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, May 16, 2011


I don't know how else to explain it. Clearly I'm not suffering from low iron in my blood or a decreased inability to absorb oxygen in my red blood cells.  I haven't lost a lot of blood lately and as far as I can tell, I haven't been attacked by any vampires or zombies lately.  So physiologically?  Not anemic.

Emotionally?  Oh yeah.

The beginning of The Wizard of Oz when it's all black and white and it's hard on the eyes to watch and you're dying to know what color Dorothy's dress is or just how colorful the traveling magician's wagon is or how rosy Auntie Em's cheeks are but you can't. You can only imagine it because it's drained of color and by default, life.

Then blammo, the house lands on the wicked witch and you've got technicolor-pop-your-eyes-out-of-your-head-it's-so-dang-beautiful color.

Now before you go reading between the lines and supposing that I imagine Sissy is a wicked witch that I want to drop a house on, just pause with me a moment and capture that cinematic vision, as if you're seeing it for the first time. Travel back to your childhood, lying on the living room floor watching it on a Sunday night with your family, eating popcorn, eyes glued to an enormous cathode ray tube inside a decorative cabinet shell. It's black and white, you're bored, your parents keep telling you it will get better, they promise it will. The nasty lady takes Toto, the tornado comes, she's peddling by the window of Dorothy's room, flying through the air, morphing into that horrible witch and then ....

... the chaos instantly stops. Dead. And it's quiet. And a bewildered Dorothy finds her way out of the tossed up house into a world of life, beauty and color. The wicked witch is really dead, she's really, most sincerely dead and Dorothy just wants to find her way back home.

Life with a severely mentally ill child is anemic: it's a black and gray world devoid of life, filled with chaos. It's traumatic, violent, scary and isn't really living at all. It's as though your blood can't flow to every part of your body so the nonessential parts begin to die or get cut off. Technically, you're alive but you're not living a vivacious life, you're merely eeking out an existence.

Then the ill child is removed and it's like getting an infusion of fresh blood that flows through brand new veins. You feel full, free, light, bright, healthy. You can breathe deeply and not worry. You can rest. You find help from friends along the way that you didn't know where there. Even cowardly lions and brainless scarecrows are welcome companions. There's singing, dancing, ruby shoes, a plucky dog and a yellow brick road of promise.

Because ultimately, all you really want to do is return home ... to a life that doesn't exist. A life that includes your ill child made whole.

Today we travel to the hospital to see Sissy. I'm a ball of nerves. I can't decide if I should cry, laugh, scream, run away, hide or be brave. I have lots of "have to's", "should's" and "need to's" running through my veins. It's making me anemic again. The technicolor world is fading away, the yellow brick road is winding through a dark forest and the wicked flying monkeys are circling overhead, threatening to kidnap me to the castle of another witch all because I'm wearing some pretty ruby shoes that will ultimately lead me home.

Do you want to live a life that embodies the service the Christ begs of us? This is it folks. THIS is it. It's anemic and only a transfusion from the blood of Christ will bring life back to the weariness of this broken world filled with broken, lost souls.


Story of our Life said...

...and I live...in the world of anemia, transfusion, injections.

....and believe it or not - it holds a very high role in how I am doing in the realm of depression/anxiety.

Very good post. I love it.

Ashley said...

Wishing you strength.

Last Mom said...

Emotionally anemic. Yes! That's it exactly.

cinch said...

Great analogy...just sad that you have to live it every day! Love you!

Barb G said...

Praying things went better than you hoped today. (((hugs)))

Caritas said...

I just wondered if you'd ever read this: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/openletters/14son.html

Thinking of you,


Integrity Singer said...

@ caritas - THANK YOU! that is awesome. in fact, that's how I bookmarked it: "awesomness!"

susieloulou said...

This is brilliant! Thanks.