Friday, October 5, 2012

Dot connected

This will seem so obvious after I've explained it.  In actuality, it never dawned on me until tonight to make the connection.

Several years ago, there was a famous case in the state where I live.  A young girl had been abducted, molested, and then buried alive.  That story ran in the news for several months, and would recur every time there was a break in the case.  Eventually the perpetrator was caught, tried, convicted, and now serves a long prison sentence.  Every aspect of the story was awful, but there was one particular detail that captured my imagination in the worst way.  I recall in one article, the journalist included the detail that the child had been buried alive with her stuffed dolphin.  That one image transported me  - suddenly I was underground with the girl, clinging to the dolphin, struggling to survive.  And waiting.  I imagined being that child, in that hole, clinging to hope that someone would save me.  That this wasn't the end.  And experiencing that awful realization that no one was going to save me.

In another news story, a stalker had kidnapped two children from the same family.  Again, done awful things to the children, and killing the boy in the process.  And again, my mind traveled to the experience of those children, living in their minds... hoping and trusting that they'd be returned to their safe world.  And living just long enough to lose hope of being saved.

This experience happens over and over for me.  Every time I read or hear of a child in these horrendous situations, my imagination consistently takes me to the same moment - the time when they realize that hope is lost.

To children, parents are trustworthy.  Parents always make things better.  Parents always save the child.  But sometimes parents don't.  And in each of these situations, that is the awful experience I have always identified with - the moment when the child realizes the parent won't save them.  The parent is not coming for them.  Everything is not going to be okay.

I never made the connection before - why that is the single point of experience that my imagination returns to.  Now I realize, that is part of my world.  That happened first, and then everything happened after.  For all those people out there who think that adoptees make too much of being separated from their original families, they will never understand how deeply that alters a child's world view.  How unsafe and untrustworthy the world becomes.  To children, parents are truth and safety.  When removed from parents, truth and safety no longer exist.  That's a hard lesson to outgrow.

I avoid the news now.  It's suffocating to relive that over and over again.  It would drive a person insane.

***Edited to add:  A friend asked me: do you think these children lost hope?  Or did they die still hoping?  I don't know, but that is how it always happens in my mind.  There are children who live long enough to lose hope, and that does kill a part of a person.

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