It’s a week now since we both made the decision to part ways. It’s like death- I haven’t seen her since school drop off Tuesday last week. All her possessions have been boxed up and dropped off so they can be taken to her new accommodation. All of a sudden she is gone.
And while I couldn’t continue to care for her, there’s still part of me that feels like I failed her.
Grieving from such close quarters is new to me. I’m learning.
Memories everywhere, both good and bad. I’m stuck between wanting to clean everything up and not being able to bring myself to do it. Lots to do yet no drive to do it. Maybe I’m just being lazy.
See I’d planned on forever- when 18 came she would not be pushed out the door but always welcome to stay as long as she wanted. I’d thought about putting money aside so she could buy a car. I’d thought about teaching her to drive and let her know that university could be an option if that was what she wanted. I hadn’t reckoned on things ending.
I move between relief, sadness, tiredness, anger and emptiness. She’s gone and I’m left behind.
I’ve gone from being a ‘single mum’ foster parent to being single.
It’s hard not to take things personally- I have given all of me to love, support and provide her with a home. Yet, I am, and will never be enough. There is nothing I can do.
I’m ready to walk away. I didn’t want to be another person giving up on her, but it turns out I just don’t have the emotional energy to do it anymore. It hurts too much. I’m always waiting for the next crisis or incident. I speak calmly. I give her space to calm down. I give her space to tell her story. I put aside all that I need to be doing at that moment, give her all my attention, support her, love her…
One moment she can be yelling at me to go away, be rude or refuse to do what is asked if her. The next, she’s talking to me as if nothing has happened- that it’s ok to treat me horribly because I am just the carer.
I thought I could do this. Problem is- I don’t know what bit is trauma and what but is teenager.
I’m growing smaller. The pain is getting bigger. And she just walks away.
She doesn’t want me… no one does actually.
How on earth can I explain to Miss 13 that swearing, calling people names and generally being rude and disrespectful is not, and continues to not be, helpful or useful in anyway? In fact, it continues to be a huge stumbling block in her life and it stops her from doing the things she really wants to do.
She doesn’t tell truth- well only that which makes her seem as not the one to blame.
Anxiety is pretty high at the moment. It hasn’t been the easiest Christmas/ New Year period. I feel like I’m on watch all the time- waiting for the next behaviour ‘explosion’.
Thankfully I have had some time and space just to be, and recuperate and rest. I find it really hard to turn off my brain. I even find myself thinking about my thinking; analysing in an attempt to find some reason and logic.
Everyone tells me I’m doing a good job. The hard work now will pay off in the end. I get that this is trauma and that her behaviour is the only way to let us know what’s going on. I don’t want someone to pat me on the back and say ‘well done’, because I’m not doing this for the accolades.
What I do need is someone or something to help me deal with the huge grief I feel; the anger when all I want is for this all to stop; the hopeless feeling that I can’t do this anymore. Stopping is not an option- neither is giving up. I’m committed for the long term.
I’ve been trying some mindfulness breathing exercises with mixed success- I do know that they are something that needs practice. 15 minutes ago I was in tears and the breathing did help me to calm down. It somehow just feels though that I’m just pushing it all back down and not dealing with it. The grief is still there, trying to push its way back up, needing acknowledgement and healing.
I’ve been pretty lucky in my foster parenting journey. Most behaviour issues have been school related and home has been a safe place. And while this year has been hard, I have always had the solace that home was safe for her and easier for me.
Something has happened lately…. I wish I knew what was going on. I know in my head that the anger is not directed at me per se, but that I am a ‘safe’ person for her to take it all out on, to push away before she gets hurt again. Knowing this doesn’t help though when you are in the middle of enforcing boundaries, or looking for her when she has run away.
I don’t know what it feels like to not be able to live with my birth family. I was blessed to grow up in a loving family who cared and nurtured me, supported my dreams and allowed me to fly and be me. So I get that I could not possibly ever know the excitement she feels when she’s going to see a sibling she hasn’t seen in a long time, or the pain she feels at having to say goodbye. I don’t know what it’s like to see my mum monthly for an hour in the presence of another ‘safe’ adult.
Tonight I am frustrated, and things have probably only just started to get bad. Conceivably, things are going to get a lot worse before it gets better. And I question myself- did I say the right thing? What should I have done better? Should I say yes to everything she asks for because she’s had everything else taken away in her life?
And then there’s the stuff underneath that l feel about me- why am I not enough? I try so hard and I willingly give so much of me to her, but I’m never enough. But I also know that I probably won’t ever be enough. It doesn’t stop me wanting to be enough though.
I know I can’t save her, but my heart still wants to. And in the end, it’s not about me anyway…
Why are we so afraid to show that we are hurting… that we don’t have it all together… that we feel sad, tired or overwhelmed?
Why do I have to be in control all the time?
What’s so wrong with sitting with and acknowledging that I am sad instead of stuffing it back down inside me?
Right now I don’t know how we’re going to get through this next term of school. I am weary before we even start.
I want to run away from it all, or hide and sleep.
So instead I am going to acknowledge the weariness, my anxiety and my sadness. I’m going to sit with it, embrace it… do with it what it needs. And be