Deep breath. Where to start...
Well, the short story is that Wednesday was a really, really horrible day. Really. It began with H. at breakfast complaining of a headache which very quickly degenerated to a short, but intense bout of stomach flu. It was incredibly sad to watch the poor, miserable thing sitting in the chair holding the bowl in her lap with tears silently streaming down her face. She really doesn't like to be sick, not that any of us do, but it fills her with far more misery than anyone else I've ever known. Stroking her head, giving her hugs, telling her we love her and that she'll get better somehow just doesn't seem to be enough.
On top of that a certain boy I know continued to be pretty disregulated. He'd been this way for several days and I find it very draining and it does have the effect of setting the whole household a bit on edge. Sadly, this disregulation descended into a full-blown rage. A rage that caused me to have my older children phone J. and have him come home. (I very rarely call him home... it needs to be very serious.)
And now comes the hard part. How much do I share? How much needs to remain private? How do I share our story so that it can support others in the same situation? How much just doesn't need to be shared? I know that when people are overly cryptic that it often has the opposite effect of what has been intended. People's imaginations race and scenarios which are far worse than the actual event are imagined, and I'm not sure that's helpful. But you know, healing from trauma is messy and hard and people being unwilling to talk about the process just adds to its difficulty and mystery and shame. Things that remain hidden have a way of festering and becoming so much bigger. And isn't that what trauma does to people? Passed events and beliefs and ideas fester and rot and infect to such a degree that they infect the whole person and it is only by bringing them into the light and holding them up against Truth that healing can happen. So I will try to walk the fine line between being circumspect and being honest.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
The morning ended by me yelling to my older children to call 911 because we had reached a point where I wasn't sure I could keep my boy safe. The police and ambulance showed up at our door and suddenly our home was awash in people in uniform. By the time they arrived, the shock of me having yelled the request had jolted the boy's brain into a higher functioning mode and he was calm. And I was calm right up until the point where the female police office walks over and asks what is going on and what help I need.
At this point, anyone walking into the situation would have thought for sure that the emergency workers were there for me. I completely lost it and started sobbing and shaking. I'm pretty sure I was barely coherent and the emergency workers would not allow me to drive to the hospital on my own. Everyone was incredibly kind and J. made it home before the ambulance pulled away. (I was riding in the front and J. followed in the car.) After our stint at the hospital where the boy was checked out medically and J. and I met with the crisis social worker, we went home.
Yesterday morning, I was still emotionally feeling the after effects of the previous day's events. By the afternoon I was feeling significantly better and much more functional. J. is a rock and I can't imagine a more supportive husband or father.
I couldn't see it in the middle of everything or even yesterday, but I have begun to see some of the things I can be incredibly thankful for. First, it is M. and B.'s spring break and everyone was home on Wednesday. My children are very good in a crisis and at no point was I concerned about the younger people. M., B., and A. did a fantastic job of calming and soothing and keeping the house running. Next, just that J. was able to make it home. Often he is not in his office or is in a meeting and letting his phone go to voice mail. I am so thankful that he was reachable. Also, the social worker we met with at the hospital was a good fit. I don't know about you, but there was a not-so-small part of me that was very worried over what the ramifications would be. What was this going to mean as far as involvement of other agencies? It turns out this social worker had extensive experience working with children in residential treatment. He's seen it all and certainly worse than we experienced. He understood; he got where we were coming from; we were all speaking the same language. And finally we have a wonderful support system. We have friends who were willing to drop everything and help if needed (thought we didn't need it at this time). I also have a wonderful group of women whom I'm friends with electronically who are amazing prayer warriors as well as many of them being adoptive parents of hard children themselves. They were able to offer prayer and hope.
Hope. It was definitely what I was missing for about 24 hours. But I heard from several women who have been down this road and were able to give me some hope. Their children went through similar (or worse) phases and they could tell me that now, those children are better. Much, much better. This is really what I needed to hear. It also seems as though when you're talking about healing from trauma, it feels as though it has to get worse before it gets better. So much is dredged up through therapy. It's yucky and hard to deal with and this is especially true for children who don't deal well to begin with. But unless it's dealt with, it can't heal.
I wish I knew how much worse things could get in order to reach healing. At least it wouldn't feel quite so hopeless in the midst of it all. And I think that's why I feel compelled to share our story. It's not pretty and I worry that others will treat my son differently, but I also know that nearly no one talks about this. I really understand why, but it makes it all so much harder to go through.
One last thing. It is so amazing to me what a brain in shock will focus on. Wednesday I had put on sweatpants and a sweatshirt and just pulled my hair back in a ponytail because I didn't have to go anywhere and I was going to take advantage of that and do some cleaning. Now, if you've ever met me in real life, I guarantee that you have never seen me outside my house in sweatpants. Never. All I could think about on the way to the hospital was not about my son, but about the fact that I looked like the most sluggish stay-at-home mom ever and now I had to tell everyone and their dog that we homeschool and had many children and looked like the walking stereotype that I try never to be. I guess it was far easier to fixate on that then to focus on why I was riding in the ambulance to begin with.
And as one final post-script, when you hear a siren, please pull over. Even in our short ride to the hospital I was appalled at the number of cars who just didn't pay attention to the siren. But I guess that was easier to focus on as well.