Saturday, May 3, 2008

What's the point of trying?

I am so frustrated and sad and hopeless and angry that I don't know whether to scream or cry. It's all about Annie, again, as usual. That's her in the red sweatshirt about 5 years ago at one of our church suppers. I like to find the older pictures of Annie because I prefer to remember her before I felt so frustrated...(see above).

It was Annie's 19th birthday at the end of April so Doug and I radically rearranged our schedules to both go down to her placement (5.5 hours away) to see her, spend some time with her and attend a staffing. As you may have read from some of my other posts Annie is not doing well in her placement and most of her staff and her attending therapeutic types all have compassion fatigue. Annie wears folks out.

However, our intention in going to see her was to make her birthday a positive event and try to give her a little boost. We went out to dinner the first night and had some good talks about the rest of the family and how everyone was doing, we were able to laugh and be a little lighthearted. Then we went shopping for her birthday presents and she really liked that. We actually got a smile or two out of her and a spontaneous hug.

The next morning we had her staffing and the first part was without her where the staff expressed a lot of their concerns and frustrations, then Annie joined us and it went downhill from there. We just went in circles until we were all dizzy and never did we move off of square one. Annie expressed that she really wanted to get enough independent living skills to move into a supervised apartment. So we went over what steps she needed to take. She needed to go to the job skills classes they had set up for her and work with her job coach, but Annie doesn't want to do that, she wants to get a job in the community right away. No amount of examples, explanations or stories from our own experiences could convince her that she needed in any way to change her attitudes, habits, and responses to redirection in order to succeed at a job. It was the most useless thing I have done in a long while. She can cognitively state what she needs to do in the abstract but resists putting even the most basic steps into practice in the real world.

But after that we regrouped as a family, had a good lunch together and she and I went shopping again for some of the things she needed that weren't birthday presents. After that we wanted to take a short hike in the beautiful state park they have but the weather had turned nasty and Annie was experiencing some bronchitis again (a chronic condition linked to her cigarette usage and her extreme obesity) so we didn't do that. When we took her back to her residence she seemed to be in a great space, was showing her peers her birthday presents and showed every evidence of being in good spirits.

However, looks can be deceiving, shortly after we left she up and AWOLed from the program. She was out more than 24 hours and they put out a missing persons alert on her. After about 36 hours she called a staff member and said she was lost and they picked her up. She has no reason she can express for going out and partying at the local crack houses, trading for her drugs and putting herself at such extreme risk.

I don't know, I don't see the point any more. We have poured so much effort into helping this kid, finding the best programs to help her address her needs, doing everything in our power to keep her safe, to teach her how to make better choices, and let her know that she is loved. We went to see her, gave her presents and the sum of it was she ran again. I told her she was teaching me that it was dangerous for me to go see her because she ran away when I did. I told her she was teaching me that maybe I should just send a card next time. Boy she didn't like hearing that.

So every since she came back she has been flooding us with phone calls all about how angry she is that the staff packed her stuff up without her being there (uh duh, she was still on the lam) and that they had not done a good job. And she doesn't like her new residence and especially doesn't like that the doors are locked (uh duh, you just went AWOL and engaged in dangerous behaviors while out). She also says her new room is smaller and she doesn't have enough dresser space. Not a word of contrition, not a word of reflection on her behavior, not a scrap of understanding or empathy for what she put us through again. And what makes me most angry is she doesn't care at all that some of her peers had to shift residences to accommodate her move. Her negative behavior gave someone else bad or at least not the best consequences and she doesn't care a stitch. Oh I want to shake her, no wait that is what her BM did when she was small and that's why we are on this merry go round, so skip the shaking, I want to make her see what she has done, but that's useless so what's the point?!?!

Despair is a dark and cold place to be, I think I liked denial better, at least we could pretend we were making progress and that things might get better in time. No despair is a pretty final place to be without hope, without goals, even without ideas, and that is where I am right now.

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