Friday, May 16, 2014

The Healing Process

My boss is seriously amazing.  I called Richard to speak with him and update him on my well being the day after I was released from the hospital.  He was very concerned with how I was feeling and how long it may take me to recover.  Now, I've had bosses in the past who would ask how soon I'd be well, but really meant how soon can you get back to work.  Not Richard!  He made a really great suggestion.  He knows that I need to save as much money as possible, and rather than wipe out all of my accrued sick time or paid time off, suggested that I work from home if and when I feel up to it, until I'm ready and able to return to work.

I was nearly in tears, I was so grateful.  He talked to Celeste (the boss boss) and already had it approved.  He spent time working with our IT department to get me a laptop from the office to access our network and do everything I need to be able to do from home.  I thanked him profusely and assured him I was confident I'd be ready within 2 days to at least work four hours at a time.

I made good on my promise and showed up at work 2 days later with my medical documents (required by our HR department).  Our IT department somehow arranged it so that anything I printed using the laptop would be printed out in Richard's office, eliminating the need for me to actually show up at the end of each shift simply to print off and file my documents.  They are printed in his office and given to my coworker Kaylee to file.  Kaylee is the one who trained me for the most part; we work the same position (she works 6am-2pm, so our shift only overlaps by 2 hours) and have shared reports and responsibilities.  She was sweet enough to send me an email wishing me well and assuring me it'd be no problem for her to physically file my printed reports.  I am so blessed to work with great people that actually care about each other, not just the company.

I'm thinking about suggesting to Richard that instead of taking a full maternity leave when the baby comes, I can arrange to work at home for a few hours a day with one full day a week actually at the call center.  I waiting to make that suggestion, however.  I want to see if me working from home is a good fit for myself and my bosses.

Now that I've bored you with my mundane work updates, boy, do I have some interesting things to share.

Obviously, I called Melinda to tell her about the fall and my minor injuries.  She was upset that I hadn't had someone contact her while I was in the hospital, but seemed very understanding when I explained the situation.  I know she was just worrying about me and the baby (speaking of the baby, I really need to start seriously thinking about her name).  I told her that I thought Michael should know, since it was his baby, too.

That is when the conversation turned and really shocked me.

"Speaking of Michael..." Melinda spoke, sounding hesitant.

"What did he do now?" I asked, my annoyance level rising.  Michael used to be a great person with a promising future, but within the past year, he's begun a stunning descent into self destruction.

"Well, he realized finally that he needs help.  Tom and I have done everything possible to get him to realize he's ruining his life with his behavior.  He, uh, he had a breakdown, right after you saw him last.  He admitted to spying on you at Kate's house, ya know, watching when you leave and come back.  Keeping an eye on who you're with.  I would have told you sooner, but Michael doesn't need jail, he needs help."

"That's an understatement." I said flatly.  "And how long ago did he tell you this, Melinda?  Is he still stalking me?  Because if he is, I am contacting the police.  The order of protection was only temporary, but it can be made permanent and he will be denied custody rights.  Hell, he might even be denied visitation rights at all!"

"Emma, sweetie, it's stopped.  I promise you.  He's, uh, he's at a psychiatric ward.  He has been for a few weeks, now.  He, um, was considered a danger to himself, they called it suicidal ideation.  Michael's making great progress, they say.  He speaks with a therapist daily, he is fighting to get well.  They have him on anti depressants and a mood stabilizer of some sort.  I can't really discuss the details, that wouldn't be fair to him right now."

I was silent for a long time.  I digested what Melinda was telling me, mulling it over in my mind.  I felt truly and deeply sorry for Michael.  I'd had no idea that things had gotten so bad.  I wondered if Manda cutting ties with him helped push him over the edge.  I also couldn't help but wonder why I'd heard nothing about it.  Surely, other people were aware of Michael's issues and word tends to get around.

"Well, Melinda, I'm sorry to hear that he's in such a bad place.  Hopefully he is getting the help he needs and gets his life back in order.  I'm not sure why you didn't call and tell me this sooner, though.  It would've been nice for me to know so I didn't feel so paranoid all the time that he'd show up and harass me." I fought to keep my tone sympathetic and not accusatory.  Surely Tom and Melinda were already stressed and feeling terrible.

"He doesn't want anyone else to know," Melinda spoke plainly. "He's ashamed and doesn't want people to know about what's going on.  As far as everyone else is concerned, he's on a trip to Oregon to visit extended family."

"I understand.  I'm sure this is a tough time for him.  He shouldn't be ashamed, though.  Plenty of people seek psychiatric help or struggle with depression at some point in their lives."

"It's not just that, honey.  He has a substance abuse problem.  He's going to need a lot of help and support.  I know you can't be the one to provide that, but we're all hoping that by the time the baby gets here, he'll be okay enough that he can be there for his daughter as much as you'll allow." Melinda's voice sounded drained of all energy.  It was obvious how much pressure she was under.

"We can only hope.  Give Tom my love for me.  Let him know the car is still running great and I hope to see the two of you soon."

"I will, sweetie.  Oh, Emma? One more thing," she paused.

I waited a beat before responding.

"What's that?"

"Michael wrote you a letter.  I know, I know it's technically a violation of the order you have.  He said you don't have to read it, but writing it really helped him.  If you want it, I can bring it to you.  I know you're pretty much on bed rest for now."

"I'll, uh, have to think about it.  I'll call you soon and let you know."

We said our goodbyes and ended the call.  Thinking about everything Michael is going through tugs at my heart.  It's nearly impossible not to feel bad for someone who I once loved so much.  I'm wondering now how long ago his substance abuse started.  Was it becaus of the breakup?  Did it start before that?  It could certainly explain his distant behavior, but I've been chalking that up to him likely having been cheating on me with Manda.  It could also have been the beginning of his depression.  Depression is the type of thing that can creep in and take hold in unique ways before anyone even realizes its an issue.

I spent a lot of time after the phone call reflecting on everything Melinda and I had discussed.  Now, maybe this goes against my better judgment, but I think I need to read the letter.  Maybe it'll answer some questions and provide closure.  On the other hand, it may just open up a whole new can of worms or tear open old memories.  Maybe I should leave the scab alone, let it scar over and heal.

**Do you think Michael will come home a changed man?  Should Emma accept and read the letter?  Do you think Emma should let him back into her life?**


  1. I think she should read the letter. i think Michael can change if he is willing to cause if he really has depression then once that is under control he can have a normal life. I think if he is stable when the baby is born she definitely should let him see her with gradual visitation rights too much at once could push him too far. I think once he is on his feet then maybe they could be friends cause if he was suffering depression then maybe the last year hasn't been really him.

  2. This is interesting! Men have a higher rate of substance abuse and lower rate of depression, and they often use substances to cope with and hide depression, so bringing up the two together here is so real life.

  3. I think she should read the letter. I don't think she should let him back into her life, except to co-parent thier daughter. Even that should be a slow process.

  4. She shouldn't read the letter. If she reads it than he is gonna think that he can get back into her life. Not only that but she need to keep her life Michael free especially for her baby!

  5. She spent a long time with this guy, and he is the father of her baby. I do believe that people can change, and maybe after he really proves his worthiness, she could start to see where things go with him.