Cat’s in the Cradle

It’s that time of the year on the east coast where summer and fall seem to straddle each other, like lovers not wanting to part.  Where the sun shines, and feels warm on my face.  Where the sky is blue, yet to give way to the grey that is inevitable.  Where the breeze carries the fallen leaves and a chill that makes me excited to pull out my sweaters.

It’s been a while since I have given attention to my blog.  Too long really.  I love to write.  I need to write.  It is part of my self care.  If I am not writing, I am not taking care of myself. So while I have not been writing here, I have been writing in my journal.  Page after page of the torment I seem to be going through.

There is something different about writing here.  In my journal, I write random thoughts; I write whatever I am feeling at the moment.  Here I try to be thoughtful; I try to make sense.

Lately, if feels as though there is very little sense; hence my absence.  And by lately I mean the last many months.

As I sit here, soaking up that last rays of summer, I wonder, “do I fill you in on the last many months, or do I skip to right now?”

I think I skip to right now.  It all leads to this point anyways, and along the way the story will weave in and out of time.

Tomorrow I will be sitting down with a therapist and my ex-husband.  How the fuck did I get here?  So begins the weaving of this part of the story.

My youngest is dealing with such severe anxiety that this week that I decided to take him to the hospital, to the emergency room.  He started using words like “scared” and “uncomfortable” and “I just want this to all end”.  Always accompanied by what seems to be endless tears.  For the first time in my life as a mother, I was scared.  I was scared that in the blink of an eye I might lose him.

He has always been an anxious child; one that seemed to worry more than the average kid. He definitely worries more than his older sister.  I keep reminding myself of this fact.  That he worries more than she does.  They both have me as a mother, so I must be doing something half decently right?  This anxiety can’t all be nurture, can it?  I feel assaulted when the doctor starts talking about separation anxiety.  He has a hard time being away, separate, from me.  Is this my fault?  So hard to know.

As we head to the hospital, I call his father to let him know what I am doing.  This goes over like a ton of bricks.  Most definitely my fault.

You see, I have not been keeping his father in the loop.  The crying, the agonizing.  I have been dealing with it all on my own.  Why?  Good question.

In my marriage I kept everything and everyone connected.  I managed everything.  I managed the day to day life of our family which included keeping my husband at the time, informed of every single thing that effected the kids.  I did not realize at the time that he was not fully implicated in their lives.  It has only been since he left that I can see my role, and his, with clarity.  His lack of involvement with the kids now is no different than before.  However, my role as communication manager has been eliminated, shining a bright light on the reality of the relationships.

For the first time in many years, maybe ever, I do not let the man who was once my knight in shining armour influence my decision to take our son to the hospital.  He thought it was unnecessary.  He thought that I was overreacting.  I stood my ground; I knew this was the best thing for our son.  And I was right.

A side bar: once we got to the hospital, I received a barrage of text messages and my phone started to ring, simultaneously.  The texts were from my ex, and the call was also my ex.  I answered the phone and this was what he had to say:

I wanted to tell you that I just spoke with [insert girlfriend’s name here] and she thinks it is really great that you are taking [our son] to the hospital.  The children’s hospital has a great psychiatric department and he will for sure get the help there that he needs.  So I wanted you to know that it is good that you have taken him.

So the mother of your child makes the decision to take your child to the hospital but it is only ok once your girlfriend endorses the decision?  Give me a moment to pick my chin up off of the floor.

In all honesty, I am grateful to said girlfriend.  Grateful that she could look at the situation and see that she needed to convince him that I was doing the right thing.  At the end of the day there was nothing that I could do or say that would have convinced him, so I am grateful that she could.

It was the right thing to do; to take him to the hospital.  Everyone treated us with the utmost seriousness.  No one made me feel like I was making a big deal out of nothing, or that I was just an overly anxious mother.  In fact, I felt validated.  I was made to feel that this was probably one of the most important decisions I would ever make for the sake of my child’s safety and well being.  I felt supported.

Our children’s hospital is amazing.  They have a system in place to catch children who come into the emergency room with mental health challenges.  A four hour hospital visit (mostly waiting in the waiting room) ended with an appointment less than 24 hours later for “Crisis Assessment”, with a social worker and psychiatrist.

The Crisis Assessment was very thorough and emotionally exhausting.  I was so proud of my son for answering the questions as thoughtfully and honestly as he could.  I was relieved to hear that he was not having suicidal thoughts.  My heart broke when the psychiatrist said that my son’s sadness was palpable; that he could feel it as soon as he walked into the room.  I was grateful that the doctor could put all the pieces of the puzzle together to create an accurate picture of my son’s life.

After 75 minutes we were given the recommendation for therapy.  While he is most definitely having a hard time right now, my son did not need to be in an out patient program or under the supervision of a psychiatrist.  I had to explain to my son that this was good.  We both liked the doctor very much, and my son definitely connected with him (and he with my son) but his case was not so serious to need a doctor.  Can you feel the collective sigh of relief?

Tomorrow I will sit with my ex-husband and my son’s therapist.  I feel uneasy.  I am unsure of how things will go.  Maybe I would feel better had he joined us for the emergency hospital visit?  Maybe I would feel better had he joined us for the crisis assessment?  I’ll never know.  This will be the first time we will be sitting together in the same room since he left almost 2 years ago.

I will channel this new me which seemed to emerge this week.  The one that followed her gut and put her child first above all else, above the thoughts and opinions of her once “knight in shining armour”.  I will no longer allow him to belittle my opinions.  I will stand strong and tall.  I can do this.  I am doing this.

And I’m doing it well.