I awoke today about 2 p.m., which is about normal. I had breakfast and started in working on the manuscript and had got in some fiddling on the current chapter. Then there came the familiar noise of someone coming in the house. It was followed, oddly, by the voice of my friend Jim.
I was happy to see Jim, but confused as to why he should be stopping by. Turns out he was sent over by Ericka to get me up. Laura (the young woman from yesterday's post) was in crisis and needed to be picked up.
Over the next few hours, I picked up the whole story. Here's the highlights:
- Laura's dad has physical custody of her.
- Her mom and dad share legal custody.
- Laura's dad has been physically abusive to his wife/girlfriend and Laura thus has a restraining order against him that puts their interactions completely in her control (she can initiate and terminate, he doesn't have those options)
- Laura had been living with her mom before coming to the Cities.
- Laura's mom is irrational and Laura is terrified of being with her.
- Laura has attempted suicide twice. Once to get out of living with her dad and once to get out of living with her mom.
- Laura's mom announced the intention to come to the Cities today and collect Laura for the weekend.
- Laura went to "the Bridge," (some sort of runaway shelter) this morning under the impression they could help her not go home with her mom; this turned out to not be the case.
This is where I entered the picture. Laura had left the Bridge and was apparently waiting at an Embers nearby. On my way to get her, I got a call saying she'd left the Embers and was at a nearby store.
I got there and collected her. We drove about and talked for a while and went to get something to eat. It became obvious to me that she was one very scared little girl. I remained calm and joked with her. We went back to my place and I held her on the couch as we talked some more and got her more calmed down.
Then Ericka and Kelly returned from Ericka's doctor's appointment today. The two of them did a pretty good job of working Laura back up again so we decided that Laura would stay at our place for the evening, in case her mom was still looking at Don and Kelly's and I took Laura to get movies for the evening while Kelly made dinner for Ericka.
On the way back, I pulled into a parking lot and talked more with Laura. I pointed out that all her actions so far were reactive and driven from fear. She was in total flight mode. The problem was, she couldn't clearly articulate what she wanted, just what she wanted to get away from; so she had no direction to run and, therefore, no safe place to get to.
We talked some more and came up with some things she wanted to do. She was more relaxed when we returned to the house and wrote down the things she wanted as we started watching a movie.
About a half hour into the film, there was a knock on the door. It was Laura's step-father (her mom's new husband). He wanted to know if we knew where Laura was. Seems they had reported her as a runaway. I told him that we did and that she was with us. He wanted to take her to return to her mom's house. This is not what Laura wanted, obviously, and I told him so. He said they'd return with the police.
Laura once again panicked and started thinking the worst would be happening. I reassured her as best I could and also marshalled forces to her aid (made calls to folks with useful information). The police arrived a short time later and I politely invited them in. We discussed the situation calmly and let them know that even though Ericka and I had no legal claim on Laura, we wanted to make sure she would be safe. I informed them about the above facts and that Laura was a suicide risk if she was given to her mom.
The cops seemed fairly pleased to be dealing with calm, rational people. They went outside to talk to her mom. I wasn't privy to that conversation but when they returned, they came up with a plan. Laura would have to go with them, but they would take her to the county crisis center for a psych evaluation.
After I had come to work, an hour or so later, we got a call with the news that the person doing the evaluation would have liked to commit Laura's mom on the spot and thought it obvious that Laura shouldn't be with her. So she was released into the custody of Don and Kelly, where she wanted to be all along.
As I kept telling Laura (and Ericka and Kelly) all night: Everything's going to be O.K. Lying to and hiding from the police are not good options.
The sooner people realize that I'm always right, the better off they'll be.