adoption, family

Bruised Not Broken

My oldest child’s decisions are the equivalent of a Rubik’s cube to me. I find this ironic because Marcus can actually solve all types of physical Rubik’s cubes. He used to have me line up five of them in a row. He’s do the traditional cube, pyramid, star shape, 7X7 and circle. Then he’d try to beat his best time of solving them all in one minute.

He’s smart. He just doesn’t make smart decisions. We finally saw him two days ago. His new phone came in (thank you, insurance!) For some unknown reason Marcus’ car has been recovered from the robbery, is running, and appears fine??

Anyway, he showed up to the house to get his new phone. I’d also collected his mail and had a box of baby food for Mystery Baby. I didn’t know what to expect when he walked in. Marcus is able to be much more open and physical with Luke. He’ll give Dad a hug right away. With me, it’s always a little more cautious. Moms are a thing he has learned not to trust.

He let me approach him slowly and examine the bruising on his face, the cuts, and his broken nose. I carefully moved his hair and touched the swelling on his purple left cheekbone. He let me gently hug him (after I warned him first) because I just really needed to hold my son. I need to feel that he was solid, that he was really there, and that he was home in my kitchen.

After he sat down with Luke to call in and get the new phone set up, I asked about New Girlfriend. Apparently she was in the car with the baby in 30 degrees, just waiting. I had Marcus bring them in so I could meet them both. I made no mention of the mystery extra person still sitting in the car because I honestly thought it was Bad Associate drug dealer I wouldn’t allow into the house. He could freeze to death for all I cared.

Meeting New Girlfriend was not at all what I expected. I liked her. She was honest with me, answering questions directly about the night Marcus was hurt. Apparently it was a dispute with her ex-boyfriend, the baby’s father. Mystery solved! This is not Marcus’ baby.

At 37 I am NOT yet a grandmother! Whew!

I was sort of surprised that New Girlfriend had a restraining order against her ex. Going to the police is rather uncommon in that area. She seemed polite and intelligent. She appeared to be trying her best to be a good mom and to keep Marcus out of this ex-drama.

His last few girlfriends would have relished these fights. She told me about future plans to apprentice as a tattoo artist and how she’d like to get an apartment of their own. She assured me she does not want any more children for at least four years.

Luke and I also saw that they had nothing. Absolutely nothing.  We fed the baby right away. She was a happy little thing who chugged around playing with books and petting the cats. The baby is only 11 months old so I was rather surprised when she picked her books off of the floor and placed them onto the coffee table when she was finished “reading.”

New Girlfriend wore a sleeveless top with no coat. She didn’t own one. I gave her one of mine to keep and she immediately put it on. After an hour of pleasant socializing Marcus mentioned the friend still in the car. At this point it was getting to be somewhere in the twenties temperature-wise. They mentioned it was not Bad Associate but the girl that had been travelling with them for an unknown length of time.

I invited her in and she wasn’t what I expected, either. She looked to be around 18, also with no coat. She was polite and grateful to be inside with the heat. Both girls looked so young, scared, and alone. While my stepdaughter, Catlyn, sat on the floor studying for science, these two passed around a baby and shivered in the October chill. They were all basically the same age.

Although adults, these girls were still teenagers who needed their families. Where were their mothers? The stories they told were heartbreaking in the lack of support and care they received from their own parents.

When I asked Marcus if his little family had everything they needed, New Girlfriend automatically said yes. She just wanted to meet us and wasn’t asking for anything else. Clearly they did not have much, so I turned to Extra Tag-Along Friend and demanded the truth. I used my calmest, firmest, most authoritative teacher voice. She admitted to me that they didn’t have clothes or groceries. She told me they baby needed food.

Luke and Marcus “took a ride” at this point. Marcus had no idea he was going to the local Big Y. I was home with Marcus’ little family, Catlyn  and Carl. We all chatted as a group and I gathered some supplies like Advil and medical tape for or Marcus’ injuries. I added in some medicated patches that can be applied like stickers over hurting muscles. Marcus had nothing and three broken ribs take time to heal.

During the outing Luke took our son to the grocery store. He filled a shopping cart with food and baby supplies like wipes, diapers, and Gerber food. All Marcus could do was begin to cry quietly and say thank you. He hadn’t expected this. After looking at him, though, how could we have done otherwise?

During this time Luke spoke to Marcus about his situation. It won’t get better unless Marcus makes changes. He didn’t deny that he was dealing but he did admit he wanted out of that job and out of that city. He’d prefer to come home to us but he knows we won’t take the whole family.

I think Marcus talked a good game about wanted to save up for an apartment here in town where they’d all be safe and they could be close to us. Is this an unexpected turn or just a repeat of Marcus’ typical cycle? I wish I knew. He’d be better off. He just feels strongly that after about a month of dating, New Girlfriend is “the one.” He can’t leave her.

Mostly Marcus just cried and thanked us. He let me tend his wounds and have two additional hugs. There was an awkward moment when we all stood in the kitchen clearly knowing the visit was over. I think they may have been expecting us to take them all in for the night. It was incredibly hard to remind everyone of the late hour and to get home so the baby could go to bed.

I teared up as Marcus was leaving. I told him we loved him and would always take care of him. Imagine my surprise when he caught me up in a big bear hug. Our relationship is certainly bruised but it is far from broken. I promised not to squeeze his ribs too hard as long as he didn’t dislodge my new robot-spine. We both laughed, wiped some tears away and said, “Goodbye.” Again.

I am forever saying goodbye to Marcus. Our mother-son dynamic is perpetually overshadowed by the relationship he had with his biological mother. We are tainted with the vestiges of that trauma. Sometimes it’s hard for me to know if he really believes I am a constant safe place for him.

As the girls were walking out the door I heard them say to each other, “Look at that. I wish I had a mom.”

**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

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15 thoughts on “Bruised Not Broken

  1. skinnyhobbit says:

    I think they’ll help Marcus see what he’s not appreciating: You and your husband.

    I think there might be a fear (I’m guessing) in Marcus that you might be “too good to be true”. Could just be me though, due to my own past of people who used kindness to groom me so they could exploit me. That creates a mistrust and suspicion.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s like you read his mind somehow. He’s often told me most people are too good to be true. If they’re nice they want something. He knows it’s hard to let himself trust. That’s why we exist in this fragile push/pull dance that doesn’t seem to end.

      You must have had many of the same experiences my son has had. I’m sorry for that. The world should not be that way. Ever.

      Liked by 1 person

      • skinnyhobbit says:

        ❤ I promise you, you’re doing your best. Ultimately, my hope for all your chickens is that they’ll take those huge emotional risks (because they are Huge) and to try to trust that you’re there. That you won’t willingly leave. It requires a sort of hopeful faith and I hope it’ll grow in them. I grew up being physically abused till I was 25…starting from 2 – 5 (ages unclear), though it was never so chaotic as your chickens’ backgrounds. Mine looked like a picture perfect family. I want to tell you that we humans are unbelievablely resilient. That our brains warped by trauma can be rewired… Trauma shaped our very first neural networks (I have a personality disorder from the complex trauma. My entire personality is an adaptation to the complex trauma)…but it doesn’t have to stay that way. I have come so far with trauma therapy as an adult. Life is long. Our brains are plastic throughout our lives. ❤

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Kathrin says:

    That is heartbreaking but at the same time so full of love. Maybe this will bring him a step closer to you. It makes me carefully hopeful for his future. How many times must you have thought that this time he will get it right? Does it feel different this time? You handled the situation so well but you must have been torn up, right? As a mom you want to say „stay, I will take care of you“ but knowing that is not what he needs …. very hard. Sending love and strength as always.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. C says:

    Intelligence and good decision making are made and remembered in different parts of the brain. that’s just brain anatomy and Marcus’ brain already had faulty wiring from his trauma. Before getting a diagnosis and even since then People have said to me “you’re too smart to be sick” It’s not apples to apples. Those other kids’s mother could be just like you loving, caring, generous or they could be like biomom. No way to really know that though. Marcus knows he has a good family. Could be a million reasons why he choses this lifestyle, trauma related things, recovery related things, feeling powerless or unworthy etc. I am wondering if it has anything to do with codependency this girl and her baby depend on him and he needs to be needed so they don’t leave.

    Liked by 1 person

    • C you must tell me that you’re back into school now. This is truly your calling. Yes, you are totally correct about the faulty wiring. I also think Marcus tries to undo his past in some ways. He took care of biomom many times, physically, when she couldn’t because of depression and drug use. Sometimes he’s hard wired to take care of the women he feels he must protect. I also think he wants a family so badly. It’s so important to him but he doesn’t know how to go about it responsibly. It’s that faulty wiring. He did know to come to us in an emergency. I’m hoping it’s progress of some kind. You just understand my chickens so well. You need to be helping kids like this in the field of developmental trauma. You do certainly help parents like me! 😊

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  4. Pingback: The Prodigal Son Makes a Decision | Herding Chickens and Other Adventures in Foster and Adoptive Care

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