Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Thomas' Big Day

It's here! Today is his day to shine. Sadly for him he is fighting off a monster case of anxiety and depression. It isn't for what you might think though I will say I do think a part of it is just good old fashioned, garden variety first day of work anxiety.

I told you how he came to me a couple nights ago and said he wanted to talk to me. He came out of his room yesterday morning, made me turn off the T.V. and then we sat down together. He shook and his voice faltered as he began to talk. What came out of his mouth was out of left field for me because I hadn't thought of this among all the possibilities of what might be generating his anxiety.

As it turns out, he told me how scared he was that he was starting his job. On top of that he went on to say that he had been dependent on his step-dad and I for 18 years and he felt that now that he had a job, he couldn't depend on us anymore. At all. Not even a little bit. I asked him if he felt we were going to kick him out of the house because he was now employed and he said yes. He also felt that somehow inside that he was having to give up everything he had ever known in his life because he was going to have a job. It wasn't like he felt he had to give up the fun of his current days (like video games) but he felt that those things signified childhood and he was going to have to say goodbye to all of them and become a consummate adult.

Maybe this sounds to you like nothing and I don't think I'm telling you exactly what he means by all of this, what it means deep down inside to him, but to me he was in a state of fear and mourning.

We aren't new to this way of thinking. As the school year came to an end and he prepared to graduate he felt these same things. All around him friends were being turned out into the "real world" and being told that then end of high school meant the end of a life at home, the end of meals cooked by mom and that everything they had enjoyed as kids (like cell phones) were being taken away unless they got a job and paid for those things themselves. These kids were facing a lonely, scary life and somehow Thomas connected that because his friends were being dumped out on their own that he, too, was going to have the same thing happen to him.

Never, ever, have I ever said he was on his own. I have told him that I would be by his side as these transitions were slowly made but they weren't happening at graduation and they aren't happening now.

In our conversation yesterday I reminded him of those things again. Sadly, though, he remained unconvinced and he stood up from the conversation and I hugged his trembling body and didn't let go for the longest time hoping my hugs emanated all the love and safety that I have for him and he would miraculously stop feeling so terrified. It didn't work. I turned to the only thing I had left to give him and that was the choice to take an anti anxiety pill which he bee-lined toward.

This went on all day. He stuck to me like glue and went with me everywhere I went. We had many talks all day about what it really meant to be starting this job today and I would check in with him and see if he was ok and he would tell me that he needed to be reminded all the time for a while. I had no problem with that. He needed his social security card to fill out W-2's and I went and got it and brought it to him and set it on his desk. I told him to hang onto it. It wasn't very long before he came to me and handed it to me and told me that he was very afraid of losing it (even though it was sitting safely in our home on his desk) and he made me take it back. He watched, concerned, as I put it in my wallet and I told him to remind me to give it back to him before he went into work. To him, having that social security card was yet one more indicator that he had to become independent from his old life and he just wasn't ready to take that on.

At bedtime he was still a wreck and I hugged him again with everything my heart could come up with and I told him that he would never ever be alone. I told him to think of this job like his last practice one. I told him that he was going to go to work like he always did when he worked before. I told him I would drive him and that I would be there at the end of his shift waiting in the parking lot to pick him up and see how his day went. I told him that we were having chicken for dinner and that he would be eating with us and I told him that he would go to bed that night in his nice warm bed in his bedroom that he's personalized. I held him by the shoulders and looked him straight in the eye and I said, "You will never be alone kiddo."

His door closed and my heart broke for him. He is so wrapped up in fear that he's freezing himself out of all of the real possibilities for his future that having a job means. I expect today will be worse than yesterday and I will try again today to help him see the truth of what having this job means. Maybe I should be more harsh, maybe I should just tell him that this is life and he better get in and hang on but he just isn't the kind of kid that you do that to. He needs safety, security, reassurance and love and that's all I've got to give him and I will do that until the day he decides he's strong enough to go it alone.

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