So just to catch you up on where I am physically at the moment -- I am in a coffee shop in Central, South Carolina. I had an amazing day yesterday. Had breakfast with Cindy and the stuff we covered will take multiple blog entries. In fact, I should be jotting down thoughts of things that I learned from being with her so that I can turn them into future blog entries.
the opportunity to share matching tips with adoption professionals in the afternoon and then had some of the best Mexican food I've had in years at a tiny dive in Athens called El Zol de Zacatecaz. Oh. My. Goodness. It was exactly like I remember my Tacos de Carne Asada that I ordered at tiny taco stands when I lived in Mexico. It was SOOO good.
Besides that, I had a chance to talk with Emily Bailey, who is the director of All God's Children. Yes, this THE Emily that Cindy so often raves about. A super intelligent woman who totally gets it -- she is also Yolie's boss. For those of you who don't read Cindy's blog, Yolie is Cindy's daughter who was in the audience when I spoke in the afternoon. People like Yolie are why I remain passionate about what I do. More on that in another blog entry.
Emily and I had great conversation and then headed back to an evening with about 15 adoptive and foster parents. A great group -- very engaged, insightful, and with me the whole 90 minutes... a very fulfilling evening. I've developed a new presentation about Attachment, Anger and Arguing and I think it's a good one. There is so much that we need to do about OUR anger as parents and this has been neglected for a long time. Sure, we get it that the kids are angry, but what about us? We didn't sign up for this and now basically, we're mad. Maybe not all of us, but a lot of us. And mad is just the outside word to describe bitterness, frustration, disappointment, grief, loss, and a whole bunch of other junk that is buried way beneath the surface.
I then hopped in the car and drove 90 minutes to arrive at the home of my favorite professor from college and his wife. He married Bart and I and we have been friends now for almost 30 years. I have intentionally remained a part of their lives because they are incredible people. We talked until almost midnight and then I had a great nights rest.
For lunch today I met with very dear friends who I have known for over 20 years. Dan used to work with me when I was Dean of Students -- he was the Athletic Director and Men's Residence Life Coordinator at then Bartlesville Wesleyan College. I held their daughter, who is is a senior in college, the week she was born. He is now the Executive Director of the National Christian College Athletic Association and he and his wife continue to be amazing people and wonderful friends. Their nephew passed away this summer which motivated me to plan this trip -- and I will see his brother and wife tonight.
Being back with people who have known me through the stages of my life got me thinking a lot -- plus I've been driving a lot -- and that always gets me thinking. Which leads me to the title of this blog post. I think I'm finally "here" emotionally. The place I've been trying to get for 10 years. Sorry this is going so long, but I think it has a point that you may be interested in ;-)
Ten years ago we were finishing up our first five years as foster and adoptive parents. We had nine children. I was a disaster. I had lost my sense of humor. I was angry. I was bitter. I felt hopeless. I realized that the fun, energetic, happy, optimistic person that I had always been had morphed into someone I didn't recognize. I didn't like myself any more, I didn't like my kids at all, and I resented the heck out of my life.
I mean seriously. All I was trying to do was to be a good Christian, a good member of society -- someone who was taking care of legal orphans and doing my part. And I had become the victim of consistent verbal, emotional abuse by a group of kids who couldn't care less about me, were not grateful, and were not giving back. I committed myself at that time to wholeness and healing, no matter how long it took.
And then it got worse. The kids turned into teenagers and they made choices, and did things that made their lives harder for themselves and for us. Our safetly was in jeapordy. I became more of a victim. Etc. etc. etc. etc.
But I kept plowing through. I didn't give up that I would some day move beyond it and find myself. I made some poor choices in my journey, not looking in the right places always, but continuing to press forward.
I realized as I was driving today that I am finally where I wanted to be. No, I'm not perfect, and I still struggle. But I am settled in who I am. I am learning to manage my own emotions so that the choices of my children don't devastate me. I have been able, with the help of God and many other great people, to put myself back together again.
And one of my passions is helping adoptive parents do the same thing. My dream is to prevent them from having to go so far away from themselves like I did. And if I don't catch them before they do, I want to assure them that it is possible to get through some really hard stuff and still come out the other side healthy and whole.
I know that I will continue to have difficult things come my way. But I think I'm where I have been striving to be emotional for years. Now maybe I should head towards being where I need to be physically....
As soon as I finish this delicious blueberry/cherry smoothie.....