Try and Stop Me - A Daughter's Challenge, A Father's Poetry
My daughter, fifteen years old and apparently coping with life, was not coping at all. She tried to kill herself seven times. She was in desperate need of medical help and serious parenting. Try and Stop Me was the terrifying message I read daily in her face, in her actions, and in a loud, angry silence that fiercely grew between us. It was a challenge I had to accept. The poetry is our story. More
The moment you have a child your world changes. What a gift!
The pure joy of welcoming a new life into yours puts everything else in perspective. Priorities are immediately shuffled, downgraded, and things we always thought were important items on our daily agenda are completely forgotten (and never missed). But with that airy, weightless joy comes a hefty burden of responsibility. And it’s not a temporary task. Parents struggle with infant feeding, teething, toilet training, first falls and injuries, the stress of school, bullying, and a myriad trials and disappointments we must witness, share, and cope with. Energy ebbs and flows.
The teenage years are fraught with the agonies of puberty and peer pressure. We watch from the sidelines as our kids struggle to be accepted for who and what they think they are, or feel they want to be. It seems like a time for loosening the parental reins. We gradually, often nervously, hand over decisions and the consequences that go with them. We begin to see the young adult emerging, offering up many qualities to encourage and admire. The pride of seeing a toddler walk for the first time, learning to swim, ride a bike or write their name, is replaced by the pride of watching our offspring earn their driver’s licence, get their first job, babysit someone else’s precious child…
Parents must surely be forgiven for sighing with relief when this exciting but challenging journey of ten or fifteen years begins to get easier. We catch our breath and try to sit back for a while. We rekindle our own hobbies and interests, focus once more on careers and carefully measured self-indulgence. Until one completely normal day we’re ambushed by news. A short, sharp telephone call from a stranger kicks me in the stomach. “Your daughter’s taken an overdose and she’s being rushed to hospital by ambulance…”
My daughter, barely fifteen years old and apparently coping with life, was not coping at all. Lesser acting than she’d been doing around home and school has won Oscars. That’s how well she’d hidden her inner torment and depression, and kept that ugly monster in a secret cave. But suddenly it was all out in the open, in desperate need of medical help and serious parenting, and more. She had tried to kill herself seven times, and she was getting better at it with each attempt.
These poems are an attempt to share a few of my thoughts and feelings about the hardest parenting period of my life. I offer here a few insights and scenes from the long and harrowing journey I made with her throughout two years. Although it was often disguised, sometimes hidden completely from view, hope, I thought, was always there. It had to be.
The title of this book, Try and Stop Me, was the terrifying message I read daily in her face, in her actions, and in the loud and angry silence that fiercely grew between us. It was a deadly challenge, and one I had absolutely no choice but to accept. Is there a happy ending? We’ll see.
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