Sunday, June 25, 2006

David's Story Part 17: David copes with fear

The agency set David up with a couple of appointments with a really great counselor. Unfortunately the really great counselor was on his way to England and so we only got to see him a couple of times before we had to switch to the adequate counselor.


The counselor asked us what we wanted to talk about and we ended up talking about a couple of topics that ended up being the same issue, I think. I told him that when I am the least bit displeased with something David has done he tells me that I am yelling at him which sometimes makes me feel frustrated because in my mind yelling is exactly what I am NOT doing.

I understand that he does not feel safe when someone is possibly angry, but I did not know what to do to make him feel safe. I had thought that the counselor might give me behavior tips, but apparently he thinks I was doing okay. He talked to David about that fear and suggested that he might want to make dealing with that issue a goal while he lived with us. The counselor suggested that since David knows he is safe with us (even if he does not always feel it) this could be a good goal for him. The he asked David who was the first person who made him afraid and he said his father. The counselor asked for an example and David said [example deleted, even I have my limits].

You know, I can actually understand how stressed out people reach the end of their endurance and hit kids. It is horrible, but I understand why and how it happens. I can have sympathy with those parents, at the same time that I want to tell them that they absolutely have to find alternatives. If I was in charge of the world I would treat them with respect and understanding and find ways to give them support and time off. Maybe they need not to live alone with children. Isolating adults with kids in separate houses is not the way humans have evolved. We need to live in small communities with several adults spending the day together while the children mill around.

But there are other things I cannot understand. Why would anyone torture a child? This is not losing your temper. I just don't understand.

Fear was always an issue for David. He had a very exaggerated startle reflex. I remember one time we were in the car and he put down his visor so that he could look in the mirror just as I was trying to look for traffic. I reached out and flipped it back up while making an small exasperated noise. David threw himself back, pushing his head as deep into his head rest as possible. Then he was embarrassed, very embarrassed because he realized that I was not reaching over to hurt him.

On that occasion I pretended I did not notice.

I saw it often though. There were many times, some when I was irritated and some when I was not, when he would jump or cringe. He was always looked so embarrassed, even ashamed.

I know that reaction, that feeling. I do it too, though not to such a degree. Something happens which triggers a panic response and before your conscious mind can stop it, your body has jumped, cringed, ducked. People notice. They always notice. And so you are ashamed, because you imagine that now they know that you were beaten when you were little, and that you hid like a coward.

I have moved further along than David, of course. I have learned that the violence I suffered is not my shame. My automatic response was a survival mechanism. It is normal.

Whenever David jumped like that I wanted to hold him like a baby and rock him until he felt safe.

David's Story Part 18: Permanency Hearing
David's Story Part 1: The Beginning


  1. rossecorp5:31 AM

    I'm wondering how much of your own history you share with your foster kids.

  2. Rossecorp, I wrote a post for you:


Comments will be open for a little while, then I will be shutting them off. The blog will stay, but I do not want either to moderate comments or leave the blog available to spammers.