"It’s hard having a child other people actively don’t want."-HKL, Star In Her Eye blog
I never knew my daughter would be classified as special needs. I never knew that she would struggle so soon in her life. I wasn't prepared to handle her challenges, or fight the battles that come with giving her a life in the world that cannot see her invisible needs.
Some days I see the progress, and I see how she can have a life like others, but then other days I am reminded that she will never be in the same world as her peers. Like this morning, I hold her as she cries because I can't allow her to do the things that the other kids get to do. "It isn't fair, Mom." No, it isn't.
Some days I sit here, angry at the world that leaves her out of it. I am frustrated by the people who think they understand, but really have no clue. I feel helpless as the only adult who has to deal with this on a daily basis, and who is the only one who sees the aftermath. When my child spends recess standing by the fence, alone, because she has made the mature choice to take herself out of a negative situation instead of exhibit those old behaviors. When I see her negatively experience situations, and when she clings to me, crying and begging to leave, my heart shatters. She has made the right choice, but she still suffers greatly for it, and only she and I see this.
As my daughter goes through each day, every experience or interaction she has is stored as negative or positive. Something that another child is able to shrug off, she internalizes and stores it as negative. When she encounters a negative situation, she backs away, or she engages. Part of her disability is the inability to process in the middle of tense situations. Afterwards, she can say what she should have done, but in that moment, her brain shuts down. Her reaction will either be to run away and cry, or engage. Fight or flight. If she engages, generally she is seen as the problem or the instigator, and then she is unable to speak up for herself. Her experiences in the past have taught her that it doesn't matter what she says, because the adult will not believe her. Unfortunately, there are a number of children in her social circles who know what happens if they quietly push her over the edge. They start something, and then sit back and watch the fireworks, but my daughter is the one who is burned.
These situations have occurred so many times this year that for her mental and emotional well-being, she might lose her recess from school, and miss out on certain social events. I thank God that He has provided a way to be able to home school her next year, and she can begin to regain her freedom. Society says "Daycare, public education, socialization!" Society says it equals freedom. Not for children like my daughter. It isn't freedom at all, but a cage. Lock down. Solitary confinement.
My daughter has special needs. Her disabilities are not visible or obvious. I first noticed that she had difficulties when I put her into daycare at the age of two. Back then, her disabilities were obvious. Outsiders, teachers, and professionals attribute her behavior to bad parenting, terrible twos, and just being a bad kid. Every day, negative stored experiences far outweighed any positive experiences. Her negative experiences overflowed outward, and at three and four years, she talked about killing herself. Now, at nine, she has learned a lot, and has learned some coping skills. Sometimes she is able to use those, and sometimes not. Sometimes she self-medicates, which only further exacerbates the situation. However, despite the coping skills she utilizes, she still experiences anxiety, stress, and negative self-esteem. These days, much of it is hidden from everyone else, except me. Instead of coming out in public and overflowing, it burrows inward, hidden like poison.
I have long suffered with anxiety. Over the last couple of years, God has begun to deliver me from this. I still live with it, but it doesn't rule my life like it used to. On Sunday, I experienced an anxiety attack. Sitting in church, attempting to listen to God's message, and internally fighting with something that had grabbed hold of my throat, strangling me. Its been a long time since I experienced that. Unfortunately, as my daughter struggles, so do I. And as I struggle, so does she. I've had to pull back from society's life lately, and in doing so, I realize I also need to pull my daughter back. I've had to pull back from people, and when this happens, the lies of the world are louder than ever.
I know EXACTLY how my daughter feels, and I know what a lonely life it is. To feel that you don't fit with any group, that you don't belong. As parents, we want something different for our children. As I have been saved from the old life, I want something different for those around me. As I see my daughter experience pain that is not her doing, I want those around her to UNDERSTAND and SEE that her name is not anxiety. Her identity is not her negative experiences. I want those around us to help her learn that her identity is not those negative experiences, and to give her positive experiences that far outweigh the negative. Those few people who know her better than her actions, and get to know her, God bless you for knowing and interacting positively. To those who interact with her daily, but don't want to take the time to understand what is going on, what a pity. What a shame, because despite what you think you see, my daughter has a lot of love to give to people who want it. If you take the time to interact with her and get to know her, you will see a girl after God's own heart. You will see a girl with a lot of talent and passion. Knowing her will change your life.
Just like she has changed mine.
We might be in different places, but all of us are on a journey.
Leah's Life Verses