How can foster children overcome the shocks they've been subjected to?
If you see your parents at each others throats and get a dread of raised voices how can you watch Eastenders without your gut wrenching?
Jenny Drew Something *
If you experienced terrifying loneliness how can you make solid relationships without testing their limits and losing those people who get fed up with your tests?
I bet even you (assuming you didn't go through the trauma of being put in Care) have memories you'd give your left arm not to have? Memories which change your mood without you even knowing?
If you were beaten, derided, starved.
The reason I'm wondering is because one of the shocks that happened to me as a child came back to me in the kitchen today.
I was stirring a tea bag and humming a tune. The tune was "Men of Harlech". Maybe Zulu had been on ITV4 at some point. Maybe the act of stirring made me think of a stirring song. Then I hushed, in case anyone might hear.
I can't sing, you see.
I was told so at school. By an old witch called Mrs Garrard, who took us for singing. Every Thursday after lunch in the hall. I loved it; we'd sing stirring songs like "Hearts Of Oak" and "D'ye Ken John Peel". Great fun.
One afternoon she tapped me on the shoulder, hard and said; "Non-singer! On the floor!"
"Non-singers" had to sit silently on the wooden floor.
My point is that this crippled me for singing for life. I mime in church. As for Karaoke, forget it.
Nothing I can do to overcome it, it's deep inside me.
Luckily it doesn't matter a fig. Learning you're a "Non-Singer" is nothing compared to learning you're a "Non-Person".
In other words, where is the brain's Delete Button.
Would that be great? If you could highlight an experience, click "Trash" and it's gone. I think they made a film about it with Jim Carrey*
I expect there are some rats in a lab somewhere who are having it done to them right now.
And yet. I'm remembering a training session where the human was described as;
"The damage that's done to us, nothing more or less"
It's how come we are individuals, and there' little dearer to us than our own self, warts and all.
THEIR EXPERIENCES ARE THEIR ONLY PRIVATE PROPERTY
As foster parents we have two options for helping with their traumas; talk about them or not talk about them.
We're ever-alert in case they want to open up. I find they never gush and they don't understand the importance of certain experiences against less important ones.
We never go in head first do we? They take the lead; it's their life and their experiences are their only private property. But if and when they do start a conversation the best we can do is listen neutrally and reassure them that they did nothing wrong, and they are entitled to see their past the way it works best for them. If they have any facts wrong we can put them right, but I reckon that's about as much adjustment as we should make.
The rest of the time we offer the support and celebration of their lives you'd give any child, without them noticing you're feeding their self-belief. Get their perceptions of their traumas to work for them, somehow.
I hope they're not hurting those lab rats, but at the same time I wish they'd hurry up with the "Trash" button.
image kindly provided by Jenny Drew Something: https://www.facebook.com/jennydrewsomething?fref=ts
*Interesting fact about "The Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind": In order to get the right performances from Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey the director took each of them aside.
He told Winslet "This isn't a drama! It's a comedy!"
He told Carrey "This isn't a comedy! It's a drama!"