The Lost Window

Hindsight is always perfect vision and we almost always can learn something from the experience, but learning something doesn’t lessen the sting of the moment. Statements such as “I know better” or “I should have seen this coming” flood one’s brain and, at least for me, shame and guilt are the sludge left behind. The fact is the moment is past and nothing can change that.

Now as I sit down to write about my recent hindsight lesson, I feel some will say I’m being too hard on myself and that this isn’t “the end.” There are still options available, just not the options I wanted when I wanted them. But my instincts are screaming like a banshee telling me the window of opportunity is gone.

More than three months ago I began a frantic search to find a residential treatment center for my daughter Brianna. It took nearly a month of phone calls on my lunch breaks to get all my questions answered about insurance coverages and available programs for young women still in high school, and then more information on the limited options available to meet Brianna’s needs. The last week of April I was told we were on a wait-list at the one facility that deals with Brianna’s many issues and that an opening would likely occur in six to eight weeks. Two weeks later I asked where we were at on the wait-list and was told Brianna wasn’t actually on the list yet. We quickly jumped through some more hoops and then began a practical lesson in patience. Every week I called and checked in and every week the answer was the same: six to eight weeks.

We are still waiting.

At noon on the Fourth of July my cell phone rang and the treatment center asked me if Brianna was prepared to come right away. My brain yelled, You’ve got to be kidding! but my mouth stayed silent. I took a deep breath and reminded the admissions counselor that we live eight hours away. I swallowed my frustration at her inability to understand it was a holiday, that we had family visiting, and it was not the best time for us to travel. I’m sure the counselor was a bit frustrated at my inability to get in the car and make the trip at a moment’s notice, holiday or not. They had a bed available and they were going to fill it with the first available client. Unfortunately for us, it wasn’t a good time. And it’s more complicated than it being a holiday.

Brianna’s older sister is getting married on August 10. All along we’ve assured Brianna she would be home for the wedding, but that was when we thought she would be embarking on her journey at the end of May or early June. When I mentioned this life event to the admission’s counselor on the Fourth, I was told that if Brianna came to the facility now and wanted to leave for the wedding, she would not be welcomed back. Okay, I totally get that. The counselor assured me—but I’m having great difficulty trusting this—that Brianna would remain on the wait-list and they would call us again when another opening occurred. I haven’t heard from them since.

Well, I started to do the math. Once the wedding is behind us and all of our out-of-town guests leave, it will be August 15 before I can get Brianna to the facility—and that’s if we’re fortunate enough that there will be an opening. Her birthday is September 13 and she has cried buckets about the fact that I cannot, must not, torture her by making her be in treatment over her birthday. “There will never be a good time,” I said. “Then I don’t need to go,” Brianna replied.

Indeed, there will never be a good time. I liken Brianna’s need to that of a person fighting a life-threatening illness, who desperately needs surgery, and who insists that it can be put off one more week. She is a time bomb and we have no idea when she will blow up and whether she can be saved once she does.

I approached the topic with Brianna again tonight. She’s had time to think and scheme and now she wants to debate a new plan of action. She wants to enroll in our community’s high school for fall semester and finally get the last of her credits and receive her diploma. Then she can plan to go to the facility after the new year and enter their women’s facility instead of the teens’ facility. Sadly, I’ve come to believe we’ve lost our window of opportunity.

Oh, this parenting business is so challenging! Brianna’s symptoms have flared so much in the last few weeks and she needs help that I cannot give her. But I also have a good deal of compassion. And I am weak. It has been such a long wait.

To Brianna’s credit, she has improved in some areas in her life. She has made no improvement or even slipped backward in other areas. She has not been treated for her symptoms, she has not been taught the important lessons she must learn in order to live in the real world with her anxieties and paranoia. She is still dangerously self-medicating with prescription drugs. Nothing has really changed.

Except I feel beaten. At the beginning of the year I struggled with my decision to force treatment on Brianna but wisely came to the conclusion that she needs more help than I can give. I had hope that we had found a place with experts who can guide her and show her ways to adapt and be successful as an adult. Now I am discouraged and without hope for a bright future for Brianna. My own fears have begun to rage in my subconscious sleep. I will never be free of Brianna. She will never live a “normal” life as an adult. Irrational fears, I know. They speak of my own anxieties and tell a story of the stress I am suppressing. My anxiety and fear are a measurement of the sludge that is now present in this hindsight moment. And once again, I am searching for answers.

“I’ll think about that tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day,” Scarlett O’Hara liked to say. In my case, I’ll think about it all in the middle of August. Maybe I will have learned something from my hindsight by then.

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