Saturday, August 25, 2012

I want to call you Mom


A few years ago I came home to find a five year old girl and a caseworker sitting on my porch. The caseworker asked if I could keep her. She was sitting there with her curls flying all over and the bluest eyes I have ever seen. Her clothes were too big... her shoes too small.   None were weather appropriate. She walked right up to me and asked if I was her mom. I told her that she could call me whatever she wanted. She said "I want to call you Mom!"

Over the next few weeks, the most horrible stories poured out of her little mouth. I grieved for all she had endured. I reported each allegation to Department of Children's Services, who only responded two years later after I contacted a State Representatives office myself. Even then, it was just to tell me that I did not understand the system.

I tried so hard to hold her close... hoping to somehow make the monsters inside go away. In my ignorance, I thought that my loving her would be enough.  It was not long before the tantrums began... some lasting up to 12 hours.  She would beat her head, peel off her skin, and pull out her own hair. She would talk in different voices, and scream her head off. I would hold her and cry.  I called her caseworkers, her therapist... but received no help. No one knew what to tell me.  

Over the next three years I got her in with countless professionals... looking for answers.  Again and again... Nothing! "Keep up with the treatment plan," was all that I was told. I knew that it wasn't working.  Sometimes I sat up all night... praying for God to please help me find the answer... to please let me help my little girl. From Him as well... I heard nothing.

As time passed on she became sicker, and I more tired.  She also continued to get sneakier.   Family pets were killed, my toilets were continually flooding, my home destroyed, my things stolen.  But, giving up was not an option for our family. I knew there had to be something we could do to help her heal.

In August, a therapist finally mentioned Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD).  She was evaluated and found to be a severe case. "OK... this is it," I remember thinking to myself. "Now we can finally get somewhere." Knowing what was wrong, we called a meeting to ask for help getting the treatment we needed.  For the first time I was hopeful.

On September 11 my baby was born.  On September 18 we had the meeting.  As I sat there, I no longer had any arguments for their concerns about my other children's safety.   Twice I had to get up to vomit. I asked if we could just get her treatment. "Not now, there's no money." I was told that the intensive cost around 10-15k. I got up one more time because the room started spinning and I didn't want to get hysterical in front of all of these people. Minute by minute I saw my little girl slipping away.  When I came back they were making "pick up" arrangements for that afternoon. What??? I was so lost that I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t believe what was happening.

I picked up my newborn son and went home to pack her a bag. I was told she could get the rest of her things later. I cried the entire afternoon.  The caseworker called to tell me not to tell her until she got there, meaning... I would not have time to tell her goodbye.   At around five o'clock, they came and told her that she had to go. We were only given a few minutes with her. I told her that I loved her very much, and that I would always love her.  She said, "But remember, you are my only mom".   As I cried, I told her, "When you lived with your birth mom, you thought that was the only kind of mom in the world.  Then, you came to me and saw that not all mommies hurt you. Now you will be going to a new mommy...an even better mommy that can help you get better until you can come home to me." I lied. 

A few minutes later, I walked my little girl to the car and hugged her goodbye. I stood there for what seemed like forever, wanting to pick her back up... to carry her inside... and pretend that none of this had happened.  I stood there as the car pulled out of the driveway. That was the last time I saw her.  It took me three weeks to finally pack all of her things, and to this day I continue to find little things of hers. I was dragged along by the foster care agency for months. While sending me to training for dealing with her disorder, and praising me for learning so much so fast, they were secretly making plans to have her adopted by the respite family. As in many times in my life, my ignorance and naivety cost us both greatly.

It's been years since I've seen her, though I picture her daily in my mind.  I've resigned myself to waiting until she's an adult. Then I can find her and tell her how very sorry I am.   How very badly I wanted to be her mommy. I write her a letter every year and put it away, so that one day, she will know that she was always in my heart, that I always wanted her. She was never disposable to me. She was in every way my child.

Me in the News...

News Report



I was asked recently to talk to WJHL by the Children's Advocacy Center. For those who know me well, you know I have used their amazing resource for many of the children who come into my home. I fully hold them responsible for my family being so together! Anyway, Here is the story. At first I was a bit embarrassed, I guess the old victim attitude surfaced. You know the "its my fault" sort of thing. Then I got to thinking about it more. I never abused a child, I never hurt or starved or neglected a child, why should I be the one to feel bad? So here it is. . . A little of my life, the motivation for what I do. . . the reason I try to encourage each of you to reach out to children. . .

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month.and there are some disturbing statistics right here in our region. Last year in Tennessee, 15 hundred children died as a result of abuse and neglect. There were nine deaths in Northeast Tennessee, five of those in Sullivan County alone. News Channel 11's Lara Moore sits down with an abuse victim as she talks about her trauma for the first time. "I grew up in a very abusive environment because of my father." 26 year old Jessica Hacker's childhood memories are of watching her father abuse her mother. "My mother left my father, she tried to make a better life for us, but because of child support laws, he was able to find us and pursued custody. When I was eight years old, we were sent to live with him for a two year period." It was then that Hacker became the target of his abuse. Teacher's saw Hackers wounds and reported them to children's services. There was an emergency hearing and her mother regained custody despite the fact that Hacker refused to testify against him. Hacker says she was terrified to testify against her dad. She explains, "My dad actually said, if you tell what happened I will kill myself and your stepmom, which he actually did two days later." The tragedy has motivated her to protect other children. Today she has three children of her own and is a therapeutic foster parent, taking in children who have experienced her same nightmare. Hacker says when she was a child the court system was not concerned about the kids, but only about the abuse. Now she works closely with the Children's Advocacy Center , a program she says gives kids a hand to hold while they heal. "That is the difference I see most in a children's advocacy center is it's not, look at all these things that happened and look at all these pictures. It's how can we get this kid to where she can smile again."

What to do if a child discloses abuse -Believe the child, no matter how hard it is. -Temper your reaction. -Report the abuse -Be understanding -Never blame the child To report child abuse call 1-877-54A-BUSE

Lost, about my Daddy

On October 3, 1990 a man held his wife at gunpoint. It was not the first time she had stood frozen waiting on the drunken glaze to clear from his eyes, but four shots later it would be the last. The man was my father, the wife, my stepmother Lynn. I lost them both that morning, but as the years have passed I have been overwhelmed with the losses that followed their death.
Lost were my stepmother’s hugs and kisses, her macaroni and tomato dinners, the hours spent playing beauty shop with her, the relationships of siblings separated, having my parents at my high school graduation and other monumental events, my innocence, the ability to live unafraid, trusting, and in peace, the ability to feel normal, the ability to have him see that I have chosen a man who would never hurt me as he did, the chance to show him my new baby girls, and most of all, the ability to let him know that he was forgiven for all the bruising of my body and soul. The list goes on for days but these are the ones that seem the most intrusive in my thoughts.
While I have regained some of the losses, the wounds are deep, cutting into every part of me. With time I imagine they will heal and become scars, a permanent reminder of just how much damage love gone wrong can do.

Drowning

Um if you wouldn't mind

you're making too much noise.

So... your head is underwater

just breathe easy, it's a choice

Um could you please focus

Try not to kick so hard?

Damn, We're trying to save you.

Don't you see you've came this far?

We've been standing here for hours

putting our world on hold,

you've hardly said a thing

except "help the water's cold"

Help yourself! You know you can

Stop the tears from flowing and dry your little face

Yes, We see that you are drowing

We just wish you'd do it with more grace.

My Song

I've lost my song and can't find it.

There's none who can sing it to me

the lyrics blanketed by too much pain,

too much sadness,

to much forever trying to be more than how I am.

No one brave enough to dig through the shattered pieces and broken dreams

They might get cut. I'm already bleeding.

My fault of course, if only I could let go,

but how to you let go

when your body so vividly remembers every unkind touch?

I don't know the answer to that.

I can play,

pretend,

smile while dying inside,

die while no one notices,

but my body screams out in protest.

Sleep evades me.

Food will not go or stay down.

Hands shaking,

Head pounding,

Waking up at night screaming about things I don't remember.

Crying in the daytime about the things I do.

And then my tears begin to fall,

for all that I will never be,

for lyrics that will never be found,

tears cried only by me. . .

From Her to You

To his love....

It's me, the hot young miss that's got your mans attention

Just writing to apologize

So sorry dear that you have to pay for my sins.

That your love has strayed to me

So sorry dear that every time I kiss him,

he wonders who it is, you are kissing

Every time I lay down with him,

you get accused of doing the same

Everytime I call his name,

He wonders what name escapes your mouth

Over and over again,

you will pay for my time with him

without even knowing I exist.

His paranoia will drive him crazy when he's with you

realizing even the sweet ones are capapble of reaching out

Are you reaching out?

Probably not, but it doesn't matter.

either way you lose this game you don't even know you are playing,

I get the attention I want,

You get to pay for my sins

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Weirdness About Me

I like the flavor of meat, but not meat. I will often cook meat, boil it or whatever with the veggies I want, then take it out and feed it to my dogs.

When I am sad, I disappear.

I appreciate when someone notices I did.

But if you don't, I will be back, in my own time, and will never hold it against you.

I love and am very passionate about a great many things.

I wish at times I wasn't.

I make the best pancakes in the whole world.

I prefer texting to talking because if I am texting you, don't have to hear me say, stop touching your sister, be quiet, don't lick the dog, etc...

My babies are my world.

I am the most kind and gracious person I know, UNTIL, it comes to my children. Then I forget Jesus and all my manners.

Hermit crabs fascinate me beyond measure.

I sometimes spell words wrong, or create words to combat my ridiculous spelling hangup.

If I could hide in the shadows all of my days, I would be quite happy.

If you need someone in your corner, I'm your girl....

Creativity is my forte'

Kristine has become a most excellent lifeline to me in this Radical world.

For those who don't know. RAD, Reactive Attachment Disorder, is often referred to as, a Radical life, and the children, a Radish. It's an attempt by overly tired mama's to make something very ugly a little better.

I worry too much.

I am a college graduate, stay at home mommy to six.

I organize my food and arrange it before I eat it.

I cannot eat a sandwich which isn't made correctly.

I'm incredibly all or nothing.

I LOVE words.

There is no situation you put me in, which I will not adapt to.

I am a resilient little focker.

I could watch elf five hundred times and still laugh all the way thru.

Havarti cheese is my favorite.

I often learn things just so I can say I know how to do them, and never do them again, like how to thread eyebrows or make cakes using fondant.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Grateful Lists

grate·ful [greyt-fuhl] adjective 1. warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful

For far too many years of my life, perhaps all of them, I was definitly a glass half empty kind of girl. I found, noticed, and focused on things that were stressful, ugly, or harmful to me. From relationships to my very thoughts, I was in every way, simply ugly.

Depressed. Angry. Bitter. Yep, me in a nutshell!

I was so busy seeing, worrying about, crying over, being pissed off about everything that was wrong, that moment after moment the beautiful, precious, fun, wonderful things were missed.

It was about two years ago when I finally came to a place where I was simply exhausted of living that way. I sat in my car and asked God to please give me a new heart, to please help me get my mind right, to please help me be the woman He wants me to be.

It was by no means easy. There are still days when my fears, sadness, or anger try to come back in. However, they find a "no space available sign".

I have spent the last year being very specific about being thankful for what I have, or even the bad things that I do not have. It has truely changed my world.

Several months ago, I decided to make my grateful lists public. I decided to share the way I was choosing to see the world. Note, choosing. You have to choose to see different. You don't suddenly feel like the world is full of sunshine and loveliness. You choose to see the sun through the rain clouds.

I'll admit that when I first started it was painstaking for me. Most times I was posting what it was that I was thankful I DIDNT have. "I'm thankful I don't have herpes. or I'm thankful I wasn't eaten by wild dogs today."

In time though, I started getting to the end of my day and replaying those moments that made me feel good and peaceful and joyful. My list quickly moved to "Grace. My babies laughter. People who love me" and on and on.

Please know that during this time, I was getting divorced, I was struggling with something very awful that happened to me, I was grieving over things I may never be able to share with you. My circumstances were the same, if not worse. It wasn't that life got better and I got grateful. I was grateful and life kept coming.

You have the ability to set the pain standard in your life. You have the ability to decide how frustrated, angry, depressed, or whatever you are. There is no one saying "oh she got cut off in traffic, that's a 3" or "she lost her job, that's a 5" or "She was diagnosed with cancer, that's a 10". One of the most difficult things for me to accept is that I am in fact responsible for how I see the world and how I allow the bad things to affect me.

Now don't get it twisted, I am one crying woman. I am easily able to get sucked into ugly. BUT for the first time in my life, I quickly recognize it as ugly and run as far and as fast as I can away from it.

With those things gone, I am able to see the sun. I am able to live and laugh and play. I am able to have a grateful heart. A grateful heart is a happy one Ladies and Gentlefish and Mama is HAPPY!

Some Clarity on Grateful List Making

I think sometimes, especially because some of my most personal and painful blogs are restricted, people see my grateful lists and think that I am either completely insane, or lying. I need to clarify something. Between the lines of every list, there are moments of deep pain and hurt and frustration. My world has been a very difficult place to live in for the past few years. There are big monsters and even bigger scars they left behind. On days like today, when I am frustrated, heartbroken, sad, overwhelmed, the very last thing I wanted to do was make a grateful list. It is also precisely the reason why I did it first. Ladies and Gentlefish, it is easy to be grateful when life is smooth, it is easy to be joyful when you have a reason to laugh, it is easy to be brave when you are able to protect yourself...but what happens when all of those things are ripped away? Who are you then? I can tell you that I am one very tired, very hurt, very heartbroken, very frustrated woman, who chooses to see that God has kept her, who chooses to embrace those who God has placed in my life to fill in all that has been stolen, who will praise Him regardless. I encourage each of you to make your own list. If you are in a place of bitterness or depression, start by making a complaint list...my husband doesn't listen to me, I'm heartbroken, I'm broke...and then rethink it...I have a husband. I am not alone. I have a heart that is able to love enough to be broken. Broke in my life means I can still access the internet...its not about changing your circumstances, or pretending they don't exist, but finding what is good and hanging onto it when waves of ugliness flood in.

Their Names Are Stephen and Jessica



His name is Stephen
He is kind,
intelligent,
and
funny.
Curious and brave,
He draws her out of her hiding place.
His name is Stephen,
and it seems he has found keys
to doors and places
buried so deeply within her,
she had forgotten they even existed.
His name is Stephen
and he makes her smile,
and laugh,
and her eyes dance.
His name is Stephen
and
he makes yesterday irrelevant,
today lovely,
and tomorrow hopeful.

Her name is Jessica
and she has one foot stuck in the mire of society,
the failure of ambitions,
the tears of dreams lost.
But no worries my sweet friend,
because her other foot is holding fast in. . .
Hope...
Truth...
Tenacity...
and
Love...
and all that means

His name is Stephen,
and
her name is Jessica,
and together
they will conquor the atmosphere.
They have time.

Independance Day

July 4, 2007, I sat on a mountain top in Stone Mountain Georgia, feeling a million miles beneath it. It was exactly a month from the day which would forever shape my future. It was a day a day when a false king revealed himself as tyrant, and love became a dream never dreamed about.

I remember standing there and watching the fireworks, hearing the star spangled banner, and tears rolling down my face. Each tear stinging the places where gravel still held tight to my skin. I was standing in the middle of thousands of people and feeling more trapped and alone than ever in my life.

I remember realizing that day that I was no longer free, but a slave to someone who meant so much but hurt so big. I remember wishing that at that moment, I could be anywhere but there.

Five years later, after stories most of you will never hear, much less believe, I found myself standing on a mountain top. I found myself free. I was OVERWHELMED. My heart could not fathomtfat freedom it felt.

Instead of running my tongue across the place in my lip which still holds a piece of gravel, I took silly pictures with my daughter and neice. Instead of cringing in expectation of the next hurtful word, I reveled in the kindness of my Stephen. Instead of crying out of brokenness, I laughed in gratitude. I simply was.

July 4th is a day of freedom for me. It is a day most of you will never have the slightest clue about, but will always be one of the most important days of my life. Mama is free. No more fear, and swinging arms. No more "you made me's" or "if you had not's".

She is free. She is free to laugh and be silly. She is free to dance and twirl about. She is free to dream. She is free to simply be, and more than anything, she is free to tell her story. She is not bound by those secrets anymore. . .Independence day indeed!!!

Starvation

Starvation: a state of extreme hunger resulting from lack of essential nutrients over a prolonged period.

Extreme hunger?
For far more than food,
but for my very existence,
for peace,
for freedom from swinging arms
for love,
for being somebody's someone.

Lack of essential nutrients? You betcha.

Prolonged period?
Officially, I would say, at least since June 4, 2007,
though as I am growing and learning,
as I am realizing what good,
and kind,
and loving,
truly are..
I think I have most certainly always been starving.

And this means what?

When someone has been starving, when the very basics of human existence have been denied them, it is simply logical that when given those things, they would grab hold of them as if they may disappear at any moment.

It is a given that they may stuff their face a little.
They may not display good and proper etiquette.
But really, how could they?
The very thing so many of you take for granted was denied them. It was denied them so very long that they simply chose to believe food did not exist, and if it did, they most certainly couldn't have it.

If you have never been hungry, you simply see a plate of food. You can afford to make sure your napkin is in place, and you are using the right fork.

They only want to eat.

Mama is eating.

She is napkin in the floor, hands covered in food, lips smacking, EATING....

It may not be gracious.
It may seem abrupt.
It may seem that she has lost her mind and manners.
But all she knows is that the very thing she prayed for,
was handed to her,
specifically,
and right on time.

She's diggin in!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Impossible

You know, I have a house full of impossible.
Babies who couldn't be born.
Children who could never live in a home.
Creatures who would never make it.


Yet,

They were born.
They have a mama who adores them.
They survived.

It isn't that I don't see the impossiblity of situations, or that I don't understand the very long road ahead of me. It's that I know that the very same God who gave me my babies, the one who breathed life into me, the one who healed my broken heart far before any man came along, the one who gave me the patience and wisdom to be tenacious when other's gave up, that God, He says you're a liar.

You Find Out Who Your Friends Are

People commonly say that you find out who your friends are when things get rough, and while that's true, I think you find out who your friends are just as much when things go well in your life.
When you have struggled and fought, when you are tired but have reached your destination, your friends will be happy for you.
Your friends will celebrate with you.
They will thank God for what He is doing in your life.
They will praise Him for bringing you out of the darkness.
People who are not your friends will try to drag you back down with them. With words so covertly spoken as to make Mark Anthony jealous, they will cut, or try to, your joy. These are people who need a crisis, they need something to be wrong with you so they feel right. Get away from these people. Far away. You do not need them.


You Want Her Whole

You want her whole. Trust me. For when she finds her muchness; when she gathers all the pieces of herself, all the pieces you have broke...