What does a child do when they are afraid? Seems like an easy question to answer, doesn't it? Let's see. Some of the possible options might be: scream, hide, run to Mom or Dad. Kids do all those things on a regular basis. If they see a snake or spider, they might scream in the hope of scaring away the critter. What if they're afraid of something they can't see? Seems like the standard response is to run to Mom & Dad. How many times has a parent awoke to a terrified child beside their bed? The child goes to the source of protection and comfort. The one or two people that they've learned to trust to take care of them.
Now, consider for a moment, what does a child do when he's scared and he doesn't believe he can trust anyone?
Then fear becomes much more than an emotion that can be calmed by another's presence. For a child to face their fears believing they are all alone; it becomes debilitating. It becomes terrifying beyond all measure. What does a child do then? Well, unfortunately and all to frequently, they lash out, much like a cornered animal. In their mind, they are fighting for survival.
Chris is away in New York for a few days. No big deal to most of us (not that we don't miss you sweetie, we do), we know he'll be home in a couple days and all is well. So, when Marcus started having a difficult time controlling his emotions yesterday, I didn't immediately put two-and-two together. I did wonder why on earth chairs were getting thrown when we hadn't had to deal with that sort of behavior in awhile.
Then, I went to my chiropractor this morning and while I was getting a massage, it came up that the massage therapist is an adult adoptee from Russia. Talking with her helped me to see the connection between the anger issues Marcus was dealing with and the fact that Chris was gone.
When I got home and talked to Marcus it came out that he truly was afraid that Chris was not going to come back from New York - EVER. What the other kids and I take as a no-brainer, Marcus struggles mightily to believe. Being the problem-solving mommy that I am, I suggested to Marcus that when he is afraid of something it would be better for him to come to me and say, "I'm afraid of________," than to throw chairs and household objects at me. To which he replied, "I CAN'T!!!!"
He can't share that with me because he doesn't trust me. Over five years of consistent love and care, and he still can't bring himself to trust me enough with his fear. Breaks my heart. But we continue on...loving, caring and praying for healing in his little heart.
Today, the story has a good ending, in that after we identified the fear, we were able to take some steps to help assure him that his fear is unfounded, and that Daddy really does love him and will not desert him. After that, not surprisingly, happy, sweet Marcus is back.