I want to write, no, I need to write… but this might not be the easiest to read. I need to explain, I need people to understand my boys. And I hate the fact that yet again, I am here, explaining them. I wish the world could see them through my eyes…my amazing, resilient, courageous boys.
Big boy has many issues; he is regularly referred to as ‘complex’ by professionals. I see him struggling and not being understood and it breaks my heart.
I will not tell his story, for it is his story not mine. But I will tell you that he has been through the loss of 3 sets of parents. I cannot imagine as an adult how I will cope with losing my parents; to lose 3 sets of parents before you are 2 must break something deep instead of you.
I will tell you that even now, I wonder how his birthmum gets up in the morning and gets on with her life, because I am not sure how strong I would have been if I had lived through her childhood and her early adult years.
I will tell you that there is research that shows that trauma can be passed on through genes. That the children of holocaust survivors have changes in their genes that are associated with the effects of trauma…the trauma suffered by their parents. (see here)
I will tell you that what is called ‘developmental trauma’ when seen in children, is called PTSD in soldiers.
I will tell you that when a mother suffers high levels of stress during pregnancy; there are long lasting effects on the child. That high level of cortisol during pregnancy, means that the child will release more cortisol than the ‘average child’ and that it will be released more easily. My boy’s birthmum had a lot to be stressed about during her pregnancy.
I will tell you that most of us have reactions to danger (freeze, fight or flight) and that we can perceive how dangerous a situation is. I will tell you that some things that effect this ability. I will tell you that sometimes a child may only be able to choose to freeze, to fight or to fly. I will tell you that they see danger in everything and do not have a normal ‘healthy’ response to a minimum situation. This might lead to an over-reaction to a situation that didn’t need that reaction.
I will tell you that there are different parts of our brains and that each part does a different job. That there is a part of your brain that controls rational thought (the frontal lobes) and that part of the brain helps with creativity, problem solving, reasoning, reflection. I will tell you in this house we refer to this as our thinking brain. There is another part of the brain (the lower brain) that controls emotions; rage, fear, separation distress, playfulness. In this house it is referred to as the ‘reacting brain’ or ‘doing brain’. When stressed, anxious, worried, scared we lose access to the frontal lobes. If you live in a state of fear and anxiety you spend most of your time unable to access those frontal lobe reactions… you live in the lower brain, the reacting brain.
My boy can rarely access that important frontal lobe. He lives in a state of fear and worry. He lives from minute to minute waiting for danger. He is stressed beyond what most adults could cope with. When things go wrong, he looks for a quick fix…what can I do, what can I say so I don’t get harmed…even if the person with him would not harm him he cannot make that rational thought. He fights, he says things that might not be your reality to make sure he is safe. He freezes; he looks lost.
I will tell you that drinking alcohol whilst pregnant harms your baby. I want to tell you it doesn’t matter – I would be lying. Drinking any amount of alcohol can cause your baby brain damage. That brain damage cannot be repaired, it is organic, it is there. You may be the lucky one, you may have one drink or many drinks and not see any effects. Sadly my boy doesn’t seem to have fallen on the lucky side in this.
Please don’t judge my boys on what you see. They react to the world differently, because they have suffered more than most of us can imagine. Please don’t believe that just because they are with us now, living happy lives, loved beyond measure that what went before doesn’t exist and doesn’t have an effect. Because it does, it will continue to do so. Love cannot fix everything, anymore than time can. Their problems are deeper than that.
But know this, I love them. I will stand up for them. I will stand and shout for them. I will not allow them for them to be misunderstood. They are precious and deserve so much. When you see them, when you hear something that they have done, spend a moment and think…if I had their history how would I cope and stand amazed at what they have achieved.