Hope is terrified of the idea of normalcy, of family, of happiness. All of this fear and anxiety manifests itself like a furious sand storm that just beats you in the face with no end, goes up your nose, gets lodged in your ears. It covers your hair, your eyelashes, your clothes. The angry sadness finds its way under your finger and toe nails. It’s in your private parts. It’s gritty, painful, it’s everywhere. It’s dangerous; it’s deadly. It chokes Hope. It chokes me, too.
I knew I was going to fight this sand storm from the very beginning, but this week, it’s been relentless. My beautiful Hope is stuck in all this sadness and anger and if the sand storm analogy wasn’t bad enough, my girl’s lack of hope for herself and the life she can have with me is sucking her in like quick sand. I am doing everything I can to pull together all the resources necessary to drag her out of that sand.
I am so tired this week. And I am terrified too.
She has described my very existence as really being the root of so many of her problems. I know it’s not true, but it lances a tiny bit of blood every time she suggests it. In nearly the same breath that she’s cursing me, she will demonstrate a kindness towards me from somewhere so deep inside of her that is like the smallest most precious drop of water in a hot desert.
I see glimpses of her desire to just be happy; but they are fleeting. They are overwhelmed by all the fear, pain and hurt. During some hours, it feels like there is nothing I can say to ease any of it. The defiance is so rough that she will just deny anything and everything just so she can have some control.
The sky is blue. No, it’s not; it is purple.
I love you. I hate you. I don’t want to live here.
I want you to stay here with me forever. No you don’t; you want to throw me away.
It just doesn’t stop.
Trauma is just so awful. It makes people just believe they have no self-worth; that they aren’t deserving of anything that could possibly, conceivably be construed as love, hopefulness, joy, normalcy.
I’m finding that aspects of trauma are contagious. Oh, I have experienced nothing like my lovely Hope has, but her trauma has now become my trauma. Her pain is now my pain. Her anger is now my anger. Living with her, it’s all become mine too, but I’m the one responsible for helping her find her way, our way, out of this mess. It is consuming and overwhelming. It also hurts like hell.
People ask me how I’m doing.
I’m just doing. I’m living moment to moment, hour to hour, day to day.
I take a lot of deep breaths.
I cry a lot. I cry for her. I sob for her and all the dreams I have for her.
And I do this mostly in private, because how can you explain to people that Hope doesn’t understand how to be happy? How can you explain that her fear makes Hope say she hates you? How can you explain that Hope’s trauma is so consuming that she wonders whether she can just survive the day? How can you get people to understand the long term effects of trauma in the face of being offered a “good life?”
You can’t. So, mostly, you just don’t try. So you live this process alone.
It’s really lonely. Even when you have people around who are supportive and grasping to understand, it is still lonely figuring out how to survive the most irrational behavior you’ve ever experienced. There are things you don’t dare share. There are things you can’t imagine saying. God forbid you say something that makes someone wonder quietly or worse, out loud, that it might be all your fault. If the drama of trauma doesn’t keep you up at night, the fear of that kind of judgment will.
Yes, trauma is contagious.
And yet, I try to have hope for Hope even while she pushes me away and spews venom that hurts my heart. I just want to hug her. I want her to just stop resisting and rest in my arms for a good cry. I want to soothe her tears, smooth her hair from her face, look into her brown eyes and tell her that I’ll love and protect her always, that it really will be ok. I want her to understand that she doesn’t have to test me; I’m not going anywhere. I just wish she would stop fighting.
I just want the sandstorm to stop.
It’s only been a month today since she arrived, and I know that the reality is that the storm is just starting.