Julie wrote two posts that caught my attention regarding compassion fatigue and the walking wounded. My caseworker and I were already on the phone today talking about this as we both have sons who are in psychiatric hospitals at the moment. They are the same age and share the same birthday 10/31/94. Yep, Halloween. No further comments needed.
I found this compassion fatigue test/checklist and discovered I’m apparently not suffering any ill effects, I won’t burn out. For me I’m just tired of either taking the blame for my adopted children’s issues that they came to me with, or having professionals blame it on the number of children I have. If that were the case, then what about all these only children in therapy? Gimme a break, let’s look at the real issues. Let’s discuss the trauma that they’ve endured over the years, the multiple moves, the abuse and the neglect and then let’s not wonder why now that they are safe, they feel comfortable in acting out. Duh, this is Adoption 101.
I do feel like one of the walking wounded at times. When I stagger exhaustedly to my room at night, hoping I’ll sleep and hoping I’ll have an appetite the next day. It’s not always this way, sometimes as a family we go through long, blissful periods of calm then someone pulls the plug on the sanity tub and we feel the swirling vortex of issues sucking us down.
Pick any one of my severely troubled children and I guarantee you that it’d be the same with that child in a large family or a small one. That’s not the issue. If anything my friend, Claudia, explained it best, how adopted children more often thrive in a large family.
I’d suggest to all parents of troubled children or special needs children, or any children for that matter, that they, the adults, have some sort of creative outlet. For me it is gardening/farming. I can physically release my tensions or even my anger in a safe, productive manner. Some mamas knit or bake beautiful concoctions. One friend of mine periodically repainted his house when he was stressed out. Each room in their home was always freshly painted. I often weed furiously until I calm down. I don’t like for the children to see me react to their games, their button pushing exercises. It has taken me twenty years to get a handle on that.
I appreciate Julie’s candor and her pointing this out to us. Some of us feel as if we’re figuratively limping along, we’ll tend to our wounds later, maybe when the kids are grown, yet we all know that we can’t take good care of the children if we don’t also take care of ourselves.