Saturday, August 15, 2015

Broken Places

Kintsukuroi  “to repair with gold”; the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.
For years I have admired pottery that has been repaired by this technique. Little did I know that this would be a way of life for my family.
Reactive Attachment Disorder is destructive beyond anything you can imagine. In an attempt to protect itself from further hurt, the mind of a child from tough beginnings would rather break everything to pieces than to allow itself to be vulnerable again. Transitions create great amounts of vulnerability for someone living with R.A.D.
I should have seen this coming, but sadly I didn't. Sweetie had been doing so well. The last couple of visits had been extremely successful. Enough to renew my hope that she can really heal from the trauma of her early childhood. We have just one week until she transitions to her IAFT home and she has continued to do well in her program and on the phone with us. And then we heard the words that no parent of a 15 year old wants to hear, "I'm late, like I think I am pregnant".  All I could say was how? She has been in the PRTF or in our home only. And our house has alarms on all the doors as well as cameras. She said she snuck out and met some random guy on the street and they had sex. But it just didn't make sense. There had to be more to it.
Like most RAD kids, Sweetie can cry on command and be so convincing. For a brief moment I actually thought it could have happened. But I still did not respond in haste. I Just responded that we love her and we would get through anything as a family. Meanwhile, I am screaming inside that I can't be a mom of a newborn at 40 and a grandparent at 41.
We received this news on Wednesday evening during one of our 10 minute calls that we have only 3 times a week. We would not get a chance to talk again until today when we picked her up for a weekend pass. So again, like so many times before a bomb was dropped and we were left to try to pull the broken pieces back together. I immediately spoke to my mentor who immediately knew what this was. Sweetie was beginning to feel anxious about her transition and she was also angry because I went to NY with the baby and not her. Unfortunately, I did not get another chance to talk to Sweetie until I saw her this evening. As soon as she saw me she began to sob and apologize for lying.
She went on for a long time asking how we could ever love her when all that she does is hurt us. She talked a lot about not feeling worthy of our love or the things we buy her. Tomorrow we have her scheduled to get her hair done and have plans to take her school shopping. She deep down does not feel she deserves good things. All I could do was grab her face and repeatedly tell her that she is loved, that she is worth it and that we already forgave her. I just poured loved into her. By the time she was all cried out she was melted into my arms. Just like she would after I would hold her through a rage back when she was smaller and I could physically do so. These moments after we get through all the fear and anger is when I can see the real girl inside. This is when our repairs happen. This is when I get to work fill those cracks with love. This is how our daughter becomes a beautiful work of art.
When this all happened, she was expecting an immediate consequence. She thought we would cancel our weekend plans to take her school shopping. But instead, I just said I would pray about it.
Before she told us the truth her consequence was going to be she had to call the boy she has been trying to date for 2 years and tell him that she snuck out, had sex and might be pregnant. But once she told us the truth and we could process with her I felt that she needed to have an opportunity to gain our trust again. We ultimately decided that one day a month for 6 months, Sweetie and I will volunteer with a nonprofit. I have to get it all worked out but I am leaning towards Habitat for Humanity or with Florencd Crittenton volunteering with unwed young mothers and at risk youth.

In the middle of all the emotions of the last few days, we received Spartacus' Adoption Decree. As of August 4th, 2015 we are now officially a family of 4. We also made  trip up to New York to see my family. It was a great, but tiring trip. Everyone loved Spartacus. He handled the travelling fairly well. Better than I expected. He is such a good natured child. For this I am thankful. I am also grateful for all of the family and friends who have and continue to support us on our journey. We love you all.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Love Me

It has been a little over 3 years since Sweetie moved in with us. In that time we have been through more trauma than I could have ever imagined. Many times it seemed like we were not going to make it through to the other side of everything. But we have and boy it is pretty amazing. Sweetie's relationship with Spartacus really seems to be the key to her healing. I have watched her bloom over the last month or so. She just adores Her little brother. She is incredibly sweet with him. We were prepared to deal with intense jealousy with the potential for her to lash out at him. But it has been the complete opposite. She is happy around him. And I get to see more moments of pure joy when she is playing with him than I have seen in the last 3 years combined.  It is miraculous the difference we see in her. Where there was once constant rage there is now peace. A kid who was kicking and punching is now hugging and helping around the house without being asked. Instead of being cussed at we are now having conversations. It has become a pleasure to have Sweetie around.

Sweetie has recently taken ownership of her Reactive Attachment Disorder diagnosis. She is learning about how it developed. She is also learning how to cope and  how live with it. She has begun to wholeheartedly work on her trauma history. She recently wrote her biological father a letter and in it she told him how he hurt her and how she feels sorry for him, but right now she cannot forgive him. That she wants to, but he scares her. She also wrote about us in this letter telling him that we are the only people that ever showed her real love. That we have given her anything she could ever want and more than she needs. That we protect her no matter what. Another thing she did was write a rap song.
One of the lyrics went something like" Oh no not another one, I want it to stay just me. But then I looked into his eyes and I could no longer disguise that I love him". Spartacus has been her reason for working through the hard stuff and for really trying to get better. She list him as her motivation when she is working on her goals. She wants him to be proud of her and also doesn't want him to do the behaviors that she had previously done. My heart is so happy to watch this bond grow between them.

Sweetie will be stepping down to an IAFT in less than 3 weeks. If her behaviors continue to improve like they have been, we would like to have her back home for good by the holidays. We will see how it goes. I do not want to pressure her too much or push her too fast. Her progress has been remarkable and I do not want to risk everything because I am pushing. In the IAFT home she will be able to practice the skills she learned in the last year in the PRTF. I am currently praying  that she keeps working and that the healing will continue. She has become so insightful. She is able to express her emotional needs better than most adults I know. She is able to tell me that even though she likes to hear that she is doing a good job and that we are proud of her. But that it also makes her feel scared because she doesn't want to disappoint us. When she told me this I was doing a happy dance in my head. I wanted to shout with joy " She really cares!!! We are finally getting through! We finally matter!!" Over the weekend she has apologized for many of the individual events that have happened over the last 3 years. She apologized for being a giant "B" for most of the time and she thanked me for sticking with her. For loving her through all of it. I am sure we will have more challenging times. She is still a teenager and even children who grew up in happy homes have moments where they make poor choices.

I sit here tonight content. My house is peaceful and quiet. What has stuck with me the most is the fact that all she needed was for me to love her. Truly love her. Love her like God loves us. Unconditional and unwavering love. Even in the darkest of hours. I think we all want that and many of us don't  receive that kind of love. We surely don't love ourselves like that. I can only imagine how all of our lives could  look if we did understand that we are love like this. I mean really believed it in our heart of hearts. Can you imagine the transformation it would create? I know how inspiring it is to watch as it happens to my girl. I feel honored to be chosen to witness it and be part of this kind of love. I am grateful what loving someone like this has helped me grow to being more like Christ.

I know so many who are in the trenches with their kids form hard places. It is a war zone most of the time. It is hard, it is dirty and it is exhausting. But sweet friends there is hope. We are getting through to our kids. Even when we feel we are defeated and want to throw in that towel. They see us there, fighting for them, sacrificing for them. Don't give up! The healing may not be today, tomorrow, next week or even next month. But it will come. Love always wins.

Why, why are You still here with me
Didn't You see what I've done?
In my shame I want to run and hide myself
But it's here I see the truth
I don't deserve You
But I need You to love me, and I
I won't keep my heart from You this time
And I'll stop this pretending that I can
Somehow deserve what I already have
I need You to love me
I, I have wasted so much time
Pushing You away from me
I just never saw how You could cherish me
'Cause You're a God who has all things
And still You want me
And I need You to love me, and I
I won't keep my heart from You this time
And I'll stop this pretending that I can
Somehow deserve what I already have
yeah, yeah
Your love makes me forget what I have been
Your love makes me see who I really am
And Your love makes me forget what I have been
And I need You to love me, yeah
I need You to love me, yeah
And I'll stop this pretending that I can
Somehow deserve what I already have (2x)
I need You to love me, yeah ..