Wednesday, December 22, 2010
How to Save a Life - Part One
He was targeted, even as a toddler by his dad who was intensely jealous and insecure about the allegiance his son might possibly form with me. God forbid, a child should bond with his mother. It drove him insane when the wee child was sick and called for his mommy. I remember him pulling my precious baby off my chest in an effort to dissuade him from needing me. It went back to his own perverse childhood where he and his siblings were placed in the care of an unstable grandmother while his mom pursued her life goals. His older half-sister was selected by the drunken grandmother and repeatedly told her mother didn't love her. Later, he and his sister were forced to choose sides in a bitter custody battle between his dad and mom. No coincidence, his older half-sister ended up in prison as well.
I knew what was behind his sickness, but he didn't. When our son was a baby, Dad was busy cavorting about, having multiple affairs, impregnating an underage drug addict and running our business into the ground. There came a point when I discovered these affairs, I cut him lose, changed the locks, set his things in the front yard and told him to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
The separation seemed to force him to one of those crucibles in life. He wanted us, he wanted our family, he wanted to come back and make things right. The crack whore had an abortion and the yellow pages sales woman with the enormous fake breasts was summarily dismissed and he turned his life over to God. But, we needed a change. Let's break all these ties and move to Wisconsin.
Once we settled in, we became active in a local church, he enrolled in college full time (in spite of the fact I had just given birth to our twins and was trying to hold down my full time job) and he began to work his way into the ultra conservative, in your face, anti-everything-I-stood-for-political arena. At the age of three, he had our son wearing Bush tee shirts and telling all of his preschool friends how his dad was going to go out into the world to defeat all those bad people who wanted to hurt daddy, i.e., the Democrats.
He surreptitiously spun tales of these criminals who wanted to take daddy's money away. He twice ran for office, sending our son off to school on election days to tell everyone how his daddy was going to win; 100% certain his dad would win against those vile, monstrous Democrats. Can you imagine what his teachers must have been thinking? Then the little guy would come home to find out the world was not going to be saved because daddy lost. Does this mean the bad guys are going to take our money, daddy? Seriously, who does this to a child?
I didn't truly understand the depths with which he would go until I found out he convinced our son to switch his loyalties from the Packers to the Vikings soon after Brett Favre began wearing a purple jersey. How can you be a life long Packer fan, then switch over to the sworn enemy then have the moral ineptitude to express that to your son as if it were the law? Everything with Troy (Mr. Sunshine) was the law, in the eyes of his impressionable son. The son he fought so hard to win over, he was even willing to tell him horrible tales of how his mom left him/them, didn't love him and how daddy would be the only person he could ever count upon subsequent to our split.
The manipulation had no end and the devastation on this impressionable, trusting young man had no end when the hero he knew as his father was convicted of felony fraud and sent to prison for two and a half years. Who are the bad guys again, daddy?
The little guy's counselor and I knew he was repressing his feelings, staying tough, being a strong guy, acting as if this had no real effect on him. Yet on the Tuesday night before the Thanksgiving holiday, after a counseling session where he was asked to focus on his feelings and deal with his grief, he exploded. I had made spaghetti and meatballs for dinner with garlic bread and broccoli. All things he loved. He walked into the kitchen and told me if I didn't make something else for him, something more along the lines of REAL food, something he could actually eat, he would tear our house apart and hurt both me and his sisters.
I immediately phoned the counselor to see what they had talked about that day. As I was speaking to her, he was running through the house, demanding I go get him some food, knocking everything over he could find, breaking doors, pounding fists into the wall. He wouldn't let me hold him, he wouldn't let me reach him. I knew what was happening, the lid had finally blown off the pressure cooker and the anger had surfaced. The counselor told me to take him to a behavioral unit for the treatment of children but I refused.
We continued through Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday with virtually the same behavior the entire time. Even inviting his best friend's family over to celebrate Thanksgiving with us resulted in a refusal to wait for the prayer, a demand for rolls before anyone had been served and later, a fight with his buddy that ended with a precious painting by my dead brother being destroyed as he unleashed his anger on his best friend. By Sunday night, I had had enough. I told him he needed help beyond what I could give him, he needed a higher level of care. He responded with the same abject tone and vicious stare he had used on me for days....."you don't have the guts to take me there. I'll put my shoes on right now, let's go, let's see if you will really do it because I don't think you will. I don't think you have it in you to do that. C'mon, I dare you. I'm ready to go. I will go anywhere to get away from you."
Summoning all my strength, I made up my mind. If I call him on this. If we get in that car, there is no turning back. He is hurting and he won't let me help him; in fact, he is blaming his hurt on me. I found that fortitude that comes from being a mom, the one where you are willing to put them through something painful to bring them back to you. Just like the hernia operation when he was a baby, or fighting against their dad to have the girls get tubes in their ears to stop chronic infections. A mother knows when it is time to take evasive measures. A mother knows when it is time to call in the Calvary and save their child.
But a mother could have never imagined the depths of pain she would experience in watching three men: An orderly, a nurse and a security guard, carry her baby boy away while hearing him wail for her to stop them and just take him home. "I will be good now I promise, I will be okay, I didn't mean all those things I said, just take me home mommy, please don't leave me here."
Another nurse pulled me aside and watched as I fell to my knees, begging her to let me take him home. She reminded me of the anger he had built inside of him as she grabbed my face, pulled it up, wiped my eyes and said, "you're doing the right thing. If you don't intervene now, you will never be able to reach him when puberty hits. This IS THE TIME to save him and you are strong enough to do it."
This was the same nurse who had interviewed us previously, a woman who had shocked me with her ability to write, as she didn't have any hands. It was those very gentle, yet highly effective hand-less stubs, placed upon my cheeks that allowed me to stand back up and face my own reality. I don't think I would have listened to any other person at that moment. Only someone I knew had faced and overcome great challenges of her own had the power to lift me up.
But the next day, I stormed in there will my full will and might and demanded my son be released, after I discovered what they had done to him.
(To be continued)