Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Still Attempting To Recover
I'll re-link The Adoption Counselor's post down here at the end, as it's again an absolute must read blessing. I have often referred to my condition as secondary trauma, but Dr. Brenda McCreight succinctly places what we've endured in the primary trauma category. It was the last thing I'd read yesterday before shutting down my computer and it was burnt into my brain.
13 innings of the Braves losing a game while I thought hard about her words. Michael was here playing our version of baseball with The Bubbas, with our ridiculous lack of game rules or structure, and to him, I likely looked fairly normal, but inside all I could think of was what we'd endured over the years, and what it's done to me.
There's just no way to parent traumatized children without experiencing (suffering) trauma first hand. Repetitive trauma is crushing. There's nothing like law enforcement swarming your house in the middle of the night to give a shock to one's system, or having them wake you up, or having your furniture carted off as evidence, or having to have a kid call the police while Mama tries protecting herself and others.
The heart pounding, suffocating, and severely debilitating, intensely profound fear that I've experienced at times will take years to recover from, I doubt I'll ever feel as safe as I once did, before trauma absolutely crippled me and my emotions.
I'd recently talked to another mother who'd adopted children from the foster care system, "Is it bad that I told a son that I just didn't want to ever live with him again? He's grown now."
Right or wrong, I've said the same thing as well. When kids have physically threatened your life, swung knives in your direction, stolen from you constantly, lied, kicked in your walls and doors, broken windows, slung you across rooms, and brought shady characters into your home, what choice then do you have?
A social worker'd recently told me, "Especially when you have other younger, or those vulnerable to predators, you must make some terribly difficult choices as a parent."
To which I'd add, "Well, no dang kidding."
Trauma stinks, it really does, and in reading and re-reading Brenda's book Recovering from Hazardous Parenting I was finally able to see clearly that which I'd endured. Believe me when one is in the midst of it, survival is one's only concern, and that survival comes only after protecting the younger kids.
There were thousands of moments when I was positive my slamming heart would explode, that I'd likely die on the spot from fear.
You could've never ever convinced me that it would've been like this back in the 1980s when I stepped off the precipice straight into Hell. Well, not straight into it, there were some 15 years of normal acting out behaviors, it wasn't until the last decade that it became truly dangerous, that the mentally ill diagnoses would rule our lives.
My recourse has been nearly a complete withdrawal from society. I venture out for some groceries, or to attend church, soccer games, and appointments, but you won't find me in support groups, social outings (other than a rare Braves game), or much else.
Like a veteran from war-torn combat, I literally cringe out in public. It just seems to be too much for me, a sensory overload, so I make the easy choice each day to stay home, where I find my emotional comfort and sustenance. I desperately need, and deeply crave, copious amounts of time and solitude in which to get it back together emotionally.
I'm just starting now into my second year without a clear and present threat to our well being, victimization could still occur, but there's no indication that it is hovering. I am hyper vigilant and it's exhausting, but life is infinitely better for us all at the moment.
Sweet, beautiful Lily tuned 15 yesterday, we'd already gotten her what she'd requested, she didn't want to go out for a celebratory lunch, because she's a school nerd and didn't want to miss any classes, instead she chose a new ice cream parlor that had recently opened, ordering a sundae. "What is a sundae?" she'd asked me. I'd had such a late lunch I could hardly stomach watching her eat that smarmy concoction. EEEUUUWWW.
We're fairly educated in our food choices, yet we're surprisingly ignorant about all the commercial options.
CW'd recently told a friend he'd never been to The Varsity. "We eat at home," he'd told the kid because we do. CW's friend likely doesn't know what are flax seeds, chia seeds, Swiss Chard, wheat germ, poblano peppers, and the many other nutritional powerhouses that we ingest daily.
I could go to town every day while my kids are in school and treat myself to restaurant lunches even though I clearly can't afford to do so, and, more importantly, I just don't have that desire. I eat better here, and I can eat while wearing my yoga pants that are comfortable and raggedy since I don't do any yoga in them. I garden in them.
I can do whatever I want while the kids are in school, I could go to the movies, get my nails done, nap, drool, or shop. But, I weed, because that's what I wanna do, the outside world holds little allure for me outside of Braves baseball games.
I know that I'm severely emotionally damaged nowadays. I see it in me. I trust very few people and I'd just as soon have zero social outings because sitting there twitching in public holds no appeal for me. I feel as if no one understands, because no one does.
Even if I'd have met Brenda, The Adoption Counselor, before I adopted, even if she'd laid out exactly what is going to happen to me and for me, I doubt if it would've then deterred me. I seriously thought I knew what I was doing, and that all that wouldn't happen to me, that I'd be stronger than that, as I conceitedly think I'm the strongest woman I know.
But...it did happen to me.
I also deeply believed, and I still believe, that I was called to do this, therefore I've learned a great deal. Claudia and I'd recently discussed this on the phone. God has used all of this in both of us to change us, to make us less selfish, less conceited, less many, many characteristics that needed sharpening. We both deeply believe this, me a former Methodist PK, she a Methodist clergy wife.
I'm telling you ladies, you must have people in your life who comprehend. Brenda and Claudia have blessed me mightily, as have others.
Dr. Brenda McCreight, The Adoption Counselor, nailed it again right here. All foster and adoptive parents need to read it, as do caseworkers, therapists, and all of those who are on the periphery of our lives, like those who love us, and probably quietly wish this were not so.