On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I want to

I want to feel bad about Haiti. I want the images on the TV to have an emotional impact on me. I want to be in constant prayer for everyone there and all of the assistance crews that are flying in from around the globe. I want to emotionally connect to that trauma and not feel like a self-centered, self-absorbed idiot in my dry home with my clean clothes and my hot shower and my food in the pantry. I want to but I can't.

Nine years of Sissy's behaviors have made it impossible for me, at this point in my life, to connect to someone else's pain because I can't even connect to mine. Aspie Boy and Wonder Girl wanted to see some of their baby pictures the other day and as I was flipping through the endless photo books to find their pictures, I flipped through page after page of glowering images of Sissy. Not one smile. All of them were glowering images, a face filled with hate and disgust for the person taking the picture, me. Knowing what I know now, I wonder how I managed to endure so much of that daily hatred that morphed into daily agression, violence, anger, and loathing. I know it is because I wanted so desperately to love her and for her to love me back that I naively thought love could conquer it all.

But love doesn't fix RADs, not conventional love anyway. And I'm finding it very hard to find a way to parent Sissy when she returns that provides what she needs without destroying my heart and my love for her at the same time. I keep saying "Nothing is impossible with God, not even RADs" but I don't really believe it. I'm in the fake-it-til-you-make-it mode with that one.

I return to my original thought, I want to feel bad about Haiti but I'm living my own trauma in my own home, in my own life, every day. I'm sorting through the years of lies and manipulations, the relationships I've had, the way I've had to change to accommodate for her needs, the way I've altered my perception of what it means to be family. I've had to tell myself not to hate the families that have what I wanted when I raised my right hand and solemnly swore before a judge that I would do everything in my power to raise Sissy to the best of my ability. That ability which seems to shrink with each passing day. I've had to tell myself, literally pinch myself as I think it, that yes, Sissy CAN be healed of RADs, that there is hope, there is always hope as long as I reach for it but ... but it won't heal all of her other mental health issues, she will always be impaired. But if she could love me? would that be enough?

And I think of Aspie Boy who is so impaired and I never think of his impairments, I only think of the son that I love. The son that loves me back, who literally tackles me when he hugs and kisses me (on my eyes!) and I know it is easy to love him because he reciprocates. To another woman, my son might be challenged beyond her abilities but to me his abilities pale in comparison to the amount of love he gives me just because I breathe. This same amount of love that Sissy steals from me and NEVER replaces, it just continues to be a gigantic hole of nothingness and then she showers me with manipulation, hatred, lies and defiance besides, like kicking me when I'm down.

And all of this with Wonder Girl who has never once said, "But Mommy, it's not fair that I only have siblings with impairments, why can't I have a sibling that is 'normal'?" which would be a fair question.

So no, I can't hurt for Haiti. Intellectually, yes. Empathetically? No. I just don't have an ounce left in me for empathy for someone else's pain. And that makes me want to cry too. How did I get this far and is there a possible return? Nothing is impossible for God, not even my broken heart.

Tomorrow I travel to the RTC. I haven't seen Sissy in three weeks because of The Dad's knee and my subsequent need to do triple duty to pick up the slack for him not working. January's bills aren't paid and I'm going to lose a day of wages AND spend gas money to travel to see a child that doesn't love me. Hooray. Nothing is impossible with God, not even January's bills and a road trip to see a child that doesn't love me.

And just now The Dad told me it's going to be our busiest spring season and we'll be working Saturdays in March and Sissy's insurance gives her the boot in March whether she's better or not and how are we supposed to reintegrate her into our home in the middle of our busiest work season, the money of which we'll need to catch up on our January bills? Nothing is impossible for God, not even Sissy's return in the middle of our busiest work season.

I'm just going to keep faking it until I make it, nothing is impossible with God. Not Haiti, not traumatized orphans from the most devastating global earthquake in history, not all of the mommys and daddys out there that will adopt all of those children and find out they got 100x more than they bargained for, not Sissy, not mental health issues, not RADs, not January's bills, not my broken heart, not a busy work season, not Aspie Boy's growing list of impairments, not Wonder Girl's anger that she doesnt' have a normal sibling to play with, nothing. NOTHING is impossible with God.


waldenbunch said...

As usual, I do understand completely. I do feel for the people of Haiti, but have trouble associating my life with theirs. It's not just selfishness, it's exhaustion and self-preservation. And yes, I do believe nothing is impossible with God, but He has real humans to deal with and we have to surrender to His help and so do our kids. That may or may not happen. Do not beat yourself up because you're been through the trauma yourself. And I do believe we all have PTSD in some way or form. I know that my oldest is no longer a part of our lives, of which I'm grateful. How bad is that? But God released me from that responsibility once she reached adulthood. My season with her is over, unless God works in her heart to bring about change. And yes, I understand the panic and fear and all the other normal emotions that underlie everything you talk about. One step at a time.

marythemom said...

I'm right there with you Jennie, both on the Haiti front and the living with a non-reciprocating child. For me the genders are just reversed. It is so hard to continue to put so much effort into a child that gives back nothing.

I comfort myself with the thought that he is still better off for having lived with us and know us than he would have been without us. I'm sure this is part of God's greater plan for me (although I admit it scares the heck out of me that he's making me stronger for something in the future).

If you haven't already, read Katharine Leslie's book Coming to Grips with Attachment. It helps me feel less guilty that I'm not able to fix my child with love, and that I don't particularly like him.

Hugs and prayers,
Mary in TX

Ashley said...

Praying for peace for you and your beautiful family

Stacy said...

{{hugs}} My heart breaks for you. Plus, I'm there with you on the child who doesn't give back. We will get through this. {{hugs}}

J. said...

hang in there, it must be really hard some days. I hope the visit goes well

Rose said...

((hugs)) I hope all goes well on your visit. You are right - with God everything is possible, but that doesn't mean the road is always easy. You're doing a wonderful job.

Simply Moms said...

Sending a hug...from a "cyber" pal.