Lest We Forget …

From a blog post on July 4, 2009

I get in the middle of life, and I forget.

I watch the kids playing with their Webkinz, and I forget.

I get really, really annoyed by some nonsense chatter, and I forget.

I find myself immune to the little bitty controlling behaviors throughout the day, and I forget.

Then, a child starts to act out. I know to “rewind” and help them back up so they can tell me what it was that triggered these feelings. They talk about a friend who picked a fight. They had a scuffle. By no means is my child ever 100% innocent in such a situation, but this particular kid took a position of power and was not backing down. Usually my child orchestrates their life so they always have an edge and feel in control (certainly not healthy or healing, but it’s their long-ingrained survival mechanism). As my child talked about it, I watched them slip into a flashback. Their breathing changed. Their fists wadded up. They could not sit still. There were tears mixed with a look which wanted to kill. That one altercation brought back the abuse. They saw the same look in that child’s eyes they used to see in the face of their abuser. Talking about it was too much. Their feelings were so mixed – my kid wants to hang out with friends, but also had feelings that we abandoned them and did not keep them safe. All of these thoughts and feelings are still swirling.

I forget.

The same day, another child was pushing some limits. I had noticed it over the past two weeks with all of our travel and change of location and schedule. So, I brought it up. Not only did my child admit they were trying to soften the limits so they could slip back into some previous behaviors, but they also talked about pain in their past. These are things they have glossed over before to protect their heart and mind. Not this time. In a very limited way, my child told me – for the very first time – how certain things continue to haunt them and hurt them deeply. It rocked my world. It was gut-wrenching to realize how very real and horrible this was for them. So confusing. So very, very painful.

I forget.

Later that night I sat alone. I closed my eyes. I imagined someone taking my children and doing those things to them NOW … making them experience them right NOW. For some reason it is easier to forget when it is in the past and we were not even woven into their lives at that point. I cried, because I had to stop thinking through the pain continuously. I was too much for ME. Knowing if it happened today, they would cry out for me. Yet, in reality, they went through these things feeling completely alone – not even knowing any other way to feel. It was HORRIBLE, but I felt like I had to take myself to this horrible place, for my children. Their brains take them there regularly.

I tried to count all of the losses they experienced. Some I knew. Some I had to guess. Even then, I think I didn’t come close to their reality.

So, on this typical American, long holiday weekend, I am not going to forget.