Of course I came home overwhelmed, but also kind of feeling like a super hero with awesome powers because I CAN do this. But yes, it is also the most challenging thing that I have ever done. And I have to do it all day, every day. Which makes some days kind of hard to show up for. Really hard to show up for.
I am learning. Growing. Slowly. But there is forward motion.
Yesterday for the first time in a long time, I can honestly say that I enjoyed being with one of my healing children. If you are parenting neurotypical children, you might not understand this feeling of really really not liking your kid. Bear with me and give those adoptive and foster parents in your community some grace. Because my foster daughter's normal daily behaviors make me believe that it is her goal in life to tear me down enough so she can stomp me into dust beneath her angry feet.
But I know the truth.
The truth is that she acts out of fear. Fear that I might not love her. That I might abandon her. That I might not feed her. That I might hurt her. That someday someone might show up and take her away from me.
And why shouldn't she have these fears?
All of this actually happened to her before she was even two years old. Before she could even form words to speak.
And suddenly I can see.
My arms carry bruises from her anger. And often, I find myself crying simply because the burden of the hurt we are living with sometimes feels too much to bear. And then I wonder, if it feels this way to me, what must it feel like to be her? To be so young, so small, and carry around so much pain...
My heart changes then.
Instead of feeling thoughts of hate towards her or wishful thinking about the trauma free days before her arrival, I find myself truly seeing her for who she is. Accepting her for who she is. Seeing that no, she is not a mean child. Although her actions might be interpreted as that to others. And she is not a bully or a problem child or a case to study. No. I can see now. I can see that she is a just a little girl who is hurting. And there is still so much healing that needs to be done.
Instead of loathing her presence, I begin to find ways to connect. To ask questions. To play. To understand. To look into her eyes and find who this real girl truly is, this smart, funny, genuine girl who is so oftentimes hidden under the heavy itchy sweater of trauma and neglect. I see that her behavior doesn't define her. That her behavior is telling me what she really needs. Connection. Regulation. Understanding. Unconditional love. Stability. Certainty.
So every day, I am showing up for her. Most of the time not perfectly. But, even so, here I am. Mistakes and all.
I'm here for you, kiddo. I can see you. And I'm not going anywhere. I'm here.