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

Friday, April 15, 2011

Truth or Dare

The truth is, I was never good at the game Truth or Dare largely because I'm a lousy liar. Except maybe that's not true either.

The truth is, I'm good at covering up the truth so I can pursue my fake-it-til-i-make-it mantra.

The truth is, as a child I was told I was a glass-half-empty kind of kid, pessimistic and melancholic.

The truth is, as a child I was told I'd never finish what I started.

The truth is, I had a childhood filled with trauma myself.

The truth is, I have had no control over the trauma that has happened in my life, both childhood and adulthood that now that lack of control has become a trigger for ME.

The truth is, if "fair" is getting what you need, then my life hasn't been fair.

The truth is I haven't been reading my bloggy friends' blogs, even though I fell madly in love with all of you in Orlando. Because the truth is, no matter what you write about, it still sounds like more successful than my family's story.

When ATTACh.org picked up my "Layers of Loss" article to use in their packet for new parents of traumatized children, I was excited because they "paid" me with a membership. The truth is, I'd like to take a bazooka gun and blow it all to hell because those moms on the google chat board are so optimistic and hopeful and their children respond to the therapeutic parenting. It feels like knives carving out my heart.

The truth is I have kept on and kept on and kept on with Sissy because contrary to my childhood messages, I'm an eternal optimist. I cover the truth with my fake-it-til-i-make-it mantra because I don't want to let go of hope that Sissy will finally, FINALLY make strides toward healing.

The truth is I'm happy, confident, filled with joy and laughter, loving, patient and kind. Melancholy settles in only occasionally and always for good cause. The truth is, it has taken me years, but I can finally say that despite the trauma of my own childhood, I'm finally the person I was before my father got sick - and I LIKE me.

The truth is I DO finish what I start provided I'm not emotionally caught up in the most recent life trauma. You wouldn't believe the things I've gotten accomplished in the month Sissy has been gone.

The truth is, if I give up on Sissy, then maybe the childhood message will prove true: I DON'T finish what I start.

The truth is, my entire life has been so filled with trauma, it has overwhelmed me like a 50 foot tsunami crashing over me again and again... and again.

The truth is, the overlaps and parallels between my childhood trauma and my adulthood trauma are staggering.

The truth is, the trauma has finally caught up with my body and mind. After a terrifying string of panic attacks over the last week, brought on by the initial trigger of Sissy reporting in phone therapy that she will return to her behaviors when sent home even though she behaves at the hospital, I have met the end of my resolve, my hope, my strength. I'm exhausted in anyway possible to be exhausted.

The truth is, though I consider myself a strong, vibrant, capable woman, right now I am very fragile and weak. The truth is, I'm terrified that I'll never regain that strength.

The truth?

Sissy will never heal, has no designs to heal. It goes way beyond RAD and therapeutic parenting for her.

The truth is no matter what doctors and therapists say, they will not convince me otherwise: Sissy's brain was traumatized so early in her infancy because of the neglect, depravity and abuse that there is no possible chance of recapturing that which has been lost for her.

The truth is, that is devastating for everyone, Sissy included.

The truth is, for those children whose brains are not so irrevocably altered, it still boils down to choice, choice, choice. Provided with all the tools to heal, all the unconditional love, all the therapeutic parenting skills, it is still a child's choice to heal or not to heal.

The truth is we may have some very difficult choices ahead of us to preserve our family's well-being. The truth is, that terrifies me all the way to my bones.

The truth is, despite it all, some part of me still wants to believe that if I apply what I've learned about my own life of trauma and how I've dealt with it and pursued healing, i can teach it to Sissy and she'll get it, really GET it.

The truth is, I love her so much that I can't see the truth: she won't GET it. Ever.

Your turn. I dare you to tell the truth.


Meg said...

My truth, I enjoy your blog and admire your courage to speak your truth. I am merely an observer but I think your situation with Sissy goes way beyond RAD. She has severe mental illness on top of the RAD and you don't know until time pans out whether it will be bipolar or schizophrenia. That complicates things greatly. There are lots of people in life with severe mental illness that can't live in an environment without a great deal of structure and never can live independently. They simply can't do it. So you may be beating yourself up over trying to create something that cannot be.

Take care of yourself. You are a wonderful mom.

Sarah said...

Oh, I wish I could come give you a hug in a real life. I believe there are some children who cannot live in families. And our country fails them. And I cannot imagine the pain of truly loving one of those children. Do something today to take care of YOU. You NEED it. You deserve it. You are a really great mom.

The Other Mother said...

You are amazing and brave. You need to accept that YOU deserve peace and contentment. Sissy and her illness are holding you hostage emotionally and physically. You can still love her and hold her in your heart but you can't allow her to destroy you at your very core in the process. You have so much to offer your family, friends, and community. Please be kind to yourself.

Janice said...

From what I read in the comments, you are truly an inspiration to other moms. I know personally that you are so loving and patient and WAY too hard on yourself. I can't even begin to put myself in your shoes and say I know what you are going through, but I did want to address the boards you spoke of. I stopped reading message boards after I had my baby because the moms on them always sound perfect and make me feel inferior and my child seem behind, and he doesn't even have any issues. I wouldn't take much heart in them being a true representation of what the other families are going through. Hugs!!!!
Oh, and when I was in 9th grade a teacher told my mom that I was, "Obviously a girl who will never finish anything." So sue me, I'm a Gemini!

robyncalgary said...

my truth... if id known my baby's dad was a sociopath when i was still in my first trimester (i found out at 6 months pregnant), i would have very seriously considered abortion...

im eternally glad i have my baby, i would never regret or undo having her, but even an hour before delivering i was sobbing "i dont want to do this". now that shes here, im glad i have her, she is a blessing beyond measure

another truth... im scared to death that his sociopathy is genetic, not environmental

GB's Mom said...

Sissy's truth was MK's truth for many years. We did everything- in and out of hospitals, drugs, day treatment, in home crisis services for 5 years and nothing work. It took every ounce of my self control by the time she was 21 to treat her civilly- forget about therapeutic parenting. And I failed. It is only in the last 8 months she has started to heal. I have been where you are and lived it for years. No advice, just love.

Kelley said...

The truth is Sarah and the Other Mother are right and we love you just the way you are. Another truth is no matter what I do or say, my marriage is not going to work and I am prolonging the inevitable and robbing myself of the time wasted wishing he could be not only the husband I need, but a husband in general. I love you. No matter what decisions you make for yourself or your family - you can still love her with out letting her steal you. It sounds harsh to say, but you won't ever get the time back, but you can change things and move on from here. Ultimately you have to do what you can live with - live being the keyword there in all its manifestations.

ttlyeightmom said...

The truth is no matter what we do and no matter what they do we can't EVER stop loving these broken children.. the truth is they are beyond even our love sometimes. The truth is even though my radish nearly broke me and my family I would have him back here in a heartbeat if I could because I can't stop trying to fix him no matter what. Hugs to you I have been where you are and I know your pain of seeing other people radishes seem to get better and yours not.

kisekileia said...

I know this doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of truly dealing with the trauma, but have you considered medication for the panic attacks? That might at least make things more bearable for you.

Trauma Mama said...

I think you are awesome and amazing. We didn't get to spend a lot of time together in Orlando, but the time we spent talking I found you to be full of life and I loved talking to you. You were upbeat and kind. I am so glad I met you because you rock!

LoriG said...

My inner truth- I think if I really let myself feel the fear and loss I would never recover. But, that said, what I know to be the real truth is that we are not meant to be incapacitated by our journey on this planet. It is not in G-d's plan to debilitate us so that we aren't able to share our love. So,we find our balance, shaky as it is, and we keep on, keepin' on...accepting our truths as you have done so very gracefully. With love and open arms, Lori

Corey said...

Lovey, The truth is, it doesn't matter what horrific things our kids do, we can hat their mental illness and their behaviors and what they do to our other kids and what they've done to our marriages and what they've done to us and all the ways they make us feel.. and yet deep down, we still love them, because they are our kids, and DAMN, if that doesn't just KILL me, because I do not WANT to feel anything for D or for V after all the hell they have put us through. The truth is, no matter how much we want them to heal and love us and to make it in our families, they cannot. They just CAN NOT. The truth is, some trauma families are doing better than yours and mine, because their kids are not as ill. And the ones that are not, don't post about it, because it is not pretty. Or because they are too exhausted from living it to write about it. Or because they think no one will believe it anyway, or because they are afraid of CPS. The truth is, our lives are some crazy messed up bullshit. (Right? Tell me I'm lying.) But the truth is, I've got your back, sister, and I know you've got mine. And that makes all the crazy messed up bullshit just a little more tolerable. I'm going to call you later. (That's a promise, not a threat.) xoxo

Lisa said...

The truth is I feel selfish for wanting a normal life if that means giving up on my two RADishes - even though they've wanted out of this family for as long as I can remember (long before I realized it) and have threatened many times to do "whatever it takes" to make that happen. My dd will be 18 in THREE days. I have been counting down for so long - mostly out of fear for her. i am therapeutically parenting her more now than I ever have and it's making her CRAZY. She keeps wanting me to help her, help her, help her - just as long as I tell her everything she wants to hear and do all the legwork for her. Once the help is in place she rejects it. I need to move on, she needs to move on. Sissy is still young and so I hear your pain, your ambivilance, your love for her and your fear. I'm not saying it gets easier, as she matures (physically if not mentally) it will be harder because she'll want what everyone else has, including her freedom, even though you know it's not a good idea and she will probably never be ready to be truly on her own. If you think she fights you now, batten down the hatches, cuz it's nothing compared to a teenager on a mission. I don't say this to frighten or you or give you less hope. I tell you this to prepare you, like no one else in the "normal" world can. You need to set some boundaries with Sissy like never before. We all feel powerless in our lives because of our RAD kids and their behaviors. Maybe you should concentrate on the mental illness part of it for awhile. I know that while I'm 100% sure my two have RAD, I also am 100% sure they have FASD which will interfere with them EVER healing - especially at ages 17 and 18. You KNOW you've given it your all, you KNOW how much you love Sissy - no one can legitimately question that. You need to let yourself off the hook now.

Sammie said...

The truth is, that sometimes its OK to say, I have had enough, I am totally spent, I am done. I still love this kid but it will kill me and the others in my home to go on with this child living here. This does not mean your love for her stops. It just means, she cannot be the one who gets all your and your families energy. That you may need to be her parent from afar. I think those of us with our own trauma histories try much, much longer to fix the unfixable, since we never really knew what normal was. Our own boundaries got messed up. We NEVER give up, because we don't think we deserve to. Am I making sense? I can't quite put it into words, but I know for me my own trauma history makes it that I have to be a complete martyr to my kids needs. I'm seeing this is not healthy for them or me. That if I go down with them, then no one wins. We all have to find our own truth, and not a single one of us Mom's who have lived not even a 1% of what you have would every fault you for saying enough.
Very big hugs and wishing you peace.

Last Mom said...

I agree with thinking there are some children who just can't live in families. I am sorry that Sissy is one of them. In rough patches, I worry that my child is one (though her issues are pretty mild in the grand trauma scale, they sure don't feel mild when we're in the middle of them!). Wish we could all sit around and comfort you in person.

By the way, I have awarded you The Versatile Blogger award! See my blog for instructions if you accept! www.lastmom.blogspot.com

Tara - SanitySrchr said...

The truth...some days I resent my husband and our marriage. That's how we ended up all sorts of family drama because of HIS kids. HIS bad choices in whom to mate with.

The truth...I hate having to censor myself on my blog out of fear. Fear of CPS. Fear that the BirthVessel will find it and our lives will get worse.

cinch said...

I think your Truth is worse than any Dare anyone can make up in their sick minds and that is why it is so hard. You have found your way out of the craziness that has surrounded you. Now all you can do is provide Sissy with the thing she needs to find her way but ultimately that is the truth of it all. She has to find HER own way. You can't do it for her and because you are such a loving mother despite all she has done and continues to do you want to do it FOR her and you just cant. Love Ya!