Ever feel abandoned? Like nobody “gets” you? Ever feel like you’ve placed your trust in someone you thought would always be there, but they weren’t? Have you ever been excluded, or left out of things? Have you been told by someone that they would pray for you when things were tough, but what they really should have said to be honest – to say what their body language was screaming – was, “You scare me, and I don’t really want to get involved?” Ever feel as though you’ve been dumped by someone you care about, and that you thought cared about you, but didn’t?
I know a lot of trauma mamas who have experienced these feelings. Parenting children who are dealing with the rough stuff of a traumatic past can sometimes be very isolating. Their “stuff” is weird. Their “stuff” causes problems for others. Their “stuff” makes us look like we don’t know how to parent. I’ve also read a lot of blogs, written by moms who were left out of girls’ nights or get-a-way weekends. I’ve talked with women who’ve tried to make friends with other moms in their churches – even other adoptive moms --- but they cannot make a real connection because those moms either don’t understand therapeutic parenting or trauma, or they want to pretend trauma doesn’t exist. I know a mom who trusted other moms – other adoptive moms, in fact – and was abandoned by those moms when things started to get rough for her and some of her other trauma mama friends. They told her they needed to “simplify,” that they “didn’t want to think about” those hard things, and that her life and the lives of her fellow trauma mama friends frightened them. Talk about a sucker punch! It’s not fair to be abandoned by people you trust. It’s not right to have people who are supposed to be the people you think would be the most trustworthy not stick around when the going gets tough. It hurts. It’s not fun. And it can leave trauma mamas with PTSD scars of their own that make it hard to trust again.
I hate it. I really, really hate those feelings. I’ve felt that hurt and that sting. I’ve experienced that feeling of abandonment when someone told me they thought life with hurt kids was too much for them to “handle.” I’ve wondered, “What are YOU handling?! -- A few minutes of empathy? – Of listening to someone else’s pain? This is too much for you to handle?” I’ve also wondered, “What about bearing one another’s burdens? Is it too much to ask, unless you’re the one asking?” And I’ve been hurt. And I can get pretty angry. It’s hard to trust again when you’ve felt so abandoned. I’ve wanted to hide. I’ve wanted to run. And the cycle of isolation is compounded even more, because I’m afraid I’ll be hurt again. (Thankfully, in that hurt, I’ve also been reminded to try very, very hard NOT to do that to someone else! I’ve asked God to make me more aware. I certainly want to ask for forgiveness and make up for it when I’m thoughtless enough to let someone feel as though I’ve abandoned them. After all, I usually have no clue. That’s what “thoughtless” means.) Still, we can’t stay in that place of hurt ourselves. We have to let it go. We have to open up again. We have to try to remember we’ve been thoughtless, too. We have to remember there are times we didn’t realize what our words or our actions did to someone else. All we can do is pray we are more of a blessing than we are a burden and move on. We can do that if we have a basis of love – of knowing how to bear one another’s burdens – to begin with.
Have you ever felt ANY of that? Have you ever experienced ANYTHING like this? Can you relate at all?
The gift that the pain of abandonment for trauma mamas is this: we get just a little taste of what life’s been like for our hurt kids. Before their adoption, they experienced all these feelings and often, much more. However, for them, it all happened before they were old enough to know they could be okay or that they could let the thoughtlessness of others go. However it happened, they were abandoned, before they were able to take care of themselves, or knew how to move on – to move past the hurt. For them, the cycle of isolation wasn’t one or two traumatic events that shook their world, it was their world! So, how does anyone survive those raw, hard, painful feelings? Real feelings. Real, yucky feelings? Yet our kids do survive. Our kids are still here. Where they live, who they live with, is different. And they survive that, too. What may have crushed any one of us is simply a part of matter-of-fact life for them. It’s not fair. It hurts. It’s not fun. And it leaves PTSD scars that run deep, and it makes it hard to trust again.
So trauma mamas, can you relate? Can you get a glimpse of what it’s like for your hurt child to wake up and have to navigate the world with raw feelings ALL the time? Strangely, I think most of us can. I think if you’re reading this, and you KNOW you’re a “trauma mama,” then you can absolutely relate. You’re aware of your child’s past and the needs that exist in their life because of their traumatic past. You’re aware – painfully aware – of how it affects their now, as well as their future. You’re aware of how it affects YOUR life now, and YOUR future. And you are hoping, you’re PRAYING, and you’re hoping some more, for some peace in your life and for someone who “gets it,” so you won’t feel so isolated so often.
Some of you, dear readers, share my Christian faith. Some may not. I’m not a far right-wing, thump-the-Bible-over-your-head kind of person, but I am a Christian. For me, that faith shows through in some of what I write and it will also show through on this blog. I hope it doesn’t turn you away if you don’t share my faith, though. I still think we can learn from one another. But again, for me, faith is what gets me through the lonely times. I’ve been called “weak” for depending so heavily on God and for calling out to Christ when I feel most afraid or alone. To those folks I say, “Yes! Weak? That’s me! But my God is strong.” I depend on the knowledge that He is there for me and that He loves me – no more and no less than anyone else – but that His love is perfect and unfathomable. I may not always know exactly what that means – and I may not understand fully who He is, but I know He is there. I know He hears me. I know He blesses me. When I cry out, it is true I most often cry out for Him to come to me “with skin on.” I ask for Him to send me someone I can see and hear, who will see me and hear me, and “get it.” I ask for someone who won’t leave when things get tough. I ask also to be that someone for a mom who needs the same.
My prayer for this blog is that it can serve as a way for me to be that person for a trauma mama “out there somewhere” who needs a friend that “gets it.” I certainly don’t have all the answers. I don’t think any one of us -- even those of us who have been at this therapeutic parenting thing for a while now -- would say we have all the answers. We just know some things we’ve tried that don’t work, and we know some other things that have worked. We keep trying new things, too, because new trauma drama pops up all the time. It’s an on-going process. It’s a 24/7 career. If we can help one another along the way, even by just BEING THERE and being that one friend that doesn’t exclude, doesn’t run, doesn’t say “I’m praying” without also sticking around through the rough stuff, that doesn’t bail – well, then, I think we’ve found a very good thing.
Thanks again for reading this far. We’re just getting started. I have a lot on my brain I want to share with you. Parenting stuff. Therapy stuff. Movie reviews for trauma parenting. Ideas about “stuff” for our kids for Christmas and about how to handle the holidays. How to be there for someone who’s struggling. Yep, lots of things. If you like what you’re reading so far, will you share it with another trauma mama? Please link my blog to yours and let me know your blog address, too. Click “share” for Facebook or Twitter below. Click on +1 to recommend the blog to others. And thanks for standing by me as I get this thing rolling. It means more than you know.