(Continued from Part II)
What is it about the mention of the police that sends you into a panic?
What did the police want? Were they going to arrest her? Lock Cinderella away for her own good?
SIL needed to know where Cinderella's therapy appointment was. The name of LCSW, her phone number, office location.
(How they did not know this is beyond me. She's only been LIVING WITH THEM since January!)
I ask to speak with the officer and provide him with all of the details need to track Cinderella down.
Then I call my friend, LCSW and then Prince Charming to fill them in.
What is she fucking stupid???
PrinceCharming's reaction is less about Cinderella's behavior and more about his own insecurities over how to parent from a distance while still recovering from Traumatic Brain Injury.
It doesn't not surprise me.
She's just looking for attention!
Yes. Yes she is. Of course she is.
I remind him of a night not that long ago when I received a suicidal text from him.
"Would you have liked it if I told you to knock it off and stop looking for attention?"
He got my point. In his silence I knew he was recalling my empathetic ear that night. How I talked him in from the proverbial ledge and helped him see things a little clearer.
Cinderella needed that same kind of empathy and guidance now.
We knew she was ok.
She was doing what teens do best...complaining in an over-the-top melodramatic fashion to a friend.
Only this time her complaints triggered a domino effect that she could not have anticipated.
Out of concern, her friend reported her "threat" to a school guidance counselor, who in turn notified the school Psychologist who then contacted the local police.
Once again, valid or not, this is the reality we were given, and it was met with the only response that made sense.
LCSW contacted the state troopers as soon as Cinderella arrived for her appointment to assure them she was safe and sound, in one piece, and very much ALIVE.
Prince Charming hopped a train that night to head back up to his parents' house so he and Cinderella could figure out next steps.
Two days later, Cinderella was admitted into a psychiatric hospital.
Safe within the walls of this sanctuary, she would undergo intensive group and private therapies for two weeks. She would finally get that psych evaluation LCSW asked for two months prior and was prescribed Zoloft to ease her anxiety.
Her visitors were restricted. Based on her initial intake interviews, the hospital staff determined that her mother was 70% to blame for Cinderella's emotional stress, and that it would be in her best interest to not have any contact with Maleficent while undergoing treatment. Her father, myself and her grandparents were the only people allowed to call or visit.
The night before she was admitted and for close to a week following, PrinceCharming tried contacting Maleficent to let her know what was happening with their daughter. True to form, Maleficent refused to answer or return Prince Charming's calls. Instead, opting to call Cinderella's school daily to see if she was in attendance.
Ultimately, at my urging, PrinceCharming left the details of Cinderella's hospitalization in a voicemail.
I mean, why would he want to force a phone conversation with her anyway?
That weekend, Prince Charming and I visited Cinderella.
Together we let her know she has a support system in us. That we loved her and were proud of her bravery.
By the time she was discharged, Cinderella was stronger. She had begun to learn valuable tools on how to stand up to her mother and those around her.
She learned that her feelings matter. That she has a voice and it deserves to be heard.
She learned radical acceptance - that she can't change the behaviors of those around her, but that she can change her reactions to them.
A lesson that I learned along my own personal journey as her WickedStepmom.
Unlike me, she was learning these lessons much sooner.
And somewhere along the lines, in finding her voice, she's expressed her wishes to live with me once again.
Though, not to Maleficent...who is planning to try and get custody of her (yet again).