Sunday, February 7, 2010

Something about Sunday

I used to hate Sundays. I hated getting ready for Church. I was sure to make her mad. I hated feeling guilty for my hateful thoughts. I hated meeting her disappointment.  I hated feeling disconnected no matter how hard I tried to make a connection with the Church, with its teachings, with God. To be a real believer.

But now Sundays are a comfort. Sunday nights are full of warmth and security. I've usually taken an afternoon nap, chores are as done as they will or won't be. We eat supper and settle in to watch our favorite Sunday night television while I straighten my hair.

I'm so thankful for my life, my husband and my children. I feel safe. I feel safe enough that my mind is allowed to wander back to another lifetime. A time I've hidden and ignored for far too long. I realize that I actually think about my past almost every day, even if just for a passing moment. That's not new, but recognizing it is somewhat new.  Over the years I've found ways to push it away. Find something else to do, ignore it. I'm glad I started this blog so I can put it all somewhere.

I realized that as I write this blog, I've begun remembering things that are just so random. I don't want to really jump back and forth but that's how the mind works.

I was on a home visit this past week and trying to get to know a little girl who is four. Her brother is six. Crafts are a wonderful way to make friends with a child and I had taken some stickers and door hangers for the kids to make whatever kinds of signs they wanted for their rooms. I imagined the slightly older boy would put "NO GIRLS ALLOWED" on his and the little girl I had no idea. She began drawing with markers and as she put her stickers on my mind wandered. I kept flashing a paper plate pumpkin that was hanging on our refrigerator. I finished my home visit with my new friend who had proudly made mini muffins just for my visit and drove home, but the drive is about 20 minutes... long enough to explore where I had gone.

The pumpkin was made from two Styrofoam plates. Each plate had a pumpkin face drawn on it. One happy and one mad/sad. They were stapled together and hung from a string held on by a magnet. I remember being happy to be making something with my mom, but then she revealed her motives.

The rule was that if the pumpkin was on a happy face when Asshole got home, then life was fine, but if she flipped it to the mad/sad side, he would immediately know my momma was mad at me and I would be in trouble by him.

I don't remember what I did to get the pumpkin on the mad face, but I begged her to turn it before he got home. I went to bed early hoping to avoid him. I was getting a migraine from the anxiety. I refused supper. I refused to speak. When she would try to talk to me, I'd look at her with that blank stare that infuriated her. I couldn't say the right thing so I would say nothing.  As I drifted off to sleep I could feel my pulse beat throb in my left eye. I might be sick.

He jerked me out of bed and smacked the back of my head. I saw a white flash from the blow as I was startled awake. I felt like he'd picked up a skeleton and imagined my body had no flesh. I was dead. I was dead inside and my mind visualized me as a corpse. I don't remember anything else after that. I have a lot of moments that my memory gets to a certain point and I remember a feeling, but not what happened. I don't know when the pumpkin disappeared.

I think it's very odd how children deal with themselves in these type situations. How the smallest things can trigger a child into rage, tears, depression, lying, fantasizing, wetting themselves, masturbating, people pleasing, fighting etc.

I spend a lot of time trying to educate relatives and foster parents about how these behaviors are NOT personal. That "Fuck you" mentality is a defense mechanism. My heart breaks every time I get called to move a child because those behaviors are just overwhelming to their host family.

Please PLEASE stop having your foster children moved because you don't understand them!

Children need understanding, new coping skills, and boundaries. They need adults to understand what the child doesn't. Once the adult understand, they can begin to help the child understand. Don't "react" to them... TEACH them.

Questions children might wonder... Am I normal. What is normal. What do other people do when they are upset. What is this feeling called?  How can I practice using my words when I hate you? Why do I hate you?   Will you think I'm crazy if I tell you I see myself as a dead person sometimes?


Tudu said...

I think not taking it personal is one of the most important, if not the most important thing a foster/adoptive family can learn. We have had our sibling group for 3.5 yrs and still I hear horrible things come out of their mouths. One of my girls disassociates every time she is stressed out and becomes this raging, violent little girl. She calls me the worst things she can think up and accuses me of horrendous acts upon her. She is really talking to her Mother. It became clear recently, how far gone she is during these episodes when she flipped out on someone besides me and screamed the same things. "You stole me, you don't love me, only my real mom loves me, you abuser, I'm gonna beat your ass and kill your kids, I'm calling the cops on you, you left me b/c you love everyone but me, etc". This person had no idea where this came from or why she was screaming it at them. She had only been babysitting while I ran to the store. She did attack her violently and had to be held for everyone's protection until I could get back to her.

Now imagine adopting a sibling group of 6 that all had these these behaviors in the beginning . I am so relieved to be down to just 3 that continue to struggle. They are triggered by normal every day activities, just like you explained. They are angels at school but let them walk in the door and just a simple request or moment can set them off into their own worlds trying desperately to relive an event and come out on top this time. If I wasn't able to see it for what it was, my children would never have made it in a home together.

Babs said...

I'm so sorry your family is going through this. And so glad your children have someone who does get it. As a social worker I really get that sometimes not all of the children CAN be placed together. It can be too much for their families AND for them. I have two children on my case load that just can NOT live with their siblings. One little girl is non-verbal and just lays down and masturbates, throws screaming, kicking, spitting rages when she's triggered, and her brother who is in a home by himself is the one who triggers the rest. To make matters more complicated, these children are all low-functioning, so there is NO explaining much to them. I am happy to say that with the help of their three foster parents, these five children are doing better, being adopted, being loved and healing despite their pasts. I am thankful for EVERY foster parent and to be honest I don't know that I could do it myself!!

angie said...

I am a foster parent struggling with my foster daughter. OMG I just read your whole blog. I am so sorry for everything you have endured. I will continue to read...

Babs said...

Hi Angie, thanks for reading. Feel free to ask anything you want to know. It's nice to meet you.