Archive for the ‘friends’ Category

Here a Friend, There a Happiness

two-friends-hugging-clipart-2-girls-hugging-as-best-friends

 

My daughter, Marie, was severely abused as a toddler and young child. She came to live with us at the age of 7 after being found wandering the streets barefoot at 2 am carrying her infant brother looking for formula for him. The effects of the abuse were immediately apparent. She couldn’t stand to be touched, and would cower under the table if she felt threatened. She was angry all of the time and refused all attempts at affection. (When she was with us for a few years, she finally allowed me to give her a “fist bump” as a way of showing my love for her, a love she certainly did not reciprocate because she didn’t know what love was.)

Posttraumatic stress episodes were explosive and frequent, and required restraints and hospitalization. She had superhuman strength while in the throws of PTSD, as I am sure the EMTs and firemen who came to transport her to the hospital can attest. She turned into a super kicking, screaming, biting and hitting machine, and it was amazingly frightening to see.   If put in clothe restraints, she would eat through the cloth like a ravenous wolf. The adult restraints were too large and a smaller hole would have to be cut to fit her slim wrists and ankles. She learned to bite the inside of her mouth to spit blood and they tried to put a mask on her, which she immediately sucked into her mouth and gagged on. At the hospital, she would get a shot of Haldol, go into a trance, and wake up questioning what happened. With her hands still restrained and unable to sign regularly, her little fingers would finger spell “Where am I? Why?”

The number of PTSD episodes have subsided to once every 6 months or so. She has learned to love and be loved by her family, and, fortunately, she is making tremendous progress. Marie is going to be 20 years old this month and still attending a specialized school where she can remain until she is 21.

Marie, citing her age that she is an adult, has come more into her own. On her own, she got a tattoo of a dolphin on the inside of her wrist. She loves dolphins since swimming with them at Discovery Cove on her 12th birthday. By choosing that particular tattoo, she reasoned she could look at the dolphin every time she gets upset and it would remind her of a happy time instead of the times she was abused. Like other young adults, she has colored her hair a mixture of blue and blonde, has a lip ring and likes to pick out her own clothes. Her newest adult adventure is finding a girlfriend; recently reconnecting with an amazing girl a few years older than her with whom she attended school many years ago. They have started hanging out and Marie is giddy with excitement. (Marie has never had a real friend of any kind before.)

Yesterday the 3 of us went to Dave and Buster’s at the mall. While Marie LOVES to play the games, sometimes the crowds overwhelm her and she gets anxious, moody and socially unresponsive. Her sweet friend, who does not know the extent of Marie’s early childhood abuse, kept asking her why she was mad at her, which eventually turned into a full blown argument in the car. By the time we got home, her friend was no longer talking to her and said she was never coming to see Marie again. Marie went down and sat on the wall overlooking the lake, her head drooping down. She texted me on her phone, “Help Me”. Joining her on the wall, I noticed she was crying, something I have never seen Marie do. The tears spilled out of her eyes and were running down her cheeks like an ever-flowing fountain. Her mouth was quivering and her sad eyes said it all. I hugged her and the tears turned more torrential. After a while she signed to me “She thinks I’m mad at her and that I have an attitude. I don’t know how to tell her.” Meaning she didn’t know how to tell her about her abuse and that sometimes it still affects the way she acts. She didn’t know how to tell her how much she loved her as a friend, her FIRST friend, and she didn’t want to hurt her, but sometimes she couldn’t control her emotions. She asked me to come with her to talk to her friend to help her explain.

Her friend was annoyed. Marie began about her family history and her friend said that SHE, too, had a mother addicted to drugs and that SHE, too, had been adopted. She said she learned to just “get over it” and why couldn’t Marie? With this criticism, Marie ran from the room and back to the wall by the lake. I explained that Marie had an extremely traumatic childhood, far and above just her mom doing drugs. I explained the hurt, the hospitalizations, and the challenging life she has endured. Her friend’s angry face softened with understanding. As I was talking, a tear slipped down her cheek and she got up and went down to the wall by the lake. When I looked out the window, they were both hugging and laughing.

I pray that Marie’s friend will continue to be her friend and accept her with all of her emotional baggage. It would take an amazing friend to do that, and I have a feeling she IS that amazing!

Advertisements

Even the Wrong Way can Turn Out Right

detroit

 

Even though our winter hasn’t been too bad in our neck of the woods, the lure to see a friend who lives in Florida was strong non-the-less. The day I left to visit her it was 57 degrees in RI, the same temperature it was in Tampa.
My first flight was to leave at a grueling 5:30 am, and I dutifully showed up at the airport at 4:00 am. The need for such an early arrival escaped me, as the airport seemed almost deserted except for the looooooong line of people waiting to check in at Southwest Airlines. Having printed my own boarding pass and with no luggage to check, I made my way to the security line where I was ushered into the ”pre-check” line generally reserved for the elderly and disabled. Miffed to be considered eligible for this line, I was also disappointed to miss the titillating experience of the full body x-ray machine, but keeping my shoes on was a good compromise.
Without much airplane booking experience, I had not realized that my first flight was a commuter flight to Detroit, which seemed to be a ridicules way to get to Florida from New England. The plane was pretty tiny on the outside, and seemed to be even smaller on the inside with a low ceiling and seats two by two on either side of the skinny aisle, through which I had to turn sideways to make it to my seat. Sitting next to a stranger, I had to keep my arms crossed at my chest in order to avoid touching his arm that had commandeered the arm rest. Positioning hardly mattered as, characteristically, I fell asleep as soon as the plane took off, getting nudged awake when we landed. Also characteristically, the next flight was taking off from a gate far, far away. As I watched others heading for their connections, women my age running clumsily, hair flying behind them, carry-on suitcase clunking along, I was grateful for my two hour layover. Slowly making my way along the “moving sidewalks”, it was enjoyable to just stand to the side and window shop the many stores along the concourse without moving a muscle. Who knew that Porsche sold suitcases and pocket books! The Dylan Candy Store looked like one big Hello Kitty ad. And if I wanted to buy golf pants, now would be the time to do so as the PGA Golf store had them for half price.
For the tunnel from one side of the airport to the other, I was pleasantly surprised by an unusual artistic endeavor. The walls of the long tunnel seemed to be made of stained glass with ever changing colors, synchronized to peaceful, beautiful music. As I rode on the walkway, my heart subconsciously rose and fell with the wave of the music, calming me throughout the long trek. This experience rivaled anything that could be found at Disney World or other Floridian tourist attractions. And it was found in Detroit! By the end of the tunnel, my heart was thankful for the amazingly emotional performance, and I was no longer upset that I had taken a commuter flight.

I have to laugh at myself…

Smiley Face Clip Art

I do no take much about myself seriously.  At an early age I had to learn not to care what other people think. My dad, very frugal, used to insist he give me a haircut with clippers. It was during the popularity of Mia Farrow’s short cut, so I wasn’t a real outcast because of it…except for the time when he slipped and I had a bald spot on the back of my head.  (Everyone was sympathetic because they thought I had had brain surgery…) Also, during the times of my dad’s schizophrenic episodes, he made sure to let me know that I was ugly.  Being young at the time, I believed him, of course.  However, I sincerely thought, and still think, that beauty on the outside does not matter, beauty on the inside does.

In order to “remain sane”, I do not get easily embarrassed and I have learned to laugh at myself.

For example, the other day driving near our house, I saw my husband’s work van.  Pulling up beside him at a traffic light, I excitedly began to wave and blow kisses.  Until, upon further examination, I noticed that it was not my husband driving, but some other electrician with an identical white van, same ladders on top and roles of wire in the back.  (Go figure there would be another white work van like my husband’s. They are so RARE!)  Anyway, the driver looked at me like I was crazy, and I started laughing.  It was SO funny!  In between giggles, I mouthed the words “sorry, wrong van!”  and I took off so fast when the light turned green that I could have been a contender in a NASCAR race.

At our church picnic last summer, I was organizing the photo of all of the church members.  About 100 people were lined up with a few stragglers.  While walking backwards to the camera, I was giving directions for people to move in closer together. (We all know how easy it is to get a picture of such a large group, with everyone smiling nicely and looking at the camera.) All of a sudden, I tripped over my own two feet and fell on my back, arms and legs in the air.  Several people commented that I looked like a turtle on its back.  Of course, I laughed at myself. Clumsiness is a trait of mine.  So what?  Afterwards, several people came up to me and commented on how embarrassed I must have been.  Embarrassed? Why would I be embarrassed?  I thought it was funny!  (If you picture it in your head, you HAVE to laugh…)

The huge white van I drive is so tall that I have trouble getting into the driver’s seat. I usually do so by  grabbing onto the side of the driver’s seat, hold on for dear life, and alternately pull and wiggle up into the seat.  Sometimes I slip, and once I even fell to the ground with a thud. (Maybe the thud was in my head…because I  doubt the ground actually moved…)  My husband and sons always laugh at me when I get into the van, and I laugh with them.  What else am I going to do?  Well,  I COULD have ridden up on the wheelchair lift on the side of the van, but that wouldn’t be as much of a challenge.

Then there is the story about what happened last week when I met a good friend who is blind for lunch.  I admit I am quite lazy in the morning, (often reading blogs, of ALL things,) and I did not have time to put on any make-up.  As is usually the case, I put it on in the car when I stopped at read lights.  Because I keep one eye on the light and the other on the mirror,  I do one eye at the time; eye shadow and mascara.  It makes a dramatic difference as my eyes are usually kind of squinty and tiny and tired looking.  I often look in the mirror with one eye done and think I look like a “before” and “after” picture on aging, all on the same face.  Anyway, on this particular morning, I was lucky and got mostly green traffic lights.  When I arrived at the restaurant, I excitedly jumped out of the van and ran to meet my friend.  (Getting out for breakfast with a friend is a rarity for me.)  Just as I got inside the restaurant and said hi to my friend, I remembered I only had enough red lights to put make-up on one eye.  “Oh, well” I thought, “there is nothing I can do about it now as my make-up bag in the car and I am way too lazy to go back and get it.”  I figured that, being blind, my friend wouldn’t care.  And when I sat in the booth, I made sure to put my “good eye” on the side the waitress was.  I figured it I always looked ahead, she wouldn’t notice either!  I had a wonderful breakfast and, with a little laugh to myself, I never thought about it again, (until later in the car when I stopped at the next red light and finished the job!)

The moral of my story is…be comfortable with yourself and don’t care what other people think. Life is too short to spend it worrying or bothered by what you may perceive others think of you. Sometimes what you think they may think may not be what they think at all! And if they ARE thinking it, have the confidence to laugh it off!

******

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/

Tag Cloud