"I...I really, um..."
I couldn't seem to get any words out. I was dizzy and I wondered why. Did a single question send my brain spinning? Oh, I was so thirsty. Where did that come from. Is it possible that words have the power to drain all the moisture from my body? I was sure my heart was beating but everything inside me felt hollow. My face must have been red. I was hot. My voice didn't have any power. I struggled to answer the question posed by a professional working with my adult son. He said nothing as I stammered. He was waiting for my answer.
The truth is I've asked myself the same question millions of times. But it sounded different coming from the face of another person. Oh my God! My heart started to race. Maybe it really is my fault. Maybe I could have tried harder, done more, loved more completely, been more determined. Why didn't it occur to me to do the things that must be obvious to everyone else? Oh Dear God, did I miss it--the action I could have taken that would have made everything better?
"I...I really think we did all we could."
I wish it wasn't true. I wish this was someone else's struggle. It's not fair for my kid to have to fight this fight. Oh, it was predictable enough. Lots of people have said for years that it might come to this. He has an addictive personality. He is so intense. There is a biological family history.
My husband and I watch helplessly as our son's life crumbles around him. We talk about the situation every night. We search for a solution. There must be something we could do that would help without enabling. If only it were that easy. We strive to maintain the connection we have as a family. We pray. We ask God to protect our kid-to be with him in this struggle and bring him through it.
"Oh, you're going to hate me for this question," the professional said. "you're going to think I'm awful. But just let me play the Devil's Advocate for a minute here."
The longer I am the mother of children with intense mental health needs, the more I resent the position of Devil's Advocate. It seems no more than permission to say the worst possible things. The Devil is a gutless, spineless coward who specializes in shame, guilt and promoting the easy way out. I cannot fathom why anyone would take the position of his advocate.
And there I was, at the mercy of the Devil's Advocate, waiting for the dreaded question. The question the professional said would inspire hate. I wonder how long he has wanted to ask me...
"Why didn't you do more for him when he lived at home?"