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, June 27, 2011

Hummingbird Hypothesis

Some people go on alcohol benders. Others go on drug binges. There's also sex-aholics having hours of intercourse with random partners until they have made themselves raw. Then there's the eating disorders: eating to the point of purging or refusing to eat to the point of dehydration.


Ragefests. She isn't satisfied until the rest of us are reeling from the trauma. Then she's a happy clam, content and giddy while the rest of us nurse our headaches, ringing ears, frayed nerves and tense muscles.

Rage fest lasted Thursday night until this morning when she woke up completely regulated, compliant and well rested but not until after I drank a wee bit too much sangria last night to ebb away the pain. Her therapist from the new IFI team has spoken to us twice a day for the last five days and is trying her best to tweak the CAFAS rating to get Sissy back to a 140, the qualifying number for APS to consider placement. There have been discussions of calling 911. There have been talks about suicidal ideations and self-harming behaviors (which she has not displayed yet) and the possibility of emerging psychotic events (which we were able to present from her journal entries - i don't want to rehash those words. They hurt too bad or are so wild and zany it's alarming how "off" her mind is.)

Emotionally standing outside of this situation, I'm so saddened and disheartened that such a young girl can be so damaged, that we've hit the ceiling, that the only answers to solve our situation will bring irreparable heartache and damage to our family. There is no win. There is no hope. There is no help. There is nothing.

In church yesterday I hung my head in sorrow. The pastor preached from Matthew 10:40-42. He talked about how if we extend a hand of compassion and caring first, those to whom we extend that hand will yield and receive. Sure, unless that person suffers debilitating mental health illnesses Sissy would rather die or kill one of us than yield and receive. That is RAD in a nutshell. A reversal of the human condition. Instead of yielding and receiving grace and compassion, caring and selflessness, they rebuff it, strike out at it and seek to destroy it. In the RAD mind, those kindnesses are threats to their survival. The only option is to destroy that which they perceive will destroy them. Reasoning, logic, engaging, NONE of it alters the erroneous hard-wiring in their brains. It can't be undone. And retraining can only be taught to the willing.

Sissy isn't willing. Her new IFI therapist has her pegged inside of a week. "She's doing it on purpose."


And Sissy's reasons? Really. I just don't want to tell you what she's said.

So in two weeks' time I find myself just as frazzled and empty as I was before her placement in March. I feel guilty for ever wanting a child. I could have just gotten over it and been childless. I should have. I feel angry that one child's illness can wreak such havoc on so many with no way to prevent it without heaping further harm upon our own heads. I feel jilted that the mental health community is as helpless as I am. I am terrified that even with a developmental delay diagnosis we'll discover that our state has bankrupted those resources too and then we'll be without ANY help. I am furious that I didn't damage this child and yet my family pays the price for the abuse every day. I feel trapped and that my life isn't worth living. It feels like everyone else lives free and happily while we remain caged in this unrelenting nightmare. I beg God to be merciful and cause a disease that makes Sissy an invalid so she is incapable of raging anymore - seriously, 24/7 convalescent care of a minor would be easier. I imagine ways in which I could set my family free and all of them include me assuming that Sissy's life is more valuable than mine.

So I sat in the garage on a 99' day and cried and pondered and prayed and shook my head at the insanity of it all. We are trapped, so horribly, terribly trapped by our daughter's ill mind. My life is on hold, we are held hostage by her rages. We are alone with no support. When The Dad is at work, it's me with the three of them all day long with no reprieve, no respite, nothing but dodging verbal bullets, RADsing behaviors, pulling therapeutic techniques out of my ass and trying to survive until bedtime. Then rinse, wash, repeat. At prayer during service, I raised my hand and asked that the congregation would remember my family as our daughter had just returned home from a hospital after three months. No one. NOT.ONE.PERSON. said a word to me during or after service.

Then a hummingbird came to the kitchen window, saw that the feeder wasn't there, looked directly at me and hovered and then went back to the window before flying off.

I sobbed and sobbed. In all of the insanity of this year, I didn't decorate my yard for summer, no plants, no wind chimes, no whirligigs, the weeds have overrun the lillies, my rose bush is dead and the humming bird feeders were never put out.

And yet, a year later, the hummingbirds were back, at MY window, counting on ME for nectar. Looking AT me as their source of food and hope. A YEAR LATER and a damn hummingbird knows I'm reliable, can be counted on, will be sufficient to extend a hand of compassion and caring. A hummingbird.

NOT my 11 year old daughter.

And if we stay in this house forever, the hummingbirds will keep returning.

And my daughter?

I don't know if she'll still be my daughter next year. I don't know how long I can be a caged bird, living a paralyzed, hostage lifestyle because of her mental illness. I don't know how long I'll allow her to do it to my husband, my marriage, my other children, my dog.

Because that hummingbird reminded me, Sissy's life is not more valuable than mine.


Kelley said...

I love you! Truly. I'm so sorry.

Jamey... said...

Aw honey. This was so heartbreaking. I am so sorry. Your conclusion is right though. Your life, your husband's life, and the other kids lives...all of them are worthwhile, no matter what it takes. I am always here to listen even if I can't help.

Jen said...

My heart hears you and aches for you. I get it, wish I didn't, wish you didn't too, but I do. Don't know that long term treatment has helped my girl, but at least we got that and I've had a break. I so wish I could give that to you. (((((Hugs)))))

susieloulou said...

Oh, gosh, praying! Just can't imagine what you're going through. Wish I could do something for you!

Ashley said...

So so so sorry. Pouring out love

Debora said...

I just sat here crying as I read this, crying for you ((hugs)), that your church is not being the body of Christ, for Sissy and her choices, for your family, and for us and for our eldest daughter who is now getting help in a treatment facility. Thing is, I don't know how much help she'll actually *receive*, as it is ultimately her choice. We now know she wears a couple of acronyms: RAD and PTSD. We also know that she refuses to live in reality and believe what's true. We love her. We're praying for her. I know you love Sissy and are praying for her. I will continue to pray for you and wish there were something I could do to help.

Jeri said...

As you know,I've been where you are. Hopeless, angry, and just completely leveled. It took having him out of our home for 18 months now for him to get the kind of therapeutic help that we, as a family, could no way provide. He's progressing. After kicking me in the face, trying to strangle me with the car seatbelt, punching me several times, killing small animals, etc., etc...there is light on the horizon. My prayer is that "they" get it and step up to provide for her in the way that your family needs and the way that she so obviously needs. "Lord, please encircle this precious family with your grace. Guide the exactly needed person to step up and find a solution that will truly benefit this child and her family. Heal them, Lord." Hugs girl, wish I was right there to help.

Alice said...

I'm thinking of you, and I am so sorry that you are going through this. I hope things will improve for you soon, and I hope that someday Sissy will realise what you're offering her and is okay with accepting it.

kisekileia said...

Or, alternatively, is there anyone from your church who'd be willing to come fix up the garden?

If you'd like a little warmth and fuzziness to distract you from things for a big, go here: http://www.theittybittykittycommittee.com/

Frankity said...

I'm so sorry for everything you've been put through. You are a saint for all you have given, and continue to give, to this very damaged girl. I'm praying she is able to get herself in placement soon. You all have been through enough. Please know that there are people out here that are thinking of you, wishing you well.

Jennifer said...

There are no words...

Sending healing energy your way from the Ocean State.

Amy @ Literacy Launchpad said...

I know you don't know me, but I've been following your blog and I think about you ALL the time. I am praying for you. I wish I was nearby so I could help shoulder this heavy burden with you. I wish I had some tangible help or answers for you. But I think you are one of the most amazing people I know. You are surviving. And that is HUGE considering all you're dealing with. You are an amazing mom. NEVER doubt that. I don't understand God's plan for you and your family, but I am storming the gates of heaven begging Him for answers for you tonight!

kisekileia said...

If this is too painful a question for you to answer, I understand, but: What WOULD happen if you relinquished custody of Sissy? Would you be criminally charged? Would it result in jail time? Would you lose custody of AB and WG?

Barb G said...

I love you. I wish I had more to offer, wish I could take some of the pain from you. (((hug)))

Sammie said...

I have been so touched by your kindness to me. I just wish I could help in some way... We will have to meet sometime, even though we live far apart. I know how hard this is, and even though I have lived a similar existance, its not been as intense as your situatation. I know you will get through until there is placement again, just sorry you have to play the silly game. Its somewhat encouraging to hear that at least your worker gets how truly crazy Sissy is. Can't stop thinking about you and your family.
Lots of love and hugs.