Today I sit on my daughter’s empty bed again and just cry. I’m exhausted from a week of trying to undo yet again, what my ex did the week before. My life now is handling tantrums and rages born of fear, frustration, hurt and confusion. It’s crawling under benches and beds, to sit with my daughter when she is having “big feelings”. It’s holding my son as he clings to me, knowing he is simply afraid to let go. It’s working with his many fears, obsessions and compulsions that get worse every time we near transition. It’s reassuring him every time my voice changes, that he is not in trouble, that he is safe.
And I cry…
I cry because I had to send them back to him again, knowing full well what that means for them. I cry because I feel helpless to help them. Every other week, I am bound and helpless again. This is transition day for me. A day my heart punches at the core of my soul with helpless screams and moans, as I leave my babies at the designated drop off and they watch me walk away, their eyes wide and scared. I won’t see them for a week. I can’t protect them for a whole week.
The only thing I can do now, is make their beds, do their laundry, clean their sinks and prepare their spaces for when they come back to me again and we begin the long process of assessing and again correcting the damage that has been done. Slowly and quietly, that’s what I do on these transition days. The dread of the previous day’s anticipation of this day is realized and I attempt to lift my heart and rest my spirit for the familiar battle that I know is coming.
My week will be spent in preparation. Reading anything I can get my hands on, planning how to teach them the critical thinking skills they will need, to see truth and to manage living with a narcissistic, abusive father, without being ripped to shreds in the process. It’s the only thing I can do for them when they are with him. It’s the only protection I can offer them. I must teach them how to identify manipulation, how to spot blame shifting, how to counter gaslighting. It’s survival skills 101 and I am on an unwavering mission to educate myself and become fluent in abuserese, so that I can teach them to identify it too. And then I have to pray. Pray that the Lord give them discernment by the bucket load. Pray that all they have learned will be recognized and used to minimize the effects of the abuse on their little hearts and minds.
It’s teaching them to steer the boat and to navigate the rapids they will face, because I can’t be there to hold the rudder steady for them. My kids have to grow up a lot faster than they should. I can’t change that right now. But what I can do is give them the skills they will need along the journey they are on and pray like crazy that they will find their way through the darkness, into the safety of truth.
I know God is with them. I know He will steady their feet, as He steadies my heart. And so I make their beds today, I clean their dishes and put away their clothes. I pick my heart up off of the floor for the thousandth time and I resolve to push on. At some point, God promises a finish line, and I am determined to see my kids cross it.