Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Loss and Casualties of Trauma, the effect it has on the whole family.

Trauma is no destination vacation as we all know. We spend hours, weeks, months, years and lifetimes devoted to healing, attaching, letting love become a mutual thing.

And it is beautiful, rewarding…and really, REALLY shitty. I don’t swear a whole lot, but there is no other word that profoundly dictates how I feel about Healing Trauma, then SHITTY.

I had three very separate conversations with three of my children today. All three broke my heart in a thousand different ways. All three I swear to love forever. All three are lost, scared, and feel very alone, I am betting on a solid 10 out of 11 people in my family feel this way.

This morning Papillion called my husband and me, in a very demanding voice oozing with manipulation she requested a “conference call”, so we sat in the hallway, while the littles were occupied with Sesame Street and had our little conversation.

Her request was to “give me my freedom and let me call my 47 year old boyfriend”, the one she met at the State Hospital. There has been a therapeutic hold on his specific phone number, for very good reasons…in hope of her healing, and not choosing to over sexualize herself…..yet….

She is being kicked out of her 10th hospital. Yes, I did say tenth. In the last four months we have been admitted to 1, 2,34,5,6,7,8,9,10, separate hospitals. I have spared this blog, and you the gory details.
This last hospital was the Mecca, of all trauma hospitals, with a specific PTSD Woman’s wing. The price $2,000 per day. TWO GRAND a day. Specific  incredible Therapy daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m…..and she wouldn’t apply herself, refused to go, got violent, defiant and literally through temper tantrums, faked seizures and has exhausted every resource, every person, every financial option she has had available to her, in four months. No one will admit and work with someone that refuses treatment. She can’t come home untreated. She is 18 and reminds us she can do whatever she wants to. Good Luck with that Baby Girl.

To say I am heart broken would be implying there is anything left of the tattered, beat up bruised piece of hamburger in my chest that refuses to stop beating. It hurts somedays to much to swallow.

We can’t do anything more, but love her.

Today, I had to tell her just that, and I cried and she said how sorry she was, (but she isn’t) and how she wished she would have tried, if only we had let her talk to “Billy” the love of her life, (but she would’t have)…and how if we just buy her an apartment and give her money she will be fine (but she won’t be)…so she might be moving to Florida and living with a Birth Father she has never met before, she may be moving in with Billy, she may get deported….she refuses help, destroys any treatment, she has no sense of right and wrong, she has attempted suicide over 20 times in the last year and a half.

If it was just me, I would bunker down and wait and watch and hold her hand while this soul cancer destroys her, but I can’t sacrifice my other children. Once one child in a family is successful at Suicide, there is a 50% better chance of losing another child to the same fate. I can’t let her disease infect the delicate Emotional Immune systems of my other children. I. am. Terrified. at what this means, but I am more terrified of what she is capable of doing to my other children.

Her vulnerable Manipulation, her shame, her survival tools, may keep her alive for a while, but the demons are still there, waiting and ready…and pretty pissed off while we tried to unseat them…it is only a matter of time until we are back where we started.  She will most likely be successful, and there is nothing I can, or anyone else can do about it anymore.

“I love you Papillion, I always will, I wish you would have let us help you.”

“I am here, I love you and always will.”

“Please let us know how you are doing”.


 then you give it back to God, and pray he has it from here…..
and then you go dry heave in the shower.

Knowing that something was “up”, Chatter’s hyper vigilance was on full force. The kid should be a Power Ranger, or a Jedi, she can sniff drama out, and recreate it x 100000.

So after initiating a gazillion (and no I am NOT exaggerating) arguments, control battles, bullying, and generally making everyone in a half mile vicinity miserable…and no regular “therapeutic tools” working for longer than a nano-second…I shouted “RESET”…and everyone got jammies back on and got back into bed.  Many mornings if they snap out of it quicker, and the hope of a “Second Breakfast” will do’er, (food at my house is the ultimate motivator).

Well sheesh apparently one child heard “RAGE LIKE A CRAZY PERSON ON METH”…instead of “RESET”….I really should talk clearer.

Two hours later, a bite mark and I am pretty sure I will have a black eye to brag about, the storm had found her calm. And then we chatted.

“Chatter, what’s hurting so bad today?”

“I’m MAD!,…NOT SAD…and NO ONE will DO what I SAY”.

“That’s hard, can MAD sometimes be SAD?”

“Yeah, but not today”.

“O.K.” What are we “Mad” about”?

“I want everyone to listen to me, to give me what I want, for you and Dad to see only me”.
(No she did not say this, but this was the jist of what she was trying to say)

….and we went through it, we broke down each of the mornings shenanigans and asked her what she was trying to say or ask for with each of them.

One of the doozies is her forced affection. She forces herself on me, my husband, the other children, demanding love, patting us, hugging and kissing until the offended literally wants to shove her away. It makes the boys BATTY. She knows it.

Sooo She got “loved” back, in a wack,
talking smack…
with all her wickity wack…..

Sorry, couldn’t help it.

And that is what we talked about.

“Hugs” and what they “mean”.

“Chatter what does it mean to you when you give someone a “hug”?”

“It makes them see me and be by me and I am doing to them what I want”.

“So help me understand precious, a hug is controlling someone?”


“Do you think that it makes someone feel good when you do that?”

“I don’t know, but it makes them feel I am the boss of them, and I want that.”

“When Mommy hugs you am I trying to be the boss of you?”

“No, your hugs mean “Chatter I love you.”

“Your so right sweet pea, hugs can mean a lot of things, “I love you, I am sorry, I want you to feel better, I miss you, It’s going to be O.K., what do you think these hugs are meant to do?”

“To make me feel better.”

“Way to go Chatter, can I ask you something?”

“What do you think your “make you see me and I’m the boss of you” hugs, make people feel?”

“That I am trying to make them mad.”

“You’re such a smart girl; do you want people, and your family to want to get hugged by you?”

tears….and a head drops in shame.

A very quiet “yes.”

“Then lets work on, what your hugs mean and I will help you O.K.?”

“O.K. Mom, and Mom “…

“Yes sweetie”…

“I don’t know how to make hugs nice.”

“ I know, but you will…because I will give you all the love hugs until you are so filled up with them, you will know exactly how and when to give them, but  until then, why don’t we make the rule for you, that you don’t hug, unless you ask the person, even Mom and Dad, O.K.”….


and I want to scream, it isn’t O.K. it isn’t O.K. that she doesn’t know how to give a “love hug, which “Hugs” simple, physical affection is only another tool for survival. Gag.

During the “Battles of El Morning” the biggest target everyone had was Peanut butter. My pre-Haitian Invasion kiddo’s generally are. They get ganged up on and targeted by the other children with better survival skills. Today I had Chatter, Diva, Cookie, Dude, P.B. and baby Faith home…and I spend most the day hovering, protecting, but also backing off enough for observation….
Everyone LOVES and I mean LOVES baby Faith….so target #1 today was Peanut butter….Object: to conquer and destroy.

P.B. had been teased, goaded, mocked and had things taken from him all morning, then he would blow out and smack someone and have to suffer his consequence.  I hate it.
There are times I have to make exceptions, times I have to hug and comfort him after a time out, knowing this isn’t him….it’s what their trauma is doing to HIM…he has lost the simple, silly childhood this life had afforded him, prior to us adopting and bringing his siblings into his home, his family….it is a sacrifice we expected him to make…and I’m not sure how fair that was to him.

I remember 5 months after the kids had come home, four out of five were supped up in Rages, broken things lay all around the house…and he stood quivering chin at the top of my stairs fingers clenched in fists shouting “I PRAYED FOR THIS?” “I PRAYED FOR THIS?”….indeed for the past 3 ½ years at every meal and bedtime he did, we all did.

At lunchtime today, I sat six children down, had their coordinating IKEA colored plates and cups ready, left over spaghetti warmed and ready to be slurped up, when P.B. was asked to give the mealtime prayer. …and 4 little people decided to copy him in high teasing voices, I asked them to stop, and they did, for two seconds…
and then started again, P.B. asked nicely as well, and then screamed “STOP IT, in tears….. EUREEKA! They had landed the Jack Pot, frustrating both P.B. and Mom in the process….and tears…that’s GOLD!

I. Had. HAD. IT.

You could have see the steam out of my ears…I wanted to swoop up his hurting little heart and tell him how very sorry I am, how sorry I am that I ruined his life….and then I thought…give him his words…and so I did.

I took everyone’s plate, promising that they would eat soon, but they needed to listen to something P.B. has to say….and I said it, and he repeated me. Eyes shining, feeling validated.

“Guys, I love you, and I want you to be nice to me.
And sometimes you are, but most the time you are trying to make me mad, and I don’t like that. I hurts me, and my feelings.
This was my house, and my Mommy and Daddy first, and I am sharing them with you, because you needed a house and a Mom and Dad. I am happy you are here, but also sad and mad, when you are mean to me and our family.

It makes me so so sad when I hit you, that is not the boy I know I am.” (He cried really hard during this one)

I paused…..
Then he added this on his own words:

“I really want to love you everyday and every minute, but you make it hard for me. I am a nice, boy, I love you guys, please let me share my Mom and Dad with you…..Thank you for listening to my words and not copying me.”

They all were somber and quiet.

Chatter first said “I am sorry P.B. I know you are sharing Mommy and Daddy with us, and the animals.”

Diva was really quiet just said “I love you P.B. I will try harder”.

Cookie said “I know I am mean to you, but I really am glad you are my brother”.

Dude said “Can we eat now”.

And they did….and my tears salted their spaghetti……


  1. I sobbed a great big ugly sob with you as I read this and wished I could run right up to your house and hug the stuffing out of you, put some band-aids on your shattered heart, and cry with you.

    I have often wondered and said the very same things about my daughter and what we did to her when we adopted the boys.

    May you somewhere, somehow find peace as you let go and let God. Love you buckets, sweet girl!

  2. That is amazing! Absolutely amazing. Your little man is blessed for his sacrifice. He knows more about communication, how hurt affects people and how to get along with difficult people, and still love them, than almost every adult out there. He is learning all of the hard, important lessons now. I am amazed at him, and, as always, at you.

  3. My heart breaks for us. For our families. For the kids that are beyond our hearts' reach. For the ones who've had to watch the pain and feel helpless to stop it.

    I can't say any more here...but, yeah. I get you.

  4. OOOOOOOOOOH I get this! The way adoption has affected the child-who- was- already- here is something I can barely think about because when I do it makes me want to vomit. I LOVE the way you handled it at the table, perfect.
    I have a "hug manipulator" too, and I fall for it about half the time. You're doing great to recognize it.

  5. I wish your little P.B could help my little Sehler to express herself like that and get some of her hate out that she feels/shows to Miss G. That was hard to read :(

    I'm gonna try your way with Chatter on Gert, so hard to teach proper affection and when its wanted, not ,too long, too much, creepy, etc.

    Think about you everyday xo

  6. <3 Still Praying <3

    Mrs Kish

  7. You handled this beautifully!! I grieve for what my older kids have and still go thru with some of my more damaged children.

    I had to block my dd18 from my phone 3 wks ago. It broke my heart. I love her. I want the world for her. I want happiness and joy for her. I learned that no matter what I want for her and what I do for her, she has to do the "work" and she doesn't think she needs to. I don't believe she is long for this world either. I just keep thinking about what her influence has already put the younger kids thru and how much more they would hurt to see her the way she is now. She left our home 5 mos ago and really went off the deep end - married a guy 10 yrs older than her she met online (after knowing him less than a month), claims he abuses her but won't leave him, wants to have babies NOW with him, got tattoos, piercings, attempted suicide once that we know of, quit counseling and her meds, etc. Yet, she calls and tells me how right I was, how she wants to be part of the family, wants to go back to counseling and back on meds, can't make a decision and is worried about herself and the next thing I get is text after text of pics of her new tattoos, she's in FL now with him (we live in MI), etc. I can't watch her destroy herself. I keep thinking that if it were just me, I would cope with it and be by her side to the end - but I can't sacrifice any more time, energy and attention from my little ones when I know how well the last 16 yrs. of sacrifice has paid off.

  8. I get it! There are days that I have felt like PB... asking myself why it was I prayed for this. :) But as I watch my oldest children preparing to leave home, I see the bonds they now have with their adopted siblings and the amazing young adults they are. I am reminded again and again, that they wouldn't be the same people without the struggles we have gone through as a family... learning to pull together, to stand up for one's self, etc. They are amazing, loving, caring adults because they have learned to sacrifice and give because they wanted to, because they cared about others, and because they saw the whole picture.

    We still have our struggles, as you well know... As we prepare to bring our oldest adopted son back into our home we have had some long family discussions about family dynamics and ground rules so that everyone in the home can feel that home is a haven. I am scared spitless about what is going to happen, but finally I feel the support of my son's siblings. They will be here to help fight for the home they want... and let me tell you... it is SO. REWARDING!!!!!! :) You remain in our prayers.
    Love you

  9. Keep giving them words... what a beautiful way to show him that you know what he is feeling and are proud of him for putting up with a situation he has no control over and at the same time sending a clear and powerful message of what a family is to the other littles--family is sharing, love, respect, forgiveness, second chances (with limits), speaking and listening.
    I don't have a rebellious child, but I have one I am loosing too... her health keeps getting worse and worse, in more and more pain... and there is less and less we can do about it. It really stinks to see a child in pain.