Parent Support, Residential Treatment, Wilderness Therapy

Are we pulling the pin to early?

I already discussed the feeling of desperation, now the question is can I do what needs to be done? Can I as parent step so far beyond myself to do this? The decision to execute the plan to send my son to wilderness was fairly quick considering other decisions we have made in our life. Making the decision to marry-6 months, planning a wedding- 1 year, buying a house-6 months, moving to Utah-6 months- Sending our son to wilderness-24 days.

In spite of the number of days, it was not a decision made in any form of haste. But I do know this, it has to be really scary, bad or hopeless for a parent to consider this, let alone do it.

I knew in my heart I had done and offered everything that I thought possible. I was certain there was something else going on other than adhd. Maybe with 24/7 monitoring someone could figure it out so we could help our son.

Though I didn’t have one shred of proof, my instincts told me he had already stepped over several lines and it was only a matter of time before something irreversible was going to happen. I feared for his life, and that was not an overly dramatic feeling, it was real.

And the most basic thought was if I didn’t act quickly I was afraid I was going to loose my nerve, and change my mind. I would then be back to the same place, living in fear everyday and not knowing what was going to happen next.

By this time I had already spent too many hours searching the internet. The best resources I found were the Independent Educational Consultants Association, National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs and All kinds of Therapy. For us the decision was made in total secrecy, we did not consult anyone other than the Educational Consultant (EC) who helped us select the wilderness program.

We met him in our favorite local diner, The RED. We requested to sit all the way in the back where it was completely empty, we said we had some business to take care of. I kind of felt like the old style mobsters from the movies. The three of us sliding into the booth, only getting coffee. Each time the waitress approached us I gave her the evil eye to stay away, while we conducted our business. It was fine, I apologized by giving her a really big tip.

For weeks after his departure every time we went into the diner, I would look back at that booth and think, that is where it all changed, and sometimes I just wanted to vomit. On the flip side when my son came home for his first visit and we went to the diner we told him the story of the covert booth meeting, he smirked a little, maybe to soon?

Okay we decided, he was going to Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness in Clayton, Georgia population 2250. Applications were completed, contracts and power of attorney’s signed, large amounts of money with lots and lots of zeros changed hands.

Now we just had to decide how we were going to get him there. I swore that if we were going to do this, either my husband or I would escort him. We would get on a plane and be the parents we needed to be. Then we started to sink in… What happens if he doesn’t get on the plane? What happens if he runs away before we can get him there? What happens if he decides to physically lash out, we couldn’t restrain him he was too strong already. Transport services were suggested, and we had to sit on that for a few days, but ultimately we decided it was the safest route for all of us.

Picking a transport company wasn’t any easier than picking a wilderness program. I selected Right Directions Crisis Intervention Services, it was no surprise they are available 24/7 for intakes. And the woman who answered the phone was so chipper and happy, almost like you were calling Macy’s, it felt weird to talk customer service about shipping a person.

Again more contracts, more signatures, more money, and instead of a power of attorney, this time I signed the form that allowed them to take a minor across state lines.

This was the form they were to hold in case my child was the one in the airport who decided he should start screaming he was being kidnapped in an attempt to avoid going to wilderness. He didn’t do it, but it crossed my mind and that was when Right Directions explained “the form”.

There seem to be only a handful of transport companies, so it is not unusual find that many of the kids in program used the same company. This was evidenced by a conversation I overheard my son have with another young man when they realized they had been Gooned by the same company. You had Ricky Ray too, that dude was really cool, yeah he was, did he let you watch a movie too? Not a bad endorsement from a teen, hey?

So we did it. In the early hours of the morning on May 19th we allowed our son to be escorted to wilderness. I am sure some people would view it as we sent our son away, I preferred to think of it as bringing him back to our family. Because if we didn’t intervene there would be no son, and there would be no family left.

Hands down it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, because what I just did would never be considered a normal act, but it was an act that was necessary to save my son and family….

Okay the boy has left the house, now what do we do?

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2 thoughts on “Are we pulling the pin to early?”

  1. Cheryl, this blog/story/family bio is incredibly raw, real, and powerful. I hope it is cathartic as well. You are all so brave, and maybe desperation emboldens one, to put it out there for all to see. No one ever knows what goes on behind closed doors – sshhh, what will the neighbors think?
    Well, the neighbors, not that they or anyone else counts, think you’re great as well as a strong and fierce mama going to the mat for the survival of her family.
    I am in awe.
    Judy

  2. This is going to sound weird and maybe a little to forward, but I think you may understand. Forgive me if it makes no sense to you.
    I have been through something very similar–twice. I understand exactly what you are feeling, the duality of being terrified of your own kid and wanting them to be somewhere else and never wanting to let go of them all at the same time. I feel like I know all the words and feelings written between your lines, the ones that you may be too afraid to say. I have them too. You made the right decision. Now it’s time to rest and heal and try to prepare for whatever comes next. That is scary too.

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