Halfway Down The Stairs

I’ve wanted to write this post for the last three days, but the fibro-flare that I had been holding off through sheer force of will beat me to it. As I sat in front of my computer, my eyes continuously closed against my every effort to stay awake; everything hurt, and I couldn’t lift my arms because my shoulders were screaming. I took some tramadol, which did nothing. These are the days that I break out the TENS unit. I don’t need it all the time, but when I do need it, I NEED it. Between the tramadol, the TENS, and riding out the exhaustion by just staying in bed and sleeping, I’m finally feeling somewhat human again. It will be a few more days of taking it easy before I’m fully functional, though.

Aubrey got home Friday night, accompanied by a giant truckload of stuff. Fortunately, Leigh had stopped to pick up her brother when she hit town, so including Ron, there were four people available to unload the apartment-sized pile of boxes, bags, and luggage. After Leigh and Andrew went along their merry way, Aubrey and I sat down to discuss the rules and make some plans.

Rule 1: No dating for at least six months. Right now, anyone she would choose would be a bad choice. People tend to gravitate towards others of the same mental health; the last thing she needs is someone who will feed her negative self-esteem. In six months, hopefully she will be in a much better place emotionally and psychologically.

Rule 2: At least three Al-Anon or Alateen meetings a week. No, no one in our family is an alcoholic. However, any kind of childhood trauma can cause the same aftereffects as those of living with an alcoholic. Poor relationship choices, low self-esteem, internal anger, shutdown of emotions are all common in victims of any kind of trauma.

Rule 3: No vegging in front of the computer for the entire day. Whether it is an art project, a sewing class, a chore around the house, or some therapeutic task, she has stuff to do. TV and video games serve the same purpose as any other drug. It numbs your feelings, and occupies your thoughts so that you don’t really have to think about anything. It also offers a fantasy world where everything is perfect. While it is fine for a little bit each day, Aubrey needs to learn to live and function in this world.

Rule 4: She doesn’t have to pay rent, but she will be doing housework in lieu of rent. She’s eighteen, so no free rides.

Rule 5: She has to see a counselor once a week, every week. Now that she’s no longer a minor, anything she says is totally confidential. That’s a tremendous diffence from when she last saw Karen, so hopefully it will allow her to open up more easily.

Rule 6: Every night she must make a to-do list for the next day. Anything she doesn’t finish gets put on the list for the next day. This serves two purposes; it is teaching her organization and giving her a track to follow. It also helps to build her self-esteem as she sees how much she is accomplishing each day. On Monday night when Ron got home from work, he complained that she had not done anything all day. She very proudly whipped out her list and showed him all the stuff that did get done. There are several everyday tasks that are on the list, such as making her bed, taking her meds, and showering. When dealing with severe depression, even the little things are important.

Rule 7: No electronics in bed, other than her Clip. When it is time for bed, she has to put her phone, computer, and tablet in a drawer in my room. She gets them back in the morning, but we have to break her habit of texting incessantly through the night.

Those all sound pretty simple, and it wish it was all so easy. She’s actually been extremely cooperative, especially with her list, which was a huge surprise. I was expecting more resistance.

We agreed that she can get a part-time job as long as it doesn’t interfere with any of her therapeutic tasks. No school until summer. In the summer, she wants to take vocals, music theory, and hip hop dance. In the fall, she will take another light load, and then in the spring, we will try a real load of Anatomy & Physiology, Chemistry, Biology, and vocals if she decides to continue with it.

It’s tough when you have an offspring who is far from a child, but obviously not yet an adult. She’s halfway up the stairs. Now if we can just get her to the top.

“Halfway up the stairs is the stair where I sit. There isn’t any other stair quite like it. It’s not at the bottom, it’s not at the top, so here is the stair where I always stop.”


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