I spent a couple of years of my life as a weekend psych aide at a regional medical center. It was often entertaining, rarely was it particularly sad but there were those moments.
She was in her mid 30's, shoulder length curly hair, she had a bruise on her cheek. She'd come in the day before, very stressed, tearful and a little confused. They admitted her though she seemed to be basically intact. She'd come by herself. For the weekend, she was on my list of 8 to 10 patients who I had to keep an eye on and then write a brief nursing note at the end of the shift. Being an unmotivated weekend warrior I generally avoided getting to caught up in tears and drama if possible. Of course, being a male psych aide, you were in the first line of defense if someone got "chippy." But I ended up talking to her a few hours over the weekend.
She was living in a motel with her boyfriend, She had been his secretary, they had an affair, she left her husband and her two teenage sons and she and her boyfriend came to SoCal to start a new life.
It turned out he drank too much, was verbally abuse and would slap her if he was mad enough and had a few drinks in him. She didn't know what to do so she had admitted herself into the hospital. Off and on we spent Saturday talking about her relationship with her boyfriend and what her options were, could they work things out. She felt rather desperate, thought she had burned her bridges with her ex-husband and her boys, did not know where to go; didn't have a place to go to.
Sunday afternoon towards the end of the shift I asked her about her ex-husband. Was he mean? "No." Was he an alcoholic? "No." Was he cheating on her? "No." Was he a bad father? "No, he was a good father." But he had some physical issues that were somewhat off-putting though nothing terrible.
I asked, "Did he love you?" She said, she thought he did. I asked if she had talked to him recently. She said she had when she called back home to talk to her sons. I asked, "He's a decent man?" She said that he was. She figured he deserved better than her. I said. "Has he found himself a girlfriend?" She said she didn't think so.
Well the shift was over, it was time for me to leave. I said the obvious, "Why don't you just call him up and ask if you can come home." She was silent; then she said, " I don't think he'd want me back." I replied, "I'm a guy, I'm betting he'd take you back." And then I left.
When I came back the next weekend she had been discharged. Nobody knew where she had gone. 30 years later I still wonder what decisions she made. Did she call up her ex and ask if she could come home or did she return to the motel where she had been living with her boyfriend. I know what her ex would have done; he'd have taken her back in a heartbeat. The guy she described to me was the kind of man who would have forgiven her and made all attempts to put his family back together. I no longer remember what her face looked like but I can still see the shoulder length curly hair. I hope she worked her life out. I hope she called her ex and went home.