Wow, what a difference a year makes! A year ago, we visited Chloe for a parents’ weekend five weeks into her treatment program. This past weekend, 13 months later, we attended another parents’ weekend and what a dramatic change Chloe has made. We’re beginning to see the light in our journey ahead.
Chloe celebrated her one year anniversary at the school in September. We asked her a day before it how she felt. “Excited!” she said. “I feel like I’ve made so much progress and I’m continuing to move forward.”
Honestly, what a wonderful relief it was to hear Chloe say that. Instead of dwelling on the fact that she’s been away from home for a year, she chose to see the positive in the situation and recognize the changes she’s making.
The next day, I wrote Chloe a letter to express our genuine pride in her progress. Below is part of what I wrote:
I’m thinking back to a year ago on this day and the weeks preceding it to prepare for your journey to Utah. It was an amazingly stressful time for us all. We had all gotten in too deep – you with friends who were using you and daddy and I with poor boundaries and parenting – poor choices all the way around.
During family therapy, we were so glad to hear that you are excited about the progress you’ve made during the past year, because you have! We have seen tremendous growth in you and are seeing the true, remarkable Chloe that has been yearning to shine and is now blossoming before our eyes! We are so proud of you and we know this has not been easy! You have been working so hard. Here’s how far you’ve come:
- You are ahead in credits for school!! Wow, you were dropped out of school when you went there!
- You have developed a stronger relationship with your grandparents and aunts by writing letters to them and sharing yourself with them during passes.
- You have opened yourself up to your therapists and friends.
- You have learned to listen to constructive feedback about behaviors that bother other people and try to make changes – huge!!
- It has become easier for you to talk about your feelings and be okay with them.
- You are taking accountability for your actions and words.
- You are learning to manage your emotions and when to seek support.
- You are asking more questions about how we’re doing and showing interest in our family.
- You are amazingly helpful during passes with dishes, cleaning up, baking, cooking meals, feeding the pets and being the bed-making fairy!
- You have proven to daddy and I that you are a kind, good-hearted person that we can trust!
You are doing the work you need to and are heading in the right direction! It is so great to see how good you feel about your progress during the past few months – you seem proud of yourself and you should be! Daddy and I can’t express enough how proud we are of your progress and where you’re going. A year ago, you came to the program saying, ‘I can’t do this. This is going to be too hard.’ Now you’re saying, ‘I will do this! I recognize that I’m changing and becoming a better person.’”
It feels so good and so right to have a healthy relationship with Chloe. She is in such an amazing place emotionally and physically and we feel so blessed.
We also recognize how truly lucky we are to have access to the resources necessary to support her treatment. For most people, her treatment is cost-prohibitive and it reminds me how inadequtely equipped our schools, health care and justice system are to support emotionally troubled youth in our society. So the dysfunctional cycle of high school dropouts, rising health care costs and overcrowded hospitals and jails continues.