Tuesday, December 30, 2014

PTSD: What do they truly remember?

My precious Boy Wonder was adopted when he was still a toddler. He was developmentally delayed and did not speak, neither English nor his native tongue. Over the past 8 years as we've dealt with many "irrational" fears, "annoying" behavior and downright frustrating moments, my husband and I have talked and wondered about what really happened to him in his orphanage. How much does he remember? What did they allow to happen to him physically and emotionally? Obviously, something happened.  Does he have PTSD? If so, it's never been diagnosed.

Our agency told us he was young and wouldn't remember his early years. Books told us to love him enough and he'd grow out of it being raised in our forever home. I've lost count of how many professionals we've seen, how many psychiatrists and psychologists have probed and prodded every nook and cranny of our life. We don't have answers. We may never have answers. But we don't want to give up hope.

A wise friend of mine wrote an incredible blog about PTSD and children.  I'm not going to attempt to elaborate or summarize it. I'm going to link you to her post: it is a MUST read. You can find wonderful resources on her blog Different Dream for my child

I discovered Key Ministry - which is an awesome resource for parents raising kids with special abilities - at the Accessibility Summit.  Key Ministry knows the value of Jolene's experience and she wrote this guest article on PTSD for their blog entitled: He Won't Remember: Children and PTSD. 

As 2014 draws to a close, I pray you will be encouraged to know that there are "Jolenes" and "Key Ministrys" out there to help you on your journey. You are not alone.

Take hope!

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Season of Hope

I’ve had a favorite Christmas ornament for 13 years. This intricately hand painted scene of Salzburg, Austria on fragile blown glass has traveled the hills of Austria, into Germany, across oceans, through TSA gestapo and the rough hands of movers tossing boxes across 3,000 miles of America. It’s hung gracefully on my tree for 13 years in 5 different houses. Each Christmas as I’ve unpacked and repacked it with care, I’ve told my children the adventure and joy it signifies, a reminder of a beautiful trip with my husband exploring the grandeur of a land dear to us. I’ve told them of the market stalls and grand cathedrals, of the castles and music, of the people and friends that are etched in my memory.

This year I kneel on the floor, my hands shaking, my eyes so blurred I can scarcely see the shattered pieces of tiny glass. While tears stream down my face, Boy Wonder sits in the other room sobbing, knowing that this time he went much too far. It is by no means the first lovely sentimental item he has destroyed. Yet this time, I am so filled with sadness and regret I cannot go near him. My frustration of all he has done this week, culminated in anger at the sight of glass scattered under the tree, the result of direct disobedience and impulsiveness on his part. He squeezed the glass until it shattered... compressing my patience right along with the glass.

My emotions too raw, I order him out of the room. I am repulsed by the sight of him: of his increasingly selfish behavior the past months, of his greediness, of his unending want, of his constant focus on himself, of his meltdowns when he doesn’t get his own way. 

He cries now only because he fears a consequence, not out of sorrow for hurting another. As with most people affected by FASD... he just doesn’t get it. He has no comprehension this ornament is irreplaceable. He doesn’t appreciate the value. He doesn’t have compassion for others. Still my hurt, my anger rages deep inside me and overflows from my wicked tongue to pierce him with my words.

As I sit with tears streaming, softly mixing with remnants of glass in my broken pile, waiting to be cast forever into the rubbish heap, the irony of the beautiful tree and the bright crimson embroidered “Peace on Earth” tree skirt suddenly flood my soul.  Sobs rack my body as I see the brokenness it all portrays.

Such is life with disability: the perfect ornament we want the world to see, a shattered family painted inside, a fragile child hanging in the balance. I reach up to gently unhook the rest of the glass still attached to the tree. I find another thin shard of painted glass resting in the evergreen bough. I am overcome with emotion.

Is this not the reason God sent the Messiah to us one Christmas season so long ago: to sweep up the pieces of His beautiful world that man has shattered. To heal wounded, fragile souls. We took His delicate, hand-painted world and slowly compressed the beauty of His creation with the sin in our hearts: our gluttony, our greed, our sexual preferences, our self-sufficiency, our idols. Until one day the glass could no longer withstand the pressure -- sin shattered our souls into hundreds of tiny pieces, the only hope of rescue being a Savior. And in the fulness of time: Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God come to earth as a son of man.  He came in such a fragile form, creating the very womb that gave him life! It is too much for me to comprehend. This grace extended to me. This reconciliation of man to God via a crimson stained Savior.

I’m still shaken as the day passes. I am saddened by what cannot be replaced. More than grieving the temporary beauty of the ornament, I grieve the loss of the things Boy Wonder does not comprehend: of emotions and empathizes that are foreign to him. Yet the crimson words of "Peace on Earth" ring in my mind and I find solace in the eternal beauty of this season... knowing in the Messiah there is found everlasting hope for the parent, for the child, for the family exhausted by disability. I close my eyes at the end of a long day and rest in the promise of peace on this journey.

My heart kneels as I ask for more grace.

Immanuel has come: God with us.