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Collateral Damages of Her Survival

While, I don’t allow people to get away with manipulation of what I will and won’t do for them or myself, I am often victim to my heart’s manipulation. Some may consider that a blessing, but it can also serve as a curse. I have learned through experience to curb it’s influence but it is the reason I still take in strays(mostly four legged) and visit with S.

She has been angry since childhood. Having a developmental disability sometimes does that to those, who find no support, no encouragement, no expectations, no love early on in their young lives. This is so critical for one who has desires, dreams, and goals for themselves. Instead, they are undermined, marginalized, ignored, and imprisoned by limits set by others. Some are traumatized and victimized by long term abuse (a study of the history of disability reveals gross mistreatment of our largest minority by “society”).

Soon, some learn that to survive they must yell, scream, argue, and fight(verbally and physically) for the tiniest morsel of attention. They become survivors using what they can. Their anger drives them, but their hurt never, ever heals. It soon becomes a way of life, that anger, that fight, and even when they do not need to use it they do. The end result is alienation from those who can provide exactly what they seek, what they needs— love, understanding, compassion, caring from others. All those things encompass relationships with others and it is those relationships that never survive or even develop within her ongoing outbursts of anger. These things are the resulting collateral damages of her own survival history. Those things faught for as a child, those things that we all need as adults, have no chance for survival in their now life.

So it is with S. It is the one thing, she cannot get away with on me. She has learned this about me, so we have very few of those episodes. In the past she has burned so many bridges, unable to find anyone willing to provide home health care in her home, that she will never return to living in the community, and as with many, will spend her remaining years in a nursing facility. Technically, I should not be visiting her anymore, but against my director’s say, I do. She needs a bit of advocacy(partially true), is my reason when in reality, she just needs a visit from someone who does not have to be there.

The other day she let loose on me, bombarding me with a variety of names as well as accusation. Before that, she showed me some vulnerability, tearing up, talking about things people have said about her. And they say alot in the whispers among the staff, I often pick up pieces and bits of the conversation, there is no doubt who they are talking about. I understand they need to vent, because she can be down right nasty. And she deserves everything they say about her, as that is all they see. I see someone who is very angry at her own inability to control her anger against those who don’t deserve it. A skill that has been honed over the last six decades, a skill that she is afraid to let go in fear that she will not survive.

She does not understand what it is like to be on the other side of her outbursts. And though, I know that it is not meant for me really, it is still hurtful in the moment, emotionally exhausting, and mentally draining. I understand why so many have distanced or completely cut her out of their lives — her behavior is toxic. It is what they do for their own survival.

I know that all behavior is communication, but it is the behavior that also prevents us(me,you,they) from wanting to learn exactly what it is S. is communicating. Unfortunately so, for to be able to do so is the trigger for compassion. No one is ever able to get to that point as her walls are way to thick.

After her outburst, her tears appear again, which perhaps she hopes will keep me there, but I believe they needed to fall down her cheeks — something she hates to reveal. I let her know that I must leave, as we will not be very productive today with any conversation. While she cries I quietly leave her be, as I know the limits I have set for my heart so that I may survive.

**On this Mother’s Day, these thoughts are shared, as I know this is a very difficult day for many, especially for S. For those who are able to celebrate this day, as a mother(or those that have that role) or as child, please know how very fortunate you are. I am one of the fortunate ones. Thanks to S. and others who have taught me understanding and caring.