Tomorrow morning Emma is starting her first day of high school. After all the work she has done to get this far, I should be excited and happy for her. I am happy that she feels strong enough to go back to public school. I know she needs this. I know she is ready.
But am I ready? No! I’ve had her home with us since June and before that she was safe in treatment. I am not ready to just throw her back into the world. I am scared because I am not going to be there to protect her and help her when she is not making the best choices.
Everyone keeps telling me that she needs this, she needs to be at school so she can make friends, she needs to be able to make mistakes. But those same people aren’t the ones that have been up at all hours of the night to make sure she is still breathing. They aren’t making themselves sick with the ‘what ifs’. They aren’t the ones that have seen her bawling on the floor saying she doesn’t want to live because she has no one. Or finding her with fresh cuts on her body and having to go through yet another treatment.
I know she needs to be around people her age. I know that I need to let her go enough to socialize and have a high school experience. But this is one more hurdle that I don’t know if I am ready to jump over.
I just pray that she is going to find friends that will be there for her and not turn their backs on her or tempt her to fall back into her addiction. I pray that I can survive the next 4 years and LET her be a high schooler. I know she deserves the chance to prove she’s changed, and to be her own person.
Part of me is worried, so very worried for her. But the other part of me sees how hard she has worked and how proud she is, of the progress she’s made and I know deep down this is what is best for her.
If you happen to see her around the neighborhood just give her a quick hello and let her know she has a support system built in here.
To the mom that is bearing her soul to those on her social media, because she doesn’t have friends or family she can comfortably confide in because she has trust issues from being hurt so many times. I see you!!
To the mom at the pool on her phone checking her texts or checking her social media for 5 minutes, because this is the only time your pre-teen or teen kids have left you alone for 5 minutes in days. I see you!!
To the mom that takes the extra 5 minutes in the car with the music blaring, because you just got a text from your husband that your kids are arguing… again. I see you!!
To the mom that feels like she is a failure, because your daughter had to spend 3 months in rehab. I see you!!
To the mom that is afraid her kids will leave her, because she disciplined them or said no. I see you!!
To the mom that watches TikTok and says I can relate to that so much but is too afraid of posting it in her own words, because she will be judged. I see you!!
To the mom that says ‘yes’ to everyone but herself, because she is a people pleaser and saying ‘yes’ is the only way people will like her. I see you!!!
To the mom that craves ‘date night’ consisting of dinner and talking with her husband but doesn’t, because she fears rejection. I see you!!
To the mom that is afraid of letting your teen age daughter stay with anyone except you and your husband, because you are afraid of her relapsing and no one else knowing how to handle it. I see you!!
To the mom that has an illness that no one can visibly see and is told constantly that ‘you’re fine’ or it’s made out like it’s no big deal because someone else has the ‘same’ illness. I see you!!
To the mom that has an medical condition that affects her memory because her ex-husband used her head as a punching bag. I see you!!
To the mom that just wants to be heard have their feelings validated but won’t stand up for herself out of fear of being alone. I see you!!
To the mom that feels so overwhelmed and anxious but has made it a point to start therapy, because you finally decided you can’t do this alone and want to show your kids it’s ok to need therapy. I see you!
To the mom that fears posting this will bring judgement, but posting anyway because it may help just ONE mom feel like she’s not alone. I see you!!
I know everyone has been anxiously awaiting an update on our sweet Emma! I am happy to report she is doing AMAZING!!!
Mark and I have had 2 visitations at the residential home. The first one was a little awkward, trying to navigate all the rules and regulations. But once we got past all of that, it was a great visit. She was so eager to tell us about everything. Her grades have drastically improved! She went from failing every single class to now making A’s & B’s! She has not gotten below an 80 on any of her quizzes/tests! It warmed my heart to see her so confident. Responsibility has never been her strong suit, as I have pretty much done everything for all 3 kids since the day they were born. But, she now gets up at 5am every morning, showers, sweeps & mops her floor in her room, and gets ready for school. Along with that, she does her own laundry twice a week & even deep cleans her room. One thing she told me was that I’d be so proud, because she cleans it the way I would. She also is responsible for doing other chores at the home and seems so proud of her hard work.
The second visit was a little different. We had to pick her up the morning of the visit as she had an orthodontist appointment. So we were able to spend most of the morning/early afternoon with her. It was a little tough dropping her back off, because she wanted to go back but also wanted to spend more time with us. Thankfully we had visitation that evening. When we saw her we already could tell she was not as happy as she was earlier. She was struggling being back. So we took that time to reassure her that we are so proud of her for working so hard to accomplish her goals and ‘phasing up’ (which they have to do to be able to come home at their 90 day time). She has already phased up to Level 3. This time she had to write and read an essay in front of the staff. She said she was terrified… BUT she did it!!! By the time the visit ended she was in better spirits.
Along with visitation every other Thursday, she is able to call home once a week for 20 minutes. We look forward to this call each week because we get to hear about all of the wonderful things she is accomplishing.
Today’s call was AWESOME!!! I have not heard her genuinely laughing, (you know that cackling, belly laugh that she does) in so long! It made my heart do cartwheels! Her schooling is improving even more, they had and ‘Ice Cream Social’ that she was so hyped about – she said she even danced, the other girls taught her a few dances, she gets along so well with the staff. I could hear her laughing and joking around with her counselor (who has to be present with every phone call). She has always had a way of bonding with the adults in her life and everyone LOVES her! The director at the home pulled us aside after the first visitation and told us that Emma is awesome and she is one of his favorites. The way she just creates happiness wherever she goes makes my mom-heart smile. I just hope and pray that she now sees what we see when we are all around her. One of the best things I have seen from this time away is, Emma is starting to LOVE EMMA!
Here is a synopsis of the phone call that changed our family FOREVER!
Hello, Mrs. Third. Can you come to the school? Emma was turned in for vaping in the courtyard so we had to search her belongings. We did not find a vape on her, however, we found something more disturbing. We found a ziploc bag of pills in her backpack.
At first, the school thought they were Emma’s pills. But eventually after speaking with me, got to the bottom of the fact that she got them from a ‘friend’. You see, the night before this phone call Emma refused to come home from school. Instead of forcing her to come home, we chose to allow her to stay with her friend for the night. While some may see this as a bad decision, I think this choice was a good one. Because it led to where we are right now. I always say “Everything happens for a reason”.
When we got to the school to pick her up she was disrespectful & non caring towards dad and I. She had this ‘I don’t care what you say or think’ attitude. At one point Mark asked for her phone, she then looked at him in disgust and said ‘Uhm, why?’ To this one of the counselors that walked to the office with her took the reigns of explaining to her that she didn’t deserve to have her phone at that point because of the choices she was making. She complied with his request, reluctantly. Once we got the go ahead we left the school with Emma.
During our family therapy session that Wednesday… We found out that she had been using Ibuprofen, my seizure meds, etc to snort to get a *high*. Madisyn told us that she actually witnessed this while she, Emma and Emma’s friend were hanging out in our neighborhood. Emma blew up at her during therapy and Madisyn broke down saying she just wanted her sister to live and not hurt herself.
When we arrived home from the school, she was not happy that we were upset with her. So much so, that she decided she was going to run away. We were informed by the School Resource Officer if she did this to call the non emergency line and have an officer come out and take a report. So we did exactly this. But by the time the police arrived she had came back home. They took a report and talked to Emma anyway.
Mark and I decided that we would start going through her room, this was the last straw for us. She had ‘drugs’ on her at school and was possibly facing expulsion and because she now has a history (what we thought was a 1 time thing) of actually using pills. As we were going through her room we came across a make up container & 2 other containers FULL of powder, but it wasn’t make up. It was crushed up pills! We also found a whole ‘cutting/snorting kit’, marijuana vape cartridges, & 3 vapes. Because I have allergies to different medications (even to the touch), we decided to call the non emergency number again to file a report and have the stuff destroyed.
This time when she spoke to the police they spoke outside, she told the officer that she didn’t want to ‘go out like her bio father’. She wanted to ‘go out’ like his mom, and that was an intentional overdose. She told them she intended to line up ALL of the powder and snort it at once. So they Baker Acted her. This was her 5th Baker Act.
She was at the facility for 5 days. They wanted to release her sooner, but we fought for her to stay there while we worked on getting a treatment plan in place for when she was released. Prior to her release the doctor had contacted us about getting her into a residential treatment facility. [If you know our family, you know that we have been looking for a residential facility for suicide attempts for her for about a year now. There had been no help with that. Financial or otherwise. The least expensive facility that we had found was $10,000 a MONTH out of pocket.] When the doctor recommended residential treatment, we were devastated, because we knew this but haven’t been able to get that help. However, because there is now drug use, and Emma informed us that it’s been going on for 5+ months, there is hope.
We were told to contact a facility we haven’t contacted. I made that phone call, halfway thinking I’d get the same news, about the cost. But when the lady told me that they work with payment plans and it’s a ‘pay what you can, when you can’ because they are there to help place. I broke down! I just cried, I apologized to the lady, but told her that she just didn’t know what it meant to us to hear that we were going to get the help our daughter needs! This is why I said ‘Everything happens for a reason’. The facility is 100% voluntary, so Emma had to agree to go.
When we spoke to Emma, she took that first step! She agreed to go. She admitted she needed help and couldn’t do it on her own or at home anymore. So we picked her up from the first facility (because we had to transport her to the rehab facility on the 8th). We spent the evening together and let her know how proud of her we are.
On the 8th, Mark and I took her to begin her treatment. We toured a little bit of the facility and are pleased with the set up. The staff members were very welcoming and helpful and reassuring. We spent a while doing all the necessary paperwork, etc. When it was time for Mark and I to leave, Emma was so strong. I kept telling her how proud of her that I am and she is going to come out of this so much stronger and healthier. She didn’t cry. I didn’t cry. I didn’t want to cause her any emotional stress.
This was the hardest and most sickening decision we have ever made as parents. Being away from my daughter is going to be debilitating! I know this is what is best for her in the long run, but without her being home for a minimum of 90 days is going to be the toughest thing I have ever had to go through as a mom. I love my daughter with my whole heart and I want to see her go to high school, graduate, go to college, live out her dreams.
In closing, don’t take one day with your kids for granted! Please be mindful & kind to others. You may think that you know what they are going through, but unless you have lived it, you have no idea. If you used to see a lot of a friend, and you don’t anymore, reach out to them… They could be dealing with more than you know but don’t want to burden you with their problems. Especially your mom friends, you know we all try to keep it together for fear of being judged! Well I am here to tell you, this MOM is falling apart! This mom is without one of her kids at home, there is no cure for this illness that my daughter is suffering from. She will always suffer from this, but with therapy and support she can be a survivor instead of a statistic!
*I did ask my daughter if I could share her story, and she is okay with it.