I’ve written before that Smudge can be violent. She always has been. When she came home at two it wasn’t ok but she’d just been moved from a foster placement of 18 months, had a global developmental delay and had good reason to be unsettled and in distress. We trusted that things would improve and that as she grew to trust and hopefully to love us that there would be less hitting and kicking. Heck, it wasn’t like it hurt. She was tiny.

Only the violence never really did stop as she grew. At times it would recede. As she got more verbal and better able to communicate her needs and wants the shouting, screaming and insults took precedence. But, lurking in the shadows was always the threat that if she got beyond screaming she still had options, options that now hurt. Angry, frustrated kids in an adrenal fight, flight or freeze response are strong.

We were never in any doubt that this was less of a choice and more of a meltdown. A complete system overload. Smudge was blameless and powerless. She really cannot control her emotions. Big, powerful emotions cause havoc. It just became our way of life.

Only she kept growing. The challenges and stresses that mainstream education placed upon her kept growing. The hurt, damage and fear she was inflicting kept growing. As did the shame. Despite all our efforts to attempt to help her understand the huge role her disability played in all this. All the times we tried to reassure her that we loved her unconditionally, no matter what. Despite all that shame was eating her up inside.

I have to believe that shame is a factor in what is happening now. It might be to protect me from the far bleaker options of her just not giving a damn about us or not being capable of the depth of emotion to give a damn about us. If I convince myself that it is shame then there is love too and a desire to protect us, her sister. That is the far more comfortable prospect.

How else do I resign myself to the fact that my darling, adored and cherished 15 year old daughter demanded to be removed from the family home to respite foster care? Left with assurances that she would be back in a fortnight, then a staggered return and has now informed us and Social Work that she does not want to return home ever.

I am adrift. Completely untethered without even the bare bones of a plan to cling to. There are no options, there are no choices to even make the wrong one. We just have to wait., to hope that she changes her mind. That she might reconsider. And so we hope.

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