Sunday, July 6, 2008

Compassion.. Mama's Ongoing Project

One of Mama's many life lessons she wanted to instill in me was compassion:

A profound and positive human emotion prompted by the pain of others. More vigorous than empathy, the feeling commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another's suffering....

During a 2 day training course with the county we did a mock trial of a gal losing her child to the system to get a glimpse of what all goes on. It was based on a true case and was a real eye opener, to say the least. Each of our 4 tables was assigned a task. One was "Tonya" and her lawyers (played by our recruiter who could have won an award for her performance), we were the treatment team that gave the court recommendations of what we saw needed to happen before we would allow her to gain custody of her daughter (with the help of a real social worker because hey, we had no idea what we were doing), one table was the foster home and the other was the judge. Each table had one person speaking for them.

One of the goals of the exercise was to see the birth mom's side, as well. She begged and pleaded for her child back and had every excuse in the book for why she was unable to complete her requirements (no ride to the ua's, had gone to 18 interviews but no one would hire her, everyone was against her, etc). They were flimsy excuses at best and you know judges and social workers hear the same ones all day every day. She started out doing okay but as time went on, it slowly fell apart. Every 90 days when her review came up you could see her starting the slow spiral out of control. In the end, she cried as she relinquished her parental rights and both DH and I were in tears (as were most of the group in training that day). A true story and that plays out every day in courts across the nation.. just heartbreaking.

One aspect of this whole process we do have compassion for is, amazingly enough, the addicted birth parent. Prior to meeting, DH and I both were in a relationship with a person that had substance abuse problems. Have you heard someone say, ".. but they're totally great when they're clean and sober" and you roll your eyes? We actually lived it and, by golly, it's true. They both had children from a previous marriage and would have died for them. Neither had custody (for obvious reasons) and lived for the time they got to spend with their children. Unfortunately, their drug of choice was so beyond more powerful than them that, almost every time their kids were visiting, they would go off on a binge. It's just astounding what complete control the drug has and how it's a wrecking ball through everyones' lives. It's constant drama, to put it lightly.

Although kind of an odd thing to have in common (an ex as an addict), it is one of the many things that brought DH and I together. We both tried to "save someone" and found out the hard way it's impossible to do. We both relish in the calmness of being regular Joe Shmoe Homebodies as we've seen the wild side and have no interest in revisiting that side of the tracks. We did learn, however, that under the horrible and downright mean things an addict does, lies a person that would do anything to quit. They are not the monster but are totally controlled by one.

I remember in the midst of the crazy that was once my life crying out to God, "WHY?!?" and feeling utter hopelessness. Sitting at that table in training with tears in my eyes as "Tonya" begged for her kids back was an, "Ah Ha Moment!" when another of my life's little puzzle pieces fell into place. Compassion had kicked in and both DH and I got it. Had I known back then what I know now it would have made perfect sense. The 6 years of what seemed like endless drama was leading me to that table in the basement of a church for those 2 days of intense training. The Good Lord (and Mama) didn't want me looking down my nose from my high horse at the addicted parent who couldn't provide basic needs but to take pity and have compassion. That was "Why".

We will have to deal with a real "Tonya" sometime soon and I had better keep that shoe and other foot handy..


Anonymous said...

Melissy...I just LOVE this site you created. I do not like the word "blog" because it sounds rather unprofessional and does not grant the respect you deserve for what you have created here. This is so awesome, I think it could be a book or movie or both someday!! I love going to your site once a week or so and having a really wonderful and intelligent post to read. Your webpage is beautiful too...I don't know how you do it! Can't wait til next weekend to see how things are going.

Melissa said...

Read the comment above and had to smile... i have a friend who callse me Melissy too :)

Another thing we have in common is an ex who is an addict. I understand what you are saying about compassion. I think a lot of things I went thru were so I would have the right perspective for situations I've found myself in.

Love your layout, it is beautiful!

Lori said...

What a powerful post. I will put it in the mixer and let you know what happens.

Thanks so much for pointing me here. Just what Bridges is about.

Hope to meet you soon!


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