Heart of the Matter, Matters of the Heart

Hello to myself! And to anybody else still reading this corner of the universe.

I have used this forum for years to explore matters close to my heart, to put words to my life and try to understand it better. Sometimes I celebrate success here and sometimes I report on suffering or defeat. It’s just a “what I’ve got is what you get” kind of place and it’s been therapeutic for me. I feel a quiet, but significant amount of obligation to share our experiences as an adoptive and special needs family with my community as well. For those unfamiliar, I hope it makes our family feel more “normal” and for those walking the road alongside me, I hope it makes you feel less alone.

But I haven’t been writing much these last few months, because there’s a lot of turmoil in my heart. How can I write about any thread of consciousness when all the threads are tangled in a hopeless mess? The good is all tangled with the bad and my thoughts are a mother-of-all snarls.

So I haven’t written much except for sharing photos. Today, hopefully that will change and I’ll begin to share more from my heart. Here goes:

I have had bitterness and anger issues for a long time… it’s an issue tied up with the people in the Christian church especially, but one that has bled over into all kinds of relational areas. It’s a struggle and a wound that is tied up with names like rejection and and betrayal and unimportance and loneliness… and bitterness and anger are their fruit.

So I hired a counselor. And we have found the edges of this snarl and are beginning the painful and difficult process of removing the “infection” and healing the wounds. (My choice of words)

I’m bearing the wounds also of my choices in family life. I am loving and raising two broken-hearted boys and wrapping them in close to my heart. I bear the marks of their lashing-out from fear and hurt and anger themselves (for wounds remarkably much like my own – rejection, betrayal, unimportance, loneliness!). Does that make sense, that I bear wounds from this?

Example: Daniel sometimes wakes up and his first conscious thoughts drive him to panic and scream and physically thrash and bite and scratch… himself if I’m not there or me as I run to his aid. Something like waking up hungry… or sore… or without a preferred toy… or after a dream… or to a sound that reminds him of an old memory… it sends his body immediately into fight or flight mode – panicking and hurting on the inside. It’s heart-breaking to hold him. It’s painful (inside more than outside) to catch the blows. And his trauma becomes mine and we walk it together.

This is something I will work with the counselor about… but not yet since I’m busy with that bitterness stuff.

I’m working through the muddle of my physical weakness… the years of being hypervigilant and knowing always where my children are, what they’re doing, how they’re feeling, their health, their food, their safety – it’s taken a toll on my body. Now, it’s not begrudged and I don’t mind the whole aging thing much yet, but it can be hard. The weight gain… the depression and anxiety… the occasional (1-2x/month) mental breakdowns. I didn’t struggle with just a few years ago. My reserves are simply spent and it takes smaller stressors to send me into a nosedive that is largely of physical cause. I do a pretty good job of keeping my mind in the right place and my actions appropriate… but when I call upon those natural responses of increased adrenaline to get through a fast-paced or panicked situation, I find that I come up dry. Or if a situation is highly emotional or earnest or tragic, my body begins producing those necessary physical chemicals that help regulate thoughts and emotions in those situations… I dunno, noepinephrine, dopamine, seratonin, what have you. But it’s like they’re out, because I overindulged through some difficult years. Sometimes it results in crankiness, anger, tears or shakiness. I sometimes have difficulty prioritizing tasks or thinking clearly. This is not me complaining… more like itemizing and measuring so that I can see improvement with appropriate self care.

Self care… for me that is time alone in my bedroom. Choosing simple meals to prepare for the family. It is going on walks or to a yoga class. It’s finding a project that excites and pleases me… and which can also be completed in a short amount of time. It’s buying a favorite snack and putting some of it in the car so that I don’t run out of food when I’m running errands and can’t stop. It’s putting water bottles in the car for myself too. It’s preparing hearty vegan lunches for myself that I can freeze… because those meals make me feel my best and if I don’t have a meal that is easy to prepare, I may miss lunch entirely. Self care is taking a shower even though it makes something else late. Self care is leaning on my husband, sometimes too much, so that I can go on that walk or run that errand completely alone. Self care is counseling so that I can heal from old hurts in my life so I can focus on the here and now. Sometimes self care is cookie dough.

And all this difficulty is thorougly mixed with successes. Daniel’s sweet spirit and the days of his acceptance and joy and “rightness” where fear takes a back seat. Jordan’s first-time-ever respite provider who is enabling me to engage better with the girls and leave the house a little more easily. My incredible husband who is whole-hearted in his devotion to his family and wife. Watching Daniel experience firsts. Planning and experiencing fun activities as a family. Watching the girls grow and have a suntanned, waterlogged summer. Seeing Anna lose molar teeth and have huge growth spurts. It’s a full, beautiful life. And I’m living it with large wounds – some fresh and some old and some mostly healed and others with infection. Some days I live with freedom and some days I drag.

This is where I’m at. I’m awesome and I’m strong. But I’m doing hard work. And my awesomeness and strength flag. I feel important. I am all in. My dad (and many dads for generations, I think) has commented that if it’s hard work, it’s probably worth doing. Hmm – I can’t remember what he said exactly, but I know it made my work as a mom, wife, sister, neighbor, and friend feel worth every effort.

I think that’s it for now. I’d like to type a development update for Jordan and Daniel and the girls too. I’m proud of my children. I’m not sure how long it will be before I write again – right now I feel drained of all clear thoughts. But maybe I unplugged my thoughts and more will come flooding now. Time will tell. Please keep praying for us!


Filed under Everyday Stuff

4 Responses to Heart of the Matter, Matters of the Heart

  1. Reta Chapman

    Dear Rachel, I am sorry there is nothing i can do to help you! But hope and pray the days will soon have much reward. Hope you can keep all things together until the sun shines into your life!

  2. Brian

    “Sometimes self care is cookie dough.” – Truer words were never spoken. 😉

  3. GramC

    I don’t always have words either, but I have big feelings when I think of you and Brian and our precious grandchildren. They move me to prayers without words, but I know our Father understands. Love you all.

  4. Brian

    Darling I am amazed how you confront your own brokenness and open your heart to the brokenness in our children. You are one of the most courageous people I know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *