replied, happy that another person had noticed.
"Hey, I got you a present right here. It's filled with cream!" he snickered as he proceeded to imitate unzipping his pants. The boy sitting with him and several around them began to laugh.
Ok. Now I'm livid!
I immediately call the school and speak to the principal. He advises me that he cannot do anything until Monday because he has to review the tapes on the bus. I firmly but politely assert myself into the situation by telling him that if my daughter is this upset, you can bet it's on there. Then I blurted out, "We will be homeschooling from now on". Granted there were only two weeks left in the school year, but come August, she would never have to return to that hell hole again.
Now. I know the 'school' is not responsible for the actions of that child. But I also know that someone has to be held accountable for the derogatory remarks made to my daughter.
That fall, we had big changes. We moved into the city. We were no longer the 'country folks' that we had so cherished. But we could still make homeschooling work, and we did. I worked extra hard to make sure I incorporated classes that would challenge my children and help them grow, but that would also allow them to begin discovering who they are and what they believe. Everything seemed to be perfect.
Until she had to go back to public school. For one semester, I was only able to take online classes for my degree. Additionally, there were two that my university offered only during the spring semester. I was plunged into an 18 hour online semester and valued my children's education enough to know that if they remained homeschooled for that semester, that I would not be able to provide for them my full attention.
One semester can change your life.
That following fall, we were homeschooling again. She seemed OK with the transition and was relatively happy. She had been in several plays with the local arts foundation and had started considering the college she would attend - her chosen major: drama and theater - and truly was a blooming daisy at home. She decided she wanted to go to work. In December of her Senior year, she began working for a local floral wire service. She enjoyed it and even received accolades from the corporate office in Los Angeles.
Then she met a boy. A grown man. A husband with children.
She tested the waters.
And fell in head first without a life raft. She developed a crush. Now, at this point, I have to own my mistake. I seldom tried to discourage her from dating at 17 or 18, but I completely failed to teach her to never fall for a married man. I guess I thought it was just 'expected' seeing as how she was so intelligent in all other areas of her life. But, it wasn't.
She fell for him and when he told her he would not leave his wife for her, she was truly crushed (I think I've just figured out why it's called a crush). I then noticed some things changing about her even more. Not wanting to dress up. Not wearing make-up. Not caring if she showered. Not cleaning her room. Calling in to work. Her grades began to slip a little bit. She was more agitated with her siblings. More argumentative with her parents. Distanced her self from the one friend she did have. She started reading dark novels and anime.
On March 28, 2016, several members of our family had developed a touch of the stomach flu. Luckily, she had not. She also had to be at work the next morning and I prayed she wouldn't get it. Before she left for work, I told her that if she did get sick to call me and I'd come pick her up, or bring her some Pepto.
In our homeschool classroom, we were reading aloud when the phone rang. I looked at the screen and it was her work number. I answered. The following conversation occured:
"Hey sweetheart! How's it going?"
"Mom", she replied in tears.
"OH no! You've got it don't you. Should I come get you? Can I bring you anything?"
"Mom," she said crying, "You need to come up here."
I asked, "What's wrong". (At this point, I'm thinking she's been let go - It could happen, right?)
"I need you to come up here. I just tried to kill myself."
My world crumbled. My heart stopped.
What? What? Just what?
Rushing to the van with her on still on the phone, I couldn't think. I couldn't breathe.
By the time I arrived, I had spoken to her supervisor. I was directed to the human resources office. There she was. My oldest - still my baby - was in tears, visibly shaken and looking so lost.
When we returned home, we spoke to her about what was going on. She said she just felt like she wasn't in control of anything. She said she "... felt like things were moving too fast... about to turn 18, about to graduate, about to be out on her own..."
Life had scared my daughter. At this point she continues to uphold her statement that this guy had nothing to do with it. But, as a mom, I still feel like her immediate infatuation with this guy had a lot more to do with it than she is willing to admit - or accept. But now was not the time for digging.
She was taken to the hospital and assessed. This is when I heard the whole story - the actual way she tried to end her life. I fought back the tears. I had to be strong. She was then transported to a medical facility that works with teens who are experiencing various issues relating to mental health and depression.
I sat in the ER room, the door opened. I walked to the corner seeking refuge from my life that had just spiraled out of control. I slid down the wall in the corner and hugged myself and I wept - bawled - for my daughter. How could I have been so blind? What did I do wrong? How could I allow this to happen? How did I not know she was hurting?
I went through every situation. Every conversation. Every everything I could think of in the last few years. There was nothing. No signs. Not until this boy. To this day, she still says it was not because of him. I still think it was.
In the last year, we came to accept her diagnosis: First, depression. More recently, bipolar manic depressive. We grew. We learned together. We struggled to find a balance. We fought to get back on track, and to take things at a more realistic pace, despite her somewhat overzealous approach to "do it all at once". After nine days of intense, inpatient therapy, our daughter was back home. We took some time to adjust to her diagnosis. We carefully assessed her moods. We locked up all medications. We removed all sources of self-harm that we possibly could. We were told not to allow her behind closed doors for several months, to not be alone when shaving, and to not allow her to have a belt, bandanna, or other device that could be used as a strangulation tool. We talked to her younger siblings about giving her a little more space when she needed it. We talked about coping skills. We talked about all sorts of ways to tackle those tedious jobs that keep us kind of down.
As she continued to improve, we started back with our routines. She continued to excel and seemed to be somewhat back to her old self, only more aware of her feelings. However, bipolar manic depressive is a very demanding illness. Just when you think you've done it all - seen it all - something rears its ugly head. Just after her 18th birthday, she became defiant. She didn't want to take her medication. She was argumentative much more often. Frustrated.
She continued to make poor life choices. She began lying at an increased rate. I wanted so badly to pass it off as a phase - and perhaps it was - only it continued. Nevertheless, after completing her courses, she decided to take her GED just so she would have an idea of where she stood in academics, in comparison to her peers. Of course, she graduated with the highest scores of the graduating class, despite her illness, and was even selected to give a speech at the ceremony. Yes! She was pleased. I was pleased. Who wouldn't be, to see their child, now a legal adult, take their walk across the stage. I decided to throw a small graduation ceremony and party for her homeschool success. She was the bell of the ball.
Summer began and the mood swings increased. She started dating a guy and was open to me about her relationship. She proceeded to speak to me about adult things that she was curious about. I provided information and tried to remind her of the goals she had set prior to graduation, during one of her counseling sessions. But just like mania - that natural high hit her full force - and she defiantly went against her goals and our wishes. She proclaimed her undying love for him, and he proposed to her. A week later he was jailed for outstanding warrants. He called her nearly everyday, even though she told him she couldn't afford the calls. He would write to her asking for money. She put some on his account.
Then, college registration started. She met another guy.
One month later, the manic episodes were in full swing again, and she became engaged.
One month after that, and even being told she would not be allowed to remain at home if she proceeded with the newest manic idea, she became his wife.
My daughter. Her husband! Her HUSBAND!
I was not ready to have son-in-law. There was no WAY she was ready to be a wife.
Because his parents did not like her, they were not allowed to stay there. Of course, he was unemployed. He had no car. He had no job. He was also on medication for mental disorders as well.
They had no where to go. I couldn't kick them out. So they lived with us.
She had been dabbling with her spiritual beliefs since the beginning of the year, and they did not mesh well with ours. There was an agreement that she wouldn't practice in the house and I wouldn't disrespect her choice. One day, about a month later (December, I believe), she comes to me after classes. She seems to have great news - her smile shown bright on her face.
My immediate thought: Oh God!
"What's up?" I asked.
"Well, I didn't make a B on my _____ test (I can't remember the subject). I made a C. I'm also going to start practicing Wicca again, and I think I'm pregnant."
She didn't stop to breathe at any point in that statement - or even give me a chance to swallow the lump that immediately jumped into my throat.
Was I angry? Of COURSE! Was I dumb to the fact that she might get pregnant? No. But she was using birth control and a second form for added safety (so she said). Was I overly concerned for her statements? No. Was I upset that she seemed elated?
You bet your arse I was. Why? Because you are 18, living at home, with a husband who has the mentality of a 12 year old, and you think you might be pregnant! Childbirth is not a game and that is what they were doing: Playing house.
Long story longer, as winter set in, they were asked to move in with his grandparents because of several reasons. I won't go into detail on them, but trust that there were many. Fast forward some 30 days and I break my leg (I blogged about it - Jan 2017). My first night home from the hospital and she calls me in tears because he wants a divorce.
Really? My plate is full! I can't keep doing this.
But I do. Dad drives to get her. That was a Saturday.
Monday morning, she comes down with the mumps.
She misses classes on campus. She get's behind. She drops classes.
She continues to make irrational choices. She continues her increased lying. She is out of control.
Because we have other children in the home that are still young and of a very impressionable age, I had to make a choice.
Was it easy? Never.
Do I regret it? No.
Will she forgive me? I hope.
She is currently residing with her biological father and they are building a relationship. I didn't give up. I just had to look at things from a larger perspective. It was not fair for me to continue subjecting our other children to her irrational and erratic behavior, or the negative influence she was bringing into our home. It was not fair to my husband and I to continue fighting over a grown person who was continuing to make bad choices, so much so that I would try to defend her, when I was actually enabling her, all the while she was taking advantage of my defense to make poor choices and lie about it... In which I would defend her again and the cycle would continue.
I love and miss her dearly. We all stay in touch through texting, phone calls, and Facebook. It is our sincerest hope that she continues her counseling and tries to think about her personal health and safety before making any big decisions.
Again, this is not to embarrass, harass, or place blame on any one person or any one action. I hope that even if just one person reads this, they will know that they are not alone. If you are considering harming yourself, know that there is nothing on this planet so bad that killing yourself would be a reprieve. If you are a parent of a child that has changing demeanor, consider counseling to find out what the underlying issue(s) could be, and work on it. If you are like me, wishing there was someone out there who had even one positive thing to say about an experience such as this, here it is: Never stop having faith that it will get better. You may have to put some distance between you and your loved one, but it may be for the best.
Until next time,