When we started out the year, I set my sights high. Life had been painful for awhile and I was looking forward to a new start, a new season, a new chapter. I made my resolutions, wrote optimistic blog posts, and tried to fill my mind and heart with anything bright to mask what had become a constant depression.
And then came February.
Hardly two months into the new year, my worst fear was realized when social workers appeared at our front gate, their white car’s ominous insignia igniting the dread and fear that had colored the years of my childhood and early teen years. I wrote a blog post on it but later took it down. I’m not sure why – only that I’ve found it easier to write about what’s already dead and gone than it is to write about what’s alive and pulsing.
The following weeks were everything you can imagine them to be. We went into hermit mode, so concentrated in our own pain and memories that we could nothing but think, suffer, and pray. A week after that first visit at our gate, another catastrophe unfolded – no less painful… I gave up trying to blog or update my Facebook page. It felt like everything was in pieces. There was now a case in court and every time the dogs barked it meant that they were there – the social workers, the court marshals, the police. If we didn’t immediately attend them, they would turn on this whoop of a warning sound. My heart would fall through the floor. I was convinced I was developing some kind of long-term stress disorder because of the frequency of my heart racing.
The days crawled by, each presenting some new challenge or trial. Somehow we made it through. It’s a blur to think of now. There was a lot of praying. A lot of crying. A lot of pain. Shame, too – I never meant to cry the day the social workers brought court marshals and insisted upon being let into our home to interview the kids, but cry I did. They filled the living room and watched in confusion as I sobbed on the couch like a little girl. It’s a memory I’m still trying to repress. To the social workers (and police) that watched me cry that day – I hope one day you stumble across this post. Then maybe you’d know that it wasn’t forced or fake – that when I saw you fill my living room I was suddenly in another time, another place, where social workers and police equated removal, a nightmare I went through when I was a little girl – a nightmare that trails me to this day, even as I cross the threshold of adulthood.
My father requested in court that the judge would order social services to refrain from more visits to our home, that it scared his children. The judge assented, and I haven’t seen a governmental car at our gate since. It was a relief. There is a reason that an entire chapter of my memoir is titled ‘Strangers at the Gate.’ It was the event that triggered the nightmare.
The whole of the experience lasted about three months. It felt like longer. And yet, I can hardly believe that we are in July – the year is flying by so fast. It has held so much unexpected pain. But it has held answered prayers, too. The archiving of the case last month was an actual fulfillment of a word the Lord had given us. The gifting of a new car was a much sought-after blessing. My heart has stopped racing and I no longer jolt with fear when the dogs start barking.
And so my heart has turned to writing once more – to chronicling the stories and the thoughts that tumble about my psyche. My striving to see my book published has been laid to rest, much like my fears. It will happen in its time – in God’s time. In the meantime, I want to write. I want to fill this space with evidences of myself as I am now – because I won’t always be a twenty-one year old girl navigating the fuzzy realities of looming adulthood. One day it could all change and I will wish I had left more traces of myself to remember.
It has been a year full of the unexpected so far. But God has a way of bringing beauty from the ashes, so I’m looking forward to the beautiful things He will do in the coming months. This year may not have been what I was hoping or looking for, but God knew what it would hold, and if it has done anything, it has shown me that God has not forsaken my family, no matter what some people may think. Only He knew how much I needed to know that.
Only He knew.