We’ve all had a helluvayear here.
Today, the hamster died. We were devastated.
It’s a helluvathing.
And I know some of you reading this are thinking, “it’s only a hamster,” and although you are right, Kellin the hamster was a furry blob among the many other furry blobs (big and small) we cohabitate with, she had so much more meaning. She was the symbolic hamster.
No, this is not hyperbole. It is not the delusions of an English teacher gone over the edge.
Kellin symbolized, for all of us, especially C2, the ability to conquer a demon so large, so hurtful, so painful, so sad, that even typing these words are making me cry. Kellin symbolized 128 days. That little ball of fur with the beady red eyes (ech) symbolized mental health and positive choices.
So let me explain. A year ago C2 revealed to me in the Walgreens parking lot that she had been injuring herself. I like to think I reacted well, but on the inside I was confused. I was so sad. I just wanted to fix this. I may have stammered. I wanted to be full of God’s grace; I think I was not.
Let me help. Let me help you, baby.
So we got her help. And it’s been quite a journey. We’ve forayed into EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified). She got really skinny. I really thought that we would lose her. I would lay awake at night and plan, and plot and check on her, to make sure she was still here, and here, present in the moment, in our family and still alive in her bed. I questioned my parenting, my marriage, my job. I considered quitting work to stay at home with her. I wanted to pull her out of school because of those bastard middle school little shits who brought her pain and heartache. I wanted to throttle the administrators and guidance counselors at her school who seemed to be so incredibly clueless and ineffective. I wanted to do….something.
Something ended up being time and patience. Something was many late nights reading about cutting, EDNOS and suicide on the internet. Something was my maniacal decision to hide everything that I thought was a potential danger in the house behind locked doors. Something was tossing her room like some Russian spy looking for the Holy Grail. Something was love. Something was tears, alone in the shower and together with C2. Something was long drives to nowhere with my baby. Something was writing her notes and leaving them in secret places. Something was watching my husband trying to cope. Something was watching my husband, who has wrestled with his own recovery for the past 28 years, relate to C2 in a way that I couldn’t.
Something was waiting for C2 to decide that she wanted to get better.
I can’t lie and say I succeed in all of these somethings each and every day. In fact, I know I was so far from what C2 needed on some days, that I was more of a hindrance. And I also like to think that many of those days I was just what she needed. That she KNOWS that every day with her here on Earth is what I need. That she is my blessing. My everything.
So C2 decided that she wanted to get better, so we drew butterflies on our arms (check out http://butterfly-project.tumblr.com/ for more information) and talked about “triggers” and we counted days. We hung her count on the fridge. We celebrated when that number increased. 10, 42, 75, 84, 97, 128.
And a relapse.
Talk of hospitalization. Frantic calls to her counselor and the crisis line. And then we went back to doing our somethings. We circled the wagon, kept her close to home, and we began the count again with the promise that when she reached 128 days again she could pick something that she really wanted. She picked Kellin.
So, that hamster was so much more than another furry mouth to feed. She was special. She was a reward for SO MUCH HARD WORK…WORK that C2 should be SO proud of. So, yeah, we’re overwhelmingly SAD that she died. And YES, I let my kid stay home from school today and eat ice cream and watch an entire season of Glee because she was SAD because that was a SOMETHING, the something that she needed today.
C2 – can you pick a new reward that can’t leave us!
*There are over 2 million people in the United States who self-harm. Of those 2 million, the majority are young girls, although it does affect boys too.
Know the signs, open a dialogue, get help.
I cannot express how proud I am of you. Your journey is yours, so thank you for letting me share this. Know this for certain, you are MY LOVE, MY LIFE, MY EVERYTHING. I am so blessed that God sent you to me. I am so happy that you chose to stick around, to get healthy, to keep moving forward, one step at a time. I am thrilled that you put up with me, my uncoolness, stupid jokes and sometimes thoughtless words. Know this, each and every day that I am here on this Earth, I am here to keep you safe. I am here to love you. No matter what you do, you can’t EVER shake this mama bear. So, thank you for choosing to get better. Thank you for being you. Xxx000