Thursday, 23 May 2019

to be honest...

So yesterday I wrote about being brave, I wrote about how I thought I was brave and don't feel very brave and it was not what I wanted to say and yet it was all I said.

I wanted to say that I am scared, often terrified of what is going to happen with my life. I am afraid most days that my eldest child is going to show up to hurt me or one of my other kids.  I am scared that people are going to judge be for being a bad parent. I am afraid that I am never going to lose the weight I have gained this year as I have eaten all my big feelings. I am worried for Kate and Randall and the choices they are going to make to numb some of the overwhelming pain that they feel. I am scared my marriage is over because I am not sure I can ever forgive Jack for not watching the kids more carefully. I am scared of trials, assessments, meetings and explaining again and again that I really did do my very best and my heart is shattered because my best wasn't good enough. I am afraid that no matter how hard I work we are never, ever going to be able to be a family again.

I am scared all the time.

I go to therapy every week and we glide around the issues because I am afraid that if I speak of how profoundly scared and sad I am I will not be able to recover in time to be present for my kid. I am afraid of the days where I feel so profoundly sad about my life that I contemplate changing it in the most drastic of ways. Sometimes when I feel a little less scared and I see a glimmer of hope I write to my therapist about it and in those moments I do feel brave and courageous but underneath that is fear.

Fear that I am not good enough. Fear that no matter what I will never feel safe. Fear that my selfish desires to parent are what got us to this place. Fear that I am bad person and this is a punishment. Fear someone will find this place and know who I am. Fear, fear, fear.

I am full of fear.

Last week I went away for a long weekend and I am glad that I went but as the time to go approached I was so nervous because I was terrified of being judged. I was afraid that these women who are brave with their lives would see that I was a fraud and that I was not brave but instead just really good at pretending to be brave. We have gathered together since our children were young and they know me, they have been there and supported me through so many things and yet I was afraid that this would not be the case given what has happened in my life. I was wrong, if they judged they did not share it and instead where supportive and compassionate. I was relieved.

I came home and real life started again, Kate having nightmares, court dates, therapy, meetings and endlessly advocating for our kids who deserve so much more than they have received. As it all fell into the normal swing of things I tried to pretend it wasn't an issue but it is.

If I am actually honest with myself and with the world all I have at the moment is fear.





Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Brave

I have been brave before.

 I moved away and lived alone to go to University.  I travelled though much of Asia by myself. I worked and supported myself until I was 28 and moved in with Jack. I chose to adopt children from foster care not once but twice. When parenting got hard I found other parents on the internet who were living my life and became friends with them. I travelled throughout North America and made those internet friends real in life friends. Their kids played with my kids and we hours talking about why we made the choices we did. I advocated for my kids with schools and therapists and was bold when I needed to be.

I could do brave.

Then in September the bottom fell out of my world and I felt like I would never be brave again. I felt like I lost my brave in the days that came and that my life as I knew it was over.

Today as I sat in a courtroom with Randall I did not feel brave. I felt defeated. I felt small and scared and unsure of my choices. I felt like this is not a place that I want to be and yet here I am trying to figure out which way is up in a situation where I have very little control.

Yesterday as I thought about supporting Randall in court day I had a panic attack. Last night as I held Kate as she cried because she has a nightmare that involved Kevin killing her while she was school I could not believe this was my reality.

When I chose to be brave with my life I had no idea it wold turn out like this. Today I wish that I had been less brave and perhaps a little more like my peers that I grew up with who had pretty regular middle class lives.

Instead I chose to be brave and now I wonder why.

Monday, 13 May 2019

That Day.

Yesterday was Mother's Day. It was fraught with big feelings both good and bad for me as I celebrated parenting my girl and mourned not parenting my boys in the way I want to be. I heard from Randall after I texted him and thanked him for making me a Mom. He has been super sweet lately about thanking me for being his Mom and it makes me reflect on just how far he and I have come together.

There was a time when I was sure he would never attach to me, a time when I thought I would never be good enough in his eyes to be his Mama. It shattered me for years and then when we moved away for two years for a job he and I finally grew together. It was a hard time for me as I was so sick and dark time for him as his brother was sexually assaulting him and the behaviour I saw response to that was impossibly hard to manage.

But now his behaviour makes so much sense. All of it, from the day I met that terrified little boy eating peach as he started at me with his big eyes unwilling to make eye contact with Jack or I until Jack pulled out his phone to add their birthdays to his calendar. Once there was s screen involved he was interested and we had an "in" with him, a tiny crack in his thick armour to begin working with. From that day to the day the police had to go find him after he cut up his arms with a box cutter or the day last spring when he lit our yard on fire - he was silently screaming  - help me -  but I could not figure out why.

Randall, I'm sorry that I could not hear you and will do everything I can to make sure that you can heal from the trauma others have forced you to suffer.

I did not hear from Kevin and I did not really expect to but there was a part of me that was the tiniest bit hopeful that maybe he would come around and send a text. I know deep down that is not going to happen and I know that none of the people who are in his life are going to encourage him to talk to me.

But I chose to be his Mama, I still choose to put myself out there for him and love him even if he can not love me back and because of that I will always have a small glimmer of hope that he might eventually say something. I told him my love was unconditional and although this past 8 months has tested that immensely at the end of the day I will still always love him and my heart will continue to break for the immense pain that he in because he was hurt first and then chose to hurt others as well.

Loving someone with your whole heart means that you might get your ass kicked and it has hard for me to learn to be okay with the but I am working on it.

Kevin, I will always love you and I am so sorry that you were hurt. I hope that one day you will find it in yourself to hear that I will always love you and that eventually you will be healthy enough to be able to hear those words.

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Darkness

When things are at their worst I tend to get quiet and hide because it is just so overwhelming to be living this life some days and in between the tears of sadness and sheer exhaustion I do not have the physical stamina to sit down with my computer and write.

Last week one of my kids made a disclosure about something that happened while they were in foster care and it literally shattered me. There was a part of me that knew it, that sensed it, that understood it was probably the case but hearing the words come out of their mouth was so very hard. I moved through those moments with my kid in a daze, shocked and scared for them and wishing with every fibre of being that this did not have to be their reality.

I was brave and strong and then I as soon as I was alone I lost it. How much worse can this get? How many more things can they share? When are we going to stop falling in the darkness and hit the bottom so that we can begin to find out way into the light again...

As we move in the darkness and I try to support my kids my own trauma keeps getting in the way and making it even harder for me to manage to get through the day. There are days and times when it feel as though I am never going to see light again and that this version of reality is destined to be my new normal.

That is not what I want.

I desperately want to find the light. I want to be able to heal and support my kids in healing. I want the foster care system to learn from this and to change so that kids are not broken by a system that is supposed to protect them.  I want hurt kids to get the help they need before they recreate the cycle on another child. I want the workers who neglected to see the the signs in my kids to learn and grow so that they do not miss this again.

I want us to heal and learn to be family in a way that keeps us all safe and allows us to grow into something we never knew we need to be.

I want to be brave.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

I know it could be worse.

For me one of the most frustrating parts raising kids who have experienced trauma and neglect is constant battle for honesty. I lied as a kid, I had my own trauma to contend with in the family I was living in and so a part of me understands but another part of me gets so defeated every time Kate tries to pull some dumb stunt and gets caught.

I keep trying to give her opportunities to be trusted, little things like getting ready for the day without my eyes watching her every move. She does well for a couple of days and then randomly screws it up, seemingly just to see if I watching.

I am watching. I am going to call you on it and then I am going to be mad and frustrated because I do not have the energy for this battle anymore. I know that I could just let it go and not fight with her about bedtime or eating breakfast but she has to function in the world each day and I know that she is often a disaster when she is tired or hungry. She lacks the introspection needed ( like most 13 year olds) to realize this and so we battle far to often about the most basic things.

I would love to stop fighting about things and just leave it be but I fear that the consequences of that would be so much worse then fighting about them.

Monday, 29 April 2019

The Call to Courage

I watched Brene Brown's Call to Courage on Netflix this weekend and it so good. I can not say enough good things about the messages that she shares. I wrote down some of the best bits for myself so that I would actually remember them and these two phrases stood out in such a big way -

Today I will choose courage over comfort.
Vulnerability is having the courage to show up when you can't control the outcome - Brene Brown

I am seriously contemplating a new tattoo that says Courage over Comfort, seriously.

The things that are going on in my life require me to be courageous and vulnerable on a daily basis. until recently trying to be both things at the same time was killing me. I really did not feel like I had the ability to do all of the things required to juggle all of the balls in the air even though I was working hard on faking it till I made it and was doing so with a certain amount of success.

Then I decided to let myself be sad, to let myself grieve the loss of my boys, my family, my dreams and not to blame myself for what has happened. I am not saying that I am perfect but instead am saying that my children went to great lengths to conceal what was happening from me for years and then only revealed it by accident and there is no way that I can blame myself for that or for the things that happened.

I had cameras and door alarms and there was always a parent or sitter in our home. I can count on one hand the number of times my teenagers were left with their little sister on their own and I think it is three. Two of the three times were because I was done and had to step away before I lost my mind. Ironically those were not the times that things happened.

So now I will grieve this for as long as I need to and then I will figure out how to step into whatever is going to come next. It will not be easy but I will do it with courage and bravery because that is the only way I am going to survive it.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Another layer of grief.

I decided a few weeks ago that I needed to change up our Easter celebration and not spend it at home being sad about not being able to spend the holiday together as a family and missing that is has always been one of our most joyful holidays with our church community. So we switched it up and planned a weekend away with family by birth and by choice. It was an excellent weekend that included a musical, a museum visit, Easter Mass with a great community and a day with Kate's godparents (who were foster parents) whom we love to pieces. 

We learned while we were away that Kate's godfather has stage 4 cancer, it sent us all reeling to say the very least and now on top of everything else we are adding another layer of grief to our lives. He will fight and be treated but it will not be a cure and instead just a way to be able to sustain his life and spend time with the people he loves. Sadly they live about 5 hours away from us and we will not be able to spend nearly as much time with them as we would like. 

Kate understands that he is sick but doesn't understand what stage 4 means and I just do not have the stamina to tell her that one of her favourite humans is going to die long before his time. It makes me so profoundly sad for her because she has already lost so much and she cares so deeply for him. 

Grief is messy and complex and in the last few weeks I have been quite firmly stuck in sadness and although it is hard I am okay to sit here and be sad. Sad for my kids, sad for our lives and losses, sad because I will not have the future that we dreamed of as a family. I am sad that my chronic illness makes my pain intense and my days hard and then effects how we live together. 

I am sad and I am okay with that for now. 

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Advocating for their needs

Last week I discovered that things with Randall's charges where heading a direction that would mean tragic things for Randall. Luckily for me his therapist pulled out all the stops and got an amazing team of people together to try to support him and make a plan that we could present to the court to show that this kid was going to be supported within the community. 

We sat down on Tuesday with Randall on Tuesday and tried to come up with some solid support plans and although we got no where in many ways it was so nice to have all these people advocating for my boy.  Standing up and being willing to work hard for him and for us so that he gets the services he needs. 

It breaks my heart that I can't just have him come home but home is so much easier and less stressful with him living somewhere else.  I feel as though that is the mantra of special needs parents everywhere as their high needs kids approach adulthood - I love you so much but I am tired and I need a break form the level of care that I have to provide for you so that you are safe. 

Why should parents have to get to that place of burn out? Why are there not supports for us before our kid is doing things like attempting suicide? Why could I not get any help for my kid until he was charged with a crime and potentially facing serious repercussions from a crime he doesn't not understand. 

In many ways the situation is the same for Kevin but he does not want me to advocate for him and we haven't heard from him directly or indirectly since he was charged last September. I am scared for him and I often want to reach out to him but I am afraid it will end badly and as result I have not said anything at all. 

There is no parenting book for this chapter of my life. 

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Love as a Radical Act.

I have been listening to Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, it has become a comfort to hear Vanessa and Casper talk about how some of very favourite books can be dissected and discussed just as I would of discussed a text when I studied theology in University. I just finished the end of the fourth book and the last few themes had my brain processing all sorts of things as I listened.

Today I listened to a number of episodes as I painted Kevin and Randall's bedroom. Painting their room was hard because my body hurts and my physical pain is bad right now but it was also emotionally hard because it in the spring of 2007 I painted that room in anticipation of what would come. I painted and sewed bedding for the boys I would come to love so very much, boys who are not here now and who I miss with every fibre of my being.

"Love is radical act" said Vanessa in the episode where they wrapped their fourth season and she is so right. She is not the first person to say it but today it really resonated for me as I work through all of the emotions that go with the events have been the last 8 months of my life.

When I first wanted to adopt, when I wanted to adopt again, when I talk about the how and whys of this journey it was always because I believed with my whole being that loving a child in need could fundamentally change the world for the child. I still believe that. I believe that somewhere inside a person will always know that they were loved and that knowledge goes with them into the world and sustains them even if that person is not there.

This theory falls apart when you add in trauma and neglect. I had no idea that those two words could change love and turn it into something to be scared of, something to run from because it might cause you to be hurt. But in the eyes of a child who has been hurt love is not necessarily a good thing. All of my kids fought not to be loved, fought to survive in a world they did not trust because it they had no reason to believe I was any different than the other adults who had hurt them, left them and then moved on with their lives as if the children no longer mattered.

My love was indeed a radical act but one that they could not receive. I worked hard to change that for them, I kept loving, kept trying, kept fighting but it was not enough. They were hurt humans who hurt other humans with devastating consequences for themselves and for Jack, Kate and I. As those consequences play out I am often asked if I still think adoption is an good option and I always say yes,  I would do it again. If I could go back and have a do over I would totally take it and I wouldn't change much except for never ever letting anyone out of my sight especially while they were playing outside.

But hindsight is 20/20 and I can not change what has happened and can only move forward as I figure out what life will look like now. What I do know is that I will continue to  to act justly,  to walk humbly and to love with my whole being.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

I'm so tired

I wonder if I have another post titled tired.. It is a common theme in my life but this week that has been the overwhelming feeling.

I am tired of working so hard with my kids.
I am tired of missing my boys
I am tired of asking for help and none being available.
I am tired of chronic pain and no solutions that actually help.
I am tired of feeling like nothing good is ever going to happen again.
I am tired of people not understanding how hard it is to tell our story again and again.
I am tired of having to let go of everything I dreamt about for my family.
I am tired of advocating.
I am tired of arguing with Jack and of worrying about him.
I am tired of taking care of everyone else.
I am tired of laundry, cooking and cleaning.
Im tired of grief and how it overwhelms me and reduces me to tears so very often.
I am tired of not being able to work because my body hurts to much and my kids needs make it almost impossible.

I am just so tired of everything and would really like it if things could get easier but given our situation I don't think that is going to happen.