People often tell me how well behaved my children are. My usual response (a somewhat sarcastic laugh) is often followed by, “You should see them at home!”
And generally the other person says, “Well at least they know how to be good in public; not everyone can say that about kids these days.”
The truth is, while it is embarrassing to have others see my children misbehaving, there are times when I would love for people to know their true nature.
Like the day I sat in the church parking lot sobbing instead of going inside, and a sweet, well-intentioned lady tried to comfort me:
“All boys throws tantrums at times. It’s hard, but it’s normal. He’ll grow out of it.”
No, he won’t. He’s not all boys. He’s my boy. My very damaged boy, who will most likely never be anything close to normal. I didn’t say it, but I sure wanted to.
My kids look “normal” on the outside. And in public, for the most part, they are extremely well-behaved. They have good hearts, and I love them. I’m not denying that they have wonderful characteristics. In fact, given a chance, I might go on for hours about how awesome they are, how blessed I am to have the best six kids in the world.
Especially at times like this:
But I also can’t ignore the fact that some of them are mentally ill. The four oldest have PTSD. Three are clinically depressed. Two are considered hyperactive. One has Reactive Attachment Disorder. One has a mood disorder and may be schizophrenic. And the younger ones have gone through more trauma just watching their older brothers “melt down” than most kids experience before leaving home at 18.
I have tried many times to figure out a way to begin to describe what life is like for my family on a daily basis. But it always ends up sounding too whiny, or too exaggerated, or just too undesirable to share.
So I focus on the positives. Or I pinpoint non-psychological stressors, such as physical illness or school problems. Or I just say nothing.
I can’t be quiet anymore. I can’t pretend that we’re okay. We’re not.
[begin edit] Following
are were two videos I took this morning after a couple of hours of fighting between the oldest two boys. By this time, we had decided not to intervene and just to let them get it out of their systems. I do not ever, have not ever, and will not ever encourage any form of aggression in my children.
Due to a high number of calls to the local Children and Youth Services office, I was asked to remove the videos. They are well aware of my family’s situation, as well as our parenting abilities. We have been in contact with CYS off and on for a while. They offer support and helpful services when dealing with situations like ours. If you know of a child who is in danger, please take action. Otherwise, please stop calling them. Thank you.
Clearly, some readers are concerned that this is the bad stuff, the stuff from my children should be protected. I agree that this is bad, but it is a direct result of the abuse we endured. My sharing is meant to inform those who don’t understand and to encourage those who have the misfortune of understanding what living with PTSD is like. [end edit]
I am not proud of my own failings. In fact, I am ashamed of some of the things I say to my children while at rock bottom. But I am human, and the whole point of this post is to openly display the depth of pain that my family, and so many others, experience daily.
This afternoon, on the way to “do Christmas” at my parents’ house, I cried. (That’s something I don’t do very often, and almost never in front of the hot Peruvian, because it upsets him.) I believe my exact words were:
“I don’t want to do this anymore. I can’t do this… I would seriously rather die than ever have to go through what we went through this morning again. I just want it to be over.”
No, I wasn’t being dramatic.
This afternoon, I understood for the first time why some mothers would rather kill their children and themselves than go on living. I won’t do it, but I understand why some do. I understand why that one mom murdered her autistic son, why another shot both her children in a welfare office.
These women were at the ends of their ropes. They couldn’t go on. They lacked the support to get through what I’m sure was the worst part of their lives. Not seeing any other way, they and so many other parents in dire situations, chose to end the suffering. Maybe they thought they were being merciful. Maybe, in a very wrong sort of way, they were.
That is why I am writing this post. Because I know I’m not the only one who has ever felt this way.
I’m not the only mother of mentally ill children who feels completely helpless. I am not the only one who feels like God isn’t listening, even though I know he must be.
I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. Psalm 69:3 (NIV)
I am not the only one who is too embarrassed, too afraid of scorn, too reluctant to burden others, or too prideful to ask for help. I am not the only one who feels as though I have exhausted all options and am left with nothing but a distant, fading shred of faith.
I wish I could say as confidently as so many do that “things will get better.”
I wish I could tell you that I haven’t faltered in my faith that God will heal my family.
I wish that I could write about my strength throughout these trials (which seems to be much more evident to everyone else than it is to me).
But I can’t.
I can only say that, yes, life on earth sucks. However, it doesn’t end here.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (NIV)
At this point, even though it’s all I have, I can at least look toward the only Hope that is guaranteed – Jesus.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”Jeremiah 29:11(NIV)
There may be hope for our futures here. I really don’t know. But the Maker of this sorrowful planet has promised me prosperity, safety, whether or not it happens on earth.
God is love. John 4:16 (NIV)
Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:8 (NIV)
For no word from God will ever fail. Luke 1:37 (NIV)
Even if this life never gets better, if my children only get worse, if my health deteriorates more quickly, if we go from low-middle class to utterly destitute, if a tragedy occurs and destroys the little bit of joy that still remains in my heart – Jesus never fails.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)
No pain, no fear, no illness or death, no government, nor any wicked man can take Him away from me.
Praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is so good, and by raising Jesus from death, he has given us new life and a hope that lives on. God has something stored up for you in heaven, where it will never decay or be ruined or disappear.
1 Peter 1:3-4 (CEV)
He has promised me paradise, and in that promise I have placed my hope.
You have faith in God, whose power will protect you until the last day.Then he will save you, just as he has always planned to do. On that day you will be glad, even if you have to go through many hard trials for a while. Your faith will be like gold that has been tested in a fire. And these trials will prove that your faith is worth much more than gold that can be destroyed. They will show that you will be given praise and honor and glory when Jesus Christ returns. You have never seen Jesus, and you don’t see him now. But still you love him and have faith in him, and no words can tell how glad and happy you are to be saved. That’s why you have faith. 1 Peter 1:5-9 (CEV)
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” John 14:1 (NIV)
Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:11 (NLT)