I'm going to quote just a bit of what she wrote:
For the most part, she is doing well, except for the bouts of big attitude that have come and gone, particularly if I bring up the forbidden topic of SCHOOL. I mean what kind of mother asks her child how school is going?!?! But all things considered, she's doing well. I thought I was settling in. I thought I was forgiving her. I thought we were working things out and moving forward, but somehow it doesn't feel that way at the moment. I'm irritated with her. I'd like to say I have a good reason, but I really don't know if I do. Is it a gut feeling that something isn't right? Is it my own faultiness and inability to move forward? I don't know, but what I do know is that I don't think I'm as strong as I once thought I was or could be. It's hard to let go of the past. I'm forced to realize that I.am.vulnerable.
I have to admit to feeling much the same thing. Since Danielle has started on medication, the violence and rages have disappeared. Even so, I'm having a hard time getting past what she's done. I am finding it impossible to start over again, fresh, as if nothing has happened. Although she claims to "barely remember" the times she's physically attacked me or my wife, the police visits, the false allegations and the times she's raged and destroyed her room, those memories are still very fresh in my mind.
I've also discovered that although the medication has made things much better, it hasn't solved all of Danielle's problems. As I've said before, the medication hasn't much helped her impulsiveness, or her inability to think things through, nor has it done anything to reduce some of her more unpleasant personality traits. She still argues about chores, fails to tell the truth, and attempts to manipulate and triangulate people.
It's hard to put the past behind us when Danielle is still actively doing many hurtful things in the present.
This week we observed FosterEema's birthday. Danielle knew it was coming, because FosterEema's birthday falls just a few days after her own. I had been talking about our plans for celebration for quite some time, yet Danielle chose to completely ignore it. The morning of FosterEema's birthday, I made sure to wish her a "happy birthday" while Danielle was in the room. Danielle said nothing. It was especially surprising because it had worked out (ahead of time) that FosterEema was going to give Danielle a ride to school that day. Danielle had plenty of opportunity to say something if she had desired.
Later that evening, we had a small party. We had a few friends over, and I served a home-baked cake and ice cream. Our friends gave FosterEema a hilarious birthday card which contained a gift certificate. I'd given FosterEema her gift that morning. Danielle gave FosterEema nothing, not even a card.
"I feel bad," Danielle sighed during cake. "I didn't get FosterEema anything."
FosterEema told her that it was okay. I said nothing.
Now there were a million things I wanted to say. I wanted to give her a lecture about planning ahead, other people's feelings, her attempts at trying to steal the spotlight, and gratitude. I had plenty to say, but I said none of it. I just held my tongue.
* * *
Since Danielle started on medication, I've been reminded of peeling an onion. As the medication kicked in, the outside, rough and crusty layer of violence and bad temper fell away. I'd hoped that as we peeled that ugly layer away, we'd find a sweet onion beneath. Instead, we are just finding more layers of the same troubled and difficult kid we had before, minus the violence.