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

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Say nothing: Say everything

Some days I'm overwhelmed. I can't emotionally deal with the grief and stress and challenges. I try closing my eyes tightly and thinking very hard that it's just a moment, it will pass, I'll survive and be fine but that's little comfort.

Sissy hasn't been over the top crazy since she started the Lithium Thursday night. But before then she did manage to break the door jamb in a rage and I thought she was going to kick down the temporary wall. Thank heavens her Papa is a master carpenter. Were it not for his mad skills, she probably would have succeeded.

I'd like to say Sissy is in a stupor but she's still stick poking, pacing, whining and defying. I'd like to say this medication is going to work but it's more likely that she'll fight against this medication too. It hasn't become worth it to her to surrender the wango tango and succumb to normalcy.

Technically then, she's been easier to manage if for no other reason than my ears aren't ringing at the end of the day. Except when she's "quiet" that is exactly when the trauma and stress of dealing with her nonsense catches up with me and overtakes me. I don't intentionally say and now I will get the heebee-jeebies when I look at my kid but that's exactly what happens. Which in turn compounds the PTSD because I feel guilty and depressed for feeling so distressed about my child.

It's been a blue, cathartic day. My mind has played tricks on me, trying to tell me I'm not a good person because I'm so overwhelmed by my daughter all while that same daughter, in a more subtle, drug-induced toned-down way has reminded me that I'm not parenting her correctly. All of this nonsense plays out in my head and in the stick-poking she does, an overlay for the PTSD and depression. Not a good mix.

I should be excited, Orlando is just a short week and a half away, my dresser laden with gift bags of homemade treasures for my housemates but I feel so numb. Part of me wants to scream and scream and scream until I pass out from lack of oxygen, then wake up and scream and scream and scream some more. Part of me wants to sob until I pass out from exhaustion. Part of me wants to punch holes in walls. None of me wants to move, or think, or breathe ... or even look at Sissy, let alone think of her.

Yet think of her and look at her and speak to her and feed her and take care of her and supervise her I must. I can't escape my responsibilities and the fact that if I stop, if for one second I succumb to the depth of despair that threatens to overtake me, I may never want to embrace her again. And for that mustard seed's worth of hope that one day she could possibly be better, I urge myself forward. i have to. I can't quit. I must go on for me. It's for ME that I fight to survive every day, not for her. For MY sanity.

On my bedside table I have some small framed photos of the children when they were little. One day I woke up and the first thing I saw as my eyes opened were fake smiling photos of Sissy. I wanted to take my arm and swipe them clear off the table in a defiant, angry gesture at the joke I felt life has played on me. But WG and AB are in the photos too. So I rearranged them instead. Now tiny AB and WG smile at me when I awake. Much better. Just now, to make sure it was so, I glanced at the table and instead of seeing those two tiny faces I saw the picture Sissy colored for me today. I should be glad she colored a picture for me, right? Instead I want to tear it up.

How it breaks my heart to think such horrible thoughts! But she's shown me such little regard, such intense hatred and disrespect, so little remorse and love and absolutely no compassion that it is almost impossible to conjure up warm, happy thoughts about her anymore. I hate myself for no longer being able to cry about it.

WG wanted to look through old photo albums the other day. I persuaded her to do something else. I can't. I just can't look at those old photos. Sissy's pictures... I want to put black cloth over all of her hanging photos. I want to cut out all of her pictures. Looking at them, all I see is years of heartache; years spent trying to love an unfeeling, unthinking, unwavering-in-her-anger Sissy. Even as I type that sentiment I cringe. Such a dreadful, despicable thing to think about your child. What kind of mother has these thoughts? What kind of woman can hold so little regard for an impaired child? How did I get this far? How do i go back? CAN I go back, is it possible to recover from this? Can I? Can Sissy? Will I ever know what wholeness and healing is? Will she?

Before I sat down to type these thoughts, I was plowing through the mountain of paperwork I've been procrastinating going through. I didn't used to be this way, I used to get right to these tasks but the despair has been so overwhelming that all I can do is sit and stare. One more responsibility is one more too many. I have Sissy. Isn't that enough? Except it's not all I have.

In that stack of papers was a folder I'd forgotten about, a registration packet to join the FG alliance now that AB finally has a diagnosis for his genetic syndrome. I read through the information about FG kids and my head started swimming. So many things about AB jumping off the page, words from other mothers, medical provisions, all of the nuances of helping our FG kids. One mother wrote "families need to first grieve the loss of the child they hoped for and then they'll realize what a wonderful child they've been given to raise." I paused when I read her thoughts. Did I mourn about AB? yes. But so much of AB's needs have been overshadowed by Sissy that I take it for granted that he is significantly impaired too. Ten years I've cared for him and his challenges without thinking, I've just done it because it was what he needed. And it's been easy. AB loves. Oh, how he loves. I could parent kids like AB all day long and never think of it.

Parenting Sissy?

It's not parenting. Parenting assumes that the child at some point is willing to receive something the adult figure is attempting to give to the child: love, education, assistance, support, comfort, protection, guidance, shelter, instruction, provisions, etc. Sissy has balked and rebuffed everything we've tried to give her. She receives nothing from us without a fight first. Eventually, it comes to a point that we no longer want to give to her. How many times can a hand be slapped away before it is swollen, bloody and bruised? Do you still offer the hand or do you withdraw? And at what point do you opt to withdraw?

I feel like I've entered a black hole, silent, soundless, a vacuum of black nothingness, a void of space and time. Though I know inherently that I'm not the first parent to find herself in such a position, i still feel acutely alone in my struggle and angst. If I thought for one minute that I could shout, "SISSY!!!! Can't you see what you've done??!? Just say the word, retreat from this insanity and I'll come running back to you!!!" and have any hope that it would make the difference, I would.

Instead, after three wetting accidents in one week, the third event sealing her fate to return to pull-ups even though we knew it was intentional wetting, Sissy said to me all coy and sweet when we were alone in the kitchen,

"Heh, heh. Isn't it so funny mom? now that I'm wearing pull ups again, I'm suddenly not having any more accidents."

I squeezed my eyes shut as tight as I could and bit my tongue. I said to myself, say nothing, say nothing, for the love of your own life and integrity, SAY NOTHING! then I opened my eyes and gave her a closed-mouth, cheeky smirk and walked away.

That's what I get from her. It is so vile and putrid and insane and I know part of it is her illness but only part. Just as I can choose to say nothing, so can she.

She'd rather stick poke until I scream.


Barb G said...

I am so very sorry. (((((hugs))))) You are a good person, an exceptional mom. Please don't let her unwillingness to be loved be what you measure YOURSELF by. I'm sorry for Sissy, but it's not your fault that she won't let your love reach her heart.

cinch said...

I love you...It might help to know that there are people out there who do love you even though I am not sure what to do to help you.

GB's Mom said...


Johanna said...

I have nothing to offer except I know that "heebee jeebees" feeling. My son IS responding to medication but I'm so conditioned by all the bad behavior before that I can't relax or enjoy it - I'm just angry at him all the time. You're not alone and you aren't a bad mom - just a person who has suffered years of abuse at the hands of a kid (and people say that is impossible). I'm praying for you and your family every day.

vicsens said...

My heart aches for you & your family. I am a long time reader but seldom comment. Just wanted you to know I'm thinking of you and know you're a GOOD MOM just from reading. Please don't be too hard on yourself.

J. said...

11 sleeps, need I say more.