This picture shows it... This little dude is not ok. I am not ok.
Only in the therapeutic parenting relationship are you expected to remain emotionally in control of yourself while frequently being the emotional, and sometimes physical, punching bag for someone. In addition to staying emotionally controlled yourself, you are then expected to turn around and provide unconditional comfort and love to the very same person who has been hurling verbal and physical insults at you. In any other human relationship this would be considered abuse and toxic, but when you're in the business of helping traumatized children heal, this is the road to healing.
Marcus has called me countless names, screamed at me , spit in my face, bit me, scratched me, hit me, and head-butted me. And then minutes later is hugging me tightly and sobbing uncontrollably. At that point he just wants me to carry him or rock him. He wants to be reassured he's ok, all the while I feel that I'm not ok. I've had the life sucked out of me and now I'm in charge of filling the love tank of the one who was responsible for so quickly draining mine.
The other day Marcus said to me, "I don't mean those mean things I say and do. I pinky promise I won't do them again." I wish that was a promise he could keep, and that I could be a "normal" mom with him, but I know that's not possible where we're at. But it doesn't keep me from appreciating that emotionally regulated Marcus is able to express love, has a conscience, and does care. When he's not regulated, it's the trauma that's to blame... it's the in utero high cortisol levels and drug exposure that's taking center stage.
And that's when I get angry...
Angry that shit that was never his fault or his choosing is now his cross to bear, and therefore our family's cross as well. We all hold the burden of the broken beginning of these two kiddos' lives. And I can at times feel an inner rage against the adults in their lives that were supposed to keep them safe but didn't. The adults that couldn't get their shit together, even in order to keep their children. Adults who since have continued to procreate more broken children into this world.
But then I remember that Lilly and Marcus are second generation foster children, and then where should my anger stop?? At the people who abused and mistreated their parents? The people who helped warp their parents to take on lifestyles of drug addiction and crime?
The chain of dysfunction and heartbreak will never end if you keep looking back. But this is where it can stop. Right here with these two little bundles of hurt. And that is my prayer, that all generational dysfunction ends with Lilly and Marcus. Right now it feels like a pipe dream, but I can't give up hope, because if we do, what's left?
This is why we work so hard at this. Even if somedays it feels crushingly hard. Even during weeks like this when I've been recovering from stress related chest pain, we keep going because we can't stop-as much as we might want to. Where we are is a spot on the journey and we're far from the destination. I don't know what that destination will look like, but there's only one way there and that's through all of this.
"If you're going through hell, keep going." Winston Churchill