I was angry yesterday. I didn't know how to deal with the anger; it wasn't necessarily directed at a particular person in our family. It was more of a general feeling of frustration about the current state: the negative interactions, the lack of respect, the crossing of boundaries everywhere I turned. There was a particular incident that then triggered negative feelings in everybody in our family. Since my anger seemed misplaced, I didn't try to resolve it. I didn't want to really talk to anyone because I was afraid that the sarcastic comments that kept popping in my head would spew out of my mouth. So I chose, instead, to stay silent, which is not much better. Giving the silent treatment is almost worse than just saying sarcastic comment. But hey - hindsight is 20/20, and you can't win them all.
When it was time for bed, I thought I had dealt with my feelings enough to check in with one of my kids about how they were feeling about the whole situation. But it seems that my anger had not subsided. It had simply been pushed down into a compartmentalized box that burst open at the mere mention of the situation.
I didn't have a clear vision or plan for the conversation, which usually means that I end up just ranting about different things to try to give myself some kind of relief from the unresolved feelings. Instead it leaves me - and the other person stuck in the conversation - feeling worse. I was so frustrated with myself, my family, and my inability to shut the heck up that I ended up just saying, "Can we be done? I love you and I'm sorry. Goodnight."
I curled up into a ball in my bed and felt horrible. I realized now that before I entered that kid's bedroom, I was already dysregulated and had done nothing to regulate myself. So instead, I became increasingly dysregulated, which is the absolute worst way to have a conversation with your beloved, precious children who already have a hard time regulating themselves. It's not their responsibility to co-regulate for me! It's my job to do that for them. What a mess.
I told TJ, "I just wish I could be good enough. I don't want to do it again tomorrow. Maybe I could melt into the bed and just become part of it and stay here forever."
Parenting through trauma often means I go to bed incredibly sad and discouraged, thinking that my night will never end, both literally and metaphorically. In those moments, it seems that the darkness is close to overcoming me, making me want to disappear, to crawl into my hole and never emerge again. I couldn't sleep, but I didn't want to do anything except sit in my anger.
But even in choosing to hang out in that dark space, the presence of God loomed over me, gently inviting me to remember the lyrics to a current favorite song by Ellie Holcolmb: Wonderfully Made.
You knit me together in my mother's womb
And you say that I've never been hidden from you
And you say that I'm wonderfully, wonderfully made.
In the middle of a whirlwind of feelings and frustration, I remembered - really remembered -that I am wonderfully made. And so are my kids.
Then, I googled, "struggling adoptive mom," in a desperate attempt to read the words of someone else who has been where I am right now. I didn't find anything, but instead of isolating myself further (a horrible habit that I have), I texted a friend who knows this same frustration, this same hurt. Thankfully, she lives in a time zone that meant she'd still be awake and could answer the seven texts I sent her in a row. She made me laugh, exactly what I needed to feel a bit of relief and not take myself so seriously.
Even in our sin and brokenness, the Holy Spirit moves us towards the Father. Even when we fight him every step of the way, He gently beckons us to experience His love anew right where we are - even if it's through a meme on Instagram. He reminds us that the evidence of His presence within us is not from a perfect life but from a surrendered one.
I woke up this morning with newfound hope and mercy calling my name. My night may be long again, but I can trust that God, friends, laughter, Google, and Ellie Holcomb will help carry me to the morning.
Some Truth for Ya:
Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones!
Praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime!
Weeping may last through the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.