Monday, August 25, 2008

Just Friends

The romance is officially over, and they are now “just friends.” Daughter went into the workshop and talked to her Case Manager (who never approved of the relationship), and told Boyfriend when he finished all his mowing that she just wanted to be friends. He apologized for not respecting her, and told her maybe someday they can try again. I had three phone calls from her today—she needed to touch base with Mom as she worried about the conversation, and then she had to report it was a done deal. I suspect Boyfriend was relieved to have the pressure off of him.

She seemed much happier tonight. I know I’m much happier. This is the longest she’s ever sustained a relationship, and I think there was more physical contact (kissing) than she’s ever had with a man. I see that as progress in her ongoing healing from the early sexual abuse. She’s still a long way from being able to trust a man enough to sustain a relationship long term, but she has made tremendous progress.

There are people who ask me how things that happened to her before the age of 3 could possibly have an impact on her now, all of these years later. One of her psychiatrists explained to me that while she doesn’t have verbal memories, her body remembers. So when her body experiences something that reminds her of those experiences, she panics. Of course, when he told me she had been too young for verbal memories, I told him the story she had told me of watching her brothers fight with a knife. I hadn’t believed the story until birth mom confirmed that it had happened when Daughter was 18 months old. He was amazed by the story. I don’t know if she still remembers the knife fight. She hasn’t mentioned it in years, and I certainly don’t bring those things up. When we talk about her birth family at all, it’s just to say that they weren’t able to keep her safe, and she deserved to live in a safe place.

I once walked by her as she was leaning over, and ran my fingers along her back. She went ballistic. I touch her frequently, so I couldn’t figure out why she was having such an extreme reaction. Then I remembered that birth mom had told me that she had watched birth dad tell Daughter his fingers were bugs crawling on her. Birth mom thought that had led to molestation (I wish she had recognized it and stopped it at the time). When I ran my fingers along her back, she reacted out of the remembered terror of those early experiences. I’ve made sure never to do anything like that again. Now if I’m walking by her when she’s in a vulnerable position, I speak to her. If I touch her, it is with a firm (and hopefully reassuring) hand on her back.

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