Thursday, April 29, 2010


A few thoughts on community. A friend recently expressed, that it is hard to live in community. Amen, and you ain't kidding sister! The hardest people you'll ever live with, are the people you live with. I was thinking about this today, as I was mulling over my daughter's attachment challenges. Being pretty classically attachment disordered, she seeks superficial interactions, and spurns anything deeper, more long-standing, anything that holds her accountable. In her muddled fantasy world, people are always fun. They always talk in that high pitched voice that adults reserve for young children they have just met. They always have treats for you, or plans to take you to a playground or fast food restaurant. They never stick around for more than an hour or two. They never show up more than once a week. They are always charmed by your cuteness, or at least pretend to be. This, in her mind, is the ideal relationship...and of course anyone who has experienced a healthy relationship would immediately see the problem with this opinion. It isn't a relationship. Real people, in real relationships spend time together, getting to know one another in a variety of situations. Generally this leads to seeing one another in less than favorable lights at times. And that's okay, because the people who know us and love us, warts and all, are the people that generally stick with us through the tough times, and rejoice with us when we experience success. In other words, you tough it out at times, but the payoff can be pretty big. But my daughter hasn't ever experienced this. To her, instant payoff in the form of a trinket or treat, outweighs the need to work at relationship to experience deeper joy. I find this tremendously sad.

Another thing I've been thinking about, is kind of related. I have a several friends who have adopted older, attachment challenged children. I notice a theme in so many of the conversations we have had over the course of time. There is such a craving for community. I ask myself why. These are strong willed, talented adults. They're not the sorts that would ever have trouble making friends or influencing people. So why do they exist as islands, craving community and fellowship? I believe it is because the course of their lives have taken them down a lonely, isolated road. They thought they knew where it was leading, but then they found themselves so far out in the boonies, that there was no cell phone reception. Wait, that's where I actually live...but I think you can understand that I'm using a metaphor.

So what do you do about it? I see people do a variety of things. Some people venture into town, and try really hard to fit in. They mostly do this by pretending that their lives are like everyone else's. They hide all the trauma and hooey that goes on behind closed doors, and in the end, they feel more alone and even more traumatized. Some people go with the open book model. They try and explain what their lives are like, in the hope that they would have the chance to educate people, and maintain community with the folks they used to connect with so well. Often this results in trauma as well, since those folks are polite, but frequently form opinions that have nothing to do with our reality. And of course they would. It's like trying to explain to someone what it's like to live on Mars. They form their opinions based on their experience of living on Earth. I can't blame them for that, but it does make me cranky at times.

In the end, most of us just end up living in the isolation, whether we like it or not. We get tired of trying to fit into a world that no longer fits us anymore. We grieve for our loss. We say things like, "I just want a normal life..." or "For a minute, it almost felt like we were a normal family..." or "I just want my life back." I've said them all. And while we grieve, we cry out for community, because we are so lonely. Our lives are hard, and I don't say that to whine. They just are. Day in and day out, you learn to eat disappointment. There are victories, large and small, but they are bought at great price.

This is where I'm getting to be at. I say that, because it's a very slow process. This is what I tell myself every day. When I adopted older, traumatized children I kissed normal goodbye. I brought mental illness into my home voluntarily, and I said I was ready to deal with that, and I was so deluded. There isn't a class on this Earth (or Mars for that matter) that can prepare you for that. I have been to the depths of discouragement, and grief, and anger. But here's the weird thing. I really don't want normal, no matter how much I might whine and cry about it. And I'm pretty happy with my life. I used to get all worked up about stupid, inconsequential, selfish things. I used to be weak. I used to be ruled by my emotions. I still am...but I am less so, and I believe that is a good thing. My children are really tough, but I care what happens to them, and I believe that is a good thing. I have some friends who are traveling this lonesome road, and though we don't always physically travel together, I know I don't go it alone. It is enough for me, and I am grateful.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Thought

"The demand to know where we are going is one which no Christian has a right to make. In a very real sense we do not know where we are going, but we are trying to meet day by day the plain requirements of God's will."

~Bishop Newbigin 1909-1998

Monday, April 12, 2010

In a Word...

OK. Two of my Orlando Angels have posted this, and given orders to do it. I am nothing if not obedient. By the way, I know I broke the one word rule with ice cream... but I didn't want to lie.

Hair – troublesome
Your Mother – sputtering
Your Father – puttering
Fav Food – ice cream
Dream Last Night – forgotten
Fav Drink – coffee
What room are you in? – living
Hobby – writing
Fear – cowardice
Where were you last night? – home
Something that you aren’t – patient
Muffins – pumpkin
Wish List Item – solitude
Where you grew up – MA
What you are wearing – socks
Your Pet – many
Friends – cherished
Something you’re not wearing – shoes
Fav Store – grocery
Fav Color – red
Last time you laughed – now
Your Best Friend – husband
Best Place you go over and over – Disney
Person who you email regularly – BJ
Fav place to eat - home

I know this is the part where I'm supposed to tag folks. Just comment and tell me you did it so I can enjoy what you wrote.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Life is Only Therapy

We've all been running up against it...the sad story of the "returned" Russian adoptee. I don't want to write about it. I don't want to think about it. It opens up cans of worms I prefer to leave tightly closed. My friend Corey posted about it today, and her thoughts make me weep. Her response is well thought out, and not an emotional, knee-jerk response to a complex problem. It is true that her perception is colored by her own experiences, how could it not be? Mine is too. We are women living in a constant state of emotional contradiction; intense compassion blended with anger. It is hard to exist in our skins, loving our children so much that we are willing to live such threadbare lives to see them through. It is easy to judge when you still have dreams for your children. It is easy to judge when you still have hope. It is easy to know what you "would have done" when you do not live in constant fear.

I do not believe God wants us to live threadbare fearful lives, devoid of dreams and hope. I believe that God is "slow to anger, and of great kindness"...which implies that God has both anger and compassion for His own children. I believe God does not wish for us to run to judgment, for either the parent or the child. It's the easy road. Isn't it easy to feel anger and indignation about the boy cruising the school halls with a loaded gun? Isn't it easy to feel it about the woman handing a note to her son and shipping him off on an international flight?

We have not chosen the easy road. This thing we do is not for the faint of heart. There is so much outcry about the lack of preparation, the lack of services, the lack of supports. Don't get me wrong. Adoptive parents NEED to be prepared. Services and supports CAN be a lifesaver for a season of time. Go with that word picture... a buoyant ring, that you grab onto to keep from drowning. Something to hold onto, until you can be pulled to safety. They are not permanent solutions. They don't heal our children, they rescue us in the storm. How can you know that you can parent this child? This child is a stranger, and their history is shrouded in mystery. How can you know what you are capable of, both for good and evil, until you are put to the test?

Logic tells me that some people will find that they are made of much stronger stuff than they ever knew possible. Others will find that they grossly overestimated their own capabilities. Why is there no provision for this? Every RAD mom fantasizes about running away. That's not what I'm talking about. Every one of us gets to a breaking point, and it generally isn't pretty. But we get up again, and go back in for another round. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about d.o.n.e. Some people get there, especially if they are isolated and believe they are alone. Maybe most people get there, when they are isolated and believe they are alone.

I realize this is a post with a lot of questions, and very few answers. The more I travel this road, the more I realize how few answers I have. Like the country song says, "Life is only therapy...real expensive, and no guarantee..." I don't want life to be that way. I want guarantees. I want to know something for sure, and I still believe I can. But the only way to do it with ease, is to hold yourself above the fray, away from the pain, out of view of all that is unsavory about humanity. Ivory palaces and all that jazz.