My silence, albeit self imposed, is typical of family in crisis: the worse the situation, the less energy there is to reach out for support and/or information. As the last few months this has not been the case, it is difficult to adjust back into that state of being again. I am resenting the imposition, yet know that it is necessary to deal with things as they occur, not ‘later’ when additional complications have muddled the possibility of assistance.
There was the silence of the jail time – then their was the silence of post jail time when my son was so angry he decided to keep his distance from me/family. After a week it was hard to reconcile my feelings: disappointment that he hadn’t even texted me to let me know he was out of jail, fear that he had gotten into a bad situation and avoiding consequences, and plain sadness that my son had a heavy burden to deal with in his mental illness. I didn’t know his feelings for sure, but I think I know him well enough to guess fairly accurately. As I said, silence in my world means trouble, so I felt tremors of worry grow as the week wore on.
The ‘hey mom’ text that broke that silence actually stopped me Sunday morning; vague. No phone call, a stream of texts during the day and I began to see the fault lines he was avoiding: knowing he needed my help, but wanting to be sure he was in my good graces before he gave me details. All in all, a good day for me – but when the night came and he telephoned in hysterics, it was obvious it hadn’t been as good for him.
A parent’s job is to prepare a child and allow them to make their own mistakes to learn further – when the child is compromised by an illness there are pitfalls in guessing where to draw the line between preparation and observation. Too much support and ‘enabling’ takes place, too little and there is the risk of the child turning to the wrong people for help. From where I parent, that is a scary thought. It is not difficult to see how vulnerable to manipulators and users my son is – he wants to belong and fit in, but he stands out among stand outs. Granted, he isn’t dressing as colorfully or using accessories that call attention to him. I don’t think he is using make-up or temporary hair dye at the moment, so he looks fairly common-place for the time being. But he still seems to call attention to himself more often than most.
It is nearly five months since he moved out of our house. He quit school half way through that period. This week, after crying his eyes out that he couldn’t live where he was living anymore, he decided to go back to his school and talk to the principal about re-enrolling in classes. That happened on Wednesday and he left the school with three large assignments to complete and return before he was going to be readmitted to school. I saw him that morning to take him to WorkSource and give him an opportunity to look for work. When he left there he came away saying that he was qualified for lots, but he needed to have his GED, diploma and usually a drivers license. That is what he had been told for many years as he fought his education and walked away from it. I do not advocate his getting a license to control a large piece of machinery – he isn’t in control of himself enough of the time.
The next day he had a counseling appointment, which I drove him to. Each morning we clashed; conversation is not possible between us it seems. Friday morning we began looking for an apartment for him. He had done no research to know what places had openings or what complexes even had smaller apartments. To make matters worse, he hadn’t slept much the night before, so he was extremely tired and fairly grumpy. Coming up with little availability and virtually nothing immediately, I brought him to an extended stay hotel and put him up for a week.
He has a temporary roof, is beginning school tomorrow, and has landed a job at a local burger place as of Saturday. During the week he took the test of the food handler’s permit and aced it. I am impressed and proud to say that he accomplished that much on his own and that has to make him feel good. So, I am assisting with housing as best I can, hoping that it is a good way to help. We had snow yesterday with strong winds, there is snow predicted for tomorrow, and knowing that he is not needing to find shelter gives me a bit of piece.
Minimum wage – $9.04, minus taxes, for twenty or so hours a week, doesn’t leave you with much to live on. Lets hope that the math is penciled out so we do not have to argue about how much housing he can afford and we can narrow in to look for that. I am tired of the arguing already, the silence would almost be worth it after so many days in close proximity again.