Thursday, March 4, 2010

On Lenten Promises and Broken Hearts …

I said, in my post about Ash Wednesday, that Topher dropped a bomb on me and that I couldn't blog about it.  Today, he gave me permission to drop it on my readers.  This morning he said I should let it out, that he no longer wants to hide, that getting things out in the open is the only way to heal.
Actually, after last night (described below), I texted him this morning asking if I could blog about it ... he texted back "Idc" ... those three letters mean a lot, though.
What follows is what broke my heart.  You've been warned.

It started innocently enough.  It was Monday before Ash Wednesday, and I was talking to all the kids about Lent.  Topher, being new to the house, had no idea of the meanings behind Easter, let alone Lent.  We talked about the desert.  We talked about Traditions.  I said that as an adult, I try to use Lent as a time to do some introspection.  I try to find something about my life that needs changing and take the action to change.  It may be giving something up, it may be doing something positive.  I said that as my kids move towards adulthood, I ask them to do the same.  I explained that at 13 he was still young, and that I couldn’t and wouldn’t force this practice on any of my kids, let alone on him.
Then I said “Good Night!”, left his room, and started towards bed.
He walked out behind me:
“Pops, I think I know what I’d like to give up for Lent.” (Dayam … what was that … 30 seconds of introspection?!?)
“OK.  You want to share?”
“Yeah.  I think I’m going to give up cutting myself.”
I swear, my head must have spun around in place about 3 times, and my world exploded.  In the calmest voice I could manage, I eeked: “You cut yourself?”  I’m sure my voice squeaked at the end … I was having a hard time holding it together.
“Yeah.  When I was at home I used to lock myself in my room and sit in the corner.  I’d re-arrange the furniture so I’d be in a small space and just sit there.  Sometimes I’d cut myself.  I think I want to stop that.”
eek: “That’d be great, kiddo.  That’s a wonderful thing to give up.  Let’s discuss it tomorrow, OK?”.
I then proceeded to my room and cried for more than an hour.  How could this be going on?  Did nobody in the past care about this kid?  I swore the cycle of hurt would stop if I could possibly manage it.  I started googling like mad, trying to find an easy answer.  There isn’t one.  Most people don’t get it … but I do.  I’ve hurt so much that it felt good to punch a tree or a brick wall.  I’ve cried so hard I wished I could have cried blood.  Like I said after Ash Wednesday, it’s an external manifestation of internal turmoil.  And that’s what everything I read said.  The scary part is they phrased it differently.
They said: It’s a Symptom.
In all probability, there is a deeper hurt there, something he’s not ready to talk about.  I’m sure I’ll learn about it, but it’s going to take time, and healing, and more time.  I’m going crazy trying to get my name on his medical plan (state red-tape) so I can get this young man some counseling. In the meantime, life keeps coming.
He told me this last Monday that he hadn’t been totally successful.  Apparently Sunday night was a bad night (he’s having girl problems).  When he showed me the cuts, it was with the phrase “You’re going to be really pissed at me”.  I amazed him (and myself) by remaining calm.  Hugging him.  Telling him that I was proud of him for trusting me and that I would never, ever be mad at him for being open and honest with me.  It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as a parent. 
Last night I was talking to a friend, filling them in on everything going on, and Topher walked out.  He said “Be sure and tell her about this weekend … about Sunday Night, and what I told you Monday” … I asked if he was sure … that’s when he said he was tired of keeping it a secret, that it wouldn’t get better unless it was out in the open.
I was, and am, one proud parent.
Final note:  Monday, when he was sure it was OK, he showed me his journal.  He’s writing down his feelings, trying to find another, less destructive, outlet.  When I asked why, he said he liked to write.  Then he mumbled something about it working for me, so it should work for him.

I knew my blog was becoming key to my survival.  I couldn’t have imagined it was setting an example and becoming key to his!

        aka: goofdad


goofdad said...

After posting this, I got a call from the Dean of Students at Topher's school. It seems he is making a clean go of this, and told the Dean as well. He immediately called me, thinking I didn't know.

Wow ... such big steps ...

I'm one scared dad.

Dellilah said...

It still makes me sad that Topher can feel that badly inside, but I'm so proud of him for taking the steps to move forward, and overcome his cutting. I know its going to be hard for him (not to mention the family), but with a family as loving and supportive as yours he will do great.

Eric said...

My 14YO is going through things that concern us. I don't believe it goes as far as hurting himself. He said that he wants too, but he promised us that he wouldn't.

I'm very proud of Topher and I will be praying for him as well. As well as your entire household.

goofdad said...

Thanks for the prayers. I will keep you and yours in my prayers as well.

Erika said...

I am praying for Topher so much, I know he will make it through this because he is so strong and has such a wonderful loving family to support him. I can empathize with that deep kind of pain too. You are such an awesome family and I'm so glad that I have the chance to get to know you all. Gentle Blessings Topher

S. K. said...

Dude, whatever you do,you're teaching. Whyinell do you think I didn't lie about your ages to get you into movies or restaurant cheap? Because I'm virtuous? not so much, actually.