Red Queen

February 27th, 2019

“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that. ― Lewis Carroll, “Alice in Wonderland”

“I’m going to jail!”

I had hoped never to hear those words again, but I did.

The girl that we love said that to us on Sunday afternoon. She was riding in the back of a squad car at the time. Apparently, one of the arresting officers was handling her cell phone for her, seeing as the young woman was handcuffed at the time. The woman was mostly concerned about her boyfriend, and the possibility that he might dump her because she was soon to be incarcerated. The girl urgently wanted Karin to text the young man for her, and to tell him that she loved him. Considering everything else that was happening at that moment, it was a touching request. Karin sent the text.

I have spent a great deal of time with this young woman during the last two months. I have tried to help her find work and to find a place to live. I have always known that everything we have worked to build was extremely fragile. I always knew, in the back of my mind, that all of our work could be swept away at any moment.  It was.

I don’t know all of the details of what happened to get this young woman busted. I suspect it was a decision that can only be described as unwise. In any case, she has run afoul of the police and her probation officer, and that is not good, not at all.

The effects of her actions are already being felt. She has certainly lost her job. She is probably going to lose her place in the sober living house. She might get her probation revoked, and end up going to prison. As I mentioned before, her primary concern is her relationship with her partner. She is very worried about that. This woman had been diligently rebuilding her life, and now…who knows?

Why did she do something to get into trouble? I don’t know. Honestly, she doesn’t even know. We are in the realm of the irrational. Things don’t make sense, and there is no requirement for them to do so. These things just are. 

“History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes,” as Mark Twain is often reputed to have said. We have been in this situation before, at least to a certain extent. But it’s never exactly the same. Times change. People change.

Although this girl has been arrested and jailed numerous times in the past, there is a significant difference with this particular event. Previously, she was overwhelmed by fear and despair. She still feels extreme anxiety, and rightly so. However, she is calmer this time around. There isn’t that feeling of total panic. The biggest difference that I can see with this iteration is that she is mostly concerned about somebody besides herself. The woman’s focus is on her boyfriend, and his situation. This is something new. This might be something good.

The young woman asked my wife on the phone if I was angry with her. She always asks that question. Just for the record, I am not angry. Years ago, I would have been angry, but not now. I am sad and hurt, but not angry. The girl is sick. Being angry with her would be like being angry with a cancer victim. What is happening is largely beyond her control. She is trying to do the right things, and sometimes she just can’t.

I do get angry with people who try to moralize the situation. I get irritated with the people who do not understand mental illness, and then try to tell me that it is all a matter of learning to make good decisions, or being around good people (whatever that means). Or maybe, they say, it’s just matter of accepting Jesus as your personal savior. In any case, they imply that this girl’s problems are all her damn fault. That is bullshit.

What do we do now? Not much. The young woman saw her PO liaison yesterday, and now the probation officer has to make a decision. The girl will probably not get her probation revoked and go to prison. That is good. However, she has to start all over again, which means that we have to start all over again with her. Karin and I are prepared to do that. We plan on it.

We will pick ourselves off,  brush ourselves off, and start again.





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