Tuesday, June 07, 2005

So many decisions -- so little time ...

It's been days since I've written and the reasons have little to do with not having anything to write about, but with so many events happening so fast -- all having such huge impacts on my immediate future. It's dizzying!

There are so many conversations going on in my head (me with self) that I'm beginning to lose track of just which of "me" is directing my life at any given moment. And, as I've cautioned before -- this has nothing to do with pathology -- but with which of the many women that I am will have control over my movements? I so want to simply relax into the Betty evoked by my new romantic interest but feel compelled by the very maternal me who is the facilitator of the life of my handicapped daughter, Dorian. The pull is strong in both directions, and the urgency of waning days on the planet is working hard to keep me tied to a position of enlightened self-interest.

Dorian's life is being threatened by the fact that we're needing to separate her from me in order to re-establish her path toward full independence -- interrupted by the deteriorating support system we'd so carefully built over many years. State budget cuts ended those plans when the safety net crumbled and her apartment had to be closed and a return to share my home was the only answer. Many have faced homelessness and life under bridges at that point. We were lucky that I'm still living and able to absorb her into my life.

But that's been less than successful. I've learned over the past year through living with her that this probably was never a viable option anyway, and -- having had a close look at her mental deficits -- I'm quite certain that she should never have been a candidate for independent living. Having the social system collapse may have been a hidden blessing.

She is now in a state of total "adolescent rebellion" and both our lives are impacted by my inability to protect her from herself. We needed outside counsel and I received that this morning. After a conference with her case manager and social worker I've agreed that she is needing a residential treatment program for at least a year. Just such a program exists within 40 miles (reachable for visits) and at the end of that time she will be evermore in a supportive-living placement -- probably in a group home somewhere.

This means giving up her five-day-a-week program at NIAD, but it also means that art will become a part of her treatment program since it means so much to her. That's hard to deal with. It also means an end to her Special Olympics programs as well. She is such a successful athlete that she has been selected to compete in the swimming competitions at the California State Games at the University of Pacific in Stockton this very weekend.

I cannot imagine that anything as important to her as these elements being sacrificed, but I also am ready to yield to the advice of professionals with more objectivity than I have at the moment.

I'll miss her. She is a huge part of my life and has become really central over the past year despite the difficulties of being her mother, therapist, best friend, and mentor.

There is also the sense of guilt at being given back my own life again at the expense of diminishing hers. Though I'm surely wise enough to know that this is an unavoidable aspect of being a parent, and that the feeling will eventually leave as I see the effects of giving her a new environment in which to grow and adjust to being separate from me. I've regressed a great deal over the past year; becoming Momma instead of Superfriend as before. I'd also begun to "diagnose" and "treat" inappropriately, drawing on a great deal of experience in the field of the disabled as the result of my professional life where I was the representative responsible for the interactions between my state assembly position and that of the disabled community; its parents, clients, and vendors. It was impossible for me to live up to my own expectations.

All said, I've a lot to get used to over the next few weeks as the changes begin to take place. It will not be easy for either of us. We'll both be ambivalent since she is angry with me these days and acting out -- and I'm feeling trapped by the constant need to provide oversight and protection in a situation that is clearly beyond my control. We need to move fast while she is distracted by her anger with me -- and willing to trying something else. Waiting until we're in a good and loving place will work against our ability to separate. A paradox.

I may not have been writing because of my mixed feelings, and may continue to be unable to put those into words. On the other hand, I may find that the candor that tends to work for me when I'm writing will make it possible for me to work though the trauma by setting it into words on this screen. In that case, anyone reading this may find themselves reflected here if they're dealing with similar problems of involuntary separations.

Hold us in your thoughts ...

Even more, write to me if there are concerns, questions, or words of advice that might help this transition.

In typing that last word, it felt good. Long lives have undergone a myriad of transitions. That word almost better than any other, fits the life process so well. Learning to move in and out of patterns can serve one well, if we've learned to embrace rather than resist those that cannot be altered or avoided. I believe that I've learned that lesson well, and that by now things simply fall into place pretty neatly if I don't put up too much resistance. I know that the positive can be enhanced by embracing change and that the negative can be overcome by caring.

That will leave me free to begin to explore next steps ... and to help Dorian do the same.

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