The blame

This past week I finished reading A Father’s Story, a memoir written by Lionel Dahmer the father of notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. I found a renewed interest in the story after watching the Dahmer Netflix series. I remember the story unfolding as a teenager in the early 90’s. At the time I tried to find out everything I could about the case which wasn’t much because…well…pre-internet and 4 TV channels. I did read a couple books back in the 90’s but nothing like this.

I gave the book 5 stars. The memoir was very emotional, dark, and painful to read. I could find myself relating to Lionel. I have to think that every good parent tries to seek the answers deep down within themselves as to why their child went astray. What did I do or not do that could’ve caused this? What part of me do I see in them? Why do we have this need to know or blame ourselves or others?? It was very clear to me that he was reaching at every little straw to blame himself for what his son did. He could’ve trashed his ex-wife but he didn’t. He blamed himself for his traits he saw in his son. He talked about the hopes and dreams he had for his son before he knew he was a killer. He wrote about thoughts and feelings every parent has.

At times while reading this, I found myself in tears. I could relate to Lionel’s analytical mind and his tendency to throw himself into work as a way to cope. Although I can’t relate to what it is like to have a child who is a killer, I can relate to how he felt. The book was challenging and triggering to me at times. It’s impossible to not blame yourself as a parent. I still struggle with that as a parent of a child with mental illness. I had big dreams for her before this all happened. We were going to go on college tours. But instead of going off to college, my daughter spent the end of her senior year in a residential mental health facility after multiple hospitalizations, threats of suicide, and an outpatient program.

My dreams of her living a normal life were gone. Just seeing her is a painful reminder of that. Her body covered with hundreds of self-harm scars so deep they will never fully heal. I feel somehow that some of it was my fault. I remember at one of her earlier hospitalizations one of her doctors blamed me for her condition. The research says that Borderline Personality Disorder is a trauma based disorder a majority of the time. But not always? I don’t want this kind of life for my child. She has a hard time taking care of herself and holding down a job. Nobody cares. The system doesn’t care. The dozen therapists she burned through don’t care. The multiple doctors and health care systems don’t care either.

It falls back to us as parents. Investing our time and resources trying our best to help her help herself. That’s not the life I wanted for her or myself. It’s painful especially after my daughter accused me of abuse and neglect, others thought poorly of me, and I’ve blamed myself. I can relate to trying my best and sometimes it is just not good enough. There is grief in letting your dreams for your child die. It’s so painful that at times I deceive myself with false hope. It’s awful having a child who wants to kill themselves. I can’t imagine the weight of having a child who kills other people.

The other day my son walked in while I was crying for one of the first times. I didn’t want him to see me like that. He choked up with tears in his own eyes telling me he felt sad by my pain. He tried to comfort me in the moment. He was calm, kind, and empathetic. I showed him a side of myself he doesn’t usually see and in return I saw likewise. It feels good to have the support of my spouse and other adult children for the times I blame myself for having a child who is not everything I dreamed of her being.

This week I’m reading I’m Glad My Mom Died, a memoir by childhood actress Jennette McCurdy. Oh boy, it might be a long week…

Up north upset

Why does there always have to be drama with my family??

It started already before we even got up north. I invited my kids and their significant others up north for the fourth. They all said yes. It’s been a family tradition for decades and this was the first time in a long time that all the kids could go. Paul had to work all day Friday. Originally we weren’t going to go up Friday at all, but two out of three of our kids wanted to go up then.

We weren’t going to be getting up north until late. This presented a problem with supper. I was going to be bringing up all of our food and we weren’t going to be up their until at least 8 PM. Dan and Angel and Alex and Lexi were going to be riding up together on motorcycles. They wanted to leave earlier to make sure they were up there before it got dark and had limited room to bring along food. I asked my mom if she had something they could eat when they got there. But she told me they should stop at a bar. Then she said she bought 4 bags of cheese curds for my brother Mark. I was puzzled by our conversation and thought my mom was acting strange. I was also annoyed and wished I had a parent who liked to provide food for her family.

I decided just to make supper for everyone at home last minute. By the time we got up north it was after 8 and my mom was ready to go to bed shortly thereafter. Everyone up there (my mom, my brother Mark, his wife Carla, and brother Matt) was ready for bed at 9. So we moved outside to start a fire and watch the fireworks about ready to start. Mark did not talk to me. My SIL Carla yelled at me to move the motorcycle helmets off the table. That was about it. I felt like they were avoiding us.

During the fire, I found out Mark and Carla were rude to Lexi before Paul and I got up there. My mom asked Mark and Carla if they met Lexi. After being prompted several times, Mark grouchily said yes and walked away. My kids said they did not feel welcomed and that hurt me deeply.

It all started a couple years ago when my mom sent their laptop for Dan to fix and remove pictures from. Dan and Angel found child porn on the computer and took it to the police. That night up north Dan told me he did not feel welcomed by my family. He said it was all his fault too. I gave Dan a hug and told him I was happy he was there and he is not to blame for what my dad did. But Mark and Carla apparently do not feel that way. They treat my dad like the victim and Angel and Dan like they are to blame.

I awoke very early the next morning thinking about telling Carla off. I wanted to tell her about how my dad was abusive towards us when we were kids. I wanted to tell her I couldn’t count on one hand any good memories I had with my dad. I wanted to tell her that he was never nice to my kids, quite the opposite in fact. I wanted to tell her all these things, but didn’t. Maybe things would be different if he was a loving father and grandfather who struggled with addiction.

Instead that morning, Mark, Carla, and my mom went to rummage sales. Carla whipped the car keys at my brother Mark, then yelled at him when he didn’t catch them. I can’t stand how mean she is to my brother, but I’m not sure there is anything I can do about it. Thankfully I see them only a couple times per year.

Also, that morning, my son got ice out of the freezer for his water. Apparently it was Carla’s ice. She yelled at my son saying it wasn’t community ice. My son apologized and said he would buy her some more ice. I wasn’t quite so patient. I yelled as they were going out the door that it was just fucking ice. Later that day they left to go spend time with my dad. The whole experience left me angry, anxious, and depressed for almost a whole week afterwards. I can’t stand when my kids are mistreated for something they didn’t even do wrong. My daughter is getting married in less than 3 months and I don’t even want to invite half of the family I am inviting to the wedding.

Other than that, my kids and their significant others all got along marvelously. It was close to miraculous. I wish I could just focus on that and let the bad slip away. I really have to examine how much time I want to spend with my extended family if they are going to upset me so much.

Timshel

I first heard of the concept Timshel in the book East of Eden by John Steinbeck. It means thou mayest in Hebrew. Timshel is saying we have a choice between good and evil. You can choose the path you take. Will others rejoice upon our passing or will there be great sadness based upon the choices we made in how we love one another. I know I am not giving the 600 page book justice with my mere 600 words.

I wouldn’t consider the book to be a happy story. But it was a feel good book because of its realistic perspective. Some of the big themes dealt with relationships between siblings, sibling rivalry, and the parent/child relationship. One of the things that really hit home for me was the struggle the characters experienced within. If my parent chooses evil, what does that make me? The book brings up the thought that although your parent may choose evil doesn’t mean that you are destined for the same choices. They have a choice just like you do.

I won’t lie to you, I sometimes struggle with this. I try hard to be a good person, but plenty of times I fall short. My dad did a lot of evil things. Does that make me evil even though I did not make the same choices he did? Sometimes I see him in myself. I hate to be reminded of him when I look in the mirror, how I talk, or how I walk. But it’s there. I have to wonder if that is the only thing there. Maybe he passed his evil down to me.

Logically, I know it’s crazy to think that, yet sometimes I do. The weight of his decisions has brought many people down. My mom is really struggling with her mental health over it. My brother Luke will not have his kids around my dad. I rarely see my brother and haven’t seen him, his wife, or my nieces yet this year. My dad is not invited to holidays. He is not invited to my daughter’s wedding. We always wonder if and when the police will be back to my parent’s house. But those are all just the external things which make life difficult and complicated.

I think the internal pain is worse. The anxiety that somewhere deep inside I might be guilty just for being his daughter like choosing evil is an inheritable trait. Sometimes I have to keep telling myself I am not responsible for my parents. I am not responsible for my adult children. I am responsible for me and my choices alone.

I don’t have a dad I can be proud of. He has brought nothing but shame to the family name. I wish I could say his choices affected only himself. If the evil choices other people make cannot be attributed to us then neither can the good. Having a child who chooses good does not equate to having good parents any more than having a child who chooses evil equate to having bad parents. Why is this so hard to understand? Why do we need something or someone to blame for the bad choices others make? It’s true some people have more obstacles than others. But is that really a good excuse? Maybe they just made a bad decision because that is what they wanted to do.

My grandparents were wonderful people. My dad, not so much.

Timshel. Everyone has a choice.

Again, I would highly recommend reading East of Eden. It’s very well written and thought provoking. It had a lot of interesting twists and turns in the classic drama by John Steinbeck. I’ve read several other books by the same author decades ago, Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath were among my favorites. I hope to read more of his books in the near future. They always have a way of making me think about things differently.

Monday mourning

I’m not in the best of moods today. I woke up at 4:30 AM choking on my own spit. Then I had to go to the bathroom. I tried to go back to sleep, but sleep didn’t come.

I was having a dream about Tom and Lisa. I had a dream their daughter ran away and that was why my daughter Arabella ran away. I thought about our friends who moved away years before. At one time I considered Lisa a best friend. We were running partners and trauma buddies. Both Lisa and her husband experienced a lot of serious trauma in their childhoods.

A couple years back Tom and Lisa’s oldest daughter died at age 16 in a fiery car accident. Their daughter was driving when she fell asleep killing herself and her friend. A year after that, Lisa’s teenage niece died. She got really drunk and fell into the river and drowned. A couple months after that her mother died. Plus the childhood trauma, I don’t know how she is doing it. Sadly, we fell out of touch when they moved several hours away. We used to talk several times a week, now we send a text every once in awhile.

The last time I spoke to Lisa she wasn’t seeing a therapist. I woke up with Lisa on my mind out of the blue. I’m wondering if she is okay.

At 6:15 AM my mom called. It is NEVER a good sign to get a call from my mom that early in the morning. My mom told me Arabella went into the ditch last night from the snowy roads. The day after Thanksgiving, my daughter moved out of the homeless shelter and back in with my mom. She got another waitressing job and things were looking better. But she already got fired from her job which is not good. She quit taking her meds.

After Arabella went into the ditch, she had her car towed to my parent’s house. Right after it was towed back, she left around 10 PM. She wasn’t back by 6 AM. My mom told me her location and I was able to figure out she was at a park and ride. My mom said she was there at least 4 hours. My mom also got a strange message from Arabella’s friend Will’s grandma saying something about Will triggering PTSD and having to lock up the knives in her house.

What the hell is going on?? Is Will suicidal? Is Arabella?? I couldn’t help but worry maybe someone would come knocking at my door to tell me my daughter is dead. It is a constant fear. My mom said Will and Arabella were planning on coming to our family Christmas party this weekend. I can honestly say I feel worried because they are both mentally unstable. I don’t think Arabella would physically hurt anyone besides herself, but I don’t even know this Will guy. Who knows what she has been telling him about us.

I worry more about violence now. I worried yesterday at the community theater show. Dan and Angel went to the show with us. The people sitting next to them were drunk and disruptive. They were talking loudly during the show, getting up, knocking over glass bottles. Dan and Angel actually told them to be quiet. How rude! But how do you know if those people could be dangerous?

Hearing the news about Arabella this morning was very triggering. At times Angel and I were close to tears. Why is my daughter mentally ill? We blamed ourselves, we blamed each other. But what good does that do?? It’s incredibly stressful wondering if today will be the day I get the phone call or knock on my door. It just tears me down to the point where I don’t even want to live anymore. Not that I’m going to kill myself, but it’s hard to feel any kind of joy. It’s just so painful.

Paul, Angel, and I started to do so much better after Arabella moved out. Our mental health improved significantly. We were under an incredible amount of stress when both my mom and Arabella were living here. The strange thing is that at the time we were blind to the effects it was having on all of us. Thankfully Paul, Angel, and I are seeing counselors to help us process everything.

I was very hesitant about seeing a counselor at first. But now I can’t imagine not seeing her. She has really helped me get through a lot of hard circumstances. That is why I worry about my dear friend Lisa. I’ll have to give her a call soon.

Fortune cookie wisdom #36

Remind yourself that ‘the lion while hunting doesn’t roar’.

Who can YOU trust? I always thought I could trust myself but I’m not too sure about that anymore. I am not an expert at life.

As I mentioned before, I live in a mixed vaccination household. What I think we can all agree on at our house is that vaccination should be a choice. I believe there are risks involved with both choices which creates a lot of uncertainty and fear.

I can’t imagine how terrible it must be for parents of opposing views to have to make these decisions for their children right now. It’s not as if that was a question we thought to ask a future spouse before 2020. If in the future there was a pandemic would you chose to vaccinate our future child. Why or why not? Can you imagine divorced parents dealing with this if they don’t agree???? Thank God my kids are all adults and can make their own decisions.

Honestly, I think the biggest threat right now is the division and polarity. It’s literally insane. My family cannot attend the extended family Christmas party because of our status. Certain family members think their shot will protect them from COVID but not against the unvaccinated. How does that even make sense?

Now I am not going to make this a one sided post. I’ve heard of the unvaccinated afraid to be around the recently vaccinated because of shedding. Now everyone is getting the booster shot in time for the holidays. We all better lock ourselves in our houses this holiday season because people might die.

Woah, I must’ve missed the memo where we can actually live without dying. Live people live before it is too late! Don’t make your family dead to you before they are. Pushing family away is the worst thing we can do at this time. Agree to disagree if you have to. Get tested. Wear masks. Do whatever you think works without compromising your beliefs. I absolutely HATE that families are being torn over this. I hate to break it to you but we are all going to die.

I have been feeling a certain sway of the unvaccinated to mistrust their doctors and all vaccinations now. Some people are paranoid they will be given the wrong shot. What is happening? I started to feel this way myself. I am not anti-vax. I am due for my tetanus shot in a couple of months. I was considering not getting it but decided I will.

Why would something I’ve never questioned before become something I question now? The thought scares the living crap out of me. Can I trust the decisions I’ve made in the past or am I too being swayed?

That’s not all that has changed. I’ve now become more pro-choice than I have ever been in my whole entire life. People should be allowed to choose what to do with their body. Period. I don’t have to agree with that choice. There are consequences for every choice, you have yours and I have mine.

I was experiencing cognitive dissonance. Why are some choices okay for others to make and some not?? Can we pick and choose and feel at peace with ourselves? If you are pro-choice but for mandatory vaccinations it might be time to examine yourself. What gives me the right to tell another person what they should do?

While I’m on it, there is something else that bothers me. People who protest outside of abortion clinics shouting words of hate and carrying signs with mangled bloody fetuses rub me the wrong way. Do you really think hating and shaming women is effective? Maybe it makes you feel good for your self-righteousness. Then when you go to church and see a single teen mom you judge, look down upon, and shame her for the choice you wanted her to make. Nothing but hypocrites.

If you are truly pro-life help families in need. You are not going to change lives spewing hatred in the name of love. If you want to be effective take the teen mom out to lunch, buy her some diapers and baby clothes, and be there for her because parenting is hard. Offer workable alternatives and solutions such as adoption as an option.

Being shamed at the abortion clinic is nothing compared to the shame of raising a baby as a single teen mom both for the mother and the child. I can say this because my husband was born to a single teen mom. His sperm donor took off, wasn’t even there for the birth. My husband was shamed for not having a dad as if it was his choice.

In grade school he got spanked by a teacher in front of the class who told him he needed a dad. No kidding?? Not only did he not have a dad, but he didn’t even have a grandpa to be his role model. Paul sucked at sports because he had no one to play catch with him. No one taught him how to be a husband or dad which can even be daunting for those who come from healthy homes. Something needs to be done to build stronger families.

That all being said, I am really concerned because I feel like COVID has really shook some of my core beliefs. Is it growth?? Can I trust what I thought before or now if my beliefs change? I’ve really had to examine my own thoughts lately about how much control we should allow others to have over our lives.

Always question. Listen. Love one another. Do we need to have all the answers to do that??

A gasp of fresh air

The day Arabella left us to move in with Jordan’s family is the day I started planning a vacation. Not only did all my vacation plans for 2020 fall through but I lost my daughter as well. She started calling another woman her mom. It didn’t matter what I said or did, I felt like my daughter hated me. On rare occasion, I was the best mom in the world but it had nothing to do with any effort on my part. Again, what I did or didn’t do didn’t seem to make a difference in how she felt about me.

It was hard to handle and I felt very depressed. So I started planning a trip. At that point, I didn’t even care if I had to cancel it. It was the planning and thinking about it that was the most therapeutic at the time because it allowed me to focus on something other than my problems. I had something on the calendar to look forward to. Besides my daughter was gone and I wasn’t sure if she was going to be coming back.

But she did come back home and burnt the bridge with Jordan’s family. After her most recent diagnosis I battled with myself about whether or not to go. My mom wasn’t going to help by staying at our house because she was terrified of COVID. My oldest daughter didn’t really want the responsibility either although she was already living at home. I felt guilty for wanting to get away.

I also felt like I was suffocating. Taking care of a suicidal teen with serious mental health issues was burning me out. I thought if I didn’t get away I would be sitting in a padded room myself or worse. At times it was so painful and grueling that I really didn’t want to live anymore myself. I wasn’t taking care of myself. The stress was so high that it seemed like all my husband and I did was fight and blame ourselves and each other for the problems we were having with our daughter. I seriously thought if I didn’t get a break and take care of myself and our marriage that I would not be able to handle it anymore.

We offered to pay for our oldest daughter’s therapy if she would keep an eye on things. I wish I was kidding. Plus my best friend was willing to do whatever it took to help if needed. We were not flying out of the country and were accessible by phone 24/7. So we went. Thankfully Arabella managed to get herself up for outpatient, took her pills, and didn’t have any emergencies while we were gone. Oddly enough, it was my other two adult children (Angel and Alex) that fought. Their relationship has been strained ever since. Sometimes you just can’t win.

But it was wonderful to get away. It was a breath of fresh air before the drowning started yet again.

The blame game

After Arabella was in the hospital a couple of days, it was time for the family session.

In the meantime, Paul drafted a 4 page document stating conditions of Arabella’s return home on our part and hers. It revolved around mutual respect and listening, following the rules those types of things. There were ideas of healthy relationship building along with things that tear relationships down. It was filled with fun activities and rewards for working hard and also consequences such as loss of privileges.

Arabella didn’t want much to do with it. She wanted to leave the hospital and return to Jordan’s house. But right before the family session we found out that Jordan’s family did not want her back.

I had to brace myself for the family session when the therapist asked Arabella why she would rather be at Jordan’s house than her own. I was feeling defensive yet told myself that I also had to be open to her ideas. Maybe we were too structured. Maybe we weren’t structured enough.

I want to tell you a secret about being a parent of a child with serious mental health struggles. I always feel blamed. Maybe I was too hard on her. Maybe I wasn’t hard enough. I could probably give examples of times when we responded both ways. She is too entitled. I had too many rules. I just can’t win. Yes, one plus one should equal two, but sometimes the answer is 10. You should reap what you sow. But with mental illness it doesn’t always work out that way. One of the most frustrating things is feeling like I somehow caused this to happen. Oh, I wish I had that much control. If I did, she wouldn’t be struggling like she is.

Another thing that really bothers me is when people suggest that my daughter has a demon. How did that happen? It is very triggering because I saw the same kind of blame of my mom with my autistic/schizophrenic brother. How could a demon possess a little baby? My brother heard voices because he is mentally ill not because he is possessed. My parents didn’t do anything to willingly cause this in their child and neither did I. It makes me angry to think about it. But yet I myself look at other parents when their kids have problems and ask what they did wrong. Why is it so hard to accept that some things just are for no apparent reason?

So I tried to have an open mind at the family session. Arabella what did you have at Jordan’s house that you don’t have at your own? She answered that Jordan’s house was filled with noise and chaos. Jordan has three younger siblings that are always loudly playing or fighting. They also have several puppies running around. That wasn’t what I was expecting or worried about. I was afraid she would say they are more loving or caring, but no. Arabella is our youngest child and our pets are geriatric. That was just something we couldn’t give her, a house with puppies and little kids.

We told Arabella in that session that Jordan’s family did not want her to live there anymore. She took it hard and started crying. I was glad that she was dealing with her feelings about it in the hospital because I think that kind of news would’ve sent her over the edge at home.

trauma

Arabella’s second hospitalization didn’t go well. She told me she had one of the worst cases of cutting they have ever seen. That says a lot since it was coming from professionals working in a psychiatric hospital.

Arabella wasn’t doing well in group time. She couldn’t focus. She started picking at her wounds which was triggering for the other kids. Arabella told them she would never stop cutting. This ended up getting her kicked out of group and she was sent off to work by herself on packets.

Not only did she scratch open her wounds, but she started banging her head against the wall. This landed her in a room with 24 hour surveillance. She started having panic attacks which included hysterical crying for long periods of time and throwing up.

I felt like the staff blamed us for her condition. Trauma they said. Trauma, I hate that word. It has so many meanings that it means nothing. The Holocaust survivors experienced trauma. Everyone in the world experienced trauma from COVID. There could be trauma from abuse anywhere from incest to someone speaking to you the wrong way. There could be trauma from being in a car accident, etc. What does it really mean anyway?

Paul and I were incredibly worried. How were we going to keep her safe at home when she found a way to self-injure in a psychiatric hospital. They offered useless advice such as locking up all of the medications and knives in our house. As if she couldn’t find a way around that if she really wanted to.

Jordan’s mom texted me and said that she didn’t want Arabella staying at her house anymore. It really scared her when Arabella was suicidal at their house. She said she couldn’t live with herself if something happened and it really was a stressful situation for their whole family. I think she realized what I said to her a couple of weeks before was right. They weren’t saving Arabella from an abusive home. They were enabling Arabella to not work things out with her own family that cared for her. Not only that, but it was the first time they saw that she was dealing with some serious mental health issues.

The evening that Arabella was admitted, we were hosting the first Bible study group at our house. I considered cancelling that evening and the class altogether. But we decided not to. If I decided to cancel things for every crisis or sleepless night, I would get nothing done. I just wanted some degree of normalcy in my life.

I blamed myself. I felt guilty for things I didn’t even do. What kind of parents have their child in a psychiatric hospital with severe cutting that will require plastic surgery to fix? We also decided to pull the plug on her breast reduction surgery scheduled for a couple weeks from then. We consulted several psychiatrists and the plastic surgeon’s office about it. They all advised against it. It would be a big surgery and we did not feel we could keep her safe. What if she messed with the wounds? It could easily become life threatening.

I didn’t feel relief with this hospitalization. I wasn’t sure that she could be safe from herself even there. I didn’t know how things were going to be when she came back home. She couldn’t even handle being at home before the hospitalization and now Jordan’s family didn’t want her back.

We were desperate for answers that we couldn’t find.

The bad ones

Arabella wanted to leave, but as I mentioned before she didn’t want to be left. She wanted to use our car. She wanted to borrow money. She wanted to come home for Christmas. She wanted her reduction surgery scheduled in December. I said that I would cancel it if she wasn’t living at home because it was going to require at least two weeks of someone caring for her. I didn’t want her calling or texting every time she ran into a problem she couldn’t handle. If she didn’t want me in her life she had to let me go so I could get on with mine.

We wanted her home but we weren’t going to fight her anymore. She had conversations with Jordan’s mom about emancipation. They were ready to take her in rent free so she could escape her abusive home environment.

At this point I started wondering what was wrong with my daughter. It had to be more than just depression or anxiety. Arabella at this time started a relationship with her first girlfriend. She wanted to bring this girl home to introduce her to us. Her girlfriend was pretty, personable, and bubbly. She seemed really nice. Afterwards, Arabella called us on the way back to Jordan’s house. She asked her dad what he thought of her girlfriend. I think she was trying to bait us in some way to get in a fight. If she could get Paul upset then she would have justification for moving out. My parents hate me because I’m gay. It would just feed into this whole we are bad parents thing. Instead, Paul said that she seemed very nice. We even talked about having her girlfriend over for the holidays if only Arabella would make the effort to come home and have a relationship with her real family again.

What would cause someone to randomly hate their family? Not just her parents, but her siblings as well. To take it one step further, she attached herself to a brand new family one she only got to know a couple months before. They were perfect, every single one of them. I became convinced my daughter had Borderline Personality Disorder. She had almost every symptom.

Although never diagnosed, I always thought my mother-in-law was borderline. Arabella was her angel grandchild. Alex and Angel were demons. My MIL would fly into random rages with her husband, my husband, myself, and my children. We were either the best thing that ever happened to her or we were awful people. She was impulsive and at times could be a lot of fun. Her mood was all over the place, sometimes even on the same day. You never knew what you were going to get. We never could believe anything she said either.

Lately I’ve been also wondering if my own mother has borderline. She has this unusual attachment to my dad. After my daughter Angel turned in my dad to the police for child porn, my mom stayed. Now I suppose you might say someone could forgive their spouse and I understand that. But every single conversation with my mom is about how she can’t handle being alone. She now loves my dad more than she ever did. On occasion she mentions forgiveness and God, but mainly it’s about her fear of abandonment. She latches on to people that will never leave her like my dad and my autistic/schizophrenic brother Matt. This has lead to conflict because she is manipulative and tries to force my dad and brother on everyone because she doesn’t want anyone to leave her. (They have both hurt my siblings and I and our children). It makes her seem like a martyr and we are bad/selfish if we don’t forgive. Could that be borderline? I don’t even know.

I don’t want to make more of it than it is but I can tell you most would agree that my mother and MIL were neither sane nor rational. I saw those same patterns starting to emerge in my own daughter Arabella. Why did I think my children could somehow escape the mental illness that runs deep in both sides of the family?

I thought it would be a good idea to sit down with Jordan’s mom to express my concerns to her. I was worried for my daughter’s safety under her care. She was unstable, suicidal, and cutting. Jordan’s mom should know what she would be getting herself into. If she thought she would providing a safe place for an abused child to live (which is noble of her), she needed to know the truth. I told her my fears that my daughter was severely mentally ill. But I’m not really sure if she believed me.

After all, isn’t that what most abusers say?

Feeling tested

The last time we talked I told you that my daughter Arabella was admitted into a residential mental health treatment facility. What I didn’t tell you was that at the same time my other daughter Angel most likely had COVID.

Last weekend I briefly saw Angel’s boyfriend Dan. We were close to each other for a few minutes while I opened the sliding door we all walked out of. I was in close contact with my daughter Angel who was in close contact with her boyfriend Dan. Are you following me yet?

The next day Angel goes to Dan’s house. While she is there he develops a fever. She decides not to come home. The next day Dan has an instant test and tests positive for COVID.

To make matters more complicated, my mom stopped by with my brother Matt on Saturday. My mom and Matt both received all of their COVID vaccinations. Because of COVID, I have not seen my brother Matt since last June when my mom had a medical emergency and I needed to take him back to his group home. Once he returned to his group home, he couldn’t go back home until fully vaccinated. My brother Matt has not seen my daughter Angel or her boyfriend since Christmas of 2019 again thanks to COVID. After the visit, before we found out Dan was sick, my mom took Matt back to his group home. My mom and brother were not in close contact with us but they did give everyone hugs including Dan.

Monday morning Dan has an instant COVID test and tests positive. He gets really sick. His mother gets sick. My daughter Angel gets sick. So far his father is fine.

What am I to do? My daughter was scheduled to be admitted into residential care. This was her last chance to get into a great adolescent program. She will be an adult in 2 months and they said if she didn’t fill the bed she would lose the opportunity. She had to wait 3 months to get in.

I decided to call the COVID hotline. Not only was it a bad connection, but it was useless conversation. She told me that my situation was really unusual and complicated and that I would be better off calling my doctor or going on the CDC website. My husband and I fought over what to do next. We don’t see eye to eye on COVID. Words were said that weren’t meant.

Meanwhile, my mom’s COVID anxiety ramped up again. She called the group home, program, and case managers. Two of the people told her that Matt should be okay since he had both shots. What more could she do beyond that? Is he never allowed to see family again after everything was done in her power to prevent him from getting sick? Two of the people my mom contacted chewed her out. They said how irresponsible she was. One of them even told Matt he wasn’t going to be allowed home again which caused him distress. My mom was beside herself with worry about Matt. I tried to calm her down but I was worried myself about the ones who were already sick and what would happen next.

I was worried that my brief exposure to Dan would be enough to get me sick and then I would get Arabella sick and then she wouldn’t be able to go into residential. Or Arabella would get sick alone and spread it on to others in a hospital setting. A few days after Dan got sick, Angel got sick too. She got sick several days after I saw her last. I felt pretty confident that I didn’t get exposed from her. I felt iffy about Dan though. I did see him although we weren’t in close contact for very long at all. According to the CDC website I don’t think what we had was considered close contact but I still wasn’t sure because I saw him right before he got sick. But who knows? It’s not like I was keeping track of how far apart we were or how long he was in the room.

Thankfully I had Arabella tested for COVID right before she was admitted and it came back negative. Now it has been several days since I saw her and I still feel fine. I take my temperature everyday and I have been laying low. Everyone has been telling me I have to stop worrying about it and trust God. I’m trying but this has been really stressful. To be honest, trust wasn’t my first instinct. I felt angry. Of all times, why does this have to happen right now??

The first time my mom takes Matt out of the group home he gets exposed. Why God? Why? I sometimes wonder if my family is cursed. Arabella is healthy and everything ended up being alright. But still??!? It was horrible timing to go through a COVID scare. Plus I’ve been worried sick about Angel and Dan and his family. It’s hard knowing my daughter is sick and there is nothing I can do to help her. I’m feeling that way about both my daughters right now.

I ran over to Dan’s parents house today and dropped off some medicine, vitamins, and Gatorade. Angel is feeling a lot better already, but Dan is still pretty sick.

What a week! What a wreck it has made of me! I feel so tested.