T is back in residential treatment. This is our second go, with an interim attempt at out patient treatment that failed. I'm generally very proud of his persistent effort to confront his demons. Of course, to be honest, that feeling is tempered by a bit of reasonable suspicion that, this time, residential treatment is perhaps a "get out of jail free" strategy - his probation officer strongly suggested it, as he has a looming court date and has repeatedly failed to comply with probation. His recent choices created a mounting mess of circumstances that compelled him to treatment. But given where he was when he decided to enter, I'm just glad he's there.
Residential treatment is rough, I imagine. I feel for him, being as young as he is, emotionally as well as chronologically, and sympathize with what I imagine must be a certain sense of isolation. In an adult treatment facility (he's 18 now, and doesn't qualify for the youth facilities in our area), he may be exposed to habits that are roughter than his own. We considered all of that carefully and I worry about him. He's undisciplined and he went into this on shaky ground, having really unraveled of late. Rather than spend the summer in treatment, he'd like to be able to party with his peers, celebrating his high school graduation and the start of summer, but that just isn't possible. He is complicated and unregulated such that "partying" quickly turns into intense and frightening chaos. A "normal" adolescence is really not an option - such a thing can only follow on a "normal" childhood.
In any event, he's in for 30 days, and then he's eligible for a transition to a sober-living house with ongoing coaching. He wants to try that, with a goal of being ready to take community college classes this fall. God bless him for his ability to hang on to a vision and a goal, even through his confusion. Thankfully, as we've been doing independent study at home, we were able to wrap up his schooling and secure his high school diploma literally moments before he entered treatment, with the help of a flexible and sympathetic school administrator. From here on, we'll follow him one step at a time.
I know in my heart that I can't help him as much as I used to. He is more independent of us, as is natural, and he's also fairly committed to his mistakes of late. I love him very much, but this time when he left home, it felt like something was different. He may well be back home, but I think it likely that it will be temporary now, because of his age and his need to explore. Like a lot of kids who spend a long time in foster care, he was brainwashed to believe that 18 is the age of liberation. More so even that other teenagers, he fixated and waited for this age, promising himself that he'd be "free". Since his 18th birthday, he's been eager to find out what that means.
Likely, he'll transition into a semi-independent living situation, and we'll start a new chapter of being his parents as he lives out his young adulthood. It's going to be bumpy, for sure. I always knew that it would be - with his history, it's inevitable that the transition to independence will be rough. What I didn't foresee before I was his parent is the depth of attachment one forms and the semi-excruciating feeling of having the object of that attachment go out into the world without you. (That is, of course, tempered by the relief of suddenly having quiet order at home, and tons more free time!)
I feel good that he left for treatment on a loving note. (It also felt good that the treatment house is near home, in a familiar neighborhood.) Once he made the decision to enter treatment, we had about a week together, during which he seemed to draw closer, preparing to say good-bye and relieved that he had a plan that we supported.
The first time he entered treatment, last year, he was so confident that he would beat his problems with drugs. This time, he's humbled by his extended relapse, and his confidence in himself is shaken. He is more uncertain. The day before he left, we visited his favorite Korean spa and then had a favorite meal together. The morning that he started his program we got up early and had breakfast in peaceful silence. Then he turned to me and said, "You can't come. Go to work. You'll cry when we say good-bye." He was right, and he needed to be in control of our parting, so I agreed and we had a good hug. He and Tim drove down to the treatment house and he checked in.
I wish him the greatest good luck this time around. I look forward to seeing him on the other side, but I accept that the process of getting there may take a very long time, and we both may change in the meantime.