Life has changed here so much since this time last year. I can barely speak of the kids we lost. The pain is still deep and fresh. Right before we lost them, Ruthie, Patches, and Michael entered 2 local residential treatment centers for intense therapy and interventions. Patches and Ruthie were at the same one and were released WAY too fast. The RTC didn't take the time to wait out their honeymoon and see their behaviors or get to their intense feelings. They let them down.
Luckily, Patches learned a few somethings from her brief stay outside our home that did make up for their lack of ability to treat her. She learned that she would come back here because we love her and she is a part of our family no matter what, we aren't as bad as she thought, we are safe, we do what we say we are going to do, we aren't the only family with children that struggle, and she never wants to leave us again. She used to throw fits that lasted hours and screamed things about never loving us, never returning to us for Xmas, wanting to die or kill us, and other things trying to express how deeply hurt she was feeling. To say that her feelings were over the top for the situation is an understatement. These episodes were happening because her sister moved her shoes to her room or she was asked to take the trash out. Anything could trigger these events that would usually end in a restraint to protect her or me.
Ruthie's return wasn't so easy after she was released. We had safety issues to work through. We did just after the holidays last year and she has been here since. She, too, learned many of the things Patches did.
Michael still has not returned home full time. We are transitioning him now. The hospital is hesitant to release him because he is still having some serious issues. He is aggressive, delusional, impulsive, and is hallucinating again. I'm sure most people would think, "Why would you bring him home then?". While they RTC is hesitant, they agree with us that this is probably the best he is going to be able to manage. This is his life. He deserves to be in a family. He is a good boy. We aren't your regular family and can handle his issues safely here. We are prepared and willing.
To say our home and lives are drama free would be a lie. In comparison to our lives prior to their hospital stays, it is calm. Patches is stepping up in ways that bring tears to my eyes. I never thought we would get to a place that I could trust her to make a good choice, be responsible for another person, or want to help her family. She chooses to be a part of us, has taken ownership of us, and wants to protect me. Huge stuff for her. She's not perfect. She has moments and stress gets to her much worse than your average gal. She pushes through. Ruthie is talking. She is sharing her feelings and thoughts. She wants to feel something for us. She is trusting me with her scary stuff. She is taking direction from me with minimal homicidal/suicidal threats. We still see deep anger come out but she moves past it quicker. Michael has been a model son (our version of a model child, of course). No violence on his visits.
He maintained that this weekend and that is huge for him. Keep that in mind when I tell you about his visit. No violence is big, it's progress.
He was off from the moment he set foot in our home Friday. OFF. Nearly every interaction with his siblings turned into a squabble. We all have our days so I tried to help him through it. Then he turned on me. He kept saying, "everybody is lying on me". It turned into the theme of the weekend. We are used to crazy lying here. He commonly accuses others of attacking him or turning situations around and becoming anger that they are lying. I witnessed him "misunderstand" all of us over and over. He began to seem deeply hurt. That was new. He remained calm. he talked through it every time. He was very confused. When I say this happened 30 times, it may be an understatement. He eventually asked to go to bed. It began all over Saturday.
I could see he was escalating and was concerned we would have to take him back early. I called both of his therapists. They had some great advice and we were able to salvage the evening by watching a movie quietly. Sunday was great. He sat at the table with his Dad and put together the coolest Lego tank that shot crap at us. He thoroughly enjoyed shooting us with tiny spear things. We ate dinner and he and Ava played some more while the table and dishes were being done.
Out of no where, he got rough with Ava. He began to kick her and punch her. She half laughed out of shock and he took that as confirmation it was ok to continue. We starting talking about why he decided to do that. It became clear when the other kids chimed in that he had been doing it to them and they didn't say anything because he wasn't angry when he was doing it. They felt like he was roughhousing and even though he isn't allowed to touch them, E.V.E.R., they felt like they handled it. It quickly turned into, "you are all lying". He didn't get violent. He didn't agree with anyone and was again, confused. He kinda stomped off into our dining area. My hubby could see him and we heard him throw the Lego tank to the ground and it shattered. When my hubby cried out, "WHY?" in his frustration, Ruthie began to lose it.
Ruthie has a history of attacking me when her brother is out of control. She is triggered and becomes psychotic. We can't make her understand he is safe, that he needs our attention right then, or that it is him that is having the issue, not me. I can't reason with her. Most times, I have to move from Michael to keep Ruthie safe from herself. I fully expected that from her last night when she began to cry. Our attention as a familoy turned to help Ruthie since Michael seemed to be holding his anger in check. SHe expressed anger towards my hubby for the first time. SHe talked about what triggered her. How she was feeling. She even decided to separate herself from the situation to calm down. How is that for amazing?
Michael took this very moment of progress and bolted out the door. Usually, when he gets agitated, we turn on the door alarms to all our out going doors. He seemed to be fine and it never even dawned on any of us. The kids saw him run up our back drive. I ran out to find him but he was gone. I had to call the police and the RTC to help. He was found a ocuple miles up the road getting dangerously close to the interstate. We live on a major road and he has run into traffic in parking lots so I was a mess until he pulled up in the back of a cop car.
Poor officers never know what to expect about why these things happened. They have to consider he was running from an abusive home. They kept him separate from us and spoke to him about why he left. Having such a severe processing issue and speech disorder, they kind of gave up. He ran to my arms and began sobbing into me. I comforted him and asked if he was ok. I told him I wasn't mad and was so glad he was safe. I pointed out this may have not gone well but no one was hurt. One of the 4 officers began to chuckle, "I guess he's alright here.".
When everyone calmed down, I took him back to the RTC. He acted like nothing happened. With all that drama, all I kept saying was, "but he didn't get violent". I'm really proud of him for that. Now I get to spend time on the phone with his therapists. We have to figure out what the heck is going on with him. I refuse to see this as anything except a moment of success for him. He is changing. He may never have things competely under control but I see a light.