Thursday, February 4, 2016. Ah, time. Ah, love. Ah, life. We tough and fragile beings. We of a social species so often, it seems, broken off from wider family connections and community in so many ways and for so many complicated reasons.
On Monday afternoon it happened again. The pounding, racing, thumping booms of wild young children in the apartment above me became more than I could bear after three long and very noisy hours.
I was faced again with a decision about how I was going to react. Call management again? This would be the 4th time apartment personnel would have visited that family above me. Call the police with a 3rd noise complaint?
I knew that if I chose either one of those two options that family would probably be evicted – this time. My 3rd option? Drag myself up the stairs and knock on their door.
I chose this option.
I REALLY have believed for these awful months that my own anxiety (disability) would prevent me from being able to be calm, friendly, reasonable should I ever go confront the family on my own. I COULD not NOT go talk to them this time.
Up I went.
King James Bible
Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”
I could fault myself, shame myself, for taking the other steps I have taken up to this point. But I don’t. I won’t. Somehow I strongly sensed all along that the process in motion in this continuing situation had its own timing.
Two young women answered the door. One beautiful young woman with her 3-year-old son beside her and her precious 4-week-old infant in her arms. She is married to the cousin of the husband of the other slightly older woman standing beside her (who lives in an apartment across the street and was visiting) with her 3 1/2 –year old daughter and son who turned 5 last Thanksgiving.
This was one of those times where there is nowhere to go but forward, so forward we went in spite of anything else – and in fact – because of everything else. I stood just inside the open door of the upper neighbor’s apartment for two hours talking to the women and to the wonderful little children.
Both of these women came up to Fargo to join their husbands who had come several months earlier to get sheet rocking jobs. The mother of the infant is from Albuquerque. The other woman from Las Vegas, Nevada. They only know one another.
The truth (just as I had sensed it) really has been that the mother of the newborn misses her huge family down south terribly. She is very sad here. Very lonely. And after having just spent 14 years living on the Mexican-American borderline I know how close those families are!! NO new mother should be without her family where the relationships are strong and happy and full of love.
And that baby, and his little brother, need to be in the arms of grandmas and grandpas and aunties and uncles — as does their mother.
So this woman, even as she admitted it to me, had WANTED to be evicted. She WANTS to leave and GO HOME to her family, to the sunshine. There are no jobs down there, and this woman has known she could not ask her husband to give up his job to leave with her. So I was SUPPOSED to get them thrown out!!
Either way, evicted or walking away from the lease, she told me that they would have had to pay every month’s rent until the lease ran out and lose another $300. (They found another alternative, it seems!)
Once this became very clear, in the words of the young mother, I could look her straight in her eyes and say, “Well, dear! It looks as though we are BOTH stuck here so we better figure this out together.”
And we have. By the time those two hours had gone by the 2nd woman and the three children were down in my apartment checking out my grandsons’ collection of toys. The next day I found the church in town that has a Spanish mass and an outreach nun named Sister Lucy who I have heard is an ANGEL with people.
Yesterday I went upstairs to give the young mom that info. As I was leaving I told her I would be back soon to bring her flowers. I told her that because of her precious newborn she CANNOT be sad. She HAS to be happy!
It has been very quiet and peaceful up there. But even then the mother hen part of me worries that perhaps that momma is TOO SAD trapped in this place. I KNOW what that’s like – but her case is so much more important – in the bigger picture of ongoing life – than mine is. She is the mother of a newborn.
In my simple way of seeing things, there is really very little more harmful to a newborn than to have an anxious/depressed mother. According to “developmental neuroscientist” Dr. Alan N. Schore, among the incredibly important and very rapid key brain growth processes birth to age one is the development of the left brain “happiness center.”
The neurons that WOULD be marshaled to build that brain region in an infant’s brain will either DIE or be recruited in other brain areas during that year – IF!!!!!! Depression prevents a newborn’s mother from even being able to SEE the “bulk” of the joy in her infant’s face and actions. She will therefore be unable to respond to her infant’s joy as needed to build that happiness center in the best way possible.
The building of that center happens during one of those “critical window” of development. Once that stage has passed, that’s that.
Hence – my bringing her flowers. Hence – evidently – the timing of this odd intervention of mine. Today the young mother invited me in. I stayed a short time, long enough for her to tell me that her husband “is not really that happy with the way things are working out with his job.” In two weeks, she told me, they will be returning to New Mexico – perhaps not to come back up here.
Joy won. Sometimes the pathways through our lives are not all laid out from our point of view. In God’s world? Oh, yes, they are!
I was able to tell the momma today something that has been “in my heart” to say to her. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful perfect young mother that she is.
I told her that someday she will be the matriarch of her family. We never know what life is going to bring us. Sometimes times get hard. Really really hard. And we need to be really really strong.
I told her that it was, to me, a very good and courageous thing for her to come up to this place with her husband. I told her that by being here she is getting stronger, and she is finding out more about how strong she really is. She smiled and nodded her head. She agreed. I also told her that there is nobody on God’s glorious earth more important that mothers!
Oh, and Walmart had small herb plants in their fresh vegetable section! I bought a small mint which I now have repotted and sitting under its own desk lamp bright light. Then I found a little plastic applesauce cup (I save all such things. Being a crafter there is always something I can use anything and everything for!), put a little cold water into the cup, snipped off the newest leaf tips from the mint, put them in the water and brought them to momma.
“Here! You can just squish a little of these leaves and smell them if you want to! They smell just like summer!”
Yup. We are both smiling. And I betcha anything that lovely little family – is going home!
There is another man of the family living up there who will continue to work in Fargo and will stay in the apartment. Perhaps others they know down south will join him in the future. There are LOTS of jobs in this harsh place. I now call the people who come here to fill them from American places “economic refugees.” There are also LOTS of international refugees and immigrants coming here. All of them, I have no doubt, with HORRIFIC trauma histories.
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Story Without Words: How Did Child Abuse Break My Mother?
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Tags: adult attachment disorders, adult reactive attachment disorder, anxiety disorders,borderline mother, borderline personality disorder, brain development, child abuse,depression,derealization, disorganized disoriented insecure attachment disorder,dissociation,dissociative identity disorder, empathy, infant abuse, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),protective factors, PTSD, resiliency, resiliency factors, risk factors, shame