I’d always been under the impression that when Ben was ready to leave his group home, he’d be gradually weaned off the 24-hour staffing to, perhaps, 16 or 12 hours of supervision. But no. Ben’s recent accomplishments, notably lasting six whole weeks at his new job, have forced the issue of getting him “graduated” from supervised housing to the next step. Evidently, there is no middle ground in our state. The next step is living alone. Yes, he qualifies for a med nurse to show up twice a day and carry out doctor’s orders for supervision of meds. Yes, there is help “if he needs it” in the office a few blocks away. But still. While I share and applaud Ben’s accomplishments to qualify for this next step, I am also as concerned about this change as I am happy for him.
Tomorrow, he moves. First and last month’s rent? He only has part of it. Most of his benefits were withdrawn almost as soon as he received that first paycheck. So guess who has to make up the difference? What do people do who don’t have parents to help them?
Furniture? He needs a bed, a table and chairs, the basics of life. So much need, so soon, with nothing in the bank to pay for it now. What if he had no family? What do others do? I think we’ll be making daily visits to Goodwill for awhile. Our family has unlimited love to give, but definitely not unlimited funds. Far from it.
Ah, the thrill of the challenge. But finding furniture, and stocking Ben’s fridge, will be the easier part. How do I stay away from the fear: What if it’s too much for him? What if, after seven careful years of building his life back up, this is too much independence, too soon?
What if Ben crashes? I try not to think this way, but it sneaks into my head when I’m not looking.
After seven years with the safety of all-day staffing, Ben will be on his own in so many ways. He is thrilled beyond belief. I am happy for him. I am, also, scared. I want to believe that his recent accomplishments – doing so well in part-time college classes, landing and keeping this new job, racking up years now of sobriety – are proof that he is really growing up at last, chipping away at the years he lost when his illness was in the forefront. I will behave as if I have complete faith in his ability to thrive in this new phase. And maybe – just maybe – it will all work out wonderfully.
Ben has certainly earned this chance to prove himself. There is little I can do now except be happy for him, support his independence, and – between you and me – keep my eyes wide open for signs of relapse, and my arms and heart wide open to love and congratulate him.