Friday, September 17, 2010
Imagine that you live in an area that is so impoverished that your neighbors have to share the care of you. You are so poor and neglected that you don't ever set foot in a school. No one registers you, no one bothers to see to your daily needs, nevermind your education. Imagine that for eight years you live like this -- being passed around and never knowing who will care for you. What kind of wall would you have built up around your heart?
Imagine now being ripped out of this emptiness, the only existence you have ever known. Imagine being placed in a sterile institution with hundreds of other orphaned children like you. Imagine the teasing about your inability to read or write properly. Imagine the nights you lie awake wondering where life is taking you. Imagine going to bed every night dreaming about your sister -- the only family you have.
This is a tiny taste of the life Anya lived before we found her. She entered the orphanage system at 11 and a half. In many ways, as depressing and cold as the orphanage is, it is a huge step up from what you've lived through until now. You savor having a bed each night, and food to eat every day. You pour your heart into studying, learning to read and write and add and subtract. You do as you're told, and then, after five years of this stability, you are out on your own again.
I watch Anya and I grieve at her inability to make good decisions for herself, grieve at her lack of understanding even basic human values, grieve at the gaping hole in her heart that is there for all to see, if they spend any time with her. Anya is handicapped. Not in the way we usually use the word -- but emotionally, spiritually and mentally she does not have what most of us do. She lacks the inner resources that most of us develop through our years of early nurturing. She is stunted in her emotional and mental growth in ways I do not think are fixable. She walks around like an empty shell looking to fill itself with ANYTHING.
I love this girl. I want to wrap her up in my arms and carry her back to her infancy and nurture her into a wholeness. I adore this child, but she is an adult and I am unable to reach across that void in between and fill it with what was kept from her. I would die for this girl, and yet she does not hold her life "at a pin's fee" as Shakespeare would say. She doesn't care for herself. She is in survival mode, just as Nastia was five years ago. But with Anya it feels so much more insurmountable, because she is an adult and in some ways feels too old to be parented.
When it is night and she is close to sleep, she will allow me to be that Mama she misses so. I can cuddle her and kiss her and she'll call me Mama. But in the light of day, the harsh reality of her current life burns away the softness around her heart. She calls me "Keri" then, and wants to be fiercely independent and tries to mother me instead of the other way around.
I can't help feeling very sad tonight. Anya is out with her friend Katya, Nastia is asleep, and I feel an emptiness that is only compounded by the coldness of many of the people I must interact with. I have only ever felt homesick once before in my entire adult life. I was stranded in Dublin with a violent illness and wanted nothing more than my mom and a familiar room. But I am homesick again tonight, and am only admitting it because maybe it well help someone else some day. I am ashamed to be homesick, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray.
Anya just needs to come home with us. Plain and simple. Her life is utter emptiness here. She now drinks to numb the feelings of loss that are getting the better of her, and she is too ashamed to even share much of her life with Nastia. Tonight she had to go back to the shack she is staying in to retrieve some clothes. she utterly refused to let Nastia come along, and the first big sister-fight ensued.
" I'm your SISTER!" Nastia yelled at her. " You shouldn't hide ANYTHING from me!" She was crying.
" No, I cant let you see it. Be mad if you want to, but I am not taking you there. EVER." Was Anya's response, and she headed out into the night.
Nastia cried and rocked and rocked and cried and finally fell asleep, not allowing me to comfort her in any way. I pray and wait, for both my girls to let me in . Tomorrow the sun will rise as it always does, and a new day will open its arms to us all. I'll try again, to be the Mama they both need. I'll knock on the fortress-like door of their hearts, and stand in hope of an invitation in.
Posted by Keri at 10:15 AM