I have been writing letters with my incarcerated teen age son as he bides his time, waiting for the legal process to unfold. When we began writing in March his letters were six to eight pages long, many drawings were included as that was his primary way to pass the time. Eventually he asked for some word and su do ku puzzles, so I found some free sites to print them from and sent them in; bound puzzle books are not acceptable. I would return long letters with these puzzle pages and other requested information. By June his letters had shrunk, were once a week at best with only a few drawings. After three months he had nothing new to say and drawing didn’t seem to provide the outlet he needed. I continued to write weekly, sending what I thought might interest him. His grandmother and sister began to write with him as well at that time.
When I did receive a letter at the end of June it was five lines long, no art, and the basis was that he wanted me to back off. His accusation of my badgering his attorney took me very by surprise as I hadn’t spoken to the man but a few times in four months and on at least one occasion it was because my son had requested he call me to ask me to come to court as he had a hearing I didn’t know about. I have respected his wishes that I remain unaware of his current situation. The police report, transcriptions, and investigations are not in my possession; local radio and newspaper were not so accommodating.
Two weeks were the longest my son could contain himself and remain ‘social’ – as long as he didn’t have triggers derailing his efforts – before this jail experience. As there are no chores for him to do, no responsibilities for him to fulfill and he still had a roof, a bed and meals, I am impressed that he made it four months before he pushed me away again. Having two other people to write to must have provided enough other support for him.
I was notified this week that he has been transported to a state hospital for a two-week evaluation of his mental state. When I was first informed he would be going to a hospital I told him I would make the two-hour journey to see him; now I question the wisdom of face-to-face visiting if he is not ok with me at the moment. There are questions to be answered by the hospital staff prior to my making a final decision to go; I am waiting for the answers to a phone call and email.
What I walked away from his father to protect myself from I find myself facing with my son. You can divorce a spouse, remove yourself from bad relationships with people at work or social situations, but how do you remove yourself, how do you not tolerate from children and siblings with mental illness, the repeated barbs that cut to the quick? Most likely I will drive to the hospital, visit my son with the most love and best intentions. If that goes well, maybe I will make the trip again the following week. If he then returns to the local jail, we will pick up writing again as I can’t bring myself to visit this jail. If he needs to stay at the hospital, we will make decisions accordingly.