Friday, July 11, 2014

The Friday we had to Call Child Protection, On Ourselves.....

I have stared at a blank text document for over a month now.
Having words and thoughts so jumbled I could have made a great crossword puzzle, but no legible blog post. I would just sit, soaking the key board with tears, sometimes with overwhelming sadness, sometimes with fear..and sometimes with overwhelming gratitude at peoples kindness and support, and still the words couldn't come ...and then eventually, I would seek my safe place and message Christine.
That woman, she is the gift I have allowed myself even when I feel completely unworthy.

SO, yeah.
Over a month ago...

Do you ever notice that we all have that pinnacle defining point of ….
”Everything is going to be know as long as “THAT THING” doesn’t happen?
I have had A LOT of those,
and DAMN-IT;
every.single time. I have put a ceiling on “things I thought I couldn't handle”....the Universe started rubbing her hands together, giggled and said; 
Happy? Smooth going? Ha, Hold on for one second...”

Dear God, I will be faithful and strong as long as one of these “things” doesn’t happen....and then;
My first Pregnancy ended in a car crash, resulting in multiple miscarriages after that.

Umpteen failed domestic adoptions, and the continuation of miscarriages.

The loss of my son's twin, and maintaining his pregnancy, bed ridden on IV therapy for 7 months, while parenting a three and one and a half year old.

A four year old Autistic son being taken to the Emergency Room late one Sunday night, hospitalized and later diagnosed with Type One Diabetes.
So, life, really not fair.

In 2007, our small tiny son languishing in an Orphanage in Haiti, 9 months into his adoption, took his final breaths, and they weren't in my arms.
Somehow we survived.

That same year my husband came home “early from work”, as he informed me, not early but his company without his knowledge had committed Medicaid fraud and was being shut down, we had just bought a new house, and were working on selling the one we were in. Two mortgages, no job, and in the process of adopting 3 children.
And, it turned out, O.K.

And so it continued...with an Earthquake...
A “Smooth transition” of a family of five in six weeks avalanching snowballing into a family of eleven.
Followed by years of constant screaming, crying, urine, feces, broken,lying,controlling, alienating, therapeutic HARD.

E.R. Trips with children due to self harm.
(well check THAT off the list of stuff I didn't think I could handle)

One child not being safe, or healthy enough to stay in our home.
That loss. Almost broke me....but, it didn't.

Before Christmas I had a long, invasive Breast Cancer scare.
That sucked.

Later another child needing more help that I, or my husband could provide, making the decision to seek professional help for behavioral and a severe eating disorder.

As you all walk this know these “breaking points”, they keep on-a-comin' don't they?

Still I was unprepared for June.
When my oldest daughter came down the stairs with a look on her face.
As she explained to me what she had witnessed between two of my healing kids.
I sat and shook my head.
No. just NO!

We had been doing so well.
My arrogance in the “WE ARE ALMOST A NORMAL FAMILY NOW”....was back-flipped and tossed into a brick-wall of ...”nothing is ever going to be O.K., I was lying to myself thinking I could help these so severely hurt children, WHY ...did I trust and remove boundaries? I should have KNOWN they weren't ready.”

After talking to my children separately, calmly, with a broken heart and voice, hand shaking, I called my husband at work.

“ You need to come home RIGHT NOW.”
“We need to Call Child Protection, there will be an investigation, and we will have to call your bosses.”

You see our family depends on my husbands income.
My husband works actively helping Trauma victims heal, he is a therapist, a clinical social worker who spends his days walking with people through their pain, offering hope.
He also contracts with Health and Welfare, and works on call in the evenings and weekends with Child protection, seeking safety and support for families, mostly children in their ultimate time of need.
And so, he made the call.
His hands shook as he made the call to the people, co workers, friends, people we admire and have true relationships with...on ourselves.
Out of city officials, and workers had to be called in to avoid conflict, and an investigation was launched.

In a numb whirlwind, his on call job was put on temporary hold. We began restructuring our home again into fort Knox, as we put back up the door alarms our therapists had assured us our kids were ready for us to take down. As we prepared our other kids that they probably too would be questioned, and moved bedrooms and children and floors between kids...and waited, and prayed, and cried and worst of all, questioned everything.
And I mean everything.
We worried and wondered, would children have to be removed?
I mean we hadn't KNOWINGLY allowed THIS to happen.
Had we followed all of the kids therapists recommendations...were their warning signs we missed?


What is going to happen?

Are we going to financially survive if this investigation takes a long time?
How is this going to potentially effect his job?

Most of all.
Are are kids going to be O.K?
HOW did we miss this?
Has this been going on under our noses forever?

Is this a Latent Trauma Time Bomb?
Remission of Old Behaviors...
or Part of the Ride?

Yes, with new therapy, more structure, boundaries,more safety put in place and non shaming open conversation and unconditional kids are going to be O.K. And continue on their path of healing.

Yes. Time Bombs, healing and then mistakes and spiraling downward happens, bombs blow, and then you access the damage, and move on.

Yes. Humans Regress.
But humans move forward.

Yes. Trauma is a monster creeping under the bed, waiting to grab your ankles....this too is part of the ride.

Eventually, after phone calls, and interviews, and an investigation was done and the charges unfounded. We began to breathe again. Slowly. Not with the same ease as before, but breathing and moving froward non the less. Before we knew it, we found peace and laughter and fun slowly beginning to seep back in...because the love and acceptance of healing our kids and family never left.

What I have learned since that Friday.
Pinnacles of Impending Doom, are not Road blocks, they are Jerk Ass Speed Bumps that take our your undercarriage...but it is your choice to keep moving.

When you have people, a tribe that walk, stumble and crawl your same path,and you trust them with your Impending Doom....they rise and carry you. From there you can see the sun again, their hope and faith in you become contagious....and you begin to believe again too.
They walk with you in messages, in the Pay Pal of “get your kids therapy and don’t worry about the electric bill this month.... ”
They shine in loving texts, and funny emails, and packages so filled with love you can't read the cards because of the tears. To you....
I LOVE you with a deep, beautiful, grateful ache that is with out words.

So, what am I saying in this long, winding post of hard?

Yep. So that happened.

And also, Dear Universe....bring it...I no longer am giving you my fears, apparently what you have been whispering all along is...
          You are way tougher than you think darling, nothing can destroy you.

Hold your head up lovey, keep your true friends close, everyday seek healing and gentle understanding for those beautiful beings I have placed in your care, and keep walking.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Steel Magnolia's

My Dear Steel Magnolia's,

You. You, human that though vulnerable, and even more delicate that you appear, are also stronger, wiser and more damaged than you appear, you, sitting there. I see you.
Today might be a good day.
You know a HARD, but good day.
Because all the days regardless of how sweet, also hold some bitter.
It is a path you walk, a sharpness with each breath.
You also have an ability many people don't, the standing and brushing off and holding your head up high, seeking the light, the sunshine and moving forward.
You are amazing.

Whether you are parenting kids from hard places.
Perhaps that child is no longer in your home and you are feeling the aftershocks?
Helping a parent, or spouse through a mental or health illness.
Surviving something yourself, a loss, an illness, a depression, a fear.

I see your invisible backpack full of bricks you strap on. I see the worry lines you hide in your smile.
I see the tired, behind the sparkle in your eyes.

YOU. You are brilliant, and shiny and strong.
You deserve a medal today, just for getting up and doing it again. Give me your address and I will send you one. You like crayon and construction art right?

Last night after, returning home from an extended weekend, visiting our child at her Residential Treatment Center, I had a lump. You know “the lump”, lodged in your throat, the well of tears just under the surface of your eyes that makes things hard to see.
And so you tuck in children.
Unpack musky wet swimsuits straight into the washing machine.
Make lunches.
Re-tuck in children.
Get one more glass of water.
Wonder if you have the energy to brush your own teeth and change in to pajamas, and then you crawl into bed, exhausted, and
Because silly you, after 3 days, and two sleepless nights in a hotel room with 9 people, non stop “fun” of swimming and movies and arcades and rides, and tantrums, and pouts, and ear aches, and crying, and fighting and F.U.N. thought crawling in your soft bed, you would automatically fall asleep, much like your snoring three year old who is curled up in your spot on the bed.
That three year old is a jerk. That sweet sweaty little face all sleeping, and dreaming...all ASLEEP.

And then you feel the lump, you have been ignoring. It's there. Waiting.
Kinda like the phantom “ Oh yeah, I had to pee 3 hours ago, that goes away and comes back” condition many busy mothers know.

And, hello Netflix .
Where is there a ; “I need a sad movie to make me cry about someone else's sad story, so I don't have to sit here and cry about my own stuff” category.
Too many words in a description?
Dude, they have a “ Because you watched My Little Pony:Twinkle Wish Adventure, recommendations”, category.
I am writing their customer service, after this post dangnabit.

Linds, FOCUS.

So yep, me, needing a good cry.
I have my go to's:
Greys Anatomy scenes.
Bridges of Madison County.
Simon Birch.
The Painted Veil
What are yours?
Steel Magnolia's is a double whammy for me.
You see I have a diabetic son, daily I worry “If today could be the day.”
Every morning is still a “is he breathing morning.”
I also have daughters, I would not only give my kidney to, but all of my working limbs.
I also have friends. A tribe of miraculous people that will walk me through and have times of ultimate loss.

Your show will begin in 17 seconds.
Let's open the flood gates.

I needed that cry.
I needed the multiple times I was touched and reminded that hard and sad and loss, is a human condition. During the funeral scene I thought of all of you. The parents that carry tragedy for their lost and living children.

When Malynn cries, “I -I don't thing I can take this!
I -I don't thing I can take this! I-I just want to hit somebody
'til they feel as bad as I do! I just wanna hit something!
I wanna hit it HARD!”

We have all felt that.
That alone and desperate, and empty in our pain.

When Annelle says;
“When things like this happens. I pray real hard to make heads or tail of this.”

I think of the people I know, sitting at desks getting through their days with the lump in their throats, not sure if it matters, regardless of how HARD they work, the money just isn't going to add up.
I think of Mom's driving to IEP and 504 meetings again. Fighting for rights of their children, being judged for their kids behaviors.
I think of someone holding the hand of a loved one in a hospital, not sure to plea for healing, or the peace of letting go.
I think if the broken still beating hearts of relationships torn and hurting...and still walking around.
I see you.

I walk next to you in this marathon, of hills and valleys. Dips of high highs and low lows...all with a small pebble in our shoes.
You are a warrior in yoga pants, a suit and tie, Mom jeans and a stained sweater, dress casual, 3 day worn pajamas. You, amazing. You, medal, for just breathing.

Today I got up.
I walked my autistic son through four separate triggers and melt downs.
I redirected my ADHD son a gazillion times, and though I am not confident his socks match, I am pretty sure he didn't wear penguin pajamas to school.
I made a hot breakfast for nine people.
I have already sat my five year old in 3 separate time outs and wiped pink sparkle nail polish off two walls and a counter-top. Today I walked past my child's empty bedroom at least a dozen times, each time feeling the subtle stab in my heart as it whispers, “will she ever sleep in that room again?”

I am going to be O.K.
She is going to be O.K.

“That's what my mind says,I wish someone would say that to my heart.”
You. You, human that though vulnerable, and even more delicate that you appear, are also stronger, wiser and more damaged than you appear, you, sitting there. I see you.
“You know, I love you more than my luggage.”


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Milk Before Meat...and the Kitchen Sink

The hard thing about parenting:
( O.K. , O.K. There are LOADS of HARD things about parenting) but one I am finding the most precarious right now is the ever pending “How will I know when they are ready or can do it for themselves?”
This is a constant question in my mind.

When raising kids we tend to look at it as this slowww steady, step-by-step progression of things.
In Hebrews they talk about accomplishing one thing before the other. As in giving an Infant Milk before they are ready to eat the meat.

There is also the proverb of walking before you run.
Some of our kids missed those basic steps.
Some of our kids went straight to gnawing on a T-bone before they ever learned to stomach being rocked and fed a bottle of milk.
In those cases it makes it insanely difficult to differentiate between normal expectations and situations where we as parents need to slow down and recognize our kids didn't get the melody before they learned the lyrics in any given situation.

Dear Gandolf,
How do I know when my darlings are READY, or if they will EVER be ready or trusted to:
Have a real play date?
Get there Drivers License?
Handel a extended Family Holiday?
Eat Solids?
Dive Deeper into therapy?
Potty Train, again. And then again?
Feel safe with another Care Giver?
Be safe around a pet. A sibling, anyone?
Try Medication?
Celebrate themselves?
Try a class?
Sleep with out a diaper, or at least try?
Go to a Birthday Party?
Safe to go on walks and bike rides by themselves?
Start a job?
Use scissors safely, without harming themselves, their clothing, any one else?
Be self sufficient?
I would really LIKE the answer to this PRONTO....and a magic wand, and to be admitted to Hogwarts. K? thanks.

Some of these things for neurotypical, and typical developmental kids, leave"regular parents" in a cold sweat curbing the decisions of when is appropriate.
The difficulty while parenting kids that are healing, is...the pockets of development loss make these questions and time-line WAYYY more peculiar. I have a child that can ride a bike, and is still diaper dependent.
I have had a child that was old enough to get there drivers license, yet still didn't handle extended family holidays.
It is SO VERY difficult, and such different parenting children that due to trauma in their young lives, they too have lost also the natural process of development, socially, physically, emotionally. There seems always a possibility we have to revert back, and then back farther when teaching our children what would seem to many as a basic skill.
A simple game of Gold Fish, could start with an easy read off of the rules.
Soon after, the issue of playing fair leeks out. Which requires the importance of playing fair, so everyone can trust and have fun, and yes, the PURPOSE OF THE GAME IS FOR EVERYONE TO HAVE FUN.
OH, you didn't understand the rules, you got mad, and started cheating...and then got madder as your sibling threatened to stop playing with you....
It's like that.
Like all of the time.
Back up, let's try this again.

Milk before meat.
ALL of the time....and then tossing in the kitchen sink of ALL of the things. The Empathy, the Patience, the deep breathing and understanding needed as you here the “beep, beep, beep, reverse and back up noise of your proverbial parenting vehicle.

Some of my kids could totally run before they could walk, they had to,they are still ALIVE aren't they?
Some of my kids could totally win the reality show Survivor, and knock those adults into next week, but couldn't pretend play and interact with their peers to save their life...

It is a wicked dance of catch up.
A dance that can cause shame and fear and more loss if the steps aren't just right.
Man I wish I was burning more calories.
Those Dancing with the Stars people ain't got nuthin' on the therapeutic parenting tango, disco, waltz, twerking, macarena madness of it all that we do.

It's hard to remember in the moment that our kids are missing steps.
It's hard to look back along their journey and see the massive things lost in the pot holes of trauma, so many things have been taken from our kids.
When they are actively screaming in our faces, or pooping in our shoes that make it harder to see.

For many of us, we have to teach our kids in reverse order.
To practice gratitude,  before they can appreciate.
To  be in the habit to make repairs for wrongdoings, far before they feel the emotional pull to make amends.
To require being told constant truths over and over again, before honesty holds any value to them.

Milk before Meat...or back to the Meat, a GIANT glass of milk, and then cut it up in smaller pieces...and then another sip of Milk.., milkshakes are delicious too.....
mmmmm I like Milkshakes....

Wait...parenting, we are talking parenting.


I don't have all of the answers, I don't think anyone really does.
But I can tell you, while I am playing hot potato/and doing the hokey pokey, while standing on my head singing the A,B C's backwards and reteaching my kid how to properly use the vacuum, the toilet, or introduce themselves to a group of children for the 18 hundredth time, I find comfort in knowing, I am not alone.

None of us Are.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I am not Titanium or Bulletproof

Ow, Owwwwwwwie, Yo, THAT HURTS.
Sometimes the behaviors we try SO HARD to not let aggravate, puncture or hurt us that are kids do, break through that bulletproof vest and hit us straight in the heart.
And it should. Hurt.
Occasionally the stuff our kids do, should hurt us. Because if it didn't it would mean we weren't human any more.
And that is why we are here, because we wanted to be parents, we wanted to help and love and heal, we wanted to help a small one with their hurts and didn't realize how contagious their hurts would be.

Sometimes I blare this song, in the car, while sobbing and driving away; when my emotional endurance has been tested past breaking. And dude, I have great emotional's the water boarding, the subtle everyday stick poking, that pushing on a permanent bruise feeling that tumbles me over the edge.

It's the “adorable and nice and kind to everyone” , everyone except me.
It's the triangulation with adults, the way they can ask for and need things from others, but hold their breath until they are blue in the face in order to NOT have to talk to me.
It is the capability to ask a stranger for a band-aid, but not tell me that they may have broken their arm.

That stuff there? Damn it , it hurts.
It hurts to so badly to WANT to be a soft place for them, and they would rather land ANYWHERE but near you.

This too is the symptoms of trauma, of severe trust issues. The hardest part? You are on an island where no one else see's the rejection and mind games, except you.
You can try to explain to the teacher, the aid, the therapist and in the beginning even to your own partner, and you will be met with a blank stare and a pat on the back.

It feels alienating.
It feels like you are going a little bit nuts.
It is SO SO SO hard to have these feelings of frustration and being rejected by a kid that YOU more than anyone else in the world wanted to care for and love, and now is feels like THEY would prefer that attention and love from anyone else in the world BUT YOU.

My son once hugged a homeless man.
And before you go all “Auuuuhhhhhhh, sweet, that man probably really needed a hug”...he hugged him, before he was ever willing to hug me.
For reals.

That is that grand prize of SUCK-I-NESS.
That is the grand pooh-ba of attachment hardships, you being the one person they focus their rejection on. You being their safe place to dump the stuff they wouldn't dare trust anyone else with. Stuff they protect and will SHOW NO ONE ELSE, e.v.e.r.

They throw a “I feel like crap all of the time party”, and only invite you.
It is one hell of an RSVP.
Since no one else ever gets invited, they can't know.
I know it isn't fair. I know it makes you feel worse and desperate and mourn.
I know it makes you feel like no body GETS really what is going on.

I know, many of us do.
You aren't alone.

I can tell you why your kid may be choosing these behaviors.
I can tell you why actually YOU are the most important person in their lives.
I can tell you ways to respond, ways to self care, ways to not let it hurt so bad.

Or, I can tell you.
It's O.K. To cry.
It's O.K. Not to always be made of Titanium.
It's O.K. To drive and cry and turn the music way on up.
And listen to sad, loud songs.

Now tell me, what is YOUR "let it all out", "this is wayyy harder than I thought it would be" Jam, cuz folks mama needs a new playlist. <3

Monday, March 31, 2014

“Hey I see you”

Today I literally had three goals.
  1. Drink an entire mug of peppermint tea with out yakking it up.
  2. Eat at least half of a baked sweet potato and again confining it to my stomach.
  3. Taking a bath and washing my hair.

    O.K., O.K. Maintaining the short and furry and feathered living beings in my care were up there on the list too.
    So far , half a mug of tea, the potato is baking and I no longer smell like old cheese.

    I have had the flu for around 24 hours. Dry heaving, body aching, sleeping like a drunkard, chills type-evil flu. Thank goodness it hit me Saturday night and at the tail end of Spring break.

    Today after feeding the little’s lunch, one down for a nap, the other in my room watching Frozen,I sat in the tub deciding if I actually had the energy to wash my hair, or if dread locs would be a good look for me.

    My youngest walked in stating she had watched Frozen 7 times, holding up 4 fingers.
    I sat there and used my fingers to manipulate her hands and count what seven looked like with her chubby teensy fingers.
    A loud noise from the movie happened, interest averted and she ran to see what was happening.
    But then she stopped, twirled around and said. “ I fink what we are doing is 'portant, I don't want to miss the moobie, so I am gonna pause it and be right back.”

    Wha'? Did my four year old just validate me? Not want to leave me hanging?
    Saw that the relationship communication we had going was important, and was sensitive to my effort and interest?

    In that moment I felt what I have been working towards and wanting so much for my kids to feel towards me. That I valued them, above all else, that talking with them, being with them is important to me.

    I sometimes suck at this.
    I sometimes get stuck in a texting or Facebook personal messaging abyss. I sometimes am tired of the squeaky needy voices. I sometimes ache for adult interaction. But, I also know this is my season to teach them about their value and worth. For me to validate the importance of who they are, simply because they breathe and are loved.

    When my kids first came home, there was a desperation in needing to be seen, heard, witnessed.

    I think the most devastating part of growing up in an Orphanage, living in neglect, or being a transitioning Foster Child, is the way there is no way to see and validate needs, wants and wishes of the individual. The mass, the basic, the day to day becomes the rhythm of life.

    Behaviors crop up in place of the basic need of being seen. Attention positive or Negative, it doesn’t matter, being seen, having two pairs of eyes, words meant directly for you...that becomes the goal.

    I saw this much in the Orphanage. Kids would either be the helpful, perfect child that adults leaned on and praised, those kids lost any childhood to being liked, and called on by adults.
    Others screamed and fought and did out right naughtiness in the plight of being seen. Both were attempting to fill a vast hole.

    As humans we have holes. Holes that need to be filled. Kids with Trauma and Neglect issues feel and fill those voids more creatively.

    I remember being a somewhat normal kid, resenting my mothers need to be on the phone to her girlfriends. I remember staring at her in the kitchen , phone cord tangled around her, holding her hostage from me. I remember coughing loudly, purposely wrecking my bike and coming in with scratches , so she would see me, talk to me.
    I now as an adult woman get, she also was filling needs, need to be seen, heard and validated in the midst of a difficult marriage. This need is such a human condition.

    I remember when my children first came home from Haiti, they were SO LOUD.
    They banged and broke everything. They did REALLY weird things, like peeing on my clothes, and couch, coloring on walls, and plugging every toilet in the house...and when I finally realized what they were doing was literally screaming “SEE ME!!!”

    So I started saying it to them, full face and eye contact, sometimes holding those hurt,angry sad faces in my hands.

    “Hey, I see you.”
    “Hey, I am right here with you.”
    “Hey, I hear you.”
    “Hey, you, right there, your important.”
    “Hey I can sit right here with you and feel this with you.”

    As I practice this more in my life with my loved ones, and they practice it with me, I see the effects. The effects of, “yes, what I am doing is important to me, but not as important to me as you are, give me a sec to finish this -K-?”

    I have a friend who says this to me often.
    “I am here with you, I hear you, I am sitting with you in this.”

    I never feel more loved and more important than when she says these things to me.
    That, that is how I want my kids to feel about themselves.
    You know the scene in “The Help” with little chubby Miss May Mobley, we all identified with her her imperfections, her desperate need to be told:

    Let us be ambassadors of kindness in our lives.
    To see and be seen is a priceless gift that only keeps giving.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Double Sided Healing

The other week there was a group forum where an open, mature, passionate discussion was held about how adoption is portrayed in the media.
Particularly, older child and Foster Care adoption.
Many feared that too many “Rainbows and Sunshine” of a representation could set potential parents and available adoptable children up for failure, disappointment and possibly even disruption. This is true.

Others were concerned that if people only were warned of the negative and worse case scenarios, possibly amazing adults willing to open their homes and heart to waiting and transitioning children would be dissuaded from becoming foster and adoptive parents, because really some kids do attach well and can become a seamless part of a family. This is also true.

We all agreed, that some (not all) kids CAN heal. Kids can come into families with a lot of broken pieces and bit, by bit, heal in a family situation and become an intricate happy, functioning member of a family unit. This is a truth in my life and many others.

I talk so very much about the broken pieces I wanted to literate on the healing ones. The ways as parents, caregivers,friends and family of them can slowly begin to see and support a child transitioning from the world of distrust and pain into “Normal Kid-dom.”

My friend Billy Kaplan of House Calls Counseling, gives the advice ; “ If you are questioning a transitioning childs behavior, reaction or motive as whether it is neurotypical or not, error on the side of Neurotypical.”
Isn't that lovely and hopeful? It is Magical when you can start actually SEEING those fruits of change.
I have to be honest though.
It's a double sided sword.
I have to let go of the past junk, my past reactions, and fears and my stuff, my attachment/trauma parenting blinders, and look and see the hard won progress.

Because in order for me to accept and celebrate my kids willingness and ability to heal, I have to heal and be willing to move on too. I have to be willing to see something as NORMAL, when for such a looooong time it WASN'T!

One of my little my little Diva's go-to behavior was irrational anger and defensiveness when she got caught in a lying, unkind, even regular naughty child behavior. She would scream, and knock things over, throw shoes, kick walls, and Waaiiillll for hours. Like really h.o.u.r.s.
I forgot she used to do that. Yesterday I had a friend over and Diva got all sassy about what we were making for Dinner. I told her she was welcome to go out side collect whatever she could and stir-fry her very own dinner on up next to the curry chicken salad I was making for dinner.
She rolled her eyes.
She pouted that “it sounded Dis-gust-ing”.
She said she would probably hate it and be sick, and that I was the worst cook ever.
And then she went outside and played.

I was giggling after her.
My friend looked at me “Um, why are you laughing.”

“Because all of THAT Dramatic girl stuff?, TOTALLY NORMAL!!!
Bratty, snotty as hell, but so normal I kinda wanted to throw it a birthday party.”

I could give a thousand other examples I am seeing day to day with these brave little people.
Ways they can love and enjoy,process and get mad and be annoying and silly and fun and bratty.

And to be honest, that is what healing looks like for all of us.
Not perfection, not a shiny picture of smiles and magazine covers, we still have our ripped jeans and our warts...

But being in the land where the hugs are real, where the apologies sincere and the smiles go all the way up to our eyes?
I will take it.
Because it means we both, though we may have miles to go, are past the fire swamp in so many ways.
We are holding hands and heading in a similar direction together.

If you are in a place of wanting or seeking help and support your and your trauma challenged child, there is a conference coming up in Chicago this month. The Parenting in SPACE annual conference has changed my way of parenting, given me a support system of incredible like-minded parents and given me so very much hope in the healing of our family as a combined unit.
Consider going.
4 years ago I sailed in, almost drowning in my children's trauma and need for something, some lifeline and hope that things could get better. It was one of the best parenting decisions I ever made.
This year I will be doing a Pre-conference with the lovely and amazing Christine Moers, as well as a Breakout session during the conference.
Come, let me and so many others love on you, and remind you of the kind of parent you want to be.
THIS conference is unique in the fact that it is created for Caregivers, it is catered to YOUR needs and questions. There are handfuls of professionals primed and ready at all times to give you answers and listen to YOU.
I will see you there.
Greeting you with a hug, and yes, there is always chocolate.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Grieving the Living

We all do it you know, grieve for a relationship, a loved one that for one reason or another is gone, misplaced, or has left you somehow. Perhaps they fell out of love with us? Perhaps another person, object or substance got in the way? Maybe it was pride, a disagreement, they or you changed, and now the once tangible part of your life leaves a phantom absence.At times it is someone whom has never actually left that you can stand right in-front of them reaching out, and never reach them.
Sometimes I think we can even grieve for the thing that never was. A inactive parent, a sibling relationship that fell short, a child we didn't get to raise the way we wished....
Sometimes, I think it is things and situations that block our intentions, and so we grieve, and maybe
sometimes those intentions no matter how honorable taint the reality, and that too sours and spoils what might have been.

I have lost much in my young life. Parents to divorce, young friends to death, children in both miscarriage death, and mental illness. As we age I think we keep doing that losing and gaining simultaneously.

When I stop to think of some of my greatest losses of those I have loved. The ones that remain living, are the ones that continue to lend the most hurt.
I don't know if I would have believed someone if they had told me that 21 years ago when I my neighbor knocked on my door to tell me at 13 one of my dearest friends had taken her life.
Or at 18, when a sobbing phone call related that my boyfriend had died in a motorcycle accident.
Definitely not to the heaving, heart broken woman who delivered her 22 week early son on the bathroom floor. Or to the mother who answered the phone call that her 11 moth old baby boy passed away from dehydration without her comforting arms around him in his homeland.

And still to this day I ache and hurt, my throat begins to ache and my eyes fog in memories of those times. Those are days and weeks and months I do not wish to live again. Times I wish I could go back now, hold myself tight and promise, “you will get through this baby cakes, sit and feel this deeply, lie face down on the bathroom floor if needs be, and then lets find you some good chocolate and a wash cloth for your face.”

Today I am grieving again. Grieving my inability to on my own fix my broken girl. I have been here before, and perhaps that is why it feels so familiar and raw. Today we admitted one of our children into a Residential Therapeutic Hospital for help with her self harming and eating disorder struggles. Late last night we did loads of laundry and paperwork and made this step.
I am grieving selfishly that this is not what I wanted. Grieving that when I naively decided to bring hurting children into my home I had already painted a picture of expectations. Of how I wanted our family to look and function.

They were basic.
Pancake mornings, Homeschooling debacles, Saturday farmers markets, silly teasing and 'normal sibling rivalry.
No where did my mind make room for door alarms, safety plans and restraining holds.
No where did I think I would need to own bottle of ipecac for overdoses, and butterfly band-aids for intense skin cutting. No where did I expect to need to constantly protect other sibling and animals from a dis-regulated sibling or worse them selves.

I remember the day my oldest son was diagnosed with Autism, I sat on a curb outside the psychologists office and cried. I mourned all the things I thought I wanted for him , and the fear that many of them may never come to be. I remember when a dear girlfriend gave birth to a beautiful daughter with Downs Syndrome, and how she fiercely loved her little girl, but too needed the room to mourn.

As much as I ache sometimes to call out my late son “GIBSON” 's name in from playing with his brothers and sisters, I have closure of his loss, I have a tree and a photo book and places to go and feel and miss him.

With Papillion, I don't have that. I have worry and regret, sadness and concern. Will she ever be O.K.
Is her healing ever possible? Will she ever see and know or remember the love I had and still have for her? Borderline Personality Disorder is such a tricky beast of a disease.

I think of my friends that have lost parents,partners and children to substance abuse. How even after the initial break, the wonder and hope stays alive and pulls at you like an anchor attached to your ankle.

There is no clean break with the living.

With the hope of my child returning home, hoping she is willing to allow someone else to do the work with them she could not do with me. Hoping she is willing and able to want us, me, her home more, more than the monster in her head. I grieve all that I want and hope for my child.
Hope in a way begets grief. Hope can be an open wound.

I grieve the living.
I think we all do.

I think in ways it make us stronger.
I think in ways it makes us kinder.

I think in ways I need a future me to stop by with a ; “you will get through this baby cakes, sit and feel this deeply, lie face down on the bathroom floor if needs be, and then lets find you some good chocolate and a wash cloth for your face.”