“She said to go ahead and feel the feelings. I did. They felt like shit.” — Anne Lamott
My sister called. As soon as I heard her voice, I thought of the Coldplay song Every Tear Drop Is A Waterfall.
For her – it is.
She was crying.
She had just come from the hospital. Her 14-year-old son has been sectioned (5150′d) and is in psychiatric lock-down. He has been there since he was brought to the ER with a blood alcohol level of Near Death.
She had to sit in a room with her sociopathic ex-husband-who-is-a-physician, and the psychiatrist.
I don’t say this about many people, but in my professional opinion – okay, in my unprofessional and biased one – her ex-husband is probably evil. There is something not right about him and it scares me for her.
The first time I recognized that things were gravely amiss was years ago when I was staying with them and they were arguing, so I suggested maybe they could go see a couple’s counselor to sort out their problems.
Looking at my sister he said, matter-of-factly, “O.J. Simpson sorted out his marital problems – he chopped Nicole up into a million tiny pieces.”
It sent a chill down my spine, but what sent an even bigger chill down my spine was the goofy, “Oh, honey,” smile plastered across my sister’s face. In retrospect, I now think she was exhibiting symptoms of being an emotionally abused spouse. She was pregnant then with her youngest son, the one who’s in the psychiatric ward now. Her smile was a symptom of uber-denial, an inappropriate response to public, verbal abuse which is right on par with what you’d expect from an abused spouse. I didn’t know it then, and I was living far away from my sister for five years in Europe, visiting them for Christmas.
I checked into a hotel that night, and never stayed with them again.
At the hospital, the psychiatrist told them that their child had had a plan to kill himself.
He was going to buy a gun, he said.
Had Has the whole thing planned.
My sister was heave-crying when she told me this. A waterfall.
If someone told me that my child had a plan to kill themselves, I don’t think I would even be able to stand upright, to speak.
She told the psychiatrist that her son would not have to buy a gun because her ex-husband has five of them right in his house – two hand guns and three rifles. And a taser. He could just get the gun from his father.
I can get my head around the idea of a hunter owning rifles but what kind of person owns two hand guns and a taser? Is that normal parental behavior in your world? Because it sure-as-shit is not normal in mine.
The ex-husband told the psychiatrist not to worry, that the guns are all locked up.
This is the same man who had a garbage-can-sized vat of homemade plum wine in his backyard, just outside his teenaged sons’ bedroom windows, because he is probably an alcoholic. No wonder her two younger sons prefer to stay at his house – all they have to do is dip a cup into the vat, scoop it up, knock it back, and get bombed right there in the comfort of their dad’s house. There is zero supervision there, zero, and my sister can do nothing because she only has half-custody. One time she went over there to put a stop to it and he called the police and told them she is “bipolar and crazy,” that he thought she would harm him. The police came and she had to leave. (My sister has her flaws, but she is not bipolar or crazy as far as I know.)
The last time she went over there trying to get her youngest, the ex-husband told her that her son doesn’t love her anymore and is not going to her house ever again.
Then he smiled and slammed the door in her face - hard.
Their oldest son was standing beside her when he did this. He basically slammed the door on him, too.
Their middle son was standing inside the door beside his father, glaring at her, participating in the abuse. It is a nightmare. Her middle son is mad at her for calling the principal of his brother’s school and alerting him that her son has a drinking problem. He is mad at her for putting his oldest brother in rehab. He is mad at her because his father has brainwashed him.
She has half-custody, so she has tried calling the Sheriff’s department to come get the boys when it’s her time to have them – but who wants to do this? What parent wants to bring their children by police-escort, by force, to their house?
She is powerless, powerless.
Her ex-husband is a man who has taken the Hypocratic Oath to never harm anyone, yet he buys his 14 and 16-year-old sons cartons of cigarettes.
Thankfully, he has just been ordered by the court to stop.
He is a man who took my sister’s three sons to Costa Rica when they were 12, 14, and 18 and let them drink shots of rum in a hot tub, until the youngest one passed out and had to be carried back to his room by his father (did I tell you that he was twelve when this happened?)
This is a man who calls his sons prisses if they don’t have girlfriends. Who repeatedly tells them their mother is a ‘crazy fuck.’ Who has asked his sons if they are ‘faggots.’ A man who, instead of taking them to therapy, takes them shooting. Who sic’d his hunting dog on my sister’s cat – which then died on her lawn. Who keeps her sons four extra days over his allotted time when she has spent money she doesn’t have to reserve a lake house so they can have their annual summer vacation. A man who believes, apparently, that the end of the world is coming. Who now wants to enroll his youngest son in military boarding school. Boy, does military boarding school sound like just the solution for this child! That will whip him into shape! Sure!
Yeah, right. That gun cabinet is secure.
My sister’s kids are safe.
When her son gets out of psychiatric lock-down, if he returns to his father’s care, I believe, as does my sister, that there is a high likelihood this child will complete his intention and may kill himself. He needs an intervention and he needs it now. My sister knows this but her ex-husband is in fucking la-la land. She is running as fast as she can trying to get people to help her but everything, it seems, costs money, and takes time, and being in the family court system in her neck of the woods is like getting abused all over again.
So she went to visiting hours at the hospital. She didn’t know if her son would even agree to see her or not – he is that brainwashed.
But he did agree to see her.
My sister is a loving parent, as loving as I am, only she has a whole lot of extra shit going on in her life with an ex-husband that would put most of us either in jail (for aggravated assault probably, with intent to commit murder) or in the loony bin. She has been diagnosed with PTSD. This shit has been going on non-stop since they got divorced 11 or so years ago. She lost her job (who wouldn’t?) because she has a single purpose – saving her children – that consumes her. She may lose her beautiful Martha-Stewart-like home because he keeps hauling her into court and suing for custody, to toy with her and drain her finances – and she keeps fighting back, fighting for her sons even though she doesn’t have anymore money and they act like they don’t even want to know her.
So she went in to the hospital for visiting hours.
And you know what her 14-year-old said to her?
He called her a crazy fuck.
I wonder where he got that from?
I told her to just see him like he’s possessed – Linda Blair in The Exorcist. It isn’t really him, it’s the dis-ease talking.
She knows that her son is brainwashed by his father, is now suicidal, and is at age 14 a serious alcoholic, so that’s why he called her names. Even though she knew this, she still had to choke back tears as she sat in front of him looking at all the hate in his eyes. She had to be there for him even though I’m sure her heart was breaking into a million little pieces every second she sat there with him.
This is motherhood at its fiercest.
She is not giving up on him.
She is suing for full custody. The hearing is at the end of the month. She is also petitioning the courts to release the inheritance of $100k that he will receive on his 18th birthday so that she can fund the therapy he so desperately needs – or find a therapeutic boarding school for addicted teens (if you know of a good one, please email me). This kid needs around-the-clock supervision and help – and he needs it yesterday or we are going to lose him.
If my sister loses this case and the half-custody arrangement continues, we don’t know what will become of her two sons.
She has rescued her oldest, who now has a year-and-a-half of sobriety. He lives with her and does not have contact with his father. He doesn’t talk much anymore. All he can do now is spend all day every day sitting in AA meetings, where he feels safe. I told her that’s probably a good thing – that he’s addicted to sobriety, and he’s sitting there spongeing up recovery and not doing any talking, just listening. Re-learning things. I told her to give it time.
She enrolled him in a rowing course on the lake – to get him outside and into the fresh air. He didn’t want to go but she convinced him to try it just once. He went, and and he loved it. So now in between AA meetings, he rows.
I told her that’s some awesome mothering.
Progress, not perfection.
You might also like...
The Sociopath Next Door
Ghost of Christmas Past
Dankeschön, Dad! 10 for My Alcoholic Dad
10 Things I Wish I Could Delete About My Alcoholic Mom
My Mother’s Body