Wednesday, November 22, 2017

In my Imagination

In my imagination, I remember holding her as an infant and can see her as a tiny baby in my arms. I recall, rocking her to sleep when she was helpless and dependent. My imagination is flawed because even though I can imagine a memory that doesn't exist she can remember the day she met me.

The truth is, there are actually parts of her body I have never really seen. I never change a single diaper. It would have been inappropriate to examine every little inch of her the day I became her mother. She was five-years-old. It probably would have been considered abusive.

And, I remember meeting her too. As I waited at the table in the restaurant I remember the anxiety and wondering, how would I feel? How would she feel? I had been a mother twice before but, they were my biological children. How would it be to meet my child at the age of five?

When I saw her walking toward the table I was overcome with emotions, very much the same emotions I felt when I gave birth. The only real difference was that she was walking and talking... and when she reached the table the first words she spoke to me were: "Are you my new mommy?"

Words, I don't think most people have ever spoken in their lives. But, words that were true in every way. I was NEVER her choice and she never had control. She entered involuntarily.

--But, then I think about it very hard and have to wonder which child on this earth was born voluntarily? Did any of us have the opportunity to choose the parents we grew up with? Is it really all that different? The only child I know that had any control was Jesus.

Doesn't every child enter life involuntarily?

When I think of her years before she called me mommy, there was a lot that happened to her involuntarily. I am sure she had no control over any of the things that led to her becoming a part of the foster care system or the termination of her birth mother's parental rights. I am sure she did not go to sleep hungry because she wanted to be hungry. I am sure none of those things were things she wanted.

Last night, she called me from her job. It was very late and a good chance I would be asleep. I answered the phone because I knew she should have been on the clock already. Her voice was a bit meek and she asked, "Are you still awake mommy?"  Of course, I was awake for her... She needed my help she had a wardrobe malfunction and needed an emergency trip home to change into pants that did not have a blown seem... It was my pleasure to jump in the car and help with that issue--who hasn't had a wardrobe malfunction while at work or school?

It has been a few weeks since she rearranged her work schedule and let me off the hook for the midnight drive for the graveyard shift. I continue to be amazed by her. I continue to be astounded by the abilities of survival she learned in her confusing childhood she had no control over. I continue to have these untrue memories of rocking her to sleep when she would have fit into my arms.

What she has taught me is that it doesn't really matter if my memories are not real. That being a mommy has a lot of emotions. That children grow up and there is a new relationship. I am enjoying the new memories sharing life with my adult children and loving them all the same.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Conversation with a RTC Survivor

 Makaylah and I have never really talked much about the time she spent away in residential treatment. Maybe, we don't talk about it because we both wish it never had to happen? Maybe, we don't talk about it because when she left both of our worlds changed completely? Or maybe we don't need to remember because that time was both a blessing and horror? 

  Last night I picked her up from the apartment she has been sharing with her cousins around the corner. As much as I would rather be sleeping at 11:30 PM it's been my pleasure to take her to her graveyard shift five nights a week. It's hard to believe on her next birthday she will be 20 years old! I have found these nighttime drives to be one of the greatest times of my life. 

  I really like the young woman she has become.

  Sometimes, I cannot believe how much she reminds me of myself. Sometimes I wonder how on earth that happened? This person I met at five-years-old who was such an emotional mess has become an amazing young lady! 

  Even though I made my mistakes along the way. Even though there was a time she raged and kicked on the floor for six-hours a day, every day. Even though she still can remember her life before me. Despite the fact, she was in residential treatment for six months and then spent another six months with a therapeutic foster mother before returning to my life. And, even though she returned to me in another completely new situation she has overcome so many things an ordinary person might cling to and use to justify a less than successful life. 

  On our way to her job last night the subject came up. 

  I remembered a situation that had taken place while she was in residential treatment. One time I had gone to visit her and when I returned home my camera and wallet were missing from my car (I thought). When I returned home I called the residential treatment center to see if I had by chance left it there? And after a few days of looking for the camera, the center told me it was not there. I replaced all my ID and got a new camera and went on with life. 

 It had to be at least a month later when I received a call from the center telling me they had found the camera and my wallet in Makaylah's room.  Of course, she had been caught in an elaborate scheme of hiding it and no one discovered it for over a month... Or was that really case?

  So last night, I decided to ask her. I said, "Now that you are and adult and it doesn't matter, what is the story about that camera and wallet thing?

  I feel sort of bad because her tears were instant and real.

  She has the same story she had nearly ten years ago. That she did not take the camera and wallet from the car, and that suddenly it was just there on a shelf in her room. It has always been hard to believe that it was just overlooked for a month. She also had a roommate she claimed hid it for those days. 

 She told about the night it was discovered and how she was kept up for two hours after bedtime for questioning. That she had not taken it, that I must have forgotten I had taken it into the center on my visit and must have set it down and forgotten it. How she was blamed that night for something she really did not do. How it felt like hell to be accused of something and found guilty based on her reputation.

 She cried.

  And, I had a chance to tell her that I BELIEVED her. Even if I am wrong. Even if she has blocked it out and forgotten the truth and really did take it, her heart believes she did not. Even if it was my mistake she told me that experience taught her something she will never forget. She learned that she did not ever want her reputation to hurt her again. That it was awful to be guilty based on her past. It was horrifying that not one person believed her because she had done those things to me before. Taken my stuff and buried it in the backyard. Taken my stuff and ruined it.Taken my stuff so I couldn't have it. 

  We talked a little more about those days during that year she was away. The good, the bad and how life is life and things happen and really even those bad days and the horrible story she has about the early days of her life have made her who she is today... And that we both need to make a date to get our toes painted and have lunch. A date I will keep. 

  We pulled up to her workplace and before she got out SHE reached over to me for a hug, and we told each other, "I love you."

--we survived.

  And she is so much like me it's really hard to believe. 


Sunday, July 02, 2017

Worry, Not.

  Sometimes, I cannot believe this blog is fourteen and a half years old! That means my new journey, has become a long road. As much as I absolutely never expected some of the huge twists and turns on my way to this point, I also accept reality and feel a peace of wisdom I would never have known otherwise.

  When I started writing here, I had a vision of the story I wanted to tell. I felt strong, ready and able to make life happen in a stable healthy way. I remember when I took a little walk that night in the hotel in Medford during the "transition" of my five-year-old daughter and one-year-old, son, I met the day before, would forever change everything about my future. And it did.

  "What does not kill you, makes you stronger." 

  Or, so the saying goes. I can reflect back on my New Memories with the peace of mind to know I have always made the best decisions at the time I made the choice. Always. Even in the times, I made my less than wise choices, my decisions to do so were right at the time. 

  I also have another motto for life: "Nothing is set in Stone."

  Or as I have accepted this part of myself, I always reserve the right to make a new decision.

  I used to worry more. I used to live in a constant state of anxiety. I used to stay awake half the night thinking, reading, and praying till nearly dawn, sometimes. Thankfully, several years ago I managed to give that crap up. One day, my memoir may include more of the juicy details, for now, however, it is enough to say, I understand twists and turns are just a part of the game.

  It is enough to say, that about seven years ago, I chose to change the way I viewed the world and radically accepted reality, and it has and is making all the difference in my life. And hopefully, in the way, I am as a mother, woman, person in this one life I have to live.

  Sometime during 2010, I had the great opportunity to participate in therapy that changed my life completely. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, DBT. At the same time Makaylah spent a year away in residential treatment. We both overcame a lot of our issues and that made all the difference.

Seven years ago I started with DBT and that made all the difference today, I continue to use my skills and have discovered Leo is motivating and interesting... And the Journey continues.

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