Monday, February 17, 2014

Do I love him enough to not be a revolving door(mat)?

 "He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.  He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along."  Psalm 40:2  NLT

Will homelessness be his low point? 

Do I get out of the way so he can hit bottom?  
Is death his bottom?
We all want to help our child be as successful as possible and will help nudge them along as they grow up.  What do you do when your child grows up physically, but their illness has caused them to not grow up emotionally?  You want to help them without being a crutch.  It's a constant balancing act where at any moment you could tip the scale in the wrong direction.

I've lost track of the number of times I thought David had hit bottom. 

Between his diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder, and Addictions there were numerous times that I thought he was ready to be lifted out of the pit.  

As a mom, I was torn between giving David what he needed for today and hoping that he would get to a point where he could consistently provide for himself.  I wondered if his illness had taken over too much because there were many days when all I could see was the illness in the forefront and my son trying to break through that illness.  I wanted to help, but didn't know if he was ready for that help or even thought he needed help.  

I even questioned if he was he beyond help?  I knew several people who had a mental health diagnosis that were living and even thriving in spite of their disorder.  I admired them and looked to them for insight.  However, just like cancer, there are stages and forms that are more or less severe.  For various reasons David's diagnosis was one of those that the odds were stacked against him.

Friends would tell me that this time he surely had hit bottom and he was ready to accept help.  Surely this was his low and he’d be crying out to God for help.  Surely he would start down the road to recovery.  I had my doubts though. 

Will this be the time?  Will it be fleeting like so many times in the past.

Will this almost overdose be his wake up call?  Nope

Will this involuntary commitment to a mental health facility do it?  Nope

Will jail do it?  Nope

Will fleeing the country do it?  Nope

Will living in a tent do it?  Nope

Will his self-inflicted wounds cause him to seek help?  Nope

All of this and so much more had occurred when he asked me this question.

“Mom, It’s getting cold and I can’t stay at my friends anymore.  Do you want me to be homeless?”  (translation:  Can I come back home?)  How is a mom supposed to answer that one? He had put me on the spot and tugged at my heart all at the same time.  

What was I supposed to do? I couldn't trust him to be in our home.  I needed to set boundaries without making it sound like I was rejecting him.  We had been down this revolving door road several times before and it wasn't good for him or the family.    There’s no easy way to say to your child those types of things without them feeling hurt.  I loved him so much and just wanted to save him from this illness that had taken most of him away from all those that loved and knew him.  If only there was an easy answer.  I paused, prayed silently to myself, and then responded with an “Of course not, but this is your choice.”  As the words came out of my mouth I thought, “Where did that come from?” followed by “Thank You Lord.”  This followed with a discussion of his viable options that I already knew he wasn't going to do.  My heart sank and I clung to God for peace about this decision to love David enough to not be a doormat.

Was this going to be his low?  Maybe

He did indeed become homeless wandering the parks of a mid-sized city.  He eventually hit bottom.  Then he was committed to a mental health facility, followed by a half-way house.

Had he hit bottom?  I think so

When we have to watch our child hit bottom so that God can lift them out of the pit it is so painful to watch.  It is sometimes so hard to get out of the way for God to do His work in their life.  We want to "fix" the situation or worse yet "fix" our child.  Are we really fixing anything or anyone though?  

We just want to protect them. 

We see so many of their hopes and dreams gone

We grieve for all that they have already lost and will lose.

We cry for them. 

We only want what’s best, but when they have to go into the pit and sink in a bit in order for God to get their attention, it’s almost too much to bear.  

That is when our faith can really be tested and fervent prayer for discernment is really needed.

Prayer:  Lord, Help me know when to protect and when to let my child fall.  Help me to focus on the end game rather than the circumstances of the day.  Lastly, help me to be at peace and rely on you through it all.

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  1. (((hugs)))) As we raise 3 special needs kids here, we are learning lessons and using past experiences to hopefully help the kids along. I've been the homeless single mom in a shelter, and fight tooth and nail to make sure that never happens again. Hubby has seen the homeless, the person with the BPD, the other mental health disorders while working as a psychiatric RN and seen how some had to hit bottom homeless and committed to a hospital. In time we'll face those decisions--how far will we go, and where do we stop.... Thank you for this article.

  2. You are so welcome Angie. Thank you for sharing your heart and previous struggle with homelessness too. Many hugs and blessings to you and your family.
    For His Glory,

  3. Such an "impossible" situation, and we hold on to God knowing that He is the God of possibilities, even when all else seems impossible. Will be keeping you in my prayers! (Funny, in my writing for tomorrow, I'm talking about the fine line we walk...when do we let them fall? When do we rescue?

  4. Tammie, It's good to get different perspectives on the whole letting fall vs. rescue. I look forward to reading your blog. David is our son that ultimately lost his battle with mental illness and passed away three years ago. Some of my earlier blogs talk about that.