Posts tagged ‘abuse’

Church is Like a Hospital

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Sitting in church today, grumpy and petrified for Steven’s future, I barely listened to the sermon. During my mind meanderings, I heard Pastor suggest we all think of church as a hospital for those with broken peace. Yes, that is me! Broken peace! I started listening more closely, and he was speaking to ME! To paraphrase the sermon, church welcomes everyone looking for peace. Everyone is living their lives often faced with many challenges, tragedies, illnesses, possible prejudices against them and sadness. As much as I would like to think so, life is not all daisies and sunshine. Steven’s life sucks, and will continue to suck. How/why that happened or why God would “let” that happen is of no consequence. It happened. It is.

My peace was restored when I realized that in the scheme of this whole eternal universe, the time spent on earth is only a drop in the ocean. Because the existence of “God”, (not a Jewish God or a Catholic God or even a Muslim God,) just GOD has been confirmed in my life; it has been proven to me that He/She is there. Waiting. For me and for Shaun and for everyone else, especially those who are suffering. While life may be challenging and emotional right now, it won’t be like that forever. He/She will be there forever, welcoming me.

So, for today at least, my peace was repaired in church.

I will see if it can last til next Sunday!

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To read the proof of God’s existence, please purchase my book on Amazon.

RAD is BAD

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I live a charmed life. I doodle doo go about my business, enjoying my kiddos, my surroundings, and life in general. The problems, multiple crisis, small tragedies and difficulties in raising 5 kiddos with disabilities, (3 of whom are still home) usually roll off my back like the spring rain rolls off of my blazer. I can handle it! Except for the issues with RAD, Reactive Attachment Disorder…

My son, Steven, is now a young adult. We have raised him and loved him and tried to teach him right from wrong. There have been many bumps along the way, but all have been dealt with in a reasonably sane manner. Sure, he has always had a problem with stealing, but he has always been punished and made to pay back what he stole. Sure, he has always had a problem with lying, but I can tell when he is lying by the amount of details to the lie and his steadfast belief it is true. The more he argues, the more I know he is lying. Sure, he has a problem with outbursts. He has kicked holes in the walls, broken the mailbox and numerous doors. But he has always been “grounded” and had to fix them afterwards, hopefully a deterrent to not being violent.

All of the counseling, special education in restrictive settings, placement in a juvenile detention center for a short time, immense loving from his family and medication in the world has only slightly minimized his problems. But he has RAD, and all the loving in the world cannot contradict that fact.

Although dealing with this challenge has been a life long issue, it has reached the point where adulthood no longer accepts his negative behaviors. When he was living with his girlfriend, she did not believe one of his lies and he got angry and punched the window. She called the police. He was arrested for domestic violence. He hangs out with a bunch of guys at a small get together he has arranged around a small fire pit in our backyard, and next thing you know they are fighting, and he (and the guys) get arrested for assault. And what he tells the police is something from outer space…”I came home from work and they were all partying and I told them to leave and they wouldn’t so I had to hit them.” Yeh, RIGHT!!!

I had been to court with him twice for the above issues, and he received probation. However, he continues to have difficulties that cannot be tolerated. In an argument over money, (of which he has none,) he walked down the street to a friend’s house and THEY got into an argument over who knows what. Arrested again. Third time. Going to court with him next week will be a challenge. We have to wait, wait wait. You have to be there at 9 am to check in, but they may not call your case until 2:00 pm. Steven has always had difficulties with waiting. The last 2 times in court his legs shook so badly the whole bench of 6 seated people shook along with him. He took the last seat against the wall and tried to curl himself up in a ball and blend into the wall, pretending he was somewhere else other than court. Three times he had to leave to vomit. If I weren’t there to subdue him, he would have walked out after the first 10 minutes.

Next week he will definitely be getting jail time. His lawyer said he was lucky he didn’t get it the last time he was in court. Steven is petrified. He is sick to his stomach. He cries and says he wants to commit suicide. If only he had a different life when he was a baby. If only he had been taught that people cared about him and he could trust someone else, learn right from wrong. If only his birth mom hadn’t taken drugs and his birth father wasn’t in jail. If only, if only, if only…

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The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane
Authored by Linda Petersen
The link to the book:
https://www.createspace.com/5321986?ref=1147694&utm_id=6026

The GPS is Set to Home

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I don’t write much about my son, Angel, who has dissociative identity disorder. It seems to be such a sensationalized topic in the media that I don’t want to trot him out to add to the scrutiny. The fact is, he leads a pretty normal life.

After years of counseling, (which continues) he understands his issues with his “peeps” very well. He is appreciative of the mechanism of their development because he has only minimal memories of the severe, prolonged abuse he suffered as an infant and toddler. (Who can DO such things to babies????) He had worked with a psychiatrist who wanted to meld the 12 personalities, but Angel was not in agreement with this treatment. To him, it seemed like abortion because each of his peeps was valuable to him.

11 of his personalities live contently together. He can sometimes be seen staring off into space with a slight smile on his face. When I ask him what’s going on, he says his peeps are having a tea party in his brain and he starts to laugh. He has told me many times that he appreciates having peeps because life is exciting and he is never lonely or bored.

The 12th personality, the “asshole”, used to appear uncontrollably when Angel got angry. Angel learned through therapy to accept this personality because this is the personality who endured most of the abuse. (He does not know this personality well, because to know him would be to remember his abuse.) In order to temper any damage that could be done by the asshole, his peeps have learned to work together to nurture and control him so he is no longer dangerous. Quite a feat for a brainful of peeps!

Angel works as a security guard in the evening, sometimes through the night. He loves this job because it can be done by most of his peeps, so there is no fighting over who gets to come out. He has a nice circle of friends who understand his issues, and he feels comfortable in social situations with them. They know that if he suddenly starts to dance wildly and strut his stuff, his “diva” personality has the floor. (She loves pink boas and nail polish.) Or if he becomes the center of attention, leading the activities like a pro, his “game show host” personality comes out. Or if he just sits in the corner, withdrawn, his baby personality comes out, too frightened of the world to interact. This peep will need to be driven home by one of his many friends.

Driving is the biggest issue because one peep might be driving somewhere and another peep might take over and not know where they are going. He has learned to accommodate for this problem the way he has accommodated for all issues that have come up in his short life. He now keeps his GPS set to home so they can all find their way home!

With all of these personalities, he is just Angel. Accepted by his friends and family in his amazingly normal life.

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The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane
Authored by Linda Petersen
The link to the book:
https://www.createspace.com/5321986?ref=1147694&utm_id=6026

All It Took was a Few Daisies

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Things have not been going so well lately. Marie has been in the hospital for trying to swallow a box of staples during a PTSD episode. (The pain of the memories was just too much.) The staples, thankfully, passed through and did no damage, but her recovery from the incident has not passed so easily. She is sad and shaky as she works through her most recent memory, that of a “john” pulling a gun on her mother. She remembers hiding under the bed and watching in terror as his footsteps thumped by, sure he would find her and kill her at any minute.

Steven has had a similar fate. As a young adult, he chose not to take his medication anymore. He didn’t like it because it made him feel “sleepy”…instead he is hyper, agitated, argumentative, obsessed and out of control. When you have a mental illness when you are a child, you are hospitalized and given great care. When the same thing happens when you are an adult, you are arrested for domestic violence and thrown in jail. Not the best situation, and extremely difficult for a parent to handle. (Yes, I am being selfish thinking of how this affects me.) Maybe when he is released he will agree to take his medication again, medication which has enabled him to live a full and relatively happy life. Medication which has calmed his OCD and aggression. Medication which has smoothed out the wrinkles in his brain created by in utero exposure to cocaine, heroine and alcohol. Medication which has made our family life “normal”.

Yesterday, (Thanksgiving) was a solemn day for our family, missing two of our beloved children. In preparation for the day, I had cleaned the house as my husband had shopped and prepared the food. I had hoped to get to the store for a floral centerpiece to add some happiness to our table, but time just didn’t allow. Setting the table, I felt sad, abandoned, and empty inside, unfamiliar feelings for me. Just as I was allowing the despair to set in, there was a knock at my front door. There stood a middle aged woman dressed in a neat, black coat. I didn’t recognize her at first, but as soon as she introduced herself, I remembered that she had a child in the same class as Steven ten years ago. I forced a smile and asked her how she was. She had been thinking of me, she said. She remembered me from all those years ago and she remembered the challenges our children faced. She had made me a beautiful floral centerpiece for our Thanksgiving table! She said she knows how hard it is for her to raise one child with mental illness, and that she has admiration for me raising several. I thanked her and held back tears as I hugged her tight.

This amazing centerpiece is filled with bright orange mums, cheery yellow daisies, and red roses, whimsically arranged with a big Thanksgiving Day bow. Looking at it, I can’t help but smile. It is beautiful! It is hopeful! It is joyful! It was just what I needed to get me out of my despair and realize that this, too, shall pass. And the reminder came from a woman who was almost a stranger to me. I am so thankful for the timing of her thoughts of me.

I had “THE” Talk with My Teenage Daughter

If you have been following my blog for a long time, you may know of my daughter, Marie’s, early trauma and severe abuse. When she came to live with us at the age of 7, she insisted that she was a boy, not a girl. She wore boy clothes and had a boy’s haircut. She even begged the pediatrician to sew a penis on her! Bless him for not being shocked, but for telling her that decision would have to wait until she was an adult.

Because she is deaf, she didn’t hear when I’ve called her my daughter and when I’ve used the pronoun “she”. It also didn’t seem to faze her that her name was a girl’s name. After the abuse she lived through, my goal as a mom has been to make her feel as comfortable with herself as possible. If having a crew cut and wearing boys’ underwear suited her, so be it.

Marie insisted she was male right up until she got her first period. At that point she conceded to me that she WAS really a girl, (no denying that fact,) but that she wanted to appear to be a boy so that no man would “hurt her”. This was understandably a clever accommodation on her part!

Enter Marie the teenager…and “THE” talk about sex… She brought the subject up as we were watching a teen movie on television where the heroine and hero kissed. Marie did most of the talking, (in American Sign Language of course,) asking me who was better for her to “like”, boys or girls. She said she has had childhood boyfriends and girlfriends, but that she didn’t know which she should “like” for a real mate whom she would someday marry. She looked at me with questioning, soulful eyes as I put on a brave face, pretending to be wise. The answer was simple, of course. I told her that she would end up finding a mate with whom she would feel comfortable having sex. SEX????? She signed, aghast. She wasn’t talking about SEX…..in fact, she was NEVER going to have sex….she just wanted to know whom she should marry! And just like that she dismissed my answer with a wave of her hand and went back to watching the movie….

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To read more about our life as a family, please read my book. Here is a link:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-apple-tree/id538572206?mt=11

The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane

The Girl who said she was a Boy

Marie, who is profoundly deaf, came to live with us at the age of 7 years old.  At first she appeared to be your typical “tom boy”, but then she began to exhibit symptoms of being something more…symptoms of being an actual boy.  Quite simply, she TOLD me she was a boy.  She would only wear boy clothes, (including boy’s underwear.)  She refused to use the Ladies Rest Room so we found the family and unisex restrooms if she had to go to the bathroom in public.  She begged me to let her get her hair cut short, but her birth mother’s rights had not yet been terminated and she would not give permission for Marie to get a haircut, so Marie would pull it up in a pony tail on top of her head and wear a baseball cap everywhere.  She looked like a boy and she acted like a boy.  She did not want me to tell people she was my foster daughter, insisting I tell them she was my foster son.  Swimming at the public pool was problematic because they did not allow t-shirts.  Because she wore boys bathing trunks, she always wore a shirt.  The lifeguards always told her she couldn’t swim unless she took her t-shirt off.  I obtained a letter from her doctor indicating due to her “disability” she needed to wear her t-shirt while swimming.  I still had to argue with each new lifeguard that there was a letter on file which indicated she was allowed to wear a t-shirt as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Because Marie was deaf, most people did not know the extent of her insistence that she was a boy.  She did not hear me introduce her as my foster daughter, and the use of male/female language did not reach her ears, so in some ways it was easier to deal with socially.  She knew she was a “boy”, she looked like a boy, so she assumed everyone thought she was a boy.  Somehow the fact that her name was Marie was feminine escaped her, but that was because as a seven year old who was deaf, I doubt she knew the context of male/female names.  Difficulties did arise when relatives and friends gave her “girl” presents or try to give her “girl” clothes.  She would look at them as though they were crazy.  Didn’t they KNOW she was a BOY!!!

I accepted Marie for who she was.  She was allowed to behave in the manner in which she was comfortable, and if the only problem was finding a unisex bathroom, then we were lucky.

At her ten year old visit with her family practitioner, she blurted out to him that she was a boy and that she did not have the right part. She begged him to “sew a penis” on her.  He was very comforting and reassuring, and said she was fine the way she was for now and when she was older she could make that decision.  He told her that things might change in the meantime.  She begged and cried and said she didn’t want to wait, but he said she was too young to make that decision.

Marie continued to insist she was a boy, and when she was adopted she was allowed to get a short haircut.  She was very adorable, boy or girl, with short cropped blonde hair and gorgeous big blue eyes.

By the time she was eleven, Marie had become accustomed to our family and she felt supported and accepted.  She also felt safe.  She and I had started to bond, (something which she was reluctant to do because she had promised her birth mom she would not love me.)  I bought a book for girls on puberty, “The Care and Keeping of You”.  Knowing she thought she was a boy, I was cautious in bringing this subject up.  Reading this book, however, had an amazing effect on her.  She was excited.  She was thrilled.  We read if from cover to cover until the cover was worn out.  She would bring it out to show anyone who visited, (male of female.)  We had to go to the store to buy sanitary napkins, and she insisted on buying 10 packages “just in case”.  She asked many questions and I answered them as straightforward as I could.  She shyly admitted to me that she was happy to be a girl.  She told me she only SAID she was a boy because men “hurt girls” and she didn’t want to be hurt any more. She said “the men” never hurt her brother, so she decided if she was a boy she was safe. Marie did not realize the huge significance of this admission.  She had finally lived with us long enough so she felt safe to become the girl she really was.


 

 

Link to my book
https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-apple-tree/id538572206?mt=11

The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane

Link to the Readers Digest review of my book:  http://www.rd.com/recommends/what-to-read-after-a-hurricane/

 

The Ups and Downs of Multiple Personality Disorder

Angel developed dissociative identity disorder during his early childhood.  The abuse he endured was so horrific that when he was being abused, a separate personality was born so that he would not have to feel the abuse.  Some are good, some are bad.  Some are female (?), some are male.  Some have aged with him, and at least 2 are still babies.  This is not something I could invent.  I am not making a big deal out of it.  “It” just is a fact of every day life that we try to live with!

Today, Angel was at a friend’s party.  He has one personality that is friendly, game show host upbeat, polite, thoughtful of others and the type of person who others adore.  Andy indicated he used this personality every time he went to a new foster home in the hope that that family would not reject him.  Unfortunately, this personality cannot maintain him for long periods of time, as other, more dangerous, personalities invarianly emerged.  None of the foster families could handle this “quirk”, this change from, dare I even say it, Angel to Devil.  Of course, it had not been diagnosed until he was in 3rd grade, so none of the families could have know what really caused his “severe mood swings”.

His “game show host personality” (as he calls it) was at the party today.  He lasted 6 hours before he called me to pick him up.  While I was at the party picking him up, 5 different people came over to me to tell me what a joy he is!  That he is the best kid around!  That he is so polite and helpful!  And I thought to myself, “If they only knew…”

Once in the car, Angel’s smile vanished and a look of sheer anger appeared.  He held his head an announced that his “parts” (which is what he calls “them”) were fighting.  He cannot let one part out for so long without the rest fighting, he had explained a few years ago.  It was excruciating for him to be so nice all day, he said.  I knew the anger he displayed could be dangerous, and I encouraged him to come home and take a nap, which he did.  He crawls into a fetal position and falls asleep.  In the middle of the night, the “part” that is so emotionally needy will wake up and scour the kitchen for food.  He will engulf anything edible, trying to feed his heart.  Sometimes when he falls back asleep with his stomach full, he will fall asleep and his infant self will come out.  Sometimes this self is so young that it does not yet know how to use the toilet, or it gags on regular cereal. (As an infant, it can only eat oatmeal.)

Angel knows about 10 of his parts.  He knows there are several “mad” ones that he does not know.  These are the  parts that were abused, and if they become known to Angel, then the memories of the abuse would come flooding back.  So they remain hidden as Angel could not psychologically survive the memories at this age.  Slowly they have become known to him, and some of the angry parts have joined the rest of the parts he knows.  Through them, he remembers foster mothers who left him lying on his back, crying for hours.  (In reality, when he came to live with us at the age of 3 he had a flat back of his head from lying so long.)  He remembers them coming in and yelling at him to shut up and not helping him.  He had 4 foster moms reject him, and it physically damaged his young brain.  The angry parts he does not know do bad things to him.  They resent the fact that he is living a nice life and they had to endure the abuse.  They have done things like destroy his homework, steal his cell phone, laptop computer, Ipod and other precious items.  (We’ve never found these items, and once he is conscious that they are gone, the trash has been taken away, so we had nothing to search.) Once, after his second computer  disappeared, I thought I had outsmarted the angry ones.  I locked his computer on a cord to his bedstand.  “There!” I thought.  Let’s see THAT disappear!”  It stayed fine for a week or two.  Then, one morning I woke up to Angel screaming.  “Someone” had stomped on his computer, breaking the keyboard and snapping the screen off.

Angel has been in therapy since the 4th grade, and he has made considerable progress.  Previously, he would study for a test in school and I’d test him on the way to school and he would know the material 100%.  A half hour later he would take the test and in handwriting of a 1st grader, he would flunk it wrong answers.  Through therapy, his parts have learned to cooperate.  Now only the “smart ones” go to school.

Angle has been to Baltimore and counseled by the leading expert in Dissociative Identity Disorder, Dr. Joy Silberg.  He knows the goal of his therapy is integration of all of his parts.  He has indicated he does not want that, that he would be lonely without them to keep him company.  It looks, however, that it will be a long time before he is completely familiar with those angry parts.  They are still protecting him because they are holding the memories of his abuse!

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