I find myself in unknown territory.. one seeking advice. Ever since gradeschool, I have been the one people ask. People ask my help, my opinion, for me to lead something, and I do, because I can. .I have the look of one who can find things in the store (and unfortunately for my children, I am only too happy to help out the strangers who need to find some random spice) but I usually know what I am supposed to do or say or where to find the answers. I love to research and to learn new things. I have faith and optimism that things will turn out right! because I believe it to be so.
My confidence in my own decision making has been shaken and I have had to reach out to school counselors, my priest and eventually the DSS folks who brought us the children in the first place.
We have come to a rocky spot, where a combination of PTSD and ADHD have brought out baggage we never knew existed. I find myself doubting all the choices I have made… How could I have not seen this coming? How was I so naive to think that love alone could heal these children? How do we move forward as a family unit? Should we move forward as a family unit? I have had several very hard arguments in my head. My heart wants to believe that all children deserve a chance at a loving family, but my head knows that I have to protect the whole household.
Without divulging any intimate details, the quick story is the oldest grandson has been quietly and very cruelly emotionally abusing the two younger kids for quite some time. Outwardly to me he has been a great kid, in the band, scouts, in the youth-group at church. He always pitches in and with the exception of some difficulty with telling the truth and turning homework in, I thought he was going to be JUST FINE…. and then .. I found out the truth. That in the darkness of his heart he holds a great deal of pain and bitterness towards his little brother and sister. So much so, that they told us they are afraid of him. He is a bully. A very sneaky bully. Both his father and the father of the two younger children have pleaded his case. They shared more details about the excesses of his previous life. They reminded me why we have custody in the first place. They needed stability, they needed people who will provide a loving home with rules and meals and faith. The question is .. could our family survive this latest upheaval.
The short answer is maybe. Prayer, love and stability can help a lot of problems, and they can set a child up for success, but sometimes the past is really ugly enough that deeper counseling and professional help is required. In my arrogance, I forgot that. I also forgot that sometimes a neutral third (or fourth or fifth) party can give you insight into the bigger picture. I spent the weekend, praying, yelling and crying. Trying to figure out exactly the right way to proceed and my priest gave me the best advice. “go ahead and be mad.. give yourself permission to be angry with the circumstances and the child that have hurt you and others, but in the end, you know you will forgive and move on, because that is who you really are.” Knowing that in my heart of hearts, I can’t hold a grudge and I am a forgiving person has given me some relief. I am able to allow my self to be hurt and angry.
The reason airlines tell us we need to adjust our oxygen masks before we care for anyone traveling with us is simple, if we can’t breath, we can’t care for someone else. Trying to catch my breath in the midst of a crisis is almost impossible. I need the fresh air from someone else to help me. I am so very fortunate that I have an amazing support system to bounce things off of and to get advice from. Sometimes, it’s a wake up call, sometimes it’s just permission to feel allthe crazy feelings I have and to allow myself to breathe.
Taking advice is a hard, but if I am to give advice I need to learn to take it.. and then grow from it, so that I can continue to go out and help others.