I have debated writing this for a long time, but decided that maybe I’m being called to write it so that those that need it can stumble across it. Maybe it can help someone not feel alone in the struggles or help someone understand the story underneath what they see or hear.
About a month ago, after everything had been transported and we were to be in the mourning stage of the failed adoption, we realized that there was a lot more going on for me than we were told to expect.
I began to have horrific nightmares and even ones where I relive some of the abusive situations with my ex that I was blessed to have blocked out for so long. I can’t sleep for long, especially when it’s quiet; we set a timer and stream a documentary or such until I can fall asleep, if I can. And I wake as soon as I hear rustling, with my adrenaline spiking in a fight or flight response, usually until I realize the kittens have woken up and are tearing through the house in playful abandonment. No one is creeping through the house or about to attack.
To top it off I’ve been sick with a couple of ailments this whole time that have really attacked my immune system. She had a comfort blanket that apparently carried ringworm spores and due to my immune system issues, it hit me hard. By the third round (after rounds of medications and complete household and pet decontamination, mind you), my immune system has been pretty well decimated, so I’ve fought virus after virus on top of my usual problems.
Then about a week ago we realized that extreme depression and PTSD were hitting pretty strong as well. We’ve had more meaningful conversations since the failed adoption than through our entire marriage, it seems, and finally got to the core of these emotional issues. I wasn’t mourning the child we took into our home. I was mourning what we could have had and what our future lives could have been like if she had been a different child. I stopped loving the girl who said “I love you Mom” the moment she looked at me the same way my ex did. That was a hard realization. Even harder was realizing that I was mourning the life that could have been, and the possibility that we will choose to not pursue parenthood again; that we will never share those milestone moments of a child’s life as a family. And it was exceptionally difficult to know we made the right choice for her and for us when we were told that parenthood is tough. It went so far beyond that. It’s been even harder to let go of the huge amount of guilt that is embedded in each part of our choices.
The worst that she left behind was the unexpected massive trigger of my PTSD. I handled the recovery from my actual abuse so much better that in some ways this is absolutely puzzling. Until we realized that I never actually allowed myself to mourn my ex causing the miscarriage or deal with all of the fear and pain of the abuse. I survived and did the best I could as independently as I could. These feelings are like trying to make my way through a swamp. It feels like I’m going to go under any moment, and so dirty, and so utterly terrifying.
Being so sick covered up some of the mental damage for a bit. We just realized that I am now scared that the next person I encounter, the person walking down the street or doing their shopping, could be Sociopath #3. I survived two of them…what are the odds that I can survive if another ever comes near me again? So I’m scared to step past our deck, even in this sleepy little town. I’d rather not eat if I’m too tired or sick to cook, than go out around people to eat. Thankfully there’s a little blessing in this, because L was the first person that I told about things, way back when, and was the rock that kept me steady, and we’re naturally much closer now, so he’s my safe harbor. When I have a decent day I can get out of the house as long as I know where he is or if he’s in sight. If I sit in the truck while he runs into a store real quick, the panic hits a little after a few, but it’s not as crippling as trying to walk through the store to the pharmacy by myself or such. I hate to sound like some needy girl, but I’m so very thankful that I have a tall, intimidating husband. I’ll admit that.
I know that this is irrational and we’re working hard for me to take my first step into immersion therapy this weekend, into the public without him, but with close family still. I absolutely hate that I have lost power over myself and my fears again; that I’ve given the power to the unknown instead, but I can’t add a pill to my daily regime to make this better. I have to live this and we have to just make it to the other side, this time facing a hell of a lot more than I did the first time.
And I’m absolutely pissed off that a system that’s supposed to help bring families together let a child like this slip through instead of making sure she had the environment that she needs to prevent becoming what she’s possible of. It’s still such a vital system and has such potential, but we need to make sure others aren’t going through such horrible journeys as we have, even without the terrible ending. This system needs an overhaul immediately and it shouldn’t be so hard to take these children in. There’s a good chance that a successful adoption just a few years before could have prevented Kiddo’s behavior according to my psychiatrist. I don’t even know how to handle my anger over such a failure to these children.
Meanwhile I’m trying to learn how to handle the pieces that were left behind. I’m trying not to see that look that they both had every time I close my eyes. I’m so exhausted that I long for normal sleep instead of a short burst filled with horror or a medication induced collapse. I know it’ll simply take time and work to stop thinking that #3 is just waiting for the right moment. It’ll take time to enjoy regular life again and be able to go to the grocery store without it feeling like a significant outing. And it’ll take a long time to stop being angry. Being angry with the system and the PTSD – at least I can do actual actions to begin to feel control. I’m not sure how long it’ll take to stop being angry at myself or to learn to trust my judgment of a person again. Just like the rest of the journey has gone for the past two years…I guess time will tell.