dianadragonfly: (Default)
I remember the end of Marvin's room. Diane Keaton's character has spent her life taking care of her dad, who is bedridden, and a crazy great aunt. She has also just gotten the news that her own cancer is incurable, despite having her sister and nephews typed for bone marrow transplants. The two sisters are sitting in the room of the father, I think, amusing him with a mirror reflecting light on the walls. (I think -- it's been a long time). Diane Keaton's character says "I am so lucky to have had so much love in my life." The sister, wanting to be reassuring, says something like "Oh yes, Dad and Aunt whoever love you very much." It's obvious that the dad isn't even sure she's around.

Diane Keaton's character says," No, it's not that they've loved me. It's that I love them."

At the time, I thought that was sappy.

But I think of that a lot. For those of us who spend our lives loving people who might or might not be able to love us back, or they can't give us any of the "perks" that you're supposed to get from a relationship, who have that emotional investment and aren't able to ever have that translate into any sort of real-world ability to have any input, who have to just bite our lip and bear it when the parents decide a group home is best, or when we have to move on, or when a kid gets transfered, or when a parent or school or guardian or teacher or administrator makes a decision we know is wrong... we just have to love and let go. It's not like 20 years from now, a kid is going to give a speech and say "I remember that Miss Lesley helped me do this..." My kids, for the most part, don't speak. And I get embarrassed when other people note things, as if that the child with autism, or cerebral palsy, or Lanudu-Klneffner, or Angelman Syndrome, or Down's Syndrome, or whatever is so different, is so outside the human race that to love and to teach is somehow only an extraordinary achievement that only someone like me can achieve.

But I get my heart broken over and over -- sometimes through my failings, sometimes through the system. I go visit Kayla and my heart just wants to explode on the drive home. I want to be there so badly, I want to set things up so that she's loved and cared for in the way she deserves. I want everything for all of them and know that I can't do it. So all I can do is love -- even if that means not letting my 12 year old hug me all the time because it's not appropriate and all I want to do it hug him. Let go of my "wild-child" who was too violent for me to take care of her, though I think about her everyday. Go visit my 5-year-old and try to remember that I'm not going to be part of his life forever, so I need to train everyone around him on how to use his communication system. Remember how the 7 year old "got it" -- learned how to use his augmentative system to ask for things, and then moved and I'll never see him again. NOT let my 20 year old get so attached -- she gets wrapped up in her caregivers and that scares them off. She needs friends -- not paid friends. She has friends. Her caregivers need to respect that, and not bask in the affection and praise she so freely offers, and instead take her to visit her friends.

Anyway, I think of [livejournal.com profile] paperflowers a lot. She knows this too and it also turns around and kicks her in the teeth all the time. The people she loves are at the end of their lives. They forget who she is, forget who they are, stop talking, have strokes, die. That's a kind of hard love that most people don't have. And it leaves her with a lot of people that have left her, and it leaves her alone.

There might be something broken about this, something that makes us seek out these sort of doomed relationships. But I don't think so. I think without my juvenile delinquents, my Kayla, my kids who can't talk but are never silent, I would be a worse person. I wouldn't understand that everything isn't always fair in love. The hubby is never going to be great with money and that's how it is. I either let myself feel cheated every month, or I accept that, and do the bills anyway. He's never going to be great at giving comfort on demand. I know that now, and I know that doesn't mean he doesn't love me. I'm not a doormat, by any means, and I get pissed when it's my bank account bouncing all the time.

I think this is sounding too emotional and flowery, and that's not what I meant. I think, without my kids, I wouldn't know what it means to just love -- expect nothing in return.

People say that kids with disabilities are the example of unconditional love, and I used to laugh. Love for Mary was totally conditional -- if you let her eat, she loved you and hugged you. If you said no, or made her mad, she hit or bit and screamed. It was the definition of conditional.

But I realized that they mean to love a kid like Mary is to know how it feels to love unconditionally, even as you're so angry you think you understand child abuse now, even as you're bleeding from a head butt. That's what I've learned from all this.


Nov. 24th, 2005 10:54 pm
dianadragonfly: (Default)
Melancholy... which is good.

This is how I wrote best. By my self. No pressure to get up the next day. Empty house. At first I freak out and try to distract myself, then I sort of make peace with myself and write something.
I've scheduled myself so tightly this semester that I haven't had this space to just breathe. I miss it. I miss me.

Distracting myself is infinitely easier with the internet. I might never get past that stage if I'm not careful.

First, I get incredibly nostalgic for every person I ever loved and wonder why they hell they are. This was triggered yesterday by seeing, I swear to god, Brian Berger, my former teamleader, walking in front of me in the Walmart parking lot. I used to do this alot, when I saw people that reminded me of people I knew everywhere I went. I'd see a set of eyes and think -- my god, I've seen eyes that blue before. Where? And it would be a day later before I realized that they belonged to Daniel, the boy from the other floor who helped out in the cafeteria at the juvenile detention center. He was so meek that I wondered over and over how he ended up where he was.

The boys that are 21 are probably in jail now. I have no illusions that any of them turned their lives around, or at least not from their time with us. We weren't that kind of place.

I think alot about Darren. He arrived the same day I did. He was my primary. I broke his heart by not getting him a pair of boots. I imagine he's back in jail. I remember the time he got restrained and I just sat there, holding his legs on the ground, feeling him cry-- he'd stopped struggling. I realized that this was the first time anyone had probably touched him in a year -- programs for sex offenders are usually "no touch." It's for everyone's safety, but I wondered how it would feel if no body ever ever even shook your hand or put a hand on your shoulder. Wouldn't even a restraint be an endorphin release? It sounds Mary Kay whatshername freakish, but I just suddenly wanted to cry for this kid, how much good there was in him, and how, by all accounts, his life was written for him from him on out. I couldn't save him. He couldn't save himself. I just wanted to release the restraint and hug him and cry with him. But instead I helped hold him on the ground until it was over, along with two or three burly men who took that time to inflict as much pain as possible. I imagine he's into meth now -- I remember some sort of meth connection at the time. I imagine he's in jail. Or dead.

I remember restraining Charlie on broken glass. I saw he'd broken the window, grabbed him, pulled him out of the way, knowing that a restraint was useless because he wasn't damaging any more property, didn't mean to damage the property he'd just damaged, and wasn't a threat to anyone. Then, another staff member came in and tackled him, so of course, I had to help, and all three of us went down in the broken glass.

I remember restraining Jeremiah in the snow. I quit after that. It was for the wrong reasons -- it was to prove a point.

I still am following the case of the boy in St. Louis who was arrested.

My lost boys... the saddest thing about sex abuse is that almost EVERY person who does it has been abused before. Where does it end? Not with my boys, that's for sure. The oldest is already back in jail. He's the only one old enough to have his name show up in web searches. As the rest turn 21, it will keep going. What do we do? Lock them up like animals for the rest of their lives to stop the cycle? Let them live in this humiliation we call the juvenile justice system? My mind goes back to the blog of the man who kidnapped that little girl in Oregon. He was so like the boys -- so normal, and so not.

Anyway...talking about distracting myself... wow....
I haven't thought about these guys in awhile. If don't believe in hell, but I've thought deep down that someday, I'm going to have to answer for what I saw there, and what I did.

Restraining Jeramiah in the snow.
He was 14, for godssake.
Watching whathisname twist the skin on Ray's arm during a restraint.
Watching that dude -- I forget his name -- making the boys on Hayes do wall sits. Hayes was the pre-adolescent floor even. They were BABIES!
That old guy on Hayes, they thought he'd be a grandfather type for the boys. Instead he was propositioning them.
The college girl on Jackson that slept with two of the boys.
Whathisname screaming and acting crazy -- we were sure it was an act -- until they came and gave him a buttful of thorazine. Now, I'm not sure he was acting. Often, when I looked at him, he seemed confused.
Kevin, so sweet and whiny, the floor piss-boy, then one day would wake up and be a different boy. His eyes -- I can't explain it -- they were darker. The fierceness was truly terrifying when it came on like that, so suddenly. F. had that same look in his eyes, that angry blankness, that "F's not here -- nobody's here but me and I'm gonna fuck you up" look. But F. was angry all the time. Not Kevin. This was the boy that cried all not, every night.

Sleep tight, guys. Wherever you are.

I'll never know why I didn't quit.

Yes, I thought that I could do more good from within that without.
I should have kept notes, kept records, but so? Who would listen? Everything I saw happen there was justifiable on paper, so I would have a hell of time proving anything.

wow -- yeah -- I'm distracting myself. It's time to get busy. But Jesus...

Is it too much to hope that just one of my boys goes on to live a happy life? Just one? That it wasn't all just torture for them and for me.

I feel sick

Jul. 8th, 2005 12:40 pm
dianadragonfly: (Default)
I've been reading Joseph Duncan's blog.
I dunno. Maybe I'm sick.

But what I got out of it was chilling.
Like my boys (with the exception of one kid, who I saw facedown, crying because of his guilt, not because he was caught) it is all about the offender. Completely and totally about how readers should empathize with him and the wrongs done to him. No serious introspection about his victim.

I saw this all the time with my boys but I assumed it was a function of their ages. Apparently not. True empathy eluded them. We worked on role-playing and "how would you feel" exercises, even dungeons and dragons, making them stop and identify how the characters would feel right now. ("Scared, because the big ass dragon is about to eat him!")

It's a blindness -- sort of the mind-blindness that autism is famous for. An idea of using other people as objects. Does it come from the same place as autism? And I would argue that not all people with autism lack a theory of mind.

I did a study once as an undergrad about how children develop empathy and much of it has to do with the give and take they experience early in life. What happens to those who never get that give and take? Is it too late? Are they doomed? Do they not have any responsibility for their actions then? I've known many people that seem to have a total and complete lack of empathy, but they are not violent.

To empathize requires imagination. Sometimes crime is equated with intelligence but it's a certain type of intelligence that keeps people from hurting others. Or more exactly, I think it's the lack of a certain type of imaginative and creative intelligence that makes one unable to imagine how the other feels and unable to care -- the lack of that capacity is what I've seen over and over. Considering how much of the population of the boys I saw had serious learning disabilities and/or (almost always and) home environments that made them worse ("I acted like my dad did, because he was the man of the house.") I see how it happens.

I remember when I was leaving, T. called me out in the hall to talk to me and said "I can't understand why you'd leave when you helped me so much."


That was the key right there. He couldn't understand, although I was fairly close with T. (as close as you could be in a juvenille lock up, which wasn't that close), that I was a human being with my own desire and motivations. He didn't understand that about his mom.

This was the child that drove a staple through the palm of my hand. HE's in jail now in St. Louis, awaiting trial for molesting an 8 year old.

I see that so much in John Duncan's blog. He even muses on it a few times.

I see the blog as a way of "taking the vic." He has said that there is an elaborate system of police harassment that makes him act the way he does. We called it the "victimstance" -- "Look what you've made me do."

I get frustrated when the general population doesn't realize that these are not simply monsters born ex-nilho (sp? a long time since philosophy class). But the blog was good for reminding me that despite the fact that he was a human with thoughts and opinions and feelings, he still was a sociopath in the clinical definition of the word. He had no ability to feel bad for his victims.

I love Dostoyvesky but I get so frustrated with "Crime and Punishment" because of that. Raskolnikov (sp?) never reaches any sort of understanding. I've been afraid that OMCII will dissapoint me if it's all about Nikki and not about any sort of authentic empathy for the victims.

This is the reaction that makes us bomb other people.
They are not humans -- the deserve this. People in London and New York don't deserve to be terrorized, but people in Iraq do.

k, I'm depressed now.


Jul. 6th, 2005 05:06 pm
dianadragonfly: (Default)

Oh man. After my post about my boys, I read this.

There has to be some sort of solution. GPS monitoring? Better court system to help decide who needs jail and who needs treatment? How many of my boys look at a lifetime at lockups by the time they hit 13? Shouldn't they have a chance to get out and have a normal life? Part of the reason the older boys were so hard to handle is that they knew their lives were over. They knew that it was cinderblock and locks for them for the rest of their lives because they couldn't stop reliving and reinacting the horrible things done to them.

But it's no excuse.
We need to pour money and resources, right now, into help for victims of sexual abuse as children because EVERY SINGLE BOY on my floor and the floors I worked on had been abused sometime in his life.

But...how many Shastas are we willing to risk until this works?
I think one is too many.
dianadragonfly: (Default)
In the interests of fairness and accuracy in reporting, I should npte that the previous entry was meant to go in to uzumewriting.  And it is somewhat fictionalized...the same boy that said "Thanks Momma" to me was not the violent one that had nightmares.  And etc. details tweaked.  It's been so long ago that I forget who saw their father kill their mother, who said that about my shirt, and so on.  But they are all real details.

my boys

Jul. 6th, 2005 12:08 am
dianadragonfly: (Default)

One more before sleep. Read more... )


dianadragonfly: (Default)

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