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

Monday, February 22, 2010


oh my, I am exhausted. Emotionally, mentally and physically. I know I've said it a gajillion times but good god almighty, that road trip to and from Atlanta is a brute. It is God's grace and favor alone that got me home safely. I walked into the house and flopped in the bed. No tooth brushing, no hair brushing, no change of clothes (gracious me, I slept in my bra. THAT is miserable.)

Sissy's weekend went poorly. She didn't waste time. She went straight back to her behaviors. Lying, sneaking, stealing, manipulating, crying jags, unwillingness to own up to her poor choices when we attempted to talk through them with her, anger, unwillingness to use her coping skills, lots of glowers-of-death directed at The Dad and I...

Did I say I was exhausted?

I think the biggest "tell" for me was when The Dad asked me to rub his back (he has degenerative disks) and my attempt to meet his needs was immediately thwarted by one more issue to fend off with Sissy so that 45 minutes later, exasperated, I got up to do something and The Dad said, "but you never rubbed my back" and I nearly cried. Because here was one more thing proving that Sissy steals ALL OF MY ENERGY so that I can't take care of the people the reciprocate in relationship, the most significant being the loving relationship I actively chose, my spouse! Then at the end of the day, Wonder Girl and Aspie Boy had practically put themselves to bed when they said, "mom? can you read to us?" and I realized, with the same level of frustration and exasperation that Sissy's antics had stolen my time and energy with them as well. I succeeded but with effort to read to them without crying because I felt so bad, because I felt so powerless to avoid Sissy's energy drain traps and that 24 hours in, Sissy had returned us all to exactly the same pitiful family dynamics we suffered from before her placement.

90 days. 90 DAYS! she's been at RTC for her very first weekend home to experience ALL of her old behaviors without any change. I give her 3 weeks home after discharge before it is fully escalated back to the same level of crisis she was at before placement. If that long.

Right now, other than exhausted, I feel so powerless and even more inadequate to help her than I did before the weekend. She is a black hole that sucks the life out of everything that comes in her path. She does not give ANYTHING back. I kept looking for something, any sense of her giving back, even in a minuscule way. But I couldn't find anything. Aspie Boy, for all of his issues, gives back. Heck, I've talked to parents of adult non-verbal autistic children that still report the positive affirmations they receive in that parent/child relationship.

And all of her crying jags? every single episode was a manipulation. She was able to produce tears in one second and then in the very next second be perfectly fine, requesting that we do one more thing for her. Talk therapy? Pbft. She just tuned us out. Like a switch.

I don't know what to do. She's 10. I've lived this hell for 9 years with no change in her behavior, no DESIRE to seek that change, no effort to form relationship, nothing at all despite the enormous efforts and lengths we've gone through to help her, to change ourselves, to learn how to meet her needs. Her future? Right now, if it stays exactly the same, Sissy has no meaningful future. And neither do we.

As I typed this, insurance called. "Mrs.S, how did it go?" I told her everything I just typed in this post. She said, "well, I'll call you in 10 days."

So I guess I just bought us 10 more days from insurance?

I feel so trapped. 10 days will not exact change. 10 days is just a prolonging of the inevitable. Sissy will come home and our brief respite from hell will be just that, a mere glimpse of how happy and healthy our family life can be in the absence of hell and terror.

I doesn't get any more real than this, folks.


GB's Mom said...

I am so sorry your weekend was so difficult. You are in my prayers. our RADs are like a black hole sometimes...

Anonymous said...

Sorry. That sounds exhausting, and it clearly was. I hope the insurance comes through so you can all get what you need, but I wish there were a better answer long-term.

Debbie said...

Jennie, I recently happened upon your blog. Thank you for being so real so we can pray for you and so we can learn from you. Big hugs to you!

We have a *challenging* daughter (young teen, actually) who exhibits some behaviors you mention, but we're praising God that things seem to be getting better, albeit slowly. (Right now she's whining and complaining, though...) And the other daughter *just* called up the stairs to ask if we could take she and her sister to Dairy Queen this weekend...we're trying so hard to wean them from their near-intravenous use of sugar in their orphanages...sigh.

Anyway, I felt I needed to write. I do hope you can get some much-needed rest. I will pray! I know that Lord will guide you and uphold you with His righteous right hand.

J. said...

hang in there, I know that doesn't sound like much but it is all I can do some days and then the next day is a new one and I hope that it might get btter.

Lisa said...

You've had her since she was a year old? Wow, I didn't know that. We've had my son since he was 9 mos. old and when he was young, we'd just refer to him as being "challenging" for lack of a better descriptive term. Now, he's just a little slice of hell on earth (he's almost 16). He throws temper tantrums (think 2 year old, kicking, stomping his feet, no tears), will cry for HOURS about being told no about anything - even the most ridiculous requests you've ever heard. Lies, steals, manipulates everyone he comes into contact with, won't shower or brush his teeth, I have to shave his head every few weeks because even when I literally force him into the shower, he doesn't wash or use shampoo and his head just stinks after awhile. On and on.... I wish I knew what to tell you. Whenever he's gone for a few hours, we find ourselves just waiting for him to burst thru the door - so a few hours is no relief at all. Calls from school are quite common, even though he's in an emotionally impaired class (finally) and they are allowed to restrain him and isolate him (where is MY quiet room that I can lock him in until he calms down? I'd go to jail if I tried to lock him in his room), but as with everyone else, it took them 6 mos. to figure out he was stealing everyone blind and that no, we don't starve him at our house. Every time he gets away with this stuff, he gets cockier and more confident in his abilities. He's not considered "bad enough" for rtc in our state - hasn't killed or raped or burned down our house yet, so I guess we're supposed to wait around for one of those things to happen? For the last few years, I have been utterly exhausted by him. He sucks up every bit of energy I have and I constantly catch myself having no energy to do the simple things my other kids and hubby need - so I can completely relate to that part of it. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!! I wish that we're enough.