Rob and Mike were home. It was good to see them in spite of the emotional distancing there appeared to be between Rob and I. Conversations were guarded and brief. We didn't know what to say to each other. My perception of his response was that he was angry and frustrated with me. I believed I was responsible for messing up his dream. I thought he saw me as an attention-seeking actress putting on a great show. I didn't think he believed I was sincere in my misery. I couldn't have been more wrong.
From his perspective, he came back to the States not knowing what kind of reception he would get from me and Karen. He believed he would be blamed for my breakdown; that he should have done things differently, should have prayed more, talked to me more, did something differently in order to prevent my meltdown. He felt blame would be cast on him, even so far as being held responsible for the kids' deaths. Both of us did a fine dance in the blame game, even when accusations were truly never verbalized or even entertained. We both had false ideas of what the other was thinking. In the midst of my emotional brokenness, our communication had broken down as well, leading to inaccuracies and further lies being planted.
From the above scenario, it is obvious to see how easy it would be for couples experiencing the death of a child to end up divorced. We had been told on numerous occasions our marriage surviving the death of not only one child, but two, was a miracle. Statistics showed a divorce rate of approximately 80% for couples who lost one child, and approximately 90% for couples experiencing the death of more than one child. (There have been some studies which refute those statistics) Regardless of numbers, any marriage can quickly fall apart after such a significant loss.
Rob sat in on the informal counseling sessions I had with Karen, and after some discussion, it was decided we would seek professional help. We received a referral to go to a nationally renowned treatment facility specifically established for persons in ministry. An appointment was scheduled, and we made the day-long drive to a hotel nearby. At our appointment the following day, we individually filled out multiple questionnaires, all geared toward giving a picture of our emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being. Once they were completed, they were analyzed and the results given to our specific counselor. The results revealed Rob was experiencing mild depression. The stress of all the preceding events had taken a toll on him as well. Ironically, I didn't feel sorry for him. I, however, was severely depressed. Shocking. I could have told them that. I continued to shut down during painful questioning, and still entertained ideas of suicide. From all appearances, we really were a "crash and burn" mess.
Counseling consisted of inquiries into our marital relationship. Yes, it wasn't in the best condition, but even I knew this was not the root of the problem. It was a symptom. We were given two appointments the two days we were there, and were asked to return in two weeks for follow-up. During those appointments we focused on our marriage and communication skills. Granted, it was needed, but I felt they missed the big picture. As we left the facility, my feelings of hopelessness lingered. If the professionals couldn't see the problem and attack it, how would this ever get fixed? I told Rob how inept I believed they were, stating, "I would have locked me up", fully aware that I could still be a danger to myself. Released from their care, we went back to Tim and Karen, and the slow process of re-training my thought life resumed.
My head was still foggy, my depression still out of control, and my options began to seem limited. I remember Rob and Karen suggesting I go to a doctor, perhaps getting medication for the depression. I cried through my resistance. It was not what I wanted, and it felt like my life was spiraling further and further out of my control. To agree to a doctor's visit and possible medication meant failure again. I was lost and miserable, but seeking medical help made me feel even more defeated. I did not fully understand chemical imbalances at that point. I just knew I would have a label placed on me, a stigma attached, a diagnosis in my chart, and I didn't want it. I had mocked the people who suffered the very thing I now dealt with. I knew what people thought and what they would say. But my options were over. Feeling lower than I ever thought possible, I finally agreed to see a doctor. Ashamed of my inadequacies, lack of control, and inability to "pull myself up by my bootstraps", I cried myself to sleep that night.