I don’t know what I was so scared of. Going to see the pastor isn’t like going to the principal in school. He was gentle and compassionate and really supportive. And he didn’t take sides which was a relief. I’m so afraid people are going to think I’m the one making people choose. I don’t want anyone to take sides; it isn’t that kind of thing and it’s wrong. Daniel doesn’t really know what he is doing right now. I just need for people to have some understanding without being judgmental, to give us all some grace and time to figure things out. The pastor gave me that so I hope others can as well.
I could see the kindness in his eyes, it was real. Of all people he has probably seen an amazing amount of human suffering and can empathize. I suppose it’s his calling. I don’t think I could do what he does day in and day out. Seeing so much suffering would do me in.
But I can’t run from Daniel’s suffering, I can’t stick my head in the sand and wish it away. He’s my husband and I promised for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. I didn’t know what those words meant when I said them, but I’m beginning to now.
The detox is much harder on him this time. It has his demons chasing him in circles. The docs can’t give him any psychotropics until they can determine what is the result of his drug toxicity levels and what is due to his messed up brain chemistry.
No one was allowed to see him that first week; he was in complete isolation on the lock down ward. The second week they took him out of isolation but they still didn’t allow anyone to see him. By the beginning of the third week the doctor’s asked me to come in so they could observe our interaction since he was no longer violent. I did, even though I was scared, and my heart is just about broke. There is something very wrong with Daniel. I hadn’t been in there five minutes before he became agitated and they asked me to leave for my own safety.
When Mr. and Mrs. Lowery found out I had been allowed to see Daniel they started making all sorts of noise about being allowed the same privilege. I think they were trying to put pressure on me through members of the church because I kept hearing that I was preventing them from seeing their son. No matter how many times I tried to explain things, that it wasn’t my choice but the doctor’s, no one seemed to believe me.
So I brokered a deal with his doctor. They’d get a chance to see him but it would have to be in a private room away from the other in-patients in case something awful or awkward happened. Frankly I didn’t think Mrs. Lowery would be able to handle it. Daniel doesn’t even look like himself these days. I tried to explain that to Mr. Lowery but he thought I was exaggerating and trying to scare them off and he wasn’t having it. Unbeknownst to me he’d asked the pastor and one of the deacons to come to the meeting that day as “objective observers.”
I was right, Mrs. Lowery nearly passed out. I was scared she was going to have a heart attack right there the way Daniel was talking to her, blaming her for things that I know could not possibly have been true. At the same time he was trying to wheedle his father into getting him out of the hospital. I couldn’t take it anymore and had to leave the room but I could still hear what was being said. Some of it was pretty nasty. He claimed I wasn’t the girl he married; I was some imposter, because the real Aria wouldn’t have locked him up like he was some kind of monster. That I had been force feeding him drugs, abusing him sexually. That I was an alien and I was doing tests on him.
I had heard it second hand from his doctors; it was pretty much a running theme apparently. I had just never heard it firsthand. He just couldn’t believe I would force him to get help by refusing his demands to get him released. He refused to believe that I didn’t have any control over it. He’d been Baker Acted and it was up to the doctors at that point to say whether he was safe to be in the general public or not. And they were saying definitely not.
I was holding it together pretty good, or thought I was. The pastor came out and patted my arm, as did the deacon, but they moved to the center of the room when Mr. and Mrs. Lowery came out. That’s when it felt like I got hit between the eyes. Mr. Lowery looked at me calmly and asked, “What vile thing have you done to my boy to turn him into that?”
I could feel my knees buckle. I knew that Daniel’s parents were having a hard time dealing with reality. Heck, I have a hard time dealing with reality. If Daniel was my child I’m not sure how I would react. But to have him ask me that, and ask me that with the pastor and a deacon standing right there … it hurt, it hurt very bad. I have to forgive if for no other reason than my own heart, but it’s awful difficult not to hold a grudge over it.
At least now I’m not alone in this. The pastor got me into a waiting room chair before I fell down. Just more kindness on his part, something I’ll be thankful for the rest of my life, such a small act but it is something tangible that I can hold onto. My respect for the man just keeps increasing. He went and did the same for Mrs. Lowery as the military psychologist bluntly explained a few home truths to Daniel’s father.
“Mr. Lowery, you son is an addict. It has come to light that it started in high school when he began using performance enhancers and it progressed from there. The steroids and other drugs he has ingested since have played hell with his brain chemistry. An investigation has also revealed that although his wound was received due to an IED, it was intentional because he knew it was there and he walked into it anyway.” There was a collective gasp. I had already been told but hadn’t expected it to be so brutally revealed to his parents.
“The damage your son has, both mental and physical, is self-inflicted; not something anyone else did to him. Furthermore, if you desire your son to improve at all you will stop enabling him and encouraging him to believe that he can get better all on his own, that his only problem is that he listens to too many people tell him that he is sick and needs help. Well Mr. Lowery, you son is sick and he does need help, and unless you want him to continue to worsen you will stop attempting to circumvent his care and therapy.”
I still think that Mr. Lowery honestly believes that Daniel isn’t as bad as everyone is making him out to be; he is always better when his father is around and that makes Mr. Lowery believe he just needs time and the love of his family and he’ll get well. They believe that he’ll go back to the golden son they have always believed him to be, the son that never gave them reason to be disappointed … or at least did so rarely.
Marrying me was apparently one of those rare occasions. I have always known that Daniel’s parents hadn’t been thrilled when they’d first found out about Daniel and I getting engaged before he took off for basic training. But they’d seemed to decide to make the best of it. I have absolutely nothing to complain about as far as them being in-laws. Without them I don’t know where I would have been a few times. We’re from different backgrounds but they still acted like they respected me and accepted me if for no other reason than for their son’s sake and I decided I could live with that and offered them the same in return. I never felt left out or excluded. Never. They were always really nice.
I think that is what is making how they are right now so hard to take, so hard to understand.