Category Archives: Trauma

Turning the Corner

We seem to have really, genuinely turned the corner at Casa d’ABM! I lowkey had kinda lost hope that we would ever get back to some semblence of normalcy around here after so much drama this year.

And yet we have.

After so many months of festering anger, bickering, fighting, crying and so much more, Hope and I are clawing our way to our version of normal. And it feels so good.

You barely remember how gloriously boring normal is unless you’ve been mired in conflict for so long. I finally feel like I can breathe.

It’s been a few weeks since Hope finally seemed to emotionally regulate. I’m not fooling myself into believing all the angsty, emotional feelings are gone, but it seems she has a much better handle on things these days.

In fact, she recently decided to try out some medication. She hasn’t agreed to therapy yet, but I’m totally gassed up that she was able to decide that she needed some help through medication. I am optimistic that a return to therapy will happen in time.

Moving out has been removed from the discussion now. She’s not ready, not to mention she’s still unemployed. The skill set just isn’t there yet. She’s also been able to better articulate what’s overwhelming her. What I’m trying to say is, I finally see effort from her. That effort is allowing me to stretch a lot more than I’ve been willing to in recent months.

It also means I’m able to make some holiday decisions and move forward with other plans I need to make about 2023. These last few months just made me feel trapped with respect to planning things for next year. I finally feel like I can plan without upsetting her in ways that will set us back.

The big lesson learned: connection. It always comes back to connection. More than anything, Hope wants to feel connected and accepted as she is. I know that there will be more boundary pushing, but I think I’m a bit better equipped to handle it now.

My biggest hope for 2023 at this point is for Hope to fully embrace needing help with some things, that neither of us feel trapped in a toxic cycle, and that we will continue to work to be our version of normal and something akin to happy.

That still feels like a lot to hope for. The pain and trauma of this year are real, and my heart still hurts a lot. But I do have hope for the direction we’re headed in. And for now, that’s a good thing.

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Better

I was a mess in my last post, but I was also honest. I hit a bottom; I’m not sure yet if it was the bottom. I was in trouble.

My primary care doc wrote me a new script and gave me good parenting advice, good medical advice regarding Hope and some great suggestions for getting through this period. He has been my PC for pretty much my whole adult life. He knows me and I trust him.

I bought tickets to go to a play. I invited a friend to go, but she got sick. I took a chance and invited Hope. She said yes and we had a great time. It was a vibe. You really don’t understand…I internally bought last minute tickets and invited a guest, all so I wouldn’t be alone with my thoughts. They’ve been dark. And I was afraid. So to end up going with my daughter and having an amazing night… It saved me.

It also gave me courage to send my Hope an email saying some things I really needed to say to her. I don’t trust us to attempt an in-person discussion. If we had another incident like the one we had this summer, I might need to check myself in somewhere for a short term stay. In any case, I was able to say things that I needed to say in a way that I thought she might understand.

She never acknowledged receiving it, but she’s been more engaging and reasonable since I sent it. I had work travel for the last 4 days, and while she had stopped saying she loves me, she’s back to calling me mom. I got in tonight, and I was treated to her just needing to vent about a problem. It was a treat indeed; when it ended in the sweetest hug and an apology for bending my ear. I legit would have stood there all night.

Things are better. I’m so gunshy; I don’t want to be too optimistic. I’ve racked up a lot off my own trauma this year especially parenting related trauma. But I’m hopeful we will forge a relationship with mutual respect and connectuon. I am hopeful we grow out of all of this


Onward

It’s the day after Labor Day in the US, and that marks the beginning of fall. It’s my least favorite season. I mean, I love the clothing evolution–booties and cozy sweaters–but emotionally it tends to be one of my most challenging times of any year.

Despite my best efforts, I usually succumb to depression by the time winter rolls in. I’m kinda nervous because I know I’m already a bit down, so it’s going to take extra effort and intention not to fall down the rabbit hole.

I kinda chuckle at the irony of needing to fight depression, when the absolutely LAST thing you feel like doing when you’re depressed is to fight anything. It’s just so much easier to lay down into it.

But, I’m pushing forward and creating some things to look forward to and work on.

I relaunched my little crochet Etsy storefront–I sell sweaters, blankets, and other handmade items for dogs/cats. I also do baby blankets on commission as well.

I’ve initiated a modest master bath renovation. I’m costing it out and of course “modest” is really, really subjective. The highlight of the upgrades is an electric bidet on a “comfort height” toilet. Seriously, I’ve had a non-electric one for years and love it, but I DESERVE less of a squat, heated water, and warm air on my aging tushie.

I’ve scheduled a beach trip for next month, and if I can get my Mr. to take a few days off, I’m hoping we can do a long weekend in a glamping situation.

I’m also trying to pull myself together to modestly increase my workouts, schedule massages, and check out a local stretching studio. (If you are on Fitbit, hit me up. I’m all about the weekly challenges!)

I’m trying y’all. I’m doing what I can to keep my head up.

And yet, things still are what they are in terms of the home. I miss the way things were with Hope. I hate that we have this conflict that has cracked us apart. Last week in therapy I started out saying, “Hey, I think I’m doing ok; I seem to have a handle on things.”

Narrator: And then she cried for an hour.

The grief is just overwhelming sometimes. I’m constantly hoping on the 3 days I go into the office, that things will be and feel different at home when I return. They don’t.

I know some of this is growing pains. I know that some of it is the long tenacles of trauma–hers and mine. I know some of this is untreated mental health. I know some of it is both of us being headstrong and deeply, deeply hurt.

I’ve written many times about being a fixer. Daily, I have to talk myself down from *fixing* us. I know that this is something I can’t fix. I know that all the things I would usually do to fix things will not work; they would potentially make things easier in the short term, but I doubt a “fix” would hold more than a few days. I also know that “fixing” things would mean that I would have to go back on my word; I know for a variety of reasons that would not help things in the long haul.

So, while I grieve the loss of the closeness I had with my daughter, I feel helpless too.

I anticipate that the intensity of these feels will only grow the closer we get to the end of the year. I seriously have no idea what will happen to us on New Years 2023. I do not know if Hope will be ready to move out. She has made it clear she doesn’t want to discuss it, so it just looms over us…kind of like a guillotine. And it makes me feel guilty, not because I do not believe the consequences are appropriate. No, I feel guilty because I fear she really isn’t ready and that she is willing failure to prove to both of us that all she’s capable of. I stay researching alternatives, solutions that will head us off to a different resolution.

And yet, I know that the course we are on…is what it is right now. I’m really trying to be helpful, loving, affirming and a believer in her capacity to do great things. I know she can, but I don’t know if she knows she can.

So, another week has passed. There are other updates, but they aren’t mine to share. I can say that I know that Hope has had great opportunities for explanation and healing of past trauma recently. I’m hopeful that seeds are planted and that they will bloom in the coming months. I’m hopeful for the continued sense of peace, or at least detente, in our home. I’m hopeful for a lot right now.

So, for this week, the motto is simply: Onward.


Nothing New

Not much has changed around the house.

Not much has changed between me and Hope. We are polite, sometimes almost close to lovingly so. We might occasionally laugh about something together; I live for those moments. I feel like they give me a peek into the good times. I usually choke back a few tears when we laugh together or she wants to tell me something. We both have some very clear boundaries that we have quietly constructed. I give hers extra wide berth, while she likes to nudge mine just to see how far she can go.

I’m doing more cooking than I have in a long time. I cook on the weekends so there are options until about Thursday. I really cook for Hope. I might get a spoonful or bowl full when I’m cooking, but I generally will have smoothies, cereal, yogurt, bread, etc all week. I am only this week realizing how obsessive I’ve become about this weekend cooking ritual. Clearly some emotional stuff happening there. I also just know that I unconsciously increased the amounts I’m cooking It’s wild.

I wish things were different. I wish Hope truly believed and understood that we are forever. I wish after all these years she could enjoy some peace in permanence. I believe that there were many authentically joyful times, but I also believe her when she says it was fleeting or an act to meet what she thought were my expectations. I wish things were different in so many ways.

In 125 days, everything changes. It may make things horribly worse or it could be the beginning of another beginning for Hope. Only time will tell. I daily caution myself not to think that far out. I know it will zoom here sooner than I’m willing to acknowledge.

I’m keeping the faith that something will change, something will change.

Cheers to the week.


So Many Shoes

Things are mimicking something akin to normal. The time I had away last week was good for me and Hope.

Hope attempted to push some boundaries, and I decided to just give no reaction. One boundary really, really pissed me off, but I just kept those emotions to myself.

It’s been a quiet week.

But I’m still so incredibly anxious. My partner got to see the full scope of my anxiety in the last week. It’s good he’s a calming presence because I can only imagine he was a bit like, whoa!

For her part, Hope was just…something like normal?

No.

No really.

I got home to a totally different person.

So, yeah. It’s fine. We’re fine. It’s fine.

Narrator: It isn’t fine, tho.

I’m kind of having a mini-meltdown every day because I’m so traumatized by the last few months that I am unable to cope with this sudden change.

It’s like, if you were to see life in a mirror. It’s all the same, right? Wrong, everything is there and totally backwards.

That’s what I feel like I’m experiencing right now.

I swear I felt like there was a possibility that she might disappear while I was gone, and I’d never see or hear from her again. It was that fraught in our home.

I’m trying to enjoy the calm, but the energy is way off.

I’m trying to enjoy the calm, but I’m waiting for another shoe to drop on what feels like conjoined octopi. #somanyfeet #somanyshoes #somanydropping

My nerves are bad y’all. My muscles feel like rubber bands. My shoulders could double as earlobes. And those neck muscles that run behind the ear down the neck? They just ache.

But I’m working on keeping it all together. My gut tells me I can’t afford to have my own emotional meltdown at the moment.

Beyond my own reactions to this chapter, I worry incessantly about Hope I have no idea how she’s experiencing all this, how it feels for her. It’s disorienting to me, so I imagine it must be really hard for her to navigate all her feelings and behaviors.

I’m hopeful that this period of peace is long and settles into an authentic peace.

Hopeful. It’s also feels naively ridiculous because I *know* there is a shoe dropping somewhere in a forest right now. I might not hear it or see it, but I know that ripple will hit our doorstep at some point.

I really hope things get better, that she has the opportunity to make different choices, and to learn to give herself some love and help. I hope she chooses to find support in health ways, with healthy people.

I’m just so worried.

In other news, the one steady freddy in the house is Yappy. He was pretty freaked out by a few significant episodes over these last few weeks, but he’s the most resilient of all of us. He just serves up unconditional love all the time. He is more bonded with me, but he always makes time to see about Hope, napping in her room and getting super excided when she comes home or out of the bathroom (yeah, the bathroom. He’s got terrible separation anxiety.) He’s been a common focus the whole time, so Hope and I do have that.


The Wild Fire Continues

I wish I could say things are improving at Casa d’ABM, but alas things continue to decline.

In our most recent episode, I had to lay down a consequence that I wish wasn’t necessary. I knew it would be devastating. I knew it would feel like rejection for my daughter. I knew it would likely damage our relationship, hopefully only temporarily.

I consulted with medical and mental health professionals beforehand.

Of all the things Hope and I have been through, this is without question the most difficult, the most hurtful, the most damaging, and just the most heartbreaking.

I feel helpless.

I feel rejected.

I hurt so bad that it physically hurts.

I can’t fix anything.

And so I just have to keep going.

I know that Hope feels all this too, probably more and probably even more intensely, if that’s possible.

These next few months will be so hard. I don’t know what to expect. I have no template, no guideposts.

I have a great support team at the ready. I have resources that could be used to ease things, but it would be like papering over the challenges. We have the support of our family and friends.

And yet, I know that both of us feel very alone.

There are a lot of things I wish I had done differently over the last few months, but I don’t know if it would change our outcomes. I saw this collision coming, and it always seemed unavoidable. I did my best. I’m trying to play the long game.

I love Hope. I want her to be safe. I wish she could be happy; she’s told me before that she’s had moments of happiness, but generally it’s never been a persistent state. I want her to have the life she deserves, which is more than I could ever dream of. She deserves the universe.

I’ve learned these last few months that she doesn’t believe she deserves that. I’ve learned that her belief in our permanence as a family was always questionable. I’ve learned that she sees herself as broken beyond repair. I’ve learned that despite everything, she doesn’t believe she is worthy.

These revelations are just devastating on so many levels. I thought I knew how she was really doing. I thought I had created space for her healing somewhat. I thought if nothing, she knew I was her forever ride or die, even if I had to allow her to feel the full impact of consequences for her behavior. I also naively thought we had sidestepped so many challenges other families had experienced.

And yet, here we are, in a place having the experience that I tried my best to prevent.

Trauma is a whole bitch.

I believe Hope and I will get through this. I know the relationship will probably look so different in the future—though right now, my priority is to maintain any connection she will agree to. I believe she will go on to have a good life after this chapter. But right now, we are in the chapter that has all of the conflict, all of the sadness, all of the brokenness, all of the devastation.

Our home is currently not an oasis for either of us.

This weekend I’m away on business. I was excused from the trip, given all that is going on at home. I chose to go in order to give both of us a bit of space and time to just breathe without being on top of one another. We’re just doing “proof of life” communications at the moment.

Please continue to keep us, especially my beautiful girl, in your positive thoughts and prayers if you’re into that kind of thing. We need every shred of positive energy we can gather.


Front Row Center

We are in week 2 post-traumatic event.

I’m still a whole wreck. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells, exhausted, and scared.

Hope is moving like I’m nuts, and she’s a-ok.

Narrator: No one in the house is really ok, not even close.

Ugh.

I’m the eldest child. I’m a fixer. You give me a problem, and I will come up with a range of solutions. I’m even creative with it.

I have nothing. No solutions, much less a range of them.

Nothing.

I have to wait this out.

I have a front row, center seat in this major Broadway drama. And it is a serious drama. I’m on the edge of my seat because it’s a psychological thriller, and I’m scared to death.

I must wait Hope out until she’s ready to deal with her stuff. That could be a long time, especially since she’s discovered her new superpower of saying “No,” adult style.

And I do believe it’s theatre. I believe that we desperately need the help of a team of professionals. I also believe it will be a while before we get there. We are nowhere near rock bottom yet. That said, I’m seriously a wreck. I’m worried. I’m anxious. I’m depressed—like sad and exhausted depressed.

So, for now, I will focus on propping myself up. I have a number of crochet projects underway; I’m working on building up a bit of inventory for my little floundering Etsy store (Doggy/Kitty sweaters and such). I have a business trip soon and my beau will be joining me. I’m looking at travel packages for what I plan to be an epic trip to Egypt next year.

I have no idea how many acts this drama has, but I’ll just keep sitting here, waiting for the cue for audience participation.

Break=a-leg, Hope. Break-a-leg.

(Thank you all so much for your support re: my last post. Much appreciated.)


Letting Go of the Wheel

This last week has been incredibly difficult. Without revealing too much, Hope and I had a substantial blowout, and her reaction to it set off a series of events that just have created what feels like a drama cycle that will never end.

Basically life is a shit show.

I have so many emotions. I ended up having 2 therapy sessions just so I could process my own shit after last weekend. Yesterday I realized that a lot of what I have been feeling can be best described as grief.

Grief is hella messy and can be an amalgamation of so many other feelings.

I am sad. I’m furious. I have regret. I have love. I care. I feel fragile. I am confused. I’m just a mess.

And despite her protests, so is Hope.

Although I’ve just tried to put on a brave face this week, the truth is I really am a mess.

One of the only things I can do is to let go, and my natural instinct is to coddle her, draw her close, hug her, care for her, and smooth the path for her; I’ve come to the chapter in parenting when I have to stop some of that. I have to let go of the wheel and let her drive.

At the moment it appears that she might purposely drive it into a ditch just to prove that she can, but she has to drive herself.

It’s hard. It hurts.

I’m here to catch her if she falls, but having to actually allow her to fall is so hard. So much of this life has been helping her progress towards adulthood and making it as smooth a process as possible. I feel like I failed.

I know I didn’t, but it really feels like I did.

You know those new NASA pictures, I want that for Hope.

Hope, I think, is just glad that she didn’t age out of foster care. It’s almost like this is a delayed reaction to coming of age. Also, it’s like she never allowed herself to dream or think about what she might want to do in this life.

Trauma is a bitch. Trauma did this.

I don’t know what the future holds for Hope and me. Things are serious enough that I’m considering ending our online story because it’s just too hard to write about. I have about 5 different versions of this post and none of them, not even this one, adequately captures my feelings and experiences of the last week.

I’m headed off to go see a friend for a bit because I need to get out of the house. Send Hope lots of good energy and positive vibes. We need them, but she needs them more.


Emerging from the Darkness

I do not particularly like the notion that “everything happens for a reason.” Often we hear it said when we try to explain things that should largely be unexplainable. We retrofit the notion to explain how some awful event sent someone on a new trajectory on which they began to thrive.

No, sometimes ishttay stuff just happens to folks for no damn good reason.

I tend to post about depression and anxiety a lot on my personal social media channels. It’s something Hope and I live with and have lived with most of our time together. Surprisingly, we are both in a fairly healthy place right now. I’m on meds–but I’m always on meds. I’m down to one, and frankly, these days it’s really about managing my perimenopause symptoms than anything else (incidentally, OTC Estroven is a wonder drug). Hope is not medicated at all right now. She’s been in remission for more than 6 months.

This is the only time she’s been medication-free since I’ve met her, and it is amazing to see her emerge from what was the darkest period of our time together. We’ve been through some stuff these 9 years, but in 2020 it was like the floor dropped from under us. It wasn’t just the pandemic, though that didn’t help our mental health at all.

I continue to shy away from the details of what happened that summer on through the winter of 2021, but suffice to say it was a series of events that would shake most parents’ foundations. I swung from wanting to pack up Hope and move her far, far away to just saying eff it and committing 1st-degree murder. It was a horrible situation, and honestly, it’s one we occasionally still have to deal with sometimes.

There were weeks when getting Hope out of bed was my primary goal. I failed a lot that fall. She ended up taking a leave of absence from school. She was suicidal. It was…a lot.

Even though I had support, everyone thinks they understand depression until they really see major depression up close and personal. We think it’s just a really bad case of the blues, until it’s not. Until everyday you have to check to make sure your kid is still alive. Until you have to drag her to the bathroom to shower so that you can change the sheets, freshen the room and try to get some food in her. You are in constant contact with the primary care doc, the psychologist, and the psychiatrist trying to keep the ship upright. Oh, all while working a job that was emotionally exhausting in its own way because a bunch of White folks discovered racism in 2020.

The support I had, I’m grateful for, but it was rarely the kind of support I really needed: Someone else to come stay to help look after Hope and me, cook, walk Yappy, laundry, whatever. I couldn’t even articulate what I needed it was so overwhelming.

But we are a year past it now. And Hope? She’s emerged so much stronger and a bit more mature. She’s had a job for nearly a year now. She’s bought a car. She’s back in school this semester and turning assignments in ON TIME (for parents of kiddos with ADHD, y’all know what a miracle that is!). She has friends. She’s dating. She is living. Not as much shakes her now; she handles disappointment better.

Oh, make no mistake, she does incredibly silly things, age-appropriate things, irritating things. Last month, I nearly took the door off her room and the bathroom, threatening to replace them with shower curtains for some privacy, because of a major trust violation. The Council of Uncles talked me down from the ledge and she kept her door, but I confiscated every bit of contraband and have random searches in place for another month and a half as a result.

I refuse to believe that she endured trauma to get to this place. It didn’t have to happen this way. I do believe that she learned some things from that chapter, but I think she could have thrived without 6 months of BS trauma. I think she has spent the year doing hard emotional work and pulling herself back together to get here.

It’s been like watching her blossom, and every parent wants to see that.

I’m hopeful that she will continue on this track. Again, I’m not so naive as to believe nothing bad can happen moving forward, but I know that we both are in a better coping place. We don’t blame the trauma for that.

We credit the hard healing work for the strong emergence from the darkness.


Reflecting on 2021

Well, first of all, whew; I’m glad that’s over! I mean, losing Betty White on the last day of the year was just…unnecessarily mean behavior from the universe.

Last year was a bit of a rough ride for me and Hope. It started with the absurdity of the January 6 insurrection—I can’t tell y’all how many friends and family fretted about our safety. We were fine, but having worked at the Capitol early in my career, my partner at the time worked at the complex. I have many friends and colleagues who work there or frequent the complex. Aside from the emotional proximity–that was some wild White people-ish. My career has been devoted to making this country better and to see what we saw…It was as stunning to me as watching the towers fall 20 years ago.

Hope and I would endure a major trauma just days later that was just…Nearly a year later, it is surreal. I remember feeling guilty, angry, pained, devastated. It took months for Hope to recover as she was already flat down given traumas from 2020. But, as always, she is the strongest person I know. Thinking about the last 2 years, Hope had a rough entry into baby adulting.

And then one day, thanks to a great team, she was better. She got a job, started saving up for a car, and started pushing all kinds of boundaries that left us sporadically at each other’s throats. I’m not going to lie, I spent a lot of time mad this summer. This period also left me with some major trust issues, that I’m just starting to unpack now. I came to realize a couple of things during this time. First, my intrinsic motivation made me behave very differently at Hope’s age. I didn’t *really* cut up until I was out of undergrad and had a home of my own. Second, what boundaries I strode across at Hope’s age was done 2 hours away from home and my parents’ knowledge. It helped me remember that her behavior was delightfully, annoyingly and trust-bustingly normal. I did find solace in that.

I said no a lot at work last year. I hope to do more of that this year. My priorities with work are evolving. I’m fortunate to have a lot of autonomy, but something is missing. I’m not being intellectually stimulated in a way that feels good. The last 2 years have been crisis management. How do you sustain anything when a 2 year crisis is quickly turning into a 3 year crisis? It’s exhausting and doesn’t leave much for intellectual creativity or curiosity. I think I’m busier than ever and bored, really bored. I took a 6 week philosophy course that ended last month and the readings, discussions, they were both hard and invigorating. I also realized that this class was honestly the hardest I’ve intentionally worked my brain since the accident. I turned my camera off and hit mute one night because I was overwhelmed by the fact that my brain “still had it.” I didn’t realize how fearful I was that my capacity would always be affected. Anyway, that’s also how I realized, I was bored.

I took a vacation alone; I recommend it. Hope bought a car. I’m so proud of her. My perimenopause symptoms worsened–like WTH? This is really some trash, but I’m glad my circle is normalizing talking about it; it helps to know your repro-revolt isn’t any more or less weird than your sista friends’ experience. I started a small crochet business making pet sweaters and scarves (for now!). Hope made a big decision about her relationships with her biological family. She also has the most amazing Afro now that her hair has grown out, and the best part is that she finally seems to really love her hair. I was partnered and now I’m single again. I was reminded that straight men really have no clue what BS straight women have to contend with. I really need us to do better parenting and modeling healthy romantic relationships because there are a lot of jerks who didn’t get schooled.

As we celebrated last night, Hope and I talked about our desires for 2022–a return to normalcy, the end of the pandemic, a return to living in residence at college, possibly the sale of our home, companionship for both of us and a trip to Vegas for Hope. Yappy just wants us to never leave him ever again–I really need to start working on that in hopes of getting out of the house more.

It was a tough year, but Hope and I ended it on a positive note–dressed up for homemade pasta, playing Mario Kart with frosted sugar cookies, and Costo’s Bailey’s knockoff.

Happy New Year Peeps. Thanks for rocking with me, Hope, and Yappy for another year.


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