The past: A child looking for guidance, hoping for safety and a place where they can receive love and thrive. They feel like they’ve been ripped apart from their home for no reason, although it must be their fault. Social workers, case managers, police, lawyers and judges are coming in and out of their lives. They yearn for stability, but barely can think beyond the trauma, the guilt, the anger and the fear that comes to the forefront of their minds.
The present: A child struggling with their growing bodies, their emotions and the stress of living up to a perfect ideal. They want so badly to please their family, and yet have flashbacks to what happened in their past. Sometimes it can be a small trigger, but they forget who they are with and have to protect themselves, becoming stronger and more powerful as that’s the best mechanism they know how to use to keep themselves safe in these moments. They live with an adopted family would provide a loving home, a stable, healthy environment and have developed friendships as they aren’t worried about moving from town to town.
The future: A child who worries about impending adulthood. Who will love me? Who will take care of me if I need help? Can I make sure my basic needs are met? Will my parents teach me all of the skills necessary to thrive in the real world? The child wants so badly to make sure they will live a successful life, but fear creeps in from time to time over hitting a standard they are afraid to reach. They’ve received years of therapy, guidance and the tools to use when they feel unsafe, now’s the time to show people they are healthy and survivors.
I can only imagine what my daughters’ minds think based on their pasts. I wasn’t there for the first 5-7 years of their lives, and it’s unfortunate because I’m responsible for picking up the pieces of a life that’s been riddled with heartache and sadness. I’m very happy when they seek out my help, but I also realize that there are times they need additional support- not because my wife and I are not capable enough. Their past catches up to their present, and they can’t lock out images that put unsafe authority figures in the place of mom and dad.
My children respect others who treat them where they are at. We understand that ‘normal’ is just a term that can mean 100 different things to 100 different people. My hope for their future is limitless. We are providing positive memories that hopefully will outweigh some of the turmoil that penetrates their past. If I could take a chalkboard and recreate some of the memories in a different format, I would. But I can’t- I’m given a playbook that many parts already had written.
My wife and I have learned to be flexible and adjust. Every day seems different than the next. We praise the little things and the progress they make when they choose to think before acting. Some of the situations we are now dealing with are real sisterly bond issues- and I’m hopeful that they both will be able to develop great goals and achieve extraordinary things in their lives.
Just remember that you can change your perception about events of the past and free yourself for a marvelous present and future. Don’t let anything or anyone hold you down. Live from a position of confidence and break the chains of victimization.