Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Life is not easy

Greetings! It has been quite a while since my last post and I ask for forgiveness. I have been out of town, working, and handling issues that have emerged this past week. In many ways, I have been too distracted to post, but will now try to catch up with what has been going on....and a lot has happened.

I have to be very delicate in writing this note for a number of reasons that will be revealed as you read on and on and on......

Last week, I traveled to the south for a long weekend and the presented some of my research at a symposium on the other side of the state. Both trips were successful but took me away from writing, although issues still emerged.

Once again, I write this blog as a means to communicate the intense nature of baseball and my son's quest and drive to make it or not make it to the major leagues. Playing college and professional sports is not an easy venture. My friend's son is a quarterback at a large well known university. I have known this boy since grade school and he is a great kid. Anyway, his team lost on Saturday and he threw three interceptions. Imagine his heart ache as he tries to deal with this performance. He faces criticism week after week and still remains positive. I have a new admiration for all of these players as they strive to do things that only a few people can do.

Therefore, football like baseball is loaded with people looking to bring a person down. Blogs and websites are devoted to hating players and teams. In fact, when I look online, there are sites that are purely dedicated to demonstrating how bad certain players perform on any given day. With that kind of pressure, a person can go crazy and need some external assistance. This is where it can and does take a village to create and handle a professional ball player.

I am not trying to skirt around the impending issue, but merely pointing out that this level of sports has its positives and negatives. To that end, I will begin....

Buddy has had some difficulty putting life into perspective and therefore contacted the sports psychologist who works with all of the athletes and has experience with their unique needs. He has many years of experience and is committed to helping the kids. So Buddy finally went to see him and immediately liked him. He plans on seeing him every week until he can sort things out in his mind and place baseball into the correct place in his life. I applaud him and wish that I had someone who would put things into perspective for me too...like a closet organizer.

Gradually, he has felt more confident and relaxed. However, with fall ball, there is still a great amount of pressure for all of the players as they compete for starting spring positions. They are tired and stressed because they also attend college full time. The anxiety and stress trickle into their personal lives and they are distracted and become closed off. With Buddy, he tends to become very quiet and introspective as the season continues and basically hides. Yet, the big guy is in college and does not hide too much and still likes a party or movie or playing video games.

The weekends are great fun as the guys plan to attend football games and parties. Plans are made with the guys who they consider friends. Lone Wolf, formerly known as Nemesis is on the outer fringe of the circle. LW has been very difficult to live with and has a trigger-like temper, will not share his food, and makes inappropriate and rude remarks to anyone in ear shot. The guys had been freezing him out to avoid conflict for several days until LW screamed at Big Red for drinking some of his juice. The argument was heated and ugly and LW was told that everyone hated him. Not one of their finer moments, but it happened nevertheless. Later that day, LW joined the guys at a party where he continued with his inappropriate behavior and was shot down by one of the girls who he wanted to date. He was beginning to seethe and drink more and became combative and belligerent. Buddy had to get him out of the party and bring him back to the apartment. As Buddy settled in for the night, LW barged into his room and demanded that they talk about what had happened. He then showed Buddy marks on his chest where he had 'cut' himself in an act of self-loathing. Floored, Buddy was completely unprepared to deal with this type of issue. He wanted to help LW but was not equipped to handle it. What does he do? He calls home to talk with me about the cutting.

To me, cutting is an act caused by a person who is desperate and it seems that LW was desperate. We chatted a bit and I suggested that he ask LW to call his parents for some help. He could also meet with the sports psychologist to work on his issues. There is truly something wrong and this young man is screaming out for help and attention. It is unfortunate that he has taken his issues this far.

On Saturday, things went back to normal as some of the guys went out and Buddy stayed in the apartment since he was feeling sick. As he walked to the kitchen, he found a note written by LW saying that he has had it and is sorry about committing suicide. It was ten o'clock at night and Buddy once again did not know what to do. That's when he called in a panic. At first, it seemed like a cry for attention and LW seeking to make the guys squirm for their impatience with him. But a kid does not write something like that as a college essay. He is in a great deal of pain.

Buddy went into action and called the guys to come back to the apartment. He then tried to contact LW who did not answer his cell phone. Next, he contacted the psychologist for assistance. They spread out and drove in a rush through campus trying to find him and stop him from hurting himself. Finally they found him in his friend's apartment playing video games. Yes, that is correct. He was enjoying himself with a group of guys while the other kids were driving crazily trying to find him.

I am going to stop the story here for a few quick notes. Number 1: he left the note to be found by Buddy whom he knew would spring into action. Number 2: the guys were speeding around town trying to find him. They could have had an accident and either killed themselves or someone else. Number 3: he was alive but did not answer his cell phone even a text message. To me, this is a great manipulation by someone who cannot figure out how to get his way without trying. He wanted friends, but did not know how to make them. it is very sad.

Back to the story...they found him and brought him back to the apartment where the psychologist sat with them and started a dialogue on the issues. It ended around 2 am when Buddy called home to report that LW had been found and he was alive. I then told him that he is not responsible for this action and therefore should not shoulder any guilt. That night, I was ready to drive to campus at midnight to help sort out the mess. Fortunately, I was not needed but was ready to go.

On Sunday, I asked for an update and whether LW had contacted his parents and told them about the note. To me, this is very very serious. His parents needed to know this information in order to help him. Keeping it from them would be a grave mistake. LW told Buddy that he called his mother and told her. Since this person has not been truthful in the past, I figured that if he really told them then his parents would be there that day. Which parent would not come to campus knowing that their child had written a suicide note? SO, I waited and waited to hear when the parents arrived. They never did which told me that he did not call them. By the way, Big Red wanted to tear up the note, but LW took it and ate it. Hmmmmm

So, what's BP mom to do? You got it right...I called his mother on Monday and asked her if she was OK after Saturday night. When she did not know what I was talking about, I told her what had happened. Can you imagine someone calling and telling you that your son wrote a suicide note two days ago? What would you do? What would you say? I probably would have dropped the phone and jumped into the car.

This is not what happened. I could tell that she was teary and apologized for giving her such bad news but she needed to know. You cannot keep this away from the person who could help this young man. He needed her and she had to know. When LW found out that I called, he was very angry with Buddy who calmed him down and told him that I called her to make sure that she was feeling alright because I was concerned about the family. I am not going to go into the conversation because she shared some intimate details about this young man and I would prefer not to write about it, but this woman has been dealing with this behavior for quite a while. I hung up the phone feeling very bad about them.

I immediately shook off the guilt and sadness and wanted Buddy to know that he is not responsible for any of this nor should he shoulder any blame. Furthermore, if he is still distracted by these antics and unable to focus on school and baseball, someone was going to have to move out of the apartment. Consequently, I decided to take the trip to campus today and make sure for myself that everything was normal. Before I left, I made sure that the therapist could see us together. My senses tell me that my son needs to establish workable boundaries and be equipped with tools to defuse future situations. We went to meet the doc and had a great conversation where he shared that Buddy handled the crisis with a great deal of skill. With that said, we worked on a plan together and left the office. Who was sitting outside of the office in a chair, slumped, and glaring at us? Yep....there he was...LW.

Immediately, I was concerned that he would think that we were talking about him (since we were) but I did not want Buddy confronted in the apartment. First, he does not need any more drama. Second, he was diagnosed with strept throat today. However, one important item was discussed in the meeting and that was how to share with LW that he was not going to live with him next year. This is almost a done deal as Buddy is going to live with California and da Dog, so LW is not invited. This will cause hard feelings and possible ramifications. He cannot be this young man's baby sitter for the next three years. He has to focus on his own life and attend to his issues.

To end, this young man is troubled and needs assistance. He has many wonderful qualities but lacks some basic social skills. According to the doctor (and common sense), some of the best athletes never learn how to get along with others because people want to be near them because they can throw a ball. This type of friendship is fake and not real. This fellow needs guidance, someone to confide in, and methods to work out his frustrations without taking them out on his room mates. He is in my thoughts and prayers as I wish him the very best. It is not an easy road and I hope that he has the help that he needs to live a long and happy life with lots of friends and family surrounding him.

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