Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Special Place for Santa

I picked up a great book at Hobby Lobby tonight.  It's called "A Special Place for Santa."  It talks about the origins of "Santa" and takes us  back to the day of St. Nicholas.

In the book Santa is sad because people think the holiday is about him and have forgotten about the birth of Jesus.  Santa shows up at a church where there is a live size nativity to leave a gift for baby Jesus and he is crying.  Santa hears a voice (God) who reminds him of the origins of St. Nicholas, the gifts of charity and how St. Nicholas evolved into the commercial form of Santa.

I even learned that "Kris Kringle" actually means Christ Child!!!!

It's a great book for teaching kids that Santa and Jesus can exist together.  They do not have to be mutually exclusive.

A forward by Pat Boone talks about the image of the Santa kneeling in front of the manger scene with Jesus.  It is an image I love.  The same image that is on the front of the book.  The back of the book talks about the creation of this image, and I quote.

" a way that connotes their proper relationship - the secular subservient to the sacred...."

What a concept!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The other side of my life

I don’t often blog about my daughter, because she’s well, normal.

She goes through regular 10-year-old “junk” with hormones and attitude, but she is a sweet and loving girl.  The evidence is in the story that she wrote in school today.  It was an assignment on thankfulness.

She hasn't always been this way.  She used to be a very angry and violent child, but SHE made a choice to change that and become the sweet girl she is today.

  Here is what she wrote.

I <3 U 4……

Mom, Dad;
Thank you very much fro adopting me!  Throughout the FIVE YEARS I’ve been living with you I have been very blessed that you gave me a better home.  I depend on you because I feel that you are always honest to me. I enjoy how you gave me a room that I felt espesally safe in, with all bright & cheery colors.  Dad…..I have always treasured you and the moments/days when we both cheer on “Tony Stewart.”  I believe you both already know I love you both, more than mom’s goodies.  (meaning mom’s goodies are the best!)  I enjoy living with you both!! J J


Signed in something we can’t read but she said is her famous autograph

What a stark contrast to our son. 

After a very stressful day and an anxiety attack due to son’s issues, it was truly a blessing to receive this after dinner tonight.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Secondary PTSD

Our son has been back "home" for two weeks now.  The only time we have heard from him is when he demanded money this weekend.  He was disrespectful and just plain nasty.  

It's a very long story, but the bank wouldn't release his money to him because he was a minor when I set up the account.  It listed me as the guardian, so he had to have my consent to withdraw anything.  I sent him an e-mail allowing him to do so, but I told him that he would not be getting a substantial amount of money that my grandfather gave him for graduation.  That check was made out to me and son because my grandfather gets it.  The money was intended for his education, which he chose not to continue.  I am honoring the integrity of what my grandfather wants done.  I received the following e-mail in response.  This is word for word what he wrote. I have not changed a thing.

"if it was there since i was eight like you said then why do I have no money in there??? doesnt make sense and way to be a complete ass yourself....i really dont get you .... i was ur son, was i not good enough, the drama. all the shit that happened in your house made me a stronger person.
first. you need to grow up yourself,
second. you need to make things right with all the people you have screwed over and then u might be a little happier.
and third, you need to take a look at your mind and all that goes through it, i dont understand you, why is everthing that comes out of your mouth or an email always hurtful or a way to punch back? Its not right for an adult to do that ....
furthurmore, I am glad you are out of my life, you never seemed to be in it in the first place, and dont f around with me anymore, the rumors, the bullshit needs to stop im not your sevenyear old pet anymore!!!!!

Peace love and hopefully a little happiness to you:)"

Yes, that last line is his too.  

Now, you probably don't have an emotional reaction to this e-mail but I sure do.  This is called Secondary PTSD, but I disagree.

You often hear of PTSD in military vets, and rightfully so.  They have lived through unspeakable horrors, and seen things I don't even want to think about.

PTSD is often diagnosed in kids who have been abused and/or neglected as well.  Because of the abuse  and neglect, the children have been traumatized.  PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The diagnosis is made when someone has been in a traumatic event, or ongoing events, such as the war vets.  However, people who live in abusive situations also get the diagnosis because they have lived in continual trauma.

Parents who parent these children often get a diagnosis of Secondary PTSD because they live with children who are recreating the trauma they endured in their birth home.  And here's where I disagree with the diagnosis.  I lived, and continue to live in trauma.  I have been physically and emotionally abused by my child.  Some people wonder how a child can emotionally abuse an adult.  Trust me, it is possible.

For years I lived in fear.  When my son raged, windows were shattered with crow bars, banisters were ripped from the floor, holes were kicked in walls and the list goes on.  I lived with violence.  I was called names and things you would never say to another human being.  Examples are in the e-mail listed above.  What child speaks to a parent like that and thinks it is OK?  And trust me, this is mild compared to many words that have been hurtled my way through the years.  

These are the spewings of a mentally unstable person, who is off his medication.  When my phone rings and I see his number, my stomach clenches.  When I see his name on an e-mail, my stomach clenches, when I am home alone, I am truly afraid.  If you re-read the e-mail, you can see how crazy it is.  It is so scattered with no rhyme or reason to what he's saying and things that are irrelevant to the "conversation" and just flat out lies.

My son has a history of extremely violent outbursts around Thanksgiving time.  He has spent at least three Thanksgivings in jail. I'd have to check the records to be sure of the exact amount.  Two years ago he threw his foster father (court ordered placement) across the room.  The man hit his head on a windowsill and wound up with 11 stitches in his head.  This is why I'm afraid!!!  I know what this "child" is capable of.  I have seen it first hand.  I am waiting for the blow up to come this week and I wonder how damage to my home or vehicles or even myself will play into things.  

In many respects, I am a battered woman, although the battering came at the hands of my child, so many people dismiss my feelings.  There is nothing secondary about my fear.  There is nothing secondary about what I have seen and been subjected to over the years.  

I will not respond to this e-mail or phone calls for several reasons.  

1) I don't have the energy.
2) As I have blogged about previously, you can't argue with crazy.

I am working with my friend, Charly, who has wonderful information on how essential oils can change the brain and help to relieve the symptoms I have.  I will have more about that after I receive my shipment and start using them.  

I cannot continue to live in this insanity, but right now I don't know a way out.  I can't walk away from my home to get away from him, but I can work to change my responses to his craziness, or choose not to respond.  

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sadly, I'm Right

I had to emotionally process the events of the past few days before I could blog about them.

When our son entered college, I predicted he would not make it through the first semester.  Sadly, I was right.  On Monday we discovered that he left the college and moved in with my parents, without a word to us by anyone involved in this.  There were so many emotions involved when I learned this information.

In a previous blog, I posted that he was nearing dismissal from the college because of his inability/unwillingness to follow the college rules.  He knew the rules before he ever left for college, so he cannot say this was a shock.

On October 29, the day I posted the blog actually, he elected to move out of the college.  Because he had signed a privacy waiver, the college was able to tell me about the circumstances, which they could not have otherwise.  Here is the e-mail I received from them.  This is their words, not my interpretation of what they said.

"T left (the) College on the 29th of October. He moved his stuff out of the dorm room and moved in with an expelled student in town. We, (the) College, officially withdrew him from the college on that Monday, October 31st. He moved all of his things out of the dorm room; there was nothing left on campus.  This information comes from the Academic Dean and T's Dorm Manager.

I can tell you that T was not expelled or kicked out of (the) College. T chose to leave (the) College. He was struggling academically, but I was working with him and he could have passed all but one course. T's conduct on and off campus is what caused issues. He disrespected the authority of the Dorm Manager and the Assistant Dean of Student Services. He was summoned by the Assistant Dean on a couple of occasions to discuss his chapel absences. One time he did not show up and another he lied to her that he was in my class, which he wasn't. T was also going around town soliciting money from people because his "grandmother was dying of cancer." He was also mowing lawns for money, but said it was to raise money for the soccer team, which wasn't true. He did talk about leaving and the soccer coach and I did talk with him at length. I helped him try to withdrawal weeks before he left, but he decided to stay because he would owe over $10,000. It was at that point I help get his Dorm Manager to help wake him up for chapel so he wouldn't be expelled. That was a week or two before he left.

While T could have been getting expelled for excessive chapel absences, his blatant disregard of authority, lying, and outside conduct in the town - HE CHOSE TO LEAVE. I was working with him and all those involved to keep him here. I know this was probably the best place for him and tried desperately to keep him here. I am sad that he left, but it was his choice.

I am sorry to write these things about your son, but I hope they help you in the future."

None of what is written is a surprise to me.  Last weekend he hopped a train and a bus to plant him back in the state, however, he had no plans for anyone to pick him up, nor did he tell anyone he was coming.  He attempted to land at his former foster parents house.  They refused to keep him.  He then contacted my parents, who took him in.  We were not notified of any of this.  He left behind everything that we had purchased for him for his apartment and dorm room and he arrived with 2 suitcases.

I have shared all of the information from the college with my parents, and have been brutally honest with them.  Our son becomes extremely violent around Thanksgiving.  He has spent 3 of the past 5 Thanksgivings in jail.  And this is when he was on his medication, which he is not now.  I fear for their safety, as well as our family's since we are in very close proximity now.

Our son has made no attempt to contact us and has left it to my father to notify us that he is back in town.  This upsets me because it shows yet another level of irresponsibility and not taking the consequences of his actions.

Additionally, we have found out that he is being investigated for "criminal mischief" in the town he just left.  No charges have been filed yet, and we don't know if charges will be filed.  

My husband, my daughter and myself are handling this better than we were a few days ago, and we are working very hard to let this go and let the chips fall where they may.  My parents think they can "save" him and lead him down the right path.  I don't know what they are going to do that we haven't done in the last 13 years.  I told my father that you can't help someone who doesn't want to be helped, and the only thing he wants from anyone right now is to mooch off them.  If someone won't give him money, he has no use for them, and this includes his biological brothers.  

My husband and I know that we have tried our hardest and done everything we can to help him.  Now it's his turn to take charge of his life and start taking responsibility for some very large mistakes.  We have friends who have been incredibly supportive, and we are beyond thankful for that!  I have a feeling we will be leaning on them, and our faith, greatly in the coming months. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lay Academy

I belong to the United Church of Christ.  It is a denomination, like Catholic or Lutheran or Methodist are denominations.  The image above is a "slogan" of the UCC.

This is a large part of what I like about the UCC.  It is ever changing, ever growing and encourages learning.  And here is Lay Academy.  This is the only form of self care that I participate in regularly.  OK, it's not a relaxing thing, but it fills my spirit.

Lay Academy is a series of 5 classes held during the school year.  There are various topics, depending on what class you are enrolled in.  You can take the classes for personal growth, for use in your church or to discern whether or not you want to go into ministry.  My reasons are the first two.  I have NO calling to become a minister, although my friend, Beth, heard that call very clearly during our classes and she is now studying to become Pastor Beth. I am so proud of her!!

These classes can be taken as a series (which I highly recommend) or you can pick and choose which years to attend.

Years 1 and 2 are "Faith Foundations" years.  These cover the Old and New Testament, Ethics, Thinking Theologically, Caregiving and various other topics.

Year 3 is Lay Leadership skills.  This series is highly useful to those who are active in their church, serve on committees, or want to improve their own participation.

Year 4 is the year I am in now. It focuses on preaching and worship. I put this off for two reasons.  I'll get into the second reason in a bit.  A huge reason was that I would have to give a sermon in front of my class.  I have absolutely no problem with public speaking.  I am not shy.  BUT, the thought of giving a sermon terrified me.  I don't feel solid enough in my theological knowledge to give an intelligent sermon.  I was thrilled to find out that it is going to be different this year.  We are to bring a written sermon to our class, but the class will instead focus on teaching us how to give a sermon, and we can modify our sermon during the class.  I have made a commitment to my pastor that I will let her read it when I am done, and if she thinks it fits with our Lenten themes, I will deliver the sermon during a Wednesday night service.  WAY outside my comfort zone!!

There are also two single years that are stand alone.  One is on Christian Education, and the other is the reason that I put off taking Year 4 when I did.  It is Youth Ministry.  My passion is working with youth and this class was being offered at the same time as Year 4 when the rest of my friends were taking it. I opted to do Youth Ministry, rather than trying to cram two classes in at the same time.

I love my time in Lay Academy.  The classes are a couple hours from my home and take place Friday night and Saturday. I spend the night rather than commuting, so I have time for me.  I have also made great friends during my classes.  My friend, Beth, that I mentioned above I met only because of Lay Academy.  She is one of my dearest friends now and I am so thankful that we met.  Another friend I made is a woman named Bonnie.  She was also a foster parent and worked at a women's shelter, helping moms who had lost their children to social services develop a plan and regain custody.  Truly an amazing woman and we had so much in common.  I met wonderful people and friendships that will last for years, and hopefully, life.

This is why I recommend taking the classes as a series.  The friendships you develop will carry you through hard times.  At the end of one of our years a classmate left because he wasn't feeling well.  It was the last class of the year.  At the end of the class, it was announced that he had been diagnosed with ALS.  It was a horrible shock to us.  However, we banded together to keep in contact with him.  Most of us didn't get to say goodbye before he passed away a few months later.  But when our group reassembled for the next year, we took a group photo at the hotel to send to him.  We wanted him to know we loved him and he was with us in spirit.  This is the relationship that develops during these classes.

We come together because of our love of God and our desire to become closer to Him.  We gain so much more than knowledge.

I cannot tell you how much these classes have changed me and made me grow in faith and just as a person.  I recommend it to everyone.  You don't have to be "smart" or a biblical scholar to take these classes.  I sure wasn't, and I'm still not a great scholar, but I have a better understand of Scripture, how to read Scripture and that it's OK to ask questions.  If you ever have the chance...take the classes.

God is still speaking to us, if we take the time to listen.