|Emily's Birthday cake and far too many candles!|
To be honest, it almost seemed normal. She almost seemed normal. Almost.
Friday evening saw another unexpected visit from their father. My heart sank when I saw the car pull up outside so I did something childish. I left my husband and the kids in the room and I hid. When I say hid, I went to the back room and sat with the door shut, stroking one of our rescue cats.
I could hear the kids greet him and to my surprise I could also hear him asking Emily some questions about the unit. I have tried to tell him before, but he's never been interested and certainly never asked any questions. I wondered if seeing her scarred arms had actually had an effect on him after all.
It wasn't long before he asked for me and he came into the back room. I have so much I want to say to him, so many 'home truths' I want to throw at him. In reality, in that room, me, him and the cat, I remained silent. He told me he hadn't realised how bad things were until he'd seem her arms. I've informed him several times about Emily's illness and the impact it has on her. It was clear he hadn't taken me seriously. He then offered to take Emily to his house for a few weeks as in his words "it can't still be the bullying that's the problem now, so maybe she needs a change of scene" and "have they said what's actually wrong with her?" My responses were clipped, defensive and to the point. I added that Emily was also upset because, given the way he behaves, she assumes he doesn't love her.
On Monday I collected Emily at 4pm as normal. I could see in her eyes something wasn't right, she said it had been a bad day. Once in the car I encouraged her to talk. She had been removed from her school lesson in the morning as she had dug her nails into her arm, constantly scratching until she bled. A support worker, her Doctor and one of her friends had taken turns in physically holding her hands to stop her scratching at herself. She sobbed in the car, her head hanging, telling me she couldn't go on, couldn't see how it would get better, couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I hugged her tight and told her I had been in the place she was now, but I was still here because I had got through it and she would too. You may not always be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it doesn't mean it isn't there, it's just hidden from view.
Later that evening her Doctor called to express concern over the days events. She asked me to be even more vigilant than usual.
Yesterday I received another phone call. The unit were asking permission to discuss Emily with her father. He had telephoned reception requesting information. I gave permission and then I was passed over to the Emily's Consultant who also wanted to speak to me. I was still reeling from my ex having called them (presumably to get the 'real' story) when I was dealt a far more sickening blow. It struck me in the pit of my stomach. The Consultant was explaining that due to the continuing self harm and suicidal thoughts they thought the time had come for Emily to become a resident. I was sat by myself in the lunch area at work. I tried to sound together and practical, but it felt like my sanity was unravelling. I was asked my view, I was told Emily was ok about it when it had been mentioned. I answered that I would support whatever they thought was best for my Daughter. The Consultant said she would make enquires to see when Emily could be admitted and call me back.
I felt sick, my head was spinning with so many thoughts. Tears were running down my face. As I gathered my belongings I put my head down and hid behind my hair, trying to walk out of the room unnoticed. In the ladies loos I leaned on the windowsill with my head in my hands. The phone rang again and the Consultant confirmed the date for Emily to become a resident.
For me I feel like this has removed the last shred of credibility I had as a mother. Ok we needed help, but at least she was still coming home, just like if she was going to school. This action has taken her care so far out of my hands, taken away my responsibility, my role, my duty. At the moment Emily will still spend Friday and Saturday nights at home, but this can be taken away too if needed and I would be faced with seeing her in a visiting room for a couple of hours at a time.
I couldn't hold it together at work, a colleague came across me in the corridor and alerted management. I was sent home. The guilt continued to pile on me, I'd let my daughter down and now I was letting work down too. At least going home early would allow me to collect Emily from the unit myself.
I had a drink in a cafe while I waited for 4pm (the end of Emily's day). So many thoughts were in my head, including the situation with Emily's father. I decided to make a call. My tone may have been frosty, but I surprised myself how calm I was. He knew the up to date position now. I told him how guilty I felt that I hadn't been able to do more to prevent this. I told him if I felt that way with all I had tried to do, then he should be thoroughly ashamed of himself as he had done nothing. I told him he spent more time planning holidays than talking to his daughter. To be fair, I think the penny finally dropped. He admitted he'd not known what to do, so he did nothing. He admitted he'd not realised how serious things were even though I'd told him. All he ever needed to do was talk to her and listen, text, phone calls, e-mails anything to show he cared. I told him this too.
When I collected Emily she looked ok. I suppose for her, the weight of not being able to cope at home, has now been lifted. We had a mixed night of her excitedly packing (as if going for a sleepover) through to her sobbing on my shoulder. I spent the night in a strange state of shell shock.
This morning I helped her unpack in her new room. It felt like I was sending her to Uni, helping to put toiletries in the bathroom and photo frames on the desk in the halls of residence. But this isn't Uni and she is only just 14 and tonight I really fear that she will be alone in that unfamiliar room and she will sob her heart out. Just writing that make the tears roll down my own face again. My head aches, my jaw is clenched, I haven't brushed my hair or cleaned my teeth and I don't care about the dark circles under my eyes.
This is going to be hard for all of us. I need that little girl to stay strong, to be able to beat this and come out the other side.
Since yesterday I've asked family and friends, did I fail? Is there something else I could or should have done? Is letting her go into residential admitting defeat? Admitting I can't help her, I'm not good enough?
Did I fail?