Dear Babygirl,

I write this with a heavy heart.  You’re not with us here at home; you’re in a residential treatment center for youth with behavioral issues.  You hurt someone at the hospital you were at for crisis management, and hurt her badly.  Before that, you seemed to be on the path to recovery, but instead you chose to act on your worst urges and gave your roommate a concussion.  You’ve now been away from home for a month now, and last night we learned that you’ve been acting out at the residential center as well, getting in fights and assaulting peers and staff with no regrets, and now something new- making inappropriate sexual conversations with other residents.

We want you home with us.  We love you and we want you to learn how to make healthy decisions for yourself and for those around you.  We understand that you are hurting inside, and we want to ease that pain for you.  We aren’t the ones who hurt you, and we never will.  We want to provide a life for you that helps you achieve your goals and dreams.  We want to give you things that make your life fun: take you camping, to concerts and art shows, and on vacations.  We want to assign you chores and teach you the rewards of a job well done.  We want to buy you the board games you like to play, and the clothes you wear that make you feel pretty inside and out, and help you decorate your bedroom.  We want to help you with your homework and soothe you through your dating heartbreaks.   We want to watch you move from Junior High to High School,  We want to see school plays with you, help you figure out if you want to be in the band or play on a sports team.  Or both.  We want to see you graduate and help you decide on a college or technical school.  We want to help you fill out job applications, put together your resume and practice your interview skills.

Sometimes it feels like we got you too late.  It feels like your chances for having a healthy life have passed you by, that we didn’t get to take care of you til too much damage was done.  Those early years are so important to developing the parts of the brain that control attachments and empathy.  It feels like we lost you before we ever even knew you.

You have a choice to make before you.  You can embrace the life we can offer you, or you can continue in your current state of unhappiness and anger.  I know that anger suited you, served you and was a big part of how you survived the life you lived before you came to live with us.  That anger marked you, claimed you as its own and its a powerful force for you now, that makes it so hard to move away from.  It protected you, made you feel emotionally safer and in the process it has consumed you.  You’re a danger to people around you, and to yourself.  The anger that protected you now threatens you, but its so hard to let go of it.  I don’t know if you will.

And there’s the sense of betrayal that has been instilled in you by those who were supposed to care about you.  Instead of being happy for you, that you found a genetic parent you thought would never be a part of your life, a parent who could offer you safety and could meet your needs for emotional, material and physical well-being, instead of being happy for you and encouraging you, their jealousy and bigotry emerged and told you that it was a betrayal to embrace your new family.  They told you that we were too different, that trusting us was wrong.  And that kind of emotional blackmail is hard to move past.

But I know your strengths.  I saw how you were bonding with us before that encounter.  I saw the truth behind your fear- that you were more afraid of being abandoned by us than you were of being in a’ different’ kind of family.  I know how brave you are.  I have watched you walk into a new school. alone, and take that in stride.  I see how devoted you are to your siblings.  I’ve heard stories of things you faced and survived, including assault, abuse, staggering neglect and even sexual assault, and you are here.  You have strengths you don’t know you have, including adults now in your life ready and willing to help you and move you through the next big phase of your life: healing.

I know you can do it, I just don’t know if you want to do it.  Please, Babygirl, just know that whatever you decide, we are here for you.  Always.  No matter what.

Love, Me

 

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