Last week on the blog, I told you a little about what life was like with my son with complex early trauma. I talked about the lying, the stealing, the fear, the things we did to protect ourselves and him. And I told you that once he turned 18, he outright rejected what he’d always resisted–our family rules and expectations. Here’s what happened next and what, so far, moving on has meant for us.
Moving on: What we did for our son
We helped him move. After all, we love this kid and want this kid to have a successful life. The love may not ever be returned, but that doesn’t change our love or commitment to this child. So we found him a town with great public transportation where he could get an apartment, an education, and a job. We filled out the paperwork for a bus pass and got him scheduled to take the GED. Plus we rented an apartment and donated furniture and purchased dishes to help him set up house. We got all the utilities connected and prepaid several months of bills. He has a college fund that will kick in when he starts community college. We know that we are blessed–this can be costly, and may not be an option for some families struggling with issues like his. We also know others may not understand why this is the path we chose. That’s ok. When you live with developmental trauma, you get used to others not getting what you are going through.
Moving on: What we did for us
One of the great things we got to do was clean. The car has been detailed and the scratches can no longer be seen. We cleaned out the fridge, the pantry, the bedrooms. The knives are out where we can actually reach them and we took the locks off the doors. And we started new routines. We can buy whatever food we want and drink water from our pitcher, safe in the knowledge that the filter is fresh and new. We don’t read labels for poisonous chemicals. And bye-bye little bitty creamer cups–we buy big containers now, knowing no one will add toxic secret ingredients. Our calendar is no longer full of school schedules and breaks and holidays. Our time is ours again.
Moving on: What I still have to do
This is where things get hard. I am dealing with PTSD, and that takes a lot longer to resolve. It has been six weeks, and I still wake up at every sound. I recently came home from a trip and my daughter had been cooking. Seeing the empty slots on the knife block sent me into a panic before I realized the knives were merely in the dishwasher. The same thing happened when I saw a lighter…then realized she had lit a candle. I have to remind myself that everything, from my morning coffee to my purse, can safely be left unattended. If I buy chocolate chips I can leave them in the pantry. I can even leave candy in there. I recently struggled to leave money on the counter for my daughter. My instinct is still to hide things. I am leery of deep conversations with my husband, having lived with eavesdropping for so long. The sound of the phone still makes me jump. I tell myself I should be over those things, but I am not.
Worst of all is the feeling of failure. This is not how I wanted to launch this child. I worry daily for what the future will bring. I care deeply for all of my children and I hurt when they hurt. Age and experience and study tell me that this child will likely face hard times, just as my other children have. I have tried to provide the tools to get him through those times, but I fear it’s not enough.
I don’t know when all this will go away. Good friends have suggested therapy. I will probably listen. If you are in my shoes, I encourage you to do the same.