Part of the possible series called "Reasons Why I No Longer Believe"
Reason #7: Gwen, Jessica, and The Devastating Consequences of Prolonged Human Depravity
What is it to love another? What if the other person does not want to be loved? Or cannot respond in kind? What do you do then? According to the doctrines of long-suffering emotional stifling and doing battles with the demonic forces of the Enemy of All, you are to take it on the chin, like a (wo)man. No matter what, God will work his ways through all parties involved. Stand strong, pray long and hard! Beat that Bible, maybe beat the obstinate object of your mostly wasted affections with said Bible. The Word is an instrument, a powerful instrument that can change lives!
Not only are you supposed to suffer for love, you are also supposed to engage in wishful thinking of the magical sort. God will heal them/you/draw you closer together. Keep on keepin' on! If they hurt you, you deal with it. If you can't understand them, God will reveal the truth. Just keep swimming. They can hold their breath for 8 minutes and not die. You have to believe that cars always brake for screaming mostly nude children running across the street in broad daylight. You have to have faith, a deep abiding conviction, that someday, some way, things will get better and stay that way. It's the only thing that keeps you sane as you use every ounce of your strength to restrain the girl who kicked 20 hornets nests on that very day in her attempts to strike back at a mother who was never there and an ignorant father.
Praise be to Him, give Him your best and ______ will bless you. He and He alone is great, so great that mere (wo)men shall dare not speak His name. In your moment of darkness, He is there. He made humanity with the best of intentions, yet He doesn't intend for things to turn out like this:
In the middle of Wal-mart, in a public park, during the worship service at church
They can fly into violent rages. After 7+, this isn't harmless or cute.
You routinely witness things like this that are strange, cool and scary all at once.
Sometimes you wake up to this....
Two of my nieces suffer from a rare condition called Reactive Attachment Disorder.
The oldest, Jessica, is 17. My oldest sister attempted to adopt her from the state foster care system at age 5. At the time, my sister was involved with a super fundamentalist Baptist church. She wasn't married and already had a 12 year old daughter at home. Yet she had fallen in love with this little girl after a distant relative dumped her on her doorstep in the spring of 2003. Jessica was developmentally delayed. She had little speech skills, was nearly blind in one eye, and had severe lead poisoning. It was later revealed that she was "environmentally deprived" which is a fancy term for benign neglect. She had spent most of her first 5 years with her great-grandmother who had dementia. The old lady did the best she could, but that amounted to keeping Jessica locked in the back two rooms of her home for most of the days.
Jessica still wore diapers when she came to live with us. She freaked out during baths because her great-grandmother had never given her one. She only cleaned her with moist towelettes that came with the takeout she sometimes had delivered. Or maybe a wet cloth. Jessica is mixed, black/white biracial. Her hair had never been combed, properly washed, or moisturized. Let alone braided or cut. It was matted to her scalp in some places, bare scalp exposed in others due to her picking and pulling at it. She had never watched any educational television until she was removed from her great-grandmother's home. Only a few VHS tapes that her grandmother had, including the Care Bears movie and Cinderella. And the talk shows and soap operas that her grandmother watched. No one had ever read to her, ever tucked her in at night, ever sang to her, ever held her hand while crossing a street.
After a year with my sister, Jessica started to get better. She was talking, going to school (she had never been to school or day care up until that point), and was only in diapers at night. She still had delays, but she was doing much better...or so we thought. The violent rages started shortly after her 6th birthday. She would kick, scream, curse, bite, and break things. She would bang her head on the wall until the wall started to give. She would hit herself and leave bruises. She chewed all of the skin off of her fingertips, bit her nails down into the beds, scratched the outside of her lips until they scabbed. The school sent social workers out and she had to go to counseling.
Some nights, she would stay with me. We got along, had some sort of understanding along the lines of "I won't hurt you if you don't hurt me. Let's respect each other." That didn't stop her from acting out at times though. Screaming fits were common. Then the bolting and running away started at age 7. I lived in a fairly quiet area at the time, near a park. If she didn't like what I had to say, she would run away. Sprint out the front door, down the street, to the park, in the wooded area across the way. Didn't matter what time it was or if I chased after her or not. She would run, taunt me by saying things like:
- "I don't love you."
- "You can't make me do things I don't wanna do!"
- "Fuck you, bitchface!"
- "I wish everyone was dead!"
- "Imma kill myself with a big knife!"
- "I'll tell everyone that you spanked me last night and you will go to jail!"
It's easy enough to say that she was just an insufferable little shit. You'd get no argument from me if you did. She was. But there was something profoundly broken and terrifying within her. She had some awesome power, big balls for a little girl. She was fearless, but not in a good way. Life had little value to her. She wanted love, deep love. She wanted acceptance, real acceptance of her flaws and all. But she struck out, lashed out, pushed people away. She wanted love, but only if it were guaranteed, absolutely safe, REAL.
Why did God let her become this way? So twisted, so fragile. Why did her let her be born to a crackwhore mom who had witnessed her own mother's suicide at age 10 (this factoid was in Jessica's file) and an oblivious sperm donor? Why did He let her mother shut her up in a wooden wardrobe in a crackhouse for several days at age 1? Didn't He hear her cries? There was a fucking baby in there, a baby who tried to claw her way out and still has scars on her hands from doing so! I suppose he worked through a random john who heard her cries as he was leaving and had the wherewithal to call the cops. If that hadn't happened, Jessica probably would have died.
Gwen is a niece by-proxy. She is actually the child of one of my sister's close guy friends. They were never romantically involved, although they did live together for awhile. Gwen's mom was a methhead. Her dad fought for custody of her for about 2 years, wiping out his life-savings. You think the guy would be the world's best dad, taking pride in the daughter he fought so hard to "win".
Nope. He is clueless, and not in ha-ha dad-blunders kind of way.
RAD arises from a failure to form normal attachments to primary caregivers in early childhood. Such a failure could result from severe early experiences of neglect, abuse, abrupt separation from caregivers between the ages of six months and three years, frequent change of caregivers, or a lack of caregiver responsiveness to a child's communicative efforts.
Gwen had no primary caregivers after she was taken from her maternal grandparents at 18 months. Her dad worked a lot, placed her in low-budget daycares. You do what you have to do, but he was leaving her in those sorts of places for 12-16 hours a day, 6-7 days a week. On his days off, he played video games and let her run wild. He frequently changed day cares and baby-sitters, because she was wild, rowdy, violent and belligerent. Her behavior garnered complaints, complaints that he interpreted as "bullshit" or "judgmental". Any criticism or critique of his lackluster parenting skills or non-existent discipline were discarded in favor of his notions of "personal freedom and uninterrupted creativity". No restrictions, no rules, no discipline, just do what thou wilt and Daddy-O will wiggle out of responsibility every time.
As she got older, her life became video games and television, 24/7. She watches a lot of adult content, violent videos on YouTube (violent anime edits, adult-themed My Little Pony smut, and rap videos). He thinks that it's all harmless, because "it is all cartoons" and "she knows that you can't go around punching people, saying fuck you, and stuff". Lately, her primary hobby is making disturbing stop action videos involving My Little Pony dolls, Pet Shop Pets and condiments. She cusses and is obsessed with sex in a weird way (not the usual boyfriend/girlfriend/hug/kiss kiddie curiosity sort of way).
Last year, she was in second grade at a large suburban public school. She was kicked out of school twice, the last time a few weeks before school ended. Why? Because she flew into a psychotic rage at school, had to be put in a padded room and hit a teacher, who had a pacemaker and nearly had a heartattack, had to go to hospital and could have pressed assault charges. She had a nasty habit of running away from female teachers, physically fighting with other girls, and intentionally exposing herself to random kids in her class.
Now her dad has decided to pull her from school completely. Supposedly, he is homeschooling her while working 10+ hours a day at his job. He is sending her to a neighborhood lady with watches kids for money, since his nanny arrangement didn't work out. He hired a local college girl to watch Gwen, clean his house and homeschool her...but she quit after 3 weeks of Gwen's acting out and Daddy-O's unwillingness to deal with it. Gwen bit the nanny's breast and drew blood. She also ran away several times, almost got hit by a car once, got caught torturing the neighbor's cat, drew all over the walls in every room of their new home (some graphic pictures on the walls of her bedroom), and threatened to kill the nanny twice.
We are talking about an 8 year old girl here, a very small for her age 8 year old. We are talking about prolonged episodes of psychotic rage and profound mental and emotional disconnect. Years of benign neglect by a father who loves her so much that he can't see that he is killing her slowly. Does he think that locking her up at home is solving a problem? Does he think that she will just one day magically emerge a whole person, a sensible young adult with rational thought processes, with no intervention needed?
It won't happen that way. Yet I prayed for years for healing. I still think about her, and about Jessica, and how many empty promises that religion/faith/God makes. If He creates life and really has some sort of fucking plan, then why do some people suffer so much? Why make these girls, and many more like them, if they are only going to be neglected? A part of me says that it is because he wants us all to love, to be loved, and so on. That's what I heard for years in therapy and in church.
I no longer believe it. Some people can't love. Some people are incapable of love, incapable of being god-like or good or whatever. It is due to His incompetence, His selfish need for glorification, that He makes such people (I'm using the Christian mindset of creation here.) I know this because I've lived it. I love Jessica and I love Gwen. I wish that they could love themselves and that they had caring families and/or friends whom they could love and by loved by.
Jessica was removed from my sister's custody at age 9 due a legal dispute by a closer blood relative. They won custody in court; it was revoked 2 years later after they terrorized her with their Catholic exorcism bullshit and physical abuse to "cast out the demons". At age 12, she was officially put back in the system, where she remains today. She is a senior in high school this year. She won't be leaving the system at 18 though. She will be serving time in a psych facility for severely wounding a fellow housemate at a group home she was in last summer. She has been deemed "dangerously violent" and "psychotic".
Gwen is 8. Her mother was recently released from prison in another state and wants visitation rights. Daddy-O has fought her requests and made it so she must travel to our home state for supervised visits. The mother tried to abduct Gwen when she was 2; hence the prison term. So that is legit, I suppose. Gwen is supposed to be medicated, but her father is anti-medicine (it is poison) and refuses to carry health insurance on her (deems it an unnecessary, authoritarian expense), so she rarely takes her medication. Especially now that she is "homeschooled" and the school district no longer has the right to request that she take it or that she be placed in a special class if she doesn't.