Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Guest Post

I received some very interesting responses to the  apology I posted the other day. Thankfully most people were not offended but I am still glad I apologized....as I hate conflict of any sort. While I was struggling with the desire to help people understand RAD but not wanting people to feel as if I were judging them, my friend Becky sent me an email that soothed my hurting heart. I asked her if she would mind if I post her reply on my blog. She replied that she would be honored. So, to all the trauma mama's out there, these words will bless your heart and to everyone else, may you be enlightened and blessed by Becky's words.


​Dear Readers,
​             I feel honored that Sandra would ask me to share my thoughts on her latest two posts (Thoughts November 27, 2014, and the follow-up An Apology.) The following is adapted from the reply I wrote to her after reading her apology post.
            First of all let me say: this is written primaril
​y to​
 moms of troubled children. You will instantly connect with what I say, because it's as though we have our own language and intuitively understand each other due to shared experiences. The rest of you, feel free to listen in, but be forewarned that if you are not the mom of a troubled child, this will probably not make a lot of sense to you. That's okay. It's not your fault.  It's a little like not being able to make sense of all that talk at the family gathering  when your husband and his brothers discussed details of fixing car engines. You d
​idn​
't understand. But it's not your fault. You simply don't have that experience. It doesn't make you somehow inferior or less-than. I think that is the point that many of our would-be-supportive friends get stuck on when we say they do not understand. Maybe you take it 
​that​
 we think you don't care: when really, we mean you don't have a logical working knowledge of the subject, and that's okay. But if you want to increase that knowledge, keep reading. And if this is new to you, then think about it for at least a month before judging, please.
     I read Sandra's post and it never occurred to me that it needed any apology... so when I saw the apology title, I thought I must have missed something, thought for sure now she "had done it" and posted something really awful in a moment of over-tiredness or mental overload! (We "trauma moms" get like that, you know.) So I was relieved to find out that 
​her​
 apology was just this normal thing of--AGAIN--trying to help others understand why and how our world is so
​ ​
different and how that affects us!!
     ​What Sandra wrote (and later tried to explain and apologized for hurting others feelings) is something that every RAD mom identifies strongly with.  We need to keep on hearing that kind of thing! Let's not let the hurt feelings and offenses coming from others stop us from sharing so candidly with each other what blesses our hearts to hear!  
​     ​
​We also need to be careful not to let others'​ reaction
​s​
 take 
​us​
 on a guilt trip for not being more socially involved,  or put 
​us​
 under pressure to prove that 
​we​
can relate to others normally. 
​ Because the truth is, most times, we can't. We would love to, but we simply can't. And we really wish that others would understand this and not take it personally when we can't. ​
You know, if your child had just died, people would give you all kinds of room for not being able to relate to the lighter side of life, but when it's "just a troubled child," they don't get it. 
​Again and again through the years as we have related to troubled adoptive families, there comes one thing above all others: the heart-cry to have friends care and support and to just give them space to be who they are without interference or criticism.​
​      Recently dear friends of ours experienced the death of their eight-month-old baby who had a genetic disorder. It was the third time, out of six, that they welcomed a newborn baby into their home knowing he had not long to live. Eight months of grief and pain, watching your baby suffer, knowing he would eventually die, but not knowing if it would be a few months or a few years--imagine that!!  But somehow, people gave them room for it. And for the most part, understood.
     Brent and Lucia had lived here for a year when he taught school and they were very caring and supportive of our struggles at the time. When their baby died, I flew to Illinois for the funeral and then drove to visit our teenage daughter who lives at a home for troubled girls a few hours away from where the funeral was held. I had not seen her for a year and did not know what kind of welcome I would get, though I was pretty sure it would not be a good one. (It wasn't.) So that trip was quite a time of emotional turmoil for me. 
​     ​
I saw all the comfort and support and space th
​at Brent and Lucia were​
 given--space to grieve and act 
​totally ​
w
​eir​
d
​, to ​
not
​ socialize, not​
 
​do their own ​
work and...etc. etc. etc. I 
​really ​
struggled with anger at that. They understood without me even saying so, and as I wept with them beside the baby's casket, Brent said to me, "We're praying for you, too, what you face with 
​your daughter​
...  This event brings closure to 
​our baby's​
 illness; your pain is constant
​; ​
your grief is ongoing." I wept the more at this touch of sympathy, something we rarely get in so full a measure. Then I said, "One of the ladies at church was praying for you at prayer meeting this week, and she said, '
​O​
h God I can't imagine what Brents are going through, because death is the worst thing anyone could possibly face,' and my heart was screaming, NO NO NO! It is NOT the worst thing, because..." And again I cried and couldn't talk, Lucia crying with me, wit
​h her arm around me​
 as we gazed on the still form of her little baby
​.​
 Brent finished my sentence
​:​
 "Because it's worse than that to have your daughter turning away from you
​, rejecting your love, rejecting​
 God. We know that Karstan died in his innocence, never having done anything against God and Heaven. You don't have that." 
​ I wept a long time, realizing that I was weeping more for my own daughter than for their baby's death, and it felt so good to be free to weep! Instead of being forced into normal life with all its expectations of composure and reaching out to others! ​W
alking this long journey for many years is something that others do not readily understand and is a very lonely road
​; p​
eople give you permission to act abnormally if your child died, but not if your child is a living tragedy. 

​     ​
Which brings me to another thing, and that is: 
​others may try to say to us trauma parents things like: "What's the fuss about, because ​
everyone else
​ has trials too, and they're just as hard as yours."​
 
​ ​
No, they're not
​!​
  Now, 
​we​
  
​mustn't ​
walk around with a martyr spirit or act like others should glorify 
​us​
 for how much 
​we​
 are willing to suffer. That's God's job to glorify you in his own way and time. But I don't believe in this idea that all trials are created equal. They aren't. Try saying that to the Holocaust survivors, or 
​the main character in Joey's Story; or​
​ the parents who buried nine children out of twelve; or the family who suffered years of abuse from a severe RAD child only to have him leave home when he was eighteen, come back, and shoot his father; or ​
children like 
​ our daughter who was horribly abused and neglected for years and witnessed devil worship and other atrocities such as babies being having their arms and legs cut off while their moms were being burned alive. Yeah, she experienced more pain in her first six years than many people ever experience in a life time, and her country is full of people like her. Some people try to say that in the big picture, the whole scheme of things, it will all pan out in the end and the sum of trials at the end of everyone's life is equal even though in the immediate your trial may seem greater than theirs. Sorry, I don't agree with that, either! I'm still making a study of it but there are verses in the Bible that hint at our reward in Heaven being to the degree that we have suffered for Christ's sake here on earth. I wish it would say more about that, but it doesn't--says just enough for us to meditate on it and be encouraged! It is one way that God redeems the evil that Satan tries to overwhelm us with: God will turn around and use it for good. Not that God needed the bad to happen so he could do the good--some people get that part mixed up--but when he sees Satan trying to drag us down with evil, when we yield that to God, He uses it for good! 
​     ​
Now, 
​that doesn't mean we try to explain all this to others when they are going through a trial, though​
. You cannot explain to them that you think you are going through a greater trial than they are
​. That only​
 turns into competition and you appear cold, unsympathetic. 
​ That is not what God would have us to do. He says weep with those who weep. He doesn't say, check first if their trial is equal to or greater than your own, and then weep with them. No! If they're weeping, weep with them!  ​
Fact is, any trial is difficult 
​to the person experiencing it as a trial: ​ some people are stronger than others
​, or have more training, more experience, better support, more resources, etc.​
 so what looks like a huge trial to 
​one person​
 may be insignificant to 
​another​
. For example, my newly-wed sister-in-law with only one child thinks that the worst possible thing about being a mom is to clean up a child's vomit. I disagree, and when she asks me what it is then that is the worst, I can't say, because she wouldn't understand. I just smile and say, "I wonder if you'll still think that twenty years from now." But I do
​n't berate her for thinking it's a terrible trial: I do​
 agree with her that cleaning up after a sick child is very very yucky
​. (However, I don't tell her that 
​while I'm saying that on the outside, ​
on the inside I am laughing and saying, that is nothing compared to_______! 
)​
  
​That's just one little example of how we trauma moms need to learn to relate to normal people without hurting their feelings: learn to support them in their little trials, never letting on to them how petty it may seem to you; rather, learn to sympathize out of a true heart of love and compassion without trying to tell them that you are going through something so much worse. Unless they ask and are genuinely able to understand and give you support. Many aren't. That's why we trauma moms look to each other for support, because with everyone else, we're trying so hard to look normal so that we don't hurt their feelings and sometimes we just need a break from that. ​

​     ​
God calls us to weep with those who weep. And to rejoice with those who rejoice. But what I wonder is, what are those who are weeping supposed to do if they are weeping and others are rejoicing? I think that's where 
​Sandra finds herself
right now, and it's really tough. I think it would be scriptural that 
​we​
 need space to mourn and grieve while others weep with 
​us​
, but what to do when you are mourning and no one else is weeping with you, that's what I wonder.
 
​     ​
I find myself there right now
​ too​
, and I find all the festivities of the holidays a little irritating. It helps to be with those who understand what I'm facing, like 
​our pastor's wife​
 at the Thanksgiving church gathering
​ last Friday
 when she found a chance to pull me aside and ask how it's going. And last night when they were here for dinner and we had some fun times with
​ all the​
 children, but then she and I went on a walk in the moonlight and she got deep and serious with me immediately. 
​She knew I needed it! ​
Now THAT is a friend. So I shouldn't say nobody knows how to weep with us right now. I don't want to take 
​our pastor's​
friendship for granted!
​ Just wish there were a few more people around like that...​
​     ​
Have you ever thought about all the Thanksgiving and Christmas songs being so family-centered and relationship-centered? Sometimes I wonder if that contributes to children going bonkers over the holidays. I mean, think about it: "...who from our mother's arms has blessed us on our way with countless gifts of love..." can't you just imagine a foster or adopted child singing that and seething inside, no, no, no, that's not how it was for me! Or "for the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent child..." 
​I​
s human love a joy for them? many times it's pain instead. "for father and for mother who give me clothes and food..." my father and mother didn't; why not? and so on. 
And so many Christmas songs talk about a dear little baby, but they hurt when they think about babies.​
​     ​
In conclusion, God calls us all to different walks of life. Sometimes very different from each other. Those going through similar experiences tend to find each other, and that is how God intended for it to be, to bear one another's burdens. ​
​In our varying trials and experiences, we should not be in competition with each other but rather look to comfort and bless each other without judging. Accept another's experience as being what it is, even if when it is so different from your own that you have a hard time imagining it's that bad. And also accept your own experience​​s without trying to make yourself like others around you.
​     ​
Be not weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
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