Friday, May 25, 2012

The Hole, A story of healing

Names have been changed to protect those who were never protected Claira was a small baby, weighing only six pounds when she was born. She was born into a world most would never be caught dead in. As the nurse went to lay Claira into her mother's arms, the mother pushed her away. She hated this child. The child reminded her of the father who had finally beat Claira out of her. Claira's time in the hospital was spent with various nurses caring for her. Not one time did the mother hold her newborn baby. Not one time did she respond to Claira's cries. When Claira arrived home from the hospital she did not find a warm nursery to welcome her. She found a filthy room full of animal feces and dirty clothes. Claira searched desperately for the voice she had come to know over the past nine months. She was terrified. As each hour passed Claira became enraged, and literally afraid for her life. Yet no one came. One by one her most basic needs surfaced and were ignored. Because no one answered little Claira's cries for help and comfort, she began to comfort herself. This was the beginning of her digging a hole so very deep into herself that no one could ever find her heart. This was to be the beginning of Claira becoming a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Reactive Attachment Disorder occurs when a child fails to develop a bond with those around them due to a variety of trauma, most often abuse. Because their most basic needs were unmet, they do not believe adults are capable of caring for them. Children like Claira do not believe that they need anyone. In fact, they are quite hostile to anyone who attempts to care for them. They believe that they must be in control in order to survive. The disorder is marked by an inability to form normal relationships with others and impairment in social development, marked by sociopathic behaviors during childhood. As the battle waged on outside, her parents pummeling one another at every turn, Claira grasped her shovel tightly. She was certain that she had made the safe choice by beginning to dig. In her world, adults were not safe. Her hole became her refuge. Each time some new pain occurred, she dug a little deeper. She began to believe that if she ever came out of this hole she would die. The final blow came when Claira was about eighteen months old. Her mother left her father, leaving little Claira with him. This defenseless child had been left alone with a man whom the mother had gotten a restraining order against. During the next three years there were many times when Claira's needs were not met. When she cried for food, her father would kick her across the room. When she was scared at night, no one came to help her. She was often locked in a room for days, where she was forced to urinate on herself and eat the paint off the walls. She began to welcome the smell of urine, and it comforted her. She knew as long as things smelled like that, her father would not want to touch her. After a while she began to convince herself she was not really hungry, scared, or alone. She became the queen of her universe. She controlled everything. It was quite easy for her to believe because no one ever attempted to broach her hiding place. She no longer needed anyone or anything. In fact, she could no longer see those outside of her hole, and she could barely hear them. It was then that the lying began. Her lies helped her digging, and fueled the fury that beckoned her to dig further. They screamed at her to get away from the pain that her body was feeling. After some time, she could hardly tell what was real or what a fantasy. Her hole was complete. Nothing hurt her, nothing controlled her, and nothing could ever come close. In her heart, she was finally safe. Claira soon gained the attention of the Department of Children's Services after multiple reports by neighbors. It did not take much more than seeing Claira's squalid environment to get her taken away and placed in the foster care system. She sat many hours in an office while a caseworker called family after family seeing who could take in a "four year old little girl, an adorable child with brown hair and eyes". Finally, someone was found.On the first night she was sent to an older couple with no children. They made her a nice dinner and became very angry when Claira would not eat. They became irate when she peed in "their bed" and messed up "their toilet". Claira felt quite pleased because she had shown the adults around her that she did not need them, that they were insignificant to her. She had the hole, and it was her only need. This couple spent a couple of days screaming into her hole, demanding that she come out and appreciate all that they were sacrificing for her, yet Claira rested. When she was not resting she was busy sending out a barrage of missiles at anyone who dared come near. She hit and kicked, spit on them, peed on the floors, and killed their guinea pig. If they gave her a red crayon she would scream for a blue one. If they bought her a new shirt she ripped it to shreds. The family was deeply hurt by Claira's missiles; they finally gave up the fight to coax her out of her hole. After a few days Claira was sent to another family and then another, each yelling from above and being totally frustrated at her lack of concern for all the hard work they were doing to save her. Each one eventually threw up their hands and walked away. One day Claira went to a new home. The family had cared for many children like her so they did not become frustrated when Claira sent the usual missiles from her hole. Rather than run they walked closer to her. Each attempt to push them away was met with loving eyes and soft touch. Claira was confused and frustrated, her missiles became more dangerous, yet the family stepped closer. They were so close at this point that she could hear them clearly. She could hear the mom telling her softly that this was a safe house and that she no longer had to be afraid. Claira shut her ears to this. There were no safe houses. There were no safe adults in her world. Many months went by as Claira continued her futile assault on this family. She could hear strange noises from above but could not make out what they were. What Claira did not know was that outside her world something wonderful was happening. Each time she tested this family, they passed. Each time she tried to prove that they could not meet her needs, they did. As each need was met, a piece of a ladder was built. It was not long before the parents deemed the ladder big enough to reach down into Claira's hole. They carefully and methodically lowered the ladder and then themselves. For the first time they could actually see Claira. She was not the big and scary monster launching missiles that the other families had been so scared of. She was not an all-powerful ruler. She was a very small, sad little girl. The parents picked Claira up and held her close. They looked into her beautiful brown eyes and told her how much she was loved. They told her how very pleased they was that she was a part of their family. Then, as a family, they ascended the ladder up out of the hole. A small monument was built for the hole that had for a time saved Claira's life. Though she no longer needed it, it had been her resting place during a time when her world was chaotic. But for now, she will rest in the arms of the parents who helped her feel safe enough to climb out of her hole.

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