Anger at the heart of love

I don’t know why they came then, at the heart of the hardest season of our lives, but we took them to the Aransas Wildlife Refuge. He sat in the back of the van with me and I made him do a Bible study about Jesus inhabiting hearts like they were houses, a Chinese box filled with simile and indelible pain. If I would write our story as a clever fiction I would insert a frumpy birdwatching stranger and I would accost her with my incoherent grief-

Anger is at the heart of love

overturning tables in the temple

In the house of God

The Stages of Grief

The call costs five cents a minute and you have to be ready with a form of payment. On the other end of the line there is

A princess stuck in a well

Bears curled in around a wee-sleepy home invader

A girl in a badly blended family with a knack for the most inconvenient footwear

And all the rest of us-

sleeping beauties, garden-of-Gethsemane-tired

Of hearing about

This impending crucifixion.

But I am not a vegetarian!

We have all been in the grips of a winter cold. This morning one of my younger kids slept-talked a single line–but I am not a vegetarian!!!

I don’t know the context, but the sentence itself was lovely in its exposition.

Often our lives are defined by others based on labels. The vegetarian label seems pretty harmless unless he was dream-offered a nut-apple-squash loaf or was inhabiting some sort of carnivore-topia.

In the world we are awake in we navigate through real perils when we reveal who we really are. Revealing we are a certain shade of skin or religion or sexual identification can cause people to see us differently–for good or ill.

Revealing our status as crime victims can do the same. I might not have thought so years ago, before I knew or started telling our family story, but now that I have, I can attest: it does.

Years ago I remember talking to my children’s counselor and she used the term “damaged good.” As in, “you wouldn’t want people to see your kids as damaged goods.”

Terrible to think she was right. We absolutely could have buried the story of what happened to us. We did not, and we are a healthy, happy, fairly isolated group of people now. Telling the story has categorized us as “high-risk” and the syndrome of isolation and silence has been almost categorical.

A small, small, lovely group of people have stuck around, bless them.

I used to believe that sexual assault victims should absolutely tell someone. I still believe that, but I would tell them not to expect much from those you tell.

I would tell them keep talking until you are safe.

I would tell them you are not alone.

The Weirdest Thing

The weirdest thing how brave not knowing makes you. Not knowing the crash. Not knowing the presence of wrong. Not knowing the feral son has been a monster all along. He will not turn into a real boy instead he will be ever-so-carefully excised from the picture of the ordinary house, where trees have grown a rampart around all

who survive him.


We all hope it will turn out ok. We will be the ones–long full life, no pain. We optimists.

You have to be an optimist to foster and adopt kids you already know have problems. You have to believe in miracles.

Our belief in miracles went something like this: yes, we know they are tough kids, but consistency, love and faithfulness combined with God’s healing power will help these kids.

My goal was a picture–all my adult (stable, law-abiding) children gathering with their families for thanksgiving dinner.

So you may imagine what a blow to the gut it was to find out our plan hadn’t produced the picture. Our adopted kids hurt our family, hurt our other children. They committed crimes before they graduated from high school.

I still remember the old me, the believer in the miracle, the picture….

Part 1 of 2

The second day

I remember people exclaiming that I had lost weight. When I told them why I had lost weight they would look stricken. It was a striking story.

But the truth was worse than I ever could explain.

I could get past the discomfort of being punched, kicked, and bitten by my adopted daughter. I could mitigate her curses..and her violent imaginary friend.

I could push through the shock and discomfort others felt when I told them our children had been abused by her brother, my adopted son.

I could live beneath the heavy weight of the years my children spent in the company of a child abuser.

But I could never adequately describe the devastation created by our own family and others we had known for years.

Family was the worst. They made excuses. Coddled the perps, lashed out at young, very young victims.

Some were dismissive. Some skeptical. Some cruel.

Even after years and deliberate distance, their reactions still shock me.

I can still describe the diet.

It is simple:

Eat sorrow where once there was bread

Eat loss where there used to be community

Eat anger in the place where the family should stand

In a circle around their littlest victim
Dogs for children.

Dogs. For. Children. Indeed.

Children are resilient?

One of the ridiculous, perhaps even criminal notions repeated by adults is

children are resilient.

Really? Then why are adults so screwed up?!

The invocation of CAR (children are resilient) is really just a way to push off the truth–any victim of crime needs a lot of help. In fact we need:

Consistent and patient counselors and supporters

A structured sense of personal value

A sense of personal safety

Help with bad dreams and worse memories

Years to ask the question why?

Safe community

Knowledge and truth–especially the reassurance that being a victim is not our fault.

Someone to fight for us.

Prayer. Lots of prayer.

I think with this list most of us can be resilient. Without these supports–the wounds deepen and the road is lonely and painful indeed.

Don’t make the myth of CAR an excuse for neglecting the quiet pain of the wounded–we all need to know we are not alone.

We all need a Defender.

When We Look Away

How could any sentient person suggest that the Sandy Hook massacre was fake?

When I see the pictures of the victims I know that their families are lost in a sea of grief and pain. Not only do they miss their loved ones, they are caught in a vicious web of the beautiful life taken and the bloody end.

Yes. The pictures are there–a crime scene where there should have been snack time. The reality of what it takes to rob a person of her life with a deadly spray of bullets.

If we really want to make our families safer we must face the bodies of our dead.

And perhaps face the cost of our pornography of violence.

Writing Therapy

I have been writing a lot this month and today I thought–ugh, I don’t want to write. I also did not really want to tackle bills, letters, grammar instruction or going to the store.

Gives me a headache just writing it all down.

But I know that writing is good for me. It forces me to own my thoughts and organize them. It results in a greater sense of control. All the things I dread are still there but now they are neatly ordered by want, need and fear.

It is the fear group that concerns me. Each of them is an unblinking carnivore, taking it’s place in line with all the other monsters

..waiting to devour my soul.