Monday, July 27, 2015

that face

It was the same look on his face. The same look that she makes at me when I catch her off guard, and she knows I see the hurt and the self-loathing. A slight tilt to the head, and a huge grin-- but with the saddest eyes you've ever seen. A practiced look that disarms most people and allows you to regain control of the situation, if only because your smile told the other person you're fine. Except you're not. And I am not most people...

I knew things were falling apart again. He called me Monday night to tell me he'd given his girlfriend my number. "Just tell her how I get. Help her feel better." She called me first thing Tuesday morning, concerned he was drinking again. He was. His friends were concerned. None of us knew how to really help. GF started researching. We talked a couple times a day. I waited to go see him; if I went too early, he could feel threatened and I didn't want that situation (for either of us). Friday morning I got a text from his buddy: come get him. So I did. I didn't tell him I was coming, until I got to the shop and he was out with another friend. We gathered his things, squished all we could into my new car (with decidedly less storage space than the old mini) and headed North. She convinced him to go to medical detox-- she's worried about his health-- for which I was incredibly thankful; I don't have the medical knowledge to help him sober up safely, and I couldn't bring him to my house and have my kids and husband go through it as well. I got him registered (a long process, it turns out), only a little bit worried we were taking unnecessarily extreme measures. I knew I couldn't bring him home, and there was no where else he could go--M&D have moved West in their retirement, and both our sisters left New England when they went to college. His GF is in the Northwest (where he is headed this fall). Medical detox bought us time, and ensured his safety.

As I headed back home, it was that look he gave me that said it all. I've been on the front lines with her eating disorder for a year and a half now. It's as destructive as any addiction; there are strong parallels between her story and why she stopped ingesting and his inability to stop ingesting. I've also worked with many kids over the years struggling with one thing or another: I long ago stopped listening to what they say and what they are not saying. Body language tells me more than words, and silence speaks volumes. And that face-- that look, with forced smile and heartbroken eyes-- was when I knew gathering him up and getting him admitted was the only course of action available to me.

I'm not trained in any of this-- not yet, anyway. But I know I have to make decisions that I can live with no matter what the future brings. Neither of them have to like the choices I make, and frankly, they can tell me no at anytime, but they can't control what I do or don't do. Waiting to get him was the right thing, regardless of what his friends may or may not think. Bringing him to the hospital was the right thing, regardless of the guilt I feel not bringing him into my home. Giving her food is the right thing, regardless of whether or not she chooses to eat it.

I don't know what the future will bring: I am prepared for a wide range of outcomes, for both of them. I do know I will continue to love them, and support them to the best of my abilities in the choices they make. It's complicated to love someone who is addicted to something, but so incredibly important to do so: that face they make should be all the proof you need.

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