Some Context

Hayley’s was a perfectly planned pregnancy.  Her older brother, Jake, would be exactly 3 years old when she was born – the recommended sibling age gap of Harvard child development specialist, Burton White.  Weighing in at 8 lbs 5 oz with an all-natural childbirth, Hayley took to the breast immediately.  She was “colicky” for the first 3 months, with lots of gastric distress and refusing a pacifier or bottle of any kind.  She nursed until ~18 months, and I made all my own baby food, deliberate and intentional in all aspects of her upbringing.  She was a delightful baby after the first 3 months, and idolized her older brother, Jake.  In fact, she preferred hanging around Jake and his friends versus her own.

Hayley’s elementary, middle school and high school years seemed “normal”, with the usual school activities, piano/ballet lessons, sports activities, and neighborhood friendships.  She had a beautiful singing voice, pitch perfect and lilting.  She did well in school, although opted out of a couple more challenging advanced placement classes her senior year of high school (4th year IB Spanish and IB Biology).  It seemed reasonable.

Hayley graduated from a small, prestigious liberal arts college with a degree in Politics in 2001.  She only applied to this one college where Jake also attended.  Her father, Brad, and I had separated in 1996 at the beginning of her senior year in high school.  Brad had had an affair with a much younger woman. When I learned of it, he and I entered in to marriage counseling, tried to reconcile, but it just didn’t work out.  Brad used Hayley as an emotional confidante to not only relate to her during this tumultuous time, but to also relieve some of his guilt, I think.  Ultimately, Brad married “Jill” in 2002.

Hayley seemed “fine” through out college, although she constantly overspent her monthly allowance, which Brad always quickly subsidized.  Brad and I were somewhat estranged during this time and he controlled Hayley’s college finances.  If I questioned him about her money management, he would over react and accuse me of trying to control him.  I had no input or accurate information regarding Hayley’s spending and budget.  In January of her junior year in college, she studied abroad in Italy.  It was a wonderful experience for her.  She lived with an eccentric, artsy Italian family in Florence, became fluent in Italian, and wowed us all with her immersion in to the cosmopolitan life of Florence.  We later learned, however, that Italy was where her eating disorder began and developed – as well as her smoking/nicotine addiction.

Hayley was notorious for her carelessness: losing her driver’s license, cell phone, misplacing her car keys, disorganized apartment, car full of clothes and paraphernalia – constant chaos.  A month or two after graduating from college, Hayley headed to southern California to live and find a job.  She had ~$7,000 in graduation gift money to get herself settled into a living situation and job. That money quickly disappeared – as well as a sizable chunk of Xmas money from her grandparents.  Her mismanagement of money continued with, unbeknownst to me, Brad supplementing her shortfalls.

However, soon after arriving in SB, Hayley did land a decent job with a property management company, and after 6 months, applied for and was hired for a more interesting and challenging job with a medical robotics company.  In July 2002, she called me in tears, at the insistence of her roommates, to report that she had a terrible eating disorder and needed to come home.  Her roommates didn’t know exactly what Hayley’s problems were – they suspected something serious – possibly drugs – but only knew that she couldn’t ever pay her portion of the household bills. I flew to SB, packed her up, paid off all her many debts/bills/financial fees, and drove her back home to the Pacific Northwest.  Prior to leaving SB, Hayley and I, together, attended a couple of sessions with an eating disorder therapist.  Hayley insisted that drugs were not involved – that the eating disorder (bulimia) was her primary problem and that she wanted and needed help.

In August 2002, Hayley left for a residential eating disorder treatment center in Missouri.  She was there for ~45 days, but apparently bluffed her way through the program and its team of professionals.  She was identified as exhibiting “drug-seeking behavior” and also violated many of the facility’s rules by sneaking in marijuana, buying vodka on a weekend pass, not participating in many of the recommended practices (letter/journal writing, setting up her own aftercare program, etc.)  Even though she could have stayed longer, I think she was essentially asked to leave.

Upon returning home, we helped Hayley find a place to live (in a friend’s guest house), encouraged her to attend support groups, set up therapy appointments, etc.  Nothing ever really materialized.  She got a series of jobs and boyfriends and seemed to enter back in to young adult, post college life.  However, the financial crises continued, chaotic living conditions, unreliable behavior.

Enough to digest for now.  I am setting the stage for my daughter’s addictive personality and the evolution of her heroin use.

See the family “Cast of Characters”.

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One Response to “Some Context”

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Your description of Haley reminds me a lot of myself.


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