If you're having a great Friday.... move along. Enjoy your day, and head directly for a mouse click somewhere else. This is one of those posts written not really for y'all.... for y'all I try to keep things fairly upbeat.
But there's another group who is very dear to me - and for them I can get pretty dark and scary. This post is for those sweet people. We don't see them much, but they're here. If you type 'total transformation' into the search box to the right you'll see everything they come here and read -- and it's the depressing stuff. Necessary, but depressing.
One time I'd written about James Lehman's Total Transformation Program in a positive light, and then ages later, someone from there said - hey, let's pay you for what you already wrote. And maybe you could write some more. But I almost never do. When they call, I avoid the phone (but I do that with everyone). I sometimes return their emails. And I'm generally pretty flaky with the nice Total Transformation people even though they send me money.
It's mainly that I know what they want - and I do not want to give it to them. They want me to write about their product. They KNOW I believe in it. But the WAY I write about it is kinda painful. So I almost never do, even though it's pretty great and I sincerely think most families would benefit from it.
But I told them I would write. And that it would be this week.
And then I was up all night because a stupid recurring nightmare I've had my whole life woke me up at 2 am and then I couldn't sleep and I shoulda gone to the gym but instead I lay there and compared this stupid nightmare to that particular period in my life that I least want to write about, but committed to.
There's a particular weird, unique heavy sort of dread that accompanies this nightmare. Fortunately, it's so unique that I've never felt it any other time - waking or sleeping - and always know instantly to wake up - it's THAT dream. I started having THAT dream when I was 4 or 5. (happy childhood, no repressed anything - really) I thought I'd outgrow it, but never have.
It's a simple dream. A small flower petal, the size of a fingernail, is upturned and curving toward the sky - laying on the ground. And then the world's largest steamroller slowly smashes it.
I'm the flower petal, and because I am just a ridiculous little flower petal, I have no ability to move, flee, put up a good fight, or survive. I hate that dream. It sounds so simple, and even silly - now. But at night it isn't, and I have to wake up fully because if I don't, and I slide back into sleep, it'll come back. And that awful feeling that always accompanies that dream will also come back.
So I was jumping up and down, in the dark, on a bathmat at 2 am last night in order to wake up fully so that I could go back to sleep. The problem with that is then you're awake and might not be able to go back to sleep.
So here goes:
If you're a parent and you have a pretty normal kid who is acting out and your parenting skills maybe aren't up to the challenge - yes. You need Total Transformation. Put in the time and effort and go through the material and you will be seriously rewarded with a change in your house.
But that wasn't my scenario. And that's all I got for you "parents with normal kids, acting out" group. I wish you well. I've always wished I were you.
But my heart breaks for another group of parents with bigger problems than yours. There aren't as many of them, but they're a special, lonely, and misunderstood group. You guys are the moms and dads, aunts and grandparents, who are raising a kid who wants to physically hurt you - and oftentimes already has.
This group is sometimes - usually - desperate for solutions, exhausted in every possible way, financially drained, depressed, alone, and tired of describing their situation to people/professionals/family who may or may not believe them, may or may not understand, and who probably can't or won't help in a meaningful way. These people are very brave. They're raising someone who is a very real threat because it is the right thing to do, because it's their responsibility somehow (and thankssomuch God for THAT), and a lot of times the kid they're raising is making sure to trash that individual's character and reputation in a believable way, everywhere... I've been one of you. But I've also exchanged emails with countless members of this group and these are common themes.
They're just trying to survive, and are not sure they can. Sure, they'd love to have a 'total transformation' and get this child they love back on track - but by the time things are this dire - it's a lot more about surviving until a way out presents itself. Will the TTP help this group? Oh yes. And if you're like I was, than you will gladly try ANYTHING that ANYONE says will help - life has become exactly that desperate.
My daughter was 10 (..?) when things got kinda rough. There was stealing, and odd food issues, and general, far reaching unpleasantness. Mine by adoption, my husband's child biologically - and she'd been my daughter since she was 2.
Enter: reactive attachment disorder. (that's the BEST site, and very nice people are behind it. hi michelle!)
Enter: hell in West Texas.
She was lovely around most anyone. Charming, model student, smart, pleasant. This had all the teachers and principals and even Mike more than a bit unbelieving of my account of what she was suddenly like at home with just me and her brothers. My mom and sister believed me and understood - but they lived pretty far away.
All the professionals we saw were pretty hopeless. Some local friends loved and supported us and tried to help - but this was impossible since they never could actually see the real issue. They (and Mike) could only see the little brown eyed angel they'd always known and loved. And I wanted them to see her that way. I wanted it to still BE that way. Many of them thought that if I would just be more loving , or more this, or more that - then everything would be solved. It would just be so EASY if the blame and solution could be all up to me... so, why aren't you fixing this already, Kels...? Lonely days.
She decided if she could force a divorce, I'd be gone and life would be great. But that didn't happen. Plan B was to kill me before the special 6th grade mother/daughter tea at the end of the school year. I found the drawings and plans in her room, and she admitted later she was in "research mode." How hard does she sleep? Is she likely to fight back... and how? How often does she forget to lock that door....? I could kill her in the kitchen, in front of the sink...that's where the knives are...
While she was in Research Mode, I was in Survival Mode. I had three little boys to also take care of, but my thoughts were often: don't forget to lock the door, don't relax, don't sleep, listen for everything, don't show pain, don't show weakness of any kind, stand up straighter, look taller, don't be so clumsy, what was that noise... is everyone where they should be... is everyone safe...? quick, go check.and then repeat. around the clock. More so when Mike was out of town.
She's 16 now, and hasn't lived with us for the last 4 1/2 years. She's been in treatment centers that didn't help, and is now with a family in another state. On her last visit, she was angry and tried to hurt me, but didn't really succeed. Years later, I can tell you we're all safe. It took me ages to learn how to sleep again. To relax. To live. To make a mistake of any kind and just laugh it off instead of instantly wondering how this would be used against me. I did survive... this is written from the other side.
So for the parents who may be living through something similar... I think the world of you for trying so, so hard. You can write me, and I'll believe you. (That would have been so nice! I would have wanted that in return so much! Let me do that for you. I may not be able to help, but I will listen and I will believe and support you through this as long as you want me to.) For this dear group, I have a couple of points:
1. I'm not usually this blunt. BUT. If you don't know God, you need to introduce yourself. Simple as that. Say hello. Then learn the habit of praying without ceasing, and your peace level will increase exponentially. (I'm not talking fancy holy prayers. I mean, "Hey, God, my new buddy, there's a real threat in the next room and did you hear what he/she just yelled....? Huh.") If that doesn't make sense, by all means, email me right now. I lived through two VERY scary awful years because God patiently walked me through each of those days. I do not recommend trying it on your own. I wouldn't have made it. He was ALL I had, and He was enough. When there wasn't anyone else to believe me, be there with me, keep my family safe - He did. It's that simple.
2. Yes - Total Transformation will help. If things are homocidal, you need bigger help than this - BUT - it'll still help some and that's worth a LOT. You're probably pretty dejected and feeling like the worst parent around (and being told so, perhaps, by many different sources) - this will lift you back up and get you back on the right track. Really.
3. There's a 'contact me' link to the right.*** I don't care if this post was written in 2010, and you're reading it in 2020. Click it. You can write to me and I will hear you out/believe you/help you/pray for you/whatever it is you might need. You are not alone. I lived through this and you will, too.
4. Get WHATEVER tools and talents and programs and friends and character traits you might need. Actively cultivate your path to survival. Pray about what should be on that list, and then get it. If you need to get in better shape physically, do it. If you need to stop talking to a friend who doesn't understand and who undermines you, dump that friend and move on. What do you really, really need to get through this process without losing yourself more than you already have? Write it down.
I hate that awful dream with the flower petal and the steamroller because the petal has no ability to save herself from a larger than life, impending crushing death. Don't be that flower petal. Get tough in every way you can get tough. Get strong. Smart. Vigilant. Be loving, forgiving, compassionate, but TOUGH at the same time. Get God. And get going, do not just stand there. You have a kid to raise and you're doing a much better job than anyone - including you - thinks you are.
*Total Transformation totally pays me if you click these links and buy it. If it bugs you, do NOT click these links and buy it. That simple. I won't know who you are and if you do and if you don't buy - doesn't matter to me, anyway. (the TTP people probably SO wish I could just write a normal product review instead of crazy posts like this, but eh. i don't have 'normal product reviews' in me.)
Please know that it doesn't matter to me at all if you're a potential TTP purchaser - my interest in you is not as a sale. Email me if you think I could be in any way helpful to you.
***guess what? that stupid 'contact me' link doesn't work. Until I get that fixed, just leave a comment telling me to email you back and I certainly will.
blogging more up to date stuff at www.holymama.org - come see what's going on!