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

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Where the Sun Don't Shine

I gave up anger for lent. The intensity of that emotion was weighing me down and impacting everything in my life. I purposefully chose to lay down that emotion so I could concentrate on the other emotions that get hidden behind that blind wall. I felt grief, longing, happiness, hope, courage, wisdom, fear, strength, sorrow, despair, hatred, love, beauty and so much more. Anxiety came visiting a few times but it became easier and faster to snuff it out. It was very satisfying and I'm glad I made that choice.

Now that Easter has passed, anger has risen up hard and fast. I have good reason to be angry. Having spent 40 days refusing that emotion, I now feel that I have more control over my anger so I can use it as a positive tool that propels me into proactive directions as opposed to destructive paths.

I grieve that I haven't blogged as much. For so long it has been my lifeline to sanity, hope and strength. Knowing that other families were just a few typed characters away from understanding my situation has fortified me and allowed me to keep plowing headlong through the chaos that is mental health illness no matter how difficult it became. Sissy still has difficult moments, as does AB and now WG who is finally processing the trauma of the past several years but we are a cohesive unit and more often than not, support each other instead of hinder.

Just this morning I was agitated, having not slept well last night. I tossed and turned, brooding and stewing on some recent events that have been upsetting to me. At two-thirty in the morning I reminded myself that anger only helps me if I use it to better myself. I finally fell back asleep but awoke to a fresh wave of frustration. Unintentionally, I allowed my frustration to ooze all over our normally peaceful morning routines. I apologized quickly and explained briefly why I was upset and acknowledged that it was still no excuse.

I was standing at the sink, filling the dishwasher while this exchange occurred. Sissy was practicing her math skills on the computer while gibbering on and on to no one in particular, WG was in my room doing her homework, frustratingly waiting for me to get her some breakfast, and AB was pacing in front of the counter waiting for me to dry my hands so I could tie his shoes for him. With or without external life stressors, the particular set of circumstances would unnerve the most patient of moms, I know that and I give myself some leeway in my fallacy. No one is perfect but I except no deviations for myself. It is who I am and how I operate.

Sissy, after hearing my apology and explanation said, "Mom? Do you think a hug would help?"

Typically, when Sissy is agitated or perseverating on an emotionally troubling conflict, I say nonchalantly, "Huh. Sounds like it's hug time." So I was taken aback that my typical response to her difficulties was coming full circle. I stopped what I was doing and stood still at the kitchen sink, AB still pacing, WG still hollering from the other room for her breakfast. Would a hug help? I asked myself. Is that what I need at this time? I decided physical contact could never be a bad thing so I said, "You know what Sissy? I think it would. Can I have a hug?"

She got up from the computer, walked to me and wrapped her arms around my middle. Even though she's 12, she's still so very small so her head still fits under my chin perfectly when we hug. I breathed in her essence and allowed her hug to warm me. I took three slow deep breaths and let out my tension. With each exhalation, a little more melted away. "Thank you Sissy. That was EXACTLY what I needed. Thank you for knowing what I needed and providing it for me."

"Your welcome." And she walked back to the computer. I bent down to tie AB's shoes then poured the cereal into WG's bowl, walking back to my room to give it to her while she finished her homework. Magic. I can't believe such simple magic occurs in my house now. It's so beautiful and peaceful. There are many bends and twists, hills and valleys, rocky and steep paths still ahead but we take them one step at a time.

I've not allowed the "sun" to shine on some aspects of my personal life in this blog. But I feel it is unfair to my readers who have followed our family's story for so long to not offer further disclosure.

I have filed for divorce. I have been separated since December 3rd. This blog became a point of concern at the first hearing on February 8th. At that time, it was intimated that I had used this blog to misrepresent our story, manipulating the goodness of my readers, abusing the system for selfish gain and to "get rid of" Sissy all while telling everyone how they could abuse the system in like turn. The entire blog was printed and presented in court.

It has been very hard to continue our story in light of such strong, blasphemous accusations none of which are true.

In the long run, although blogging has been so supportive and amazingly restorative not to mention the life-long connections I've made with so many readers in addition to finding and plugging into the ETAAM support group, it has become a weapon used against me. I'm not the only blogger that has experienced such a turnabout. Ultimately, if your life story is a challenged one, people will begin to question the verity of your tale. All I can say is, every person perceives an event or series of events in their own way with their own backgrounds, histories, emotions, trauma, anxiety, behaviors and preconceived notions. 100 people could witness the same event and yet all 100 will write a different account. This disparity is not error, it is humanity. Thank GOD we are all different. What a boring world this would be if we were drones experiencing life in exactly the same measure.

That said, a blog is never "wrong" unless an individual begins blogging with the expressed intent of deception. But that is not my nature, never has been. My expressed intent of blogging our story was to make it known that we were in crisis and were desperate for help; desperate to know if others were experiencing the same trauma; desperate to help others in like kind.

There are still several areas of my personal life that I won't disclose in this blog as is my want. But my nondisclosure does not make this story any less true.

Why is Sissy so much better? I believe it is because the anger, violence and abuse in our home has finally stopped. I believe choosing to get divorced was the path that led to such clarity.

Today Sissy asked ME if I wanted a hug when I was feeling bad. THAT truth alone speaks volumes - more than any blog could put into words.

Be well this day. Be good to yourself. Let an unexpected someone hug you today.


Sheri said...

I wish I could hug you! Love to you today!

"Lil Ol' Me" said...

Rock it baby!! I love you. Oh how I wish I could hug u tight. Sigh Etaam is to far away

Shannyn said...

Jennie, thank you for being so brave. You'll be in my thoughts and prayers. -Shannyn

Heather said...

Beautifully written! I am hugging you in my heart right now, and miss you!

Debora said...

Bless your heart! I wish I could give you a hug, too. I didn't know about your divorce, but I am so glad to hear that things have smoothed out. Even though it's a rough road, I am thrilled to read that Sissy offered you a hug. Just what you needed. Hugs to you from far-away Colorado!

Debora said...

Bless your heart! I wish I could give you a hug, too. I didn't know about your divorce, but I am so glad to hear that things have smoothed out. Even though it's a rough road, I am thrilled to read that Sissy offered you a hug. Just what you needed. Hugs to you from far-away Colorado!

Meg said...

Hugs. I wish you guys all the best.

marythemom said...

The day my daughter asked me if I was OK (I had a bad headache) and actually cared about the answer? That will be a day I remember for the rest of my life. So happy Sissy is making progress.

Wish I could send you a hug too!

Kristin said...

I've been following you for a while, and I will be praying for you and your family.

schnitzelbank said...

I've gone through a divorce myself. Sometimes it felt like the grieving would never stop. It was the hardest time in my life, and boy oh boy, that's saying a lot. Sending you strength and wisdom.

Are you teaching again? I seem to remember you mentioning that you had gone back to teaching...

robyncalgary said...

All I can say is wow. What a change it sounds like there is in Sissy and I am over the moon happy for you and your family. I'm sure divorce was a difficult decision to make, but it sounds like a positive one and I wish you all the very best and more. Thank you so much for sharing your story

Sophie said...

I know this is not the same but ((HUGS)) to you.

Ranger said...

I'm so sorry {{{{{{{{{{{{{}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

And how so wonderful that she offered you that hug, spontaneous, unprompted, internalised from you... wow. Love and hugs {}

Elizabeth-Anne Kim said...

Wow. Just wow. Love you, my dear. Praying for better days.

kisekileia said...

I always wondered why your husband seemed to be such a non-factor in dealing with the kids' difficulties. It always seemed like it was you alone dealing with the health care providers, you struggling with your emotions alone. I wasn't expecting this, but in the light of how uninvolved your husband has appeared to be for a long time, it makes a lot of sense.

This also makes a lot of sense as the reason why Sissy got so much better. I was really surprised at her incredible improvement after coming home from the RTC, especially since she'd continued to show problem behaviour there. Kids are affected by their parents. If she was observing anger, violence, and abuse from her father, it makes a lot of sense that she would have believed that was acceptable, or that aspects of her father's behaviour would have angered or stressed her. A less tense and less angry home environment sounds like a more than reasonable explanation for why she has progressed so much.

I'm glad that you were as able to weather the attacks against you during the court process as you were, and that your position as custodial parent of your children is evidently secure enough that you can now discuss the situation here and continue blogging.

I understand if you aren't able to publish this comment, but...yeah. This makes a lot of sense, and I'm glad to hear things are better for you in other ways than just with Sissy.

kisekileia said...

I have never gotten the sense that you were trying to "get rid of" Sissy or abuse the system. Now, I'm generally a relatively harsh judge of parenting, and I haven't always been 100% comfortable with everything you've said. However, I have always gotten the sense that you loved Sissy, as much as one can love someone who behaves the way she used to behave, and that you wanted her out of the home only because her behaviour made things miserable for everyone else when she was at home. I'm guessing that the judge got the same impression, since you've clearly still got custody of the kids. :)

Suzy said...

Beautiful! Glad you got such an unexpected answer to what you needed. Hope the healing, in all areas of your lives, continue.

abrianna said...

Sorry to hear that divorce is what was needed for healing for all of you.

vicsens said...

I'm always sad to hear of a divorce...it's such a sad thing, even when the situation warrants it. I wish you and the children the best in this trying time. Sissy's offer of a hug brought tears to my eyes...she's come such a long way. I pray that God will continue the healing in your family.

Kelley said...

This brought tears to my eyes and happiness to my heart! I love you.

Miz Kizzle said...

I am so happy for you and Sissy. The hug incident made my morning!
As for having your blog used against you in court, that is a low blow. Divorce gets ugly sometimes but that must have been especially painful for you. The sad fact is, privacy no longer exists. Our online activities are being constantly monitored, both by businesses trying to sell us stuff based on what we blog about or on the sites we visit or (scary but true) branches of our government like Homeland Security.
It's like something out of George Orwell's 1984. Where it will end I'm frightened to think. I don't like living in a panopticon, despite the government's assurances that it's in our best interest and the surveillance of private citizens is keeping us all "safe."
I don't know whose idea it was to use your blog enteries against you, but your soon-to-be ex had the final say in the matter and his allowing it doesn't speak well for his character.