Once upon a time there was an ancient forest full of wisdom. There were tall tall trees that almost touched the sky and small small sounds that pulled your ear to the earth. When you listened very closely, words like whispers came from the very soil that fed the long trunks and branches. Down by the ground, your limbs were lost among the tangles of roots, where does one begin and one end? Shhh, listen to the whispers.
There was a little girl. She crawled on the ground with a heart too heavy to lift. She knew not how she got there or quite where to go. Her eyes lifted to the sky. So so bright and so so far from her place among the knotted, gnarled roots.
The roots hugged her fragile frame as the whispers grew louder. She stretched to the branches, dragging her swollen heart along.
She pulled. She tried. She fell.
Her own limbs were not strong enough to help her find her way. The roots raised her to reach a new branch. The whispers pushed her heart along like a wind at her back. She tried again.
The weight of her burdensome heart lifted with every height higher she climbed. Stronger she grew, encircled by the old old trees and the rings of time within them.
One branch, another, she rose to the treetops. Hope appeared on branches as leaves, flowers bloomed like songs.
She reached her little arms as high as they could go. The sun on her face, her heart was now her ally.
The tall tall trees had a bigger voice now. The girl was full of wisdom and whispers. She looked down at her breast, where her giant heart lay. The sun shone down, casting a vivid purple hue. Plump with hope and courage, the purple heart beamed, weightless. She sprouted like the wise tree to shine on that day. Stronger than the violet ray.
Violet looked at the breakfast menu as if golden coins were about to spill from it. After 84 days of oats, peanut butter and lentils, who could blame her? AND, who has gone to an “all-you-can-eat” southern diner and NOT felt that way? (joke)
We tried to be aware of not introducing too many harsh things to her system, heeding warnings from Wilderness. Lots of potential fallout as you re-renter the wild west of the real world.
84 days of no noise. No music, no cars, no chatter from passersby. No phones, no TV. Can you really imagine 3 months in the deafening silence of the mountains and then how LOUD the world must seem after?
We were in an adorable mini-city rampant with hippies and hobos. We took Vi for a little walk and even the sidewalk was too much for her. She squeezed my hand with a death grip, paranoid about each street person’s glance.
Lunchtime. The hostess walked us to the table and I could feel Violet’s hair stand up on her arms. Cackles from table talkers, clanking of dishes, scoots of chairs - all WAY too much for her. We hightailed it back in the other direction, leaving the din behind.
Alone in peace at the hotel pool, we drank in the moments with her. Hello Violet. Hello little brave girl, so full of pride, who has accomplished so much.
There was a transition agreement we had all signed, removing any chance for negotiations and potential rub. We agreed to shop for school, do special bonding activities, eat sushi. Call her siblings, only check our phones twice per day. Respect each other, just be together. AMAZING.
I relished every passing moment. Her voice, her smile, her smirk. Her sarcastic humor. Her sassy, playful, confident attitude. I just loved her. I felt like someone had given me my daughter back.
I had spent years wondering how to find my daughter again. I would see teensy glimpses of her incredible personality, and then they would vanish, leaving me to wonder if I had created them or they were real? Now I could see only her positives. So much so, that it was even harder to know we were leaving. Three days was not enough time for me to have to say goodbye again.
Have you ever forced yourself through something knowing if you could just do it, it would be so much better in the end?
“What is best for your child? What will help the new behaviors and tools REALLY sink in, to become the new habits?”
While we debated next steps, (home or boarding school) the professionals kept likening the cycle to drug addiction. As harsh as it sounded, it was the best way to comprehend it. Let’s make it plain - how long does it take to really quit smoking? Are you able to still resist when faced with all of the old triggers/temptations?
I have had friends and family members struggle with addiction. I have ALWAYS thought the idea of any short term rehab was asinine. You’re telling me someone who has spent YEARS altering their reality is going to embrace a completely different way of living in just 3-12 weeks? PLEASE PEOPLE. That’s ridiculous. And someone should seriously be reimbursing these families who have spent their savings on such a totally improbable fix. (sidebar)
My daughter had spent 11 years of her life stuck in these behaviors. She was addicted to the cycle. She broke it at Wilderness, but how could she ever be expected to keep it up in the real world with no real practice? AND be resilient enough to bounce back when it failed? To not give up? To try again?
We KNEW that this boarding school was the right choice. Doesn’t make it any easier to let her go again. There is a primal thing inside of parents like - I wanted to hug my cub close and keep her with me to save her and protect her. But I just couldn’t. The only way I could best help her was to let her go.
I cherished 3 days. Felt renewed just like she did. Then we drove her to school.
When will I see her again, when will I see her again, when will I see her again. Had to keep reminding myself to stop thinking of the future, to just take each little baby step and live in the moment.
We pulled up to the beautiful old house, basecamp of school. Waterfalls, lake, nature. She was greeted with the warmest “VIOLET!!!” The sweetest girls ran out, excited to show her around, make her comfy. We made her bed, helped her unpack her new clothes. I squeezed her hand a million times. She met her “Big Sister” who swept her away to make new friends and see all the cool things they would do.
I can’t tell how I feel about getting better at goodbyes. I have had to become a goodbye girl.
Hold your breath. Push pause on emotions. Stand up straight. Smile, hug, turn and walk away. Think of all the positives.
Hello Hope. Goodbye Violet.