My name is T and I am a wife, mother, volunteer and soon to be college student again. I have been married for 21 years and have 3 children. I found my way to Bodin four years ago (May 2005) because of my oldest daughter, M, who is now 19 years old. It was like I was living in a bad dream up until that point and could not wake up. The only other way that I could explain our situation with our daughter is that I was watching someone else’s life play out, this could not possibly be my life?
Going back in time, I knew fairly early on that M was different from other children. She was extremely sensitive to light, smells, touch, taste and sounds. I thought I was just dealing with a highly sensitive child. I started seeing a therapist when M was about one year old to get help with her sleeping habits. Time passed and as M grew, the challenges became greater. We faced temper tantrums, outbursts, anger and the lack of ability to self soothe.
Then, as she entered high school, things got even more difficult. M started to live a double life and everything she said and did was a lie. She became physically violent with me. She began to drink and be sexually active with boys. She developed an eating disorder. We lived in constant chaos usually fueled by her dramatic mood swings.
By May of her sophomore year in high school, my husband and I had sadly accepted that we could no longer have M live in the house after her last violent outburst.
A small peek into what our lives had become was my sleeping with our two younger children and having a piece of furniture pushed in front of the door to secure our safety. My husband sleeping on an air mattress at the foot of M’s doorway because we were afraid she could possibly run away, sneak out, hurt herself or hurt one of us. All the knives and scissors had been long hidden away.
We were all just surviving each moment as it came and we were beginning to accept this as the normal way of life. I felt so alone and lost and could see my daughter slipping away to darkness in front of my eyes. I found my way to Bodin through the help of our family therapist and literally went through a whole box of tissue during our first meeting. What kind of mother was I? How could I be here and talking about possibly sending my beautiful baby girl away, and to a wilderness program to boot? Again, I kept telling myself this must be someone else’s life or I am just watching a bad movie. We made the heartbreaking decision to send our daughter to a wilderness program, which lasted 11 weeks.
After wilderness, she went to an emotional growth therapeutic boarding school for two years to finish high school.
I can honestly say in looking back now (4 years later) that I have NO regrets for every decision that was made. Knocking on Bodin’s door was one of the most difficult and scariest moments in my life but also one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. Because at that point, I began to get my family back: one little tiny step at a time. The road has been long and hard but also rewarding and life-changing at the same time. Something was lost but something was gained in its place. Our house and family were torn down but at the same time were able to begin to heal and rebuild a new house and family.
I do not wish to journey back 4 years. However, at the same time, I can look to where M is today and where my family is today and say that the road we traveled changed our lives for the better. Was it the road I ever dreamed I would be traveling on? NO. Life is full of different roads to travel: some smooth, bumpy, uphill, downhill or sideways. We just tried our best to never lose HOPE and that in the end, we would become a family again. We tried to keep up faith in the process and that our daughter would find a new path for her life.
She is now a sophomore in college and has new dreams, new goals, new hope and new belief in herself. I see my daughter again, albeit a bit older and wiser. I will always be so thankful for all of those who helped our family along the way. Seeing M today reminds me to never give up hope that things can change and get better.
If I can leave you with one saying that helped me through the darkest days it is to: “Take One Day At A Time.”