Cautiously Optomistic

That’s how I’m feeling, cautiously optimistic. Last night there was one little scuffle of words between Bug and I but all-in-all she’s been showing improvement.

After our argument she went out. I thought she just went out to have a cigarette but when I went to get something out of my vehicle she was not there. I sent her a text reminding her that she needed to be in by 2121h (9:21pm). The early curfew was a result of her being late on Monday night.

As she left the apartment angry I wasn’t sure if she would return or not. I guess the good thing about me being the last place she can stay is that she almost has to come home eventually.

At exactly 9:21 pm my baby girl walked in the door. I thanked her for being on time to acknowledge that she made the right decision and give positive reinforcement.

We had talked earlier about her needing to take responsibility for getting herself up in the morning and being ready when it was time to leave the apartment.

This morning she was up and ready on time. What a turn around to the start of my day. I thanked her for being respectful towards my needs in this regard.

So, a good way to start our day, a positive start to the weekend. I am aware that this can change without notice and am prepared for that. I also know that she appears to be trying and is showing progress and I am hopeful.

Deep down she’s a good kid. She just needs the appropriate supports and positive reinforcements…we’ll get there. It’s just gonna take some time.



This was written October 24, 2011. I have edited it, but the message is the same.

I work very hard at forgiving others for their actions against me. A complete forgiveness should absolve them of their negative actions, right? I start to wonder about how to move forward. If they are forgiven completely, doesn’t that mean that it is erased as if it never happened? Or does it mean that the lesson is learned and you move forward based on that life lesson?

I don’t hold grudges; they are a waste of time and energy and a thief of serenity. I am also not willing to put myself in harms way. I forgive the person who took my virginity in an agonizing act of rape…but I sure as hell never saw him again. I forgave my big brother for knocking three of my teeth loose in the seventh grade…and I learned to never make him say ‘please’ again when he asked for his stuff back.

Maybe it is just that these are lessons that shape us and our path in life. Maybe once the bridge is burned, it is possible to rebuild the bridge, but it takes a lot of hard work, and time. Once a bridge is burned you can’t immediately return to the site of the fire because of the lingering smoke and potential for flare ups. You can purchase materials for the rebuild and leave them in a safe place.

If the person on the other side does not allow you to rebuild the bridge, at least you have done everything in your power to allow for the rebuild. The other person cannot complain that he no longer has a bridge if you offered to rebuild, and bought the materials. You then can have a clear conscious moving forward. It is your job at that point to move on. If you have honestly and completely come to an understanding of why and how you burned the bridge in the first place, your job is to admit the mistake and take steps to put the bridge back where it was.

I’ve been that person on the other side and there are times when there is no way in hell that the bridge burner is stepping foot on my land. Leave the damn materials on the side of the road, if I choose to use them, I will. If not, I can’t bitch that my bridge is gone forever if the material rots on the side of the road. Whatever you do, do NOT even think about trying to build that bridge without my permission…you will be shot on site.

As the bridge burner you must also be aware that I very well may use those materials to build a wall to keep you off my property forever. That is a chance you will have to take, and a very good probability that this is exactly what I will use the materials for.

As the person whose bridge was burnt, I also need to be mindful that once the materials rot there may never be the chance to rebuild that bridge…the burner may also choose to move on.

Personally, I do my best at allowing the bridges to be rebuilt. It is not uncommon though for me to post the rules for crossing the bridge at the entrance, and this helps prevent a reoccurrence.


It’s Not Easy

The tough thing with any mental illness is that you (as the patient) have to make lifestyle changes much like a diabetic patient must make dietary changes. Bug needs to learn to respect her diagnosis if she is ever going to learn to respect herself. A couple very important things she needs to consider, are sleep patterns and nutritional status.

Living with depression, I have learned that no matter how much I may want to stay up all night and visit with friends and family; I need to go to bed at a decent time. I also need to make sure that I eat a well balanced diet. I’m nearly forty and don’t always do great with that one. What I do know is that when I am undernourished or malnourished I am much more vulnerable and more likely to make poor, irrational decisions.

As an alcoholic, I have learned to respect the fact that I am as little as one drink away from disaster and need to be mindful of the situations I put myself in.

Imagine if you will: I’m tired from not getting any sleep, I skip breakfast because I over slept, I am crabby because not only am I now hungry, but still tired; my heart is hurting because I think I am not strong enough to complete the task at hand, I am lonely because I miss my boys…and along comes a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Talk about a perfect storm.

People who have not been in this situation have no idea how difficult it is to be mindful and vigilant of how extremely vulnerable I am. They have no idea how difficult it is to fight the urge to give in to the wolf…(even though every fiber of my being knows better).

Nothing is worse than having to look yourself in the eye and admit that you are so vulnerable that you are not sure if you can trust yourself. I don’t look myself in the mirror anymore…I don’t like that look I give myself…I just know. I have not done anything in almost two years to give myself a reason to think I can’t trust myself…I just know I can’t take that risk.

I have guests who have become friends over the last year and a half at work. They spend more nights at my hotel than they do at home. It is only Tuesday and already I have been invited for supper twice. An electrical company (who sent me flowers last summer because they were so impressed with my customer service) and a communications company have both asked how they can repay the great service I provide their employees. I try to explain that it is merely part of my job to remember that one of the rooms prefers poolside, one prefers the back hallway downstairs, one needs to be by an outside entrance because they are a smoker, one wants to be upstairs facing the parking lot, one prefers a king sized bed, two prefer to have two beds in case their family comes to visit…little things.

Being recognized for the awesome job I do is humbling…and difficult. These people really think I have it all together; if they only knew. This is why for now, I need to keep my distance. I am fragile, I am vulnerable. Although I do not even for one second believe these supervisors and foremen are wolves, I know I can’t take that risk.

I had a group that stayed at the hotel last fall check in last night after I left for the day. Last fall they worked in the area for about 6 weeks. Of the nine person crew they had at that time, only two of the same workers are on this seven person crew.

Today, while on their break they came to the hotel just to say hi. They asked what time I wanted my Blizzard from Dairy Queen. It was an ongoing joke last year that the only way to get off my shit list if they pissed me off was to bribe me with a Turtle Blizzard…almost a year later and they remembered. I told them it was only day TWO for them…if they were already worried about Blizzards they’d best just save up their pennies and buy me diamonds (they are staying for about three months this time).

This is me, this is what I deal with. This is hard work. The Friend, her husband, and the Photographer have all said I am the best person for the job…at this time I will choose to trust them.

Bug will be home from work soon. I have made some decisions and I have no idea how she will handle them.

The first is to implement consequences of some sort. I am looking for her to have input as this will be an opportunity for me to not only gauge her willingness, but also her abilities.

The second one is that she will come home one minute early for every minute she was late last night. So her 11:00 pm curfew just became a 9:21pm curfew the next evening she chooses to go out. This will also gauge her level of commitment to this process. I do not want to make this an ongoing consequence as she needs to learn to respect the fact that I need my sleep at night. Waiting up until well past midnight for her to return home is unacceptable.

Wish me luck…I enjoy fireworks as much as the next person…just not in my living room!

Day One

I question whether I am the one for this job I have given myself. I wonder if I am out of my league. I wonder if I do not have the appropriate safe guards and consequences in place or the support for myself to complete the task ahead of me.

As I mentioned the other day, when it comes to verbalizing understanding, Bug does well. She will agree with whatever is in front of her at the time, no matter what it is just to make the person she is talking to think she is willing or compliant.

This was her on Sunday. She agreed that change needed to happen, she agreed she was making some poor choices, she agreed that it wasn’t going to be easy, she verbalized understanding that it was her who needed to do that work.

Then we began to set rules. Curfew was the first rule we negotiated. I said 11:00pm and she said 1:00am. When I said that was unreasonable and not going to happen, she replied with, “Fine, then I just won’t go anywhere.” I told her that if she wanted to paint herself into a corner she was doing a good job. I made it clear that although I was willing to negotiate, I was not interested in dealing with attitude and by her response to her first attempt at negotiation it was obvious that she was less than mature enough to even think abut being out unsupervised. If she wanted to argue with me I was more than willing to stop right there and contact social services, the courts, her psychologist, and the hospital where she was treated in May.

I tried to make her understand that dealing with me was a lot less restrictive than living in a group home or treatment setting where she would not even be able to leave the premises for at least the first week and that she would be chaperoned by their staff when she did go out and that if their staff was not available then she would simply not have the opportunity to go anywhere.

I explained that her extremely short leash would be let out and eventually released as she proved her maturity and decision making was appropriate for her age. I don’t expect her to be perfect, I expect her to put her best effort forth. I was 18 once. I understand.

Day one…I sit her down to talk. I ask her to tell me about her boyfriend and what he does. Here is what I know so far:

  • She met him through an online dating site and he currently lives just over an hour away.
  • His job is “He has some sort of mechanic shop thing he does.”
  • He is moving to our town for her (they have known each other less than two weeks)

I said he is not a business owner if he is up an moving after knowing somebody for two weeks. I asked if she thought that was reasonable or responsible. She thought it was and claimed he can do his job from here. I told her that a mechanic cannot do his job and serve his customers from an hour away. He is 19 year old…not sure if this is a real business or if this is a kid who fixes up his friends vehicles because he can’t get a real job.

This is when the eye rolling, closed posture, and attitude started to show through. I know this is tough work. I know what it’s like to examine your life and realize you have nothing. I told her that locking herself up in her attitude was not going to do her any favors and the first part of changing was to be mindful of her reactions and emotions.

I made it clear to her that I was serious about doing some very difficult work. I told her that if she was just blowing smoke up my ass saying what she thought I wanted to hear just because she has nowhere else to stay, it would not take long for me to figure her out and I am not interested in playing along.

She asked if she could go hang out with a new friend she met at work. I said yes, after the dishes were done. That was one of the two chores she agreed to be responsible for. She did do the dishes although at first she was complaining and I told her the running negative commentary was not only unnecessary it was unwelcome.

About twenty minutes later she said she was leaving. I said she was expected to put the dishes away. She claimed they weren’t yet dry and she would do it when she got home. I let her know that dish towels do a wonderful job of drying things and it would be done before she left.

So far, so good…right?

Then came curfew…

As I struggled with how to deal with her being late…do I call, do I text? Does she get a chance? I was pissed.

I tried to call…no answer. I texted her…no response. I sent her a message on Facebook…nothing.

I know I can’t lock the door because she will simply stand in the hallway and knock until she wakes up the neighbors. I think about leaving a note on the door, leaving her things in the hallway…I was pissed…

I let her in when she finally gets home…1 hour and 39 minutes late. I am fed two different bullshit excuses to which I answer that although she may be fine not sleeping at night I NEED my fucking sleep and besides that SHE AGREED to the curfew.

She starts to apologize and I tell her to not bother…her words obviously mean nothing to her, why should I accept them. I’m not going to waste my time listening to her lie to me…she only digs herself a deeper hole and it’s only going to cause more issues in the long run.

So, I’m back at work this morning. Extremely tired as I didn’t get very much sleep, which also means I am damned crabby.

I cannot save my daughter if she is not willing to save herself.

Step One

This is not going to happen over night.

The first thing Miss Bug gets to do tonight after work is to come clean with all the relevant information regarding her latest boyfriend. She has told several stories to several people and I have made it clear that I don’t care what stories she tells to anybody, she needs to be honest with me.

We are also going to be going through her Facebook tonight. I made it clear that when she makes her entire life a public target people are going to take aim. Those are not the people she needs involved with her life.

I am not going so far to say she needs a complete Facebook lockdown, only that she needs to scale back the information that is available to her 711 ‘friends.’ While I would like to do a complete Facebook lock down, that is a little much at this stage. I understand that.

I am not trying to set her up to fail, I am only interested in setting her up for complete success. I received a message this morning from somebody who knows the job I have in front of me and I was told that I am the best person for the job. I love to get that pat on the back.

The Pastor from our church is doing some searching in helping to find her a mentor. I’m looking for somebody along the lines as an AA type sponsor…a Faith Mentor if you will. The more I work through the figuring out what she needs, I find it to be very much like a twelve step program at this time.

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over our problems and behaviors and that our lives had become unmanageable.

For me…the keyword in the above sentence is WERE. We WERE powerless. That still allows us to have hope that we ARE able to gain power and control. This is where I need to start with Bug. Until she understands that she WAS powerless and that it is her job to take the power back, I am fighting a losing battle.

Admitting is hard. Especially as an egotistical, narcissistic teenager. Admitting is also where the fight becomes a journey.

Last night we worked on a spending plan, a meal plan, and some house rules. These are easy on the surface, not so easy when it changes your life style.

She can do this. I know she can. I know the strength and will that lives deep within this child of mine. As I often tell people, “She is so much like her mother that it hurts.” She is also her own person. I think that will be my biggest challenge, allowing her to retain that individuality while taming the beast.

Wish me luck, pray for strength. I’m gonna need it.

Tough Love

Today was intervention day for Bug. I am fortunate in the fact that she is not destroying her life on alcohol or illegal drugs. The tough love to get a young adult through the difficult phase of typical 18 year old rebellion exacerbated by mental illness is exhausting/rewarding.

She will be staying at my apartment at least during the work week. I have made it extremely clear that she is the one who has to do the work, all I can do is guide her and hold her accountable. For the most part, I am one of the very few people who can do this.

I have also made it clear that until she shows progress she will be on an extremely short leash for her own well being. Although she acknowledged understanding of this concept, I understand that until she actually has to face the music she won’t get it. I also understand that the first few times are not going to be easy on either of us.

She has a ton of work ahead of her. Because of the work she has to do, this also means I have my work cut out for me. It will take a huge commitment on my part to make this work.

I told her that every day we will be spending time going over behavior work and life style changes. I know it’s not going to be easy on her. I have reached out to our Pastor to help find a female mentor with the church to help her find her center again. I cannot do this all on my own.

After reading what I’ve written I need to clarify that that I am nowhere near as confident in my abilities as this post makes me sound. I am very aware that I am fighting an up hill battle and that she may slip…I need to set my own boundaries (which I’ve done extremely well with).

Wish me luck, say a prayer for my girl…I’m her last chance right now.

An Open Letter to My Daughter

I don’t even know how to explain this one…not here, in words; not to my heart. It’s just not an option.

Oh hell my heart…

Dear Miss Bug,

If I didn’t believe in my heart of hearts that you are going to be okay, eventually…this would kill me. You are young. You can get through this…you WILL get through this.

PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder; they are mere labels placed upon you to enable the medical community to care best for you. They do NOT define you. YOU are a smart young woman.

Please allow those around you to support your good decisions and to question your questionable ones. That’s our job. Do not push away those who care. The negative ones who cause or feed drama just to watch the aftermath; ignore them. They are not worth your time, your energy, your sanity, your inner peace.

Understand that the rules in place now that I am enforcing are MUCH harder to enforce than I make it look. While I tell you that you cannot stay with me, it is with a heavy heart. My heart aches to watch you walk the path you are on.

I know how you feel kid…twenty years ago, I was you. I was in almost the exact same shoes. The difference is, I allowed myself to make decisions out of desperation and fear.

You deserve better. Do not allow fear to prevent you from doing what you know is right. Being alone sucks, being with somebody who leaves you lonely…even worse.

Stand up to your fears…what is the WORST case scenario…seriously. Figure those things out. Figure them out on your terms.

I love you more than Nutella, Skittles, playoff hockey, and Little Debbie Swiss Rolls combined…seriously.

As I told you in the message I sent you last night, “I do love you Miss B and that will never change. I’ve been where you are. SLOW DOWN. I know, easier said than done when you are hurting and lonely and only want somebody to love you…that is not love though. You need to love God first and then yourself. You need to turn your will and your life over to the care and control of God and trust that He knows what He is doing.”

Spend your time in prayer little girl. Study the Bible, allow it to bring you peace. If you need guidance finding scriptures that fit your situation call Pastor Jeff. Call your photographer (she’s awesome at this kind of thing). Pray for peace, courage, and wisdom.

TAKE NOTES. When you find a piece of scripture that speaks to your heart, write it down. Carry it with you, in your phone, your iPod, your damn pocket on a napkin of Bubba and Bum’s snot if you have to.

Spend time in thoughtful prayer. Pray for yourself, for your family, for your friends, for your enemies. Your brothers both love it when people encourage their faith; pray with them. Teach them how to talk to God, how to walk with God.

FORGIVE those who have hurt you. Holding on to the pain is not hurting them, it is only holding you back, weighing you down. Remember, when you choose to forgive you are not granting them freedom, you are reclaiming yours.

Never forget that you are worth the effort people put in to helping you to live a happy and full life. You are young. If people are willing to put the effort out, ALLOW THEM. Do not push away those are trying to and can help. Although the easy path is filled with people who are more than willing to lead you astray, don’t take the short cut. Trust me, it’s not worth it.

You’ve seen the hard work that goes in to walking the high road…guess what, the scenery over here is amazing. The sites, the sounds, the experiences; you cannot get this on Easy Street.

Lean on me, my girl. That’s what my shoulders are here for. I’m a big girl, I can take it. I can also hold you accountable…and will continue to do so; and will do it out of love.

Take Care Miss Bug, I’m right here.