The significance of MILK.
Disclaimer: I am strong, I am loved. I hold no grudges, I love with all the heart I have to love. Part of my healing process is sharing the truth about my feelings, I mean no disrespect.
Last week our foster/adopt homework was to reflect on things from our childhood that made us feel safe/comforted and things that put us on alert. I was not expecting this assignment to be as hard as it turned out to be.
I grew up in a home with both of my parents, and four siblings. We had a normal childhood, and lived pretty average lives, but when I was asked to think of things that made me feel safe (sights, smells, sounds) I could only think of sleeping over at my uncles/aunts or visiting my grandma. When it came to the stressful things my paper filled up so quickly. I felt like there was something wrong with me, or like I was being ungrateful for all of the wonderful things that I lived through as a child. I then realized that something was wrong with me, and it wasn't my fault, and it would all be okay.
Maybe if I share some of the things that made/make me alert/anxious you will understand.
The sound of a can opening, or something being poured.
The smell of a barbecue grill.
Loud music. Especially guitar playing late at night, or concerts on DVD.
People that hide their hands behind their backs or in their pockets.
These all add up to one fact about my family life, I grew up in a home where at times there was an abuse of alcohol and careless, selfish behavior on the part of those consuming the alcohol. This does not mean that I wasn't loved or that my parents were terrible, but it does mean that for a part of my childhood/early adulthood I had to deal with a not so good amount of stress, and really had no way of escaping it. FYI: Things are better now. Unfortunately for us humans our bodies react to those stressful times by releasing chemicals in to our bodies i.e. cortisone, a glucocorticoid, and epinephrine. They elevate blood pressure and send our bodies into panic mode, the most common thing to do is flee from the danger, but when it is your caregiver that you are afraid of, it feels impossible, so instead we freeze, we don't know how to handle ourselves, and at some point we just fade away.
This is called trauma, and it has changed my ability to recall the most wonderful parts of my childhood with my parents because for so long the I blocked my home life because those bad times hurt to much, so it was easier to block it all out, but my memories with general families members are great!?
So let's take you to yesterday when I was sitting in the foster/adopt class and the councilor asked for us to share our safe/comforted memories. Well, my eyes filled with tears, I was overcome with guilt for blocking out all of those memories, and I felt like I was broken. It was then that a guy in class shared how his parents would rub his back before going to sleep, hearing him say that brought a flash of a good memories. I looked over to my husband with a gigantic smile on my face and whispered MILK. I remember feeling safe when my dad would bring my brothers and me milk in bed and say a prayer for us right before going to sleep, he would sometimes tell us a story, and kiss us good night. I remember my mom would say good night to us and she would look happy. MILK meant the world to me when I was younger, and still to this day it is my favorite thing to drink. My Tia Gloria always makes jokes about how my brothers and I drink so much milk, and that my mom should just buy a cow, but I never realized why we all do reach for a glass of milk as our first choice, it is comforting, it makes us feel like everything will be okay.
I love my parents more than I will ever be able to understand or express, and I do not (or try not) to hold their mistakes against them, we are all human, we will all be weak from time to time. I am so thankful that they somehow kept what they could together to raise my brothers and I in one family, and to give us whatever they could to make us happy and keep us healthy.
Going to these classes I am learning so much more about why I am the way that I am. I have been hurt, I do have holes in my love/trust bucket, the people I should have been able to trust my life with let me down from time to time, but fostering positive relationships can now heal me. Letting people love me, allowing myself to be vulnerable, sharing my story, will all help me in the end to become a stronger person, and I will be able to trust, and to love again. I am thankful that my past pains may be a way for me to connect to a child that may be placed in our home.
Of course the point of that exercise was to see that the children in the system may have different stress triggers that might not make much sense to us. I had a hard time getting to a good memory even thought the majority of my family life was great. The children that are in the foster care program have all been hurt, some are sick, and others have just been abused and neglected beyond belief, and they need (even if they don't want to admit it) someone to teach them what a healthy relationship should feel like. My goal as a foster/adoptive parent will be to reduce the stress in our child's life, increase the pleasure, and help them explore their talents and strengths. I want them to know it is okay to love their birth families, even if they did put them through hell, and I want them to know it is okay to be angry with them as well. I want them to know that I knew they would be grieving for their families, and their loss of history way before we first saw them, let alone opened our home to them. I want them to know that I know that they are scared, and that they may not want to love us because they may think that we will hurt them too, but most of all I want them to know that I will love them no matter what, and I want to be there for them even when they are pushing me away.
I think that we as a society need to realize the power of our words and actions, and we need to be responsible with the things that we say and do. We cannot keep raising children in environments where they are being hurt physically, emotionally, or mentally. Our children are watching everything that we do and say and they are experiencing emotions based on those actions, the good along with the bad. The more bad stuff that we put out into this world the more bad stuff that will continue to be released into our world. Our actions affect so much more than just our one person, we are one global community, and we need to reflect on where our priorities fall.
Those chemicals I talked about earlier have a huge amount of severe side-effects, some include hyperglycemia, inulin resistance, diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis, anxiety, depression, gastritis, colitis, hypertension, ictus, erectile dysfunction, hypogonadism, hypothyroidism, amenorrhoea, and retinopathy, among other problems. Just witnessing carelessness, and selfishness ruins our minds, hurt our hearts, and causes us to become sick.
America's greatest illnesses all come from emotional distress. Treat yourself and those you love with respect, and if you have been hurt reach out, and know that you are not alone, you are not crazy, you are not the problem, but there is a problem, and there also is a solution.
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