‘What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men …… That is what love looks like.’ - St. Augustine

Friday, August 06, 2010

A Confession

The weight of these sad times we must obey;
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.

Shakespeare said that. It's a quote I love, because it's honest. I adore Shakespeare for his honesty and truth-telling. He had a gift for that.

So truth-telling: We don't often do it because the stakes are too high. Case in point, I spoke freely and honestly about my pain at Dasha's leaving, and I got thrashed by someone I don't even know, telling me to 'suck it up and move on.'  We risk those things when we walk out on the truth limb like that. But isn't it's still worth it? I think so. So I bare my soul here regardless, steel myself against the anonymous bitter trolls, and pray for God's blessing on my words and thoughts. 

My daughter and I had a long talk in the car today. She asked me why I always do the hard things when ‘nobody else does’. I told her lots of people do the hard things, we just don't get to see it. She has a front row seat to my life, I reminded her, but not to the world's. 

Anyway, she asked why so many people live their lives ‘like they don't even see anyone else.’ She asked why they fill up the air with 'words that really mean nothing'. If she were a little more savvy, I would have her read T.S. Eliot’s The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock. Maybe a few years from now that might do the trick. But for now, it takes patience and simplicity to help her understand.  I explained that I thought most people were scared to venture out and change the world by risking pain. She argued that fear was a lame excuse. She's right. She will never understand the fearful, because she fought so long and so hard for most of her life. She doesn't have room for the concept of 'cowardly.' I love her for that.

But we talked and talked, and she starts to share moments that she felt were hard that she witnessed and how, at the time, she was mad at me for sticking my neck out. ‘ Remember that guy who punched his dog?’ She asked.  ‘Remember how you jumped out of the car and chased him down the street?’  How could I forget? Just thinking of it brings up the rage. ‘Mom, he said he was going to kill you and I was mad that you didn't stop following him, ’ she added.  ‘But now I get it.’

She continued while I listened intently. ‘Before I thought you didn't care about me if you did things where you could get hurt," She elaborated. ‘But now I know --some things are even more important than being safe.’  Powerful realization from someone who spent 12 years of her life just trying to stay alive. I was in awe of her growing awareness. My girl is getting it. 

Yes, Nastia, some things are much more important than our safety, or our respect, or our happiness. Some things are more important than even preserving our own lives.  I’m proud of you for knowing that. So proud.

So, onto my own truth-telling: My truth is I have been deeply distraught, depressed even, since Dasha left us. Nastia is not the only one who has been crying in her bed. It's been overbearingly difficult, and I haven't wanted to share just how much so. I hid, I hibernated. I didn't return calls, I didn't eat, I didn't even sleep much. I just felt this echoing black hole in my heart. I was almost glad of the distraction Nastia's recent new symptoms offered. Terrible thing for a mom to say, I know, but I’m trying to be honest here. I hated seeing her scared, but for the past two days my thoughts of Dasha have been on the back burner. It is easier to feel scared than sad, for me anyway.

So, I owe many people an apology -- my close friends who worry about me, my new friends who are working their butts off to help me raise money to go see Anya next month,  my amazing staff,  my neighbors,  my landlord,  my oil company,  even my dogs. I let every one of them down while I swam circles in my dark ocean of tears and lamentations. I feel embarrassed even to talk about it. But that's exactly what I did. And I’m really sorry.

I'm Catholic, if you didn't know that about me already, and one of the things I have a love/hate relationship with in my faith is confession. I know I need it, I know it is healing, but I dread it like a child dreads the dark alone. I avoid it at all costs. I skirt around it. I deflect. We're all good at that, I guess, but I feel particularly good at that as of late.

My dad used to talk about the amazing feeling he had after going to confession. he said he felt a huge weight would lift from him. He felt free, younger even, when he left. He was right. It is freeing to confess things. It lightens us. 

So, what is heavy on your heart tonight? What dark burden sits in your soul, waiting to be lifted? You don't have to be Catholic to go to confession. Find a friend. Find a tree even, or a field, or even the sky. Confess your pain and sorrow and watch it soar away on sprouted wings. Then? Watch the light in you break through.  

And that is my wish for all of us tonight --our light breaking through. 


  1. Yes, Keri and Nastia, "doing the hard things" is so often private and unseen - and must be to some extent. And what is seen and written and shown over and over again is the illusion of easy. Thank you for writing, for making public and visible at least the shell of "the hard things."

  2. Girl, you are just too hard on yourself. I know about being hard on myself, but when you transfer that judgment from yourself on to US, that WE would be angry with you for taking time off, well, that needs to stop. You know people are narcissistic at their core. We are mostly focused on getting ourselves through our day, with all the negative self-talk that usually involves. Most people (except for those idiots that you run into every once in a while) don't have any extra left over to worry about anyone else's choices, etc. I read your blog because you are creating a fascinating life, my friend. When your heart leaps, mine leaps. When your heart bleeds, mine bleeds. ("...if you prick me, do I not bleed?") And you do inspire. But you owe us nothing. Nothing.

    I love Nastia. Look at the growth. She inspires too.

    Love you.
    Beth T.

  3. Anonymous9:31 AM

    I just wrote about Sponsors on my blog http://thetrilliumway.blogspot.com/. People in our lives that we can call at any time when times are tough, confusing, etc. People that we can "confess" to. And these people don't necessarily have to be friends. Check it out.
    Also, what a wise woman your daughter is. Proof of your success in doing "something right!"

  4. Anonymous9:35 AM

    I love this post, it really touched me. It's it incredibly important to confess. Keeping all that in to fester does no one any good. You don't need to apologize, also. You are only human Keri, a wonderful beautiful soul ♥

  5. honey, you don't owe anyone anything.
    you need time to recover. from the experience of mothering a tornado that you love dearly and you are deeply concerned about her now that she's gone.

    for someone to tell you to move on isn't fair. it isn't like a vacation that you miss. you've had this little girl in your home and life and now she's gone BACK to where she came from. with knowledge in her heart of what it is like here, knowing that there are people here who LOVE her. she's gone back to a Jabari-free existence!

    and you will continue to worry about her. you'll fear for her. you'll pine for her. there is no moving on beyond that.

    i feel that you need time to wallow. you nursed her, you continue to nurse nastia and you see the fruits of that as she is realizing so much about the world. so now nurse yourself.

    and i'm not catholic, but there is a GREAT rocking song by the Black Crowes called "Go tell the congregation" which basically encourages us to share our pain, fear, sadness and sin with an audience of people who will hear our confession and give us the love and support we need. It is true southern baptist style philosophy against a backbone of kickass drums and bass with awesome soulful backup singer ladies. tell a tree, tell a minister, tell a sky, tell the blogosphere, tell the congregation. and find healing and blessing. that's what matters.


  6. I have been a lurker on your blog for only about a week, but already care so much about what happens with your family, and all three of your girls. : ) I have 4 bio children and would love to adopt (once God gets DH on board! ; ) but have to admit was always completely HORRIFIED by the thought of adopting a kid with "issues," specifically RAD. (Athought to be honest FASD scares me too) So I don't know how I stumbled upon the RAD and FASD and PTSD adoption blogs in the first place, but I keep coming across new ones and can't help but immerse myself in each new family story. Not only have I learned SO MUCH about these "issues" but have also had my heart break with compassion for these kids, and for you, their parents. And it is the honest and transparent writing of parents like you who have opened up this world to me (and other readers like me) and who have reminded me of the beauty in the pain, and the value of these children.

    I trust the catharsis of writing is benefitting you (as confession!), and that alone would make it worthwhile. But for every selfish troll out there who writes a judgemental, mean comment, there are most likely a lot more people like me who have never told you how much your blog is changing the world for the better, by changing our hearts to be more in line with God's.

    So I hope you don't mind a complete stranger like me bookmarking your blog and visiting regularly to follow how your story transpires--and in this case, I am eagerly waiting to see how God will do His good and perfect will in your life and in your girls' lives.

    And every time I log on to this blog, I will pray for you and your family.

    Yours in Christ,


  7. Love to you, Keri. Only love.

  8. Thanks to each and every one of you. And blessed, I not only dont mind your following us, I am grateful. My greatest joy would be knowing that my honest sharing might open the path for others to do the "hard things" as my daughter calls it. Living with RAD, especially the first few years was the most difficult thing I have ever been through, but nothing else could have stimulated so much soul growth in me, and nothing in the world could have birthed a deeper compassion in me. I stand in awe of God who loved me enough to allow me to suffer for my daughter. I'm grateful almost every day. Cant muster it EVERY day, but I do try:)

  9. Keri- Here it is lady- I pray DAILY that if I keep this struggle pluggin along that one day my R's heart can be healed from RAD just a fraction of the amount of Nastias. THose of us in the first year or two or three are DEPENDENT on those of you who have come before us through the hard stuff. Because its HARD. Real Hard. But your families stand out there like beakons of hope that we to can have attached, loving, happy kids. Our kids can heal. We can do this, it can be done. We need you to keep living real and raw. Thank you Keri for being a ray of light in what can be dark days of living with RAD. (hugs)

  10. Colleen, They CAN heal..I bear witness to it! I couldnt possibly have envisioned it year one. Or year two or even year three. towards the end of year four is when I REALLY saw changes, and now...well, you can see that things have changed!
    My daughter had EVERY RAD symptom in SPADES. She was violent to both herself AND me. The school couldn't handle her, and NO one liked her. I mean not even my own family. I lost almost aLL of my friends, and lived in a world so small that I'm surprised I didnt suffocate. LOVE HEALS. It does it does it does. It just takes the biggest commitment of your life, as we all know firsthand. I am SO glad we stand as a beacon of hope. These kids deserve to heal. What made them the way they are was not their fault. We just have to be able to reach them DEEP with that message. They are loveable. They are loved.


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