|Real picture from the top of our shelves…|
That’s the truth. We are just kids. The body may be 34 years old, and our littles may be more advanced in some areas than chronological children, but we are just kids. We range in age from 4-17 years old and we have some stunning lacking skills in the area of social skills and emotional regulation.
But you see, we have had to become superheroes over time. I guess some of us were created to be heroes. Being a hero is a really big job, and had K and A not been hurt so badly when the body was little (and through most of the rest of our life), there would be no need for most of us and no need for kids to be heroes.
Our system, the huge bunch of kids we are, has done alright through life. Jessa has been an incredible protector throughout the years. Yeah, she’s made some awful choices (we all have) but she has been a rock and has been the first in line to help us navigate the murky and sometimes dangerous waters of life. She has been the first to slip out and take some of the worst abuse. She has had the worst things said to her, and has experienced the darkest sides of human nature and has never once held anything against the rest of us. She has been the biggest superhero this system ever had and she rarely misses anything.
Since we moved though, the terrain has been unfamiliar. No one has intentionally tried to hurt us or take advantage of us here. Dad has time and time again gone out of his way to ensure our happiness and our safety. He has made sure the littles know he loves them and thinks of them often… as is evidenced by…..
The unfamiliar environment and unfamiliar social setting has made things very hard on Jessa. Jessa, who has worked tirelessly in our life to keep us safe, is at a loss. Nothing she does here is right. Some of what is right feels really wrong (because it’s uncomfortable, vulnerable, and unfamiliar), and some of what should be wrong feels familiar. We came here expecting things to be a certain way, and when there was something new inserted into there we tried to fight the new element that we weren’t prepared for… and we lost. We lost big time. And while being expendable and inconvenient/unwanted isn’t unfamiliar at all, it hurts and we aren’t sure what to do with that pain.
Yesterday was a day of several triggers, none of them small triggers. Jessa went into yesterday already struggling. She had weeks of feeling defeat on her shoulders. When the triggers hit yesterday and we had to work through them all by ourselves all day long, I think it may have broken something inside of her. There was an argument between Mom and the neighbor. The neighbor is Mom’s best friend. They had been arguing for about 2 days. It was actually, now that I think about it, the most time Mom has spent with just us since we got here. But anyways, the argument started loud and sounded aggressive. That was all it took. The trigger hit and we were down for the count in a blind panic. What do we do? Do we try and save her? Do we let her fight her own battles? Is there anywhere to turn for comfort? Does anyone want to comfort us? There were so many questions. We ended up with a shower and some TV. Mom and her friend worked through their argument with conversation and weed, which moves into trigger number 2. We are living in a state where that is entirely legal (for inquiring minds) but them high reminds us of our cousin on heroin. We watched her roll unconscious off of our toilet when she took too much one day. The treasures were home for that. The fear, the feelings, the having to make huge decisions, the inconsistencies, the conversations that make absolutely no sense, and most importantly the utter disregard for anyone else’s emotions or feelings are all shared between heroin use and weed use. Between the argument and the fact that they were high (which is NOT a problem for them… and only a problem for us because of triggers) and being alone all day (we were alone all afternoon due to an appointment Mom had a few hours away), I think Jessa broke. Last night, after Dad was home from work, Hayley came out for her 1 hour a week and Mom left to go hang out with the neighbor. Dad had left to pick up ice cream at the store so Hayley stayed home alone coloring pictures and sending pictures of her art work to Mom and Dad by messenger. Jessa felt like a complete failure as far as a protector goes because she hadn’t expected Hayley to be alone, so she wasn’t co-con or even paying attention. This morning K ended up alone all morning because Mom went to have coffee with the neighbor and they were smoking. One of the dogs went missing and K walked for 20 minutes trying to find her while running a slight fever and struggling to breathe. By the time her rotation scheduled was done she was convinced no one wants her and that she’s a bad girl.
Jessa had the scheduled time after that. Mom was back by then and gave Jessa meds and snuggled her up on the parents bed with the remote to their TV and it was quiet and dark and peaceful, but Jessa felt like she had been put away because the neighbor was here and by now I think they all figure we hate him but the truth is, we’re terrified of him. His drug use and inability to have a coherent conversation (among other things) already had made us leery and threat assessment on him was very high but after yesterday we are really afraid of him.
But see, the thing is, we have no reason to be afraid of him. He is NOT a bad person. He’s a good guy who has gone out of his way to help us more than once. He’s been patient, kind, and has even taught us a thing or two. He’s good with the treasures and even better with the dogs. I won’t even hold it against him that he likes all the other dogs better than ours… he’s still good to her.
After all of this… Jessa has decided she’s done being a hero. More specifically she’s decided that she sucks at being a hero and that we are obviously too much work, unwanted, inconvenient, and expendable. We are the ones that people feel fine about ditching last minute after making plans and something better comes up. We’re the ones that will still be there later so we can be safely ignored in favor of others. The littles hurting is more than Jessa can stomach and she no longer has any desire to fight with anyone about it. Because she’s learned that she can beg to talk all she wants, she’s going to be turned away. She’s going to be told that its not family therapy, that she needs to get a handle on her emotions, that she needs to back down, and that she needs to fix herself… that we all do.
We try. We try so hard. We bought books about therapy and have worked hard at distraction, visualization, and even imagining a white healing light. We list everything we are grateful for every night before we go to sleep. We talk to each other near constantly, we remind each other to be good, to be kind, to be patient, to be fair. We analyze almost every action and word that comes out of this mouth to see how it could affect someone else. We walk on eggshells so that we can survive, like we have always done. And its still not enough. And Jessa no longer believes that we can ever be enough.
Jessa posted on Facebook today in a group for systems like ours, specifically protectors, and asked if protectors can resign. She wants to be done with her job as protector and she’s decided we failed as members of this family. My heart is broken. It takes me a long time to attach to anyone emotionally and Jessa and are bonded. We are a bonded pair. I have always taken Jessa’s presence and activity as a definite. Now there’s talk about me taking over the primary protector duties and Jessa taking a break/going dormant. My heart is broken.
We’re just kids… we aren’t supposed to be heroes.
This is what happens when kids are expected to be heroes.