I am not the most warm, open, loving person. I wish I were, but I am not sure how to make the transformation.
I am also not at my best right now, what with the PTSD affecting me the way that it is. It is my own fault for letting Penny be so out of control for so long. That's a lie, it's not my fault. I reached out to so many professionals, so many friends, and yet at the end of the day it was just me and her in our house: her raging and me jumping in the car, driving circles in the neighborhood.
Once I made the decision about Penny going to live with her mother (someday? not sure if it's even possible) I was able to soften towards her a bit, after months of barely being able to be in the same room. Two days ago, after I told her about her mom's husband dying, I had to stop at Walgreens to pick up her meds. I bought her a snickers bar, a teen celebrity magazine and a card with a storm cloud on the cover saying "crap." Inside it said "Sorry things suck so much for you right now." and I signed it "I will always love you, Caroline." She wordlessly took all these things before barricading herself in the basement to watch tv.
Yesterday was dark and rainy and I realized it has been many months since we went to a movie--or did anything--together. I thought we might be able to see Snow White and the Huntsman and headed home. She was sitting on the couch when I got there and I chickened out before suggesting the movie. I had to go in the bathroom, take deep breaths and remind myself that doing this one simple outing together would be okay. I guess this is an example of how the PTSD is preventing me from having normal interactions with her.
I came out of the bathroom, finally, suggested the movie and then we were off to her favorite restaurant. Because I don't cook very often, we used to go out to eat several times a week but now it has been months since we've done so. She's been living on microwaved things out of the freezer.
As we rode the escalator down to the place, I began to panic about how we would pass the time. Hypervigilant that she is (and I am too), she said, "You look sad or mad. What's the matter?" I changed the subject.
Once seated, I sent her off on an errand (to check the movie times) while we waited for our food, and when she returned she started a game of hangman for us to play on her place mat. We always played games together when we ate out before, back when I could stand to be near her. The time passed without incident but then we had an hour to kill before the movie.
I kill a lot of hours lately, just trying to get through the days without incident. The person I used to be used to worry about making the most of my time, getting things done or having fun or working on creative projects, etc. Now I just exist and get through.
We walked to the bookstore and she made a comment about how short her shorts were, they were riding up her butt and irritating her. "I'm surprised you didn't say anything about how short they are when I put them on," she said to me
and then her evil grin (sorry, that's how I see it) appeared and she said, "I know. You're afraid you would set me off, weren't you?" I swear her eyes gleamed.
My shakiness started to return, along with a red hot anger that she KNOWS she is bullying me, and DAMMIT I will not be terrorized by a 7th grader. I swallowed all this as we continued to the bookstore, but then realizing another potential for her rage I said, "Remember, we're just going to spend time here, not money."
She started to protest, claiming money I owed her and I said, "No, remember you decided to stop doing your chores?"
She narrowed her eyes and in her most menancing voice said, "Don't bring up the subject of chores. You know it will just make me mad."
Swallowing my escalating fear I say, "I am not afraid to discuss chores with you, Penny. You are expected to help around the house and I am not afraid to tell you that." (lie)
By now we were In Public and Penny does not make scenes In Public, so instead she just stormed off into the store, disappearing among the aisles.
We made it over to the theater without incident, mostly because I acquiesced into buying every sugary thing she wanted. During the movie, she laid her head on my shoulder and when she sat back up, I told her I had to go to the bathroom and then left the theater for 45 minutes. I sat on a bench, all the while willing myself to go back inside and sit beside the person who makes my skin crawl.
In the car on the way home, I felt frozen, like my cheeks, lips could not move, I could only barely nod my head as Penny chatted. She talked about how she could relate to Snow White while in my head I marveled at how much Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen reminded me of her. The way she screamed every time she did not get her way, the way she sucked the life source out of everything around her.
Penny then said she knew her brothers would rescue her if needed, just like the brothers in Snow White rescued her. And isn't that cool that she has brothers like that?
Ah yes, the ones in and out jail, who have phoned Penny twice in the last three years, who are no longer allowed to see their own babies for god knows what reason. Heroes! I just nodded.
As we pulled onto our street, I saw that tomorrow was recycling day and I said aloud that we needed to bring our stuff to the curb. We came inside and I said, "Leave your shoes on so you can help me bring this stuff down." I got to sorting, and Penny calmly took off her shoes and went upstairs. "Penny, I asked you to help me with the recycling."
"I'm tired. I'm taking a bath."
"It will take 5 minutes."
She started to argue and then every negative thought I had came bursting out of my throat.
At one point she said that I owed her money from chores done months ago, so I gave her every bit of cash in my purse and told her to take it and get out of my life once and for all.
"I don't know, but why do you think I've been calling your family so much lately? I WOULD CUT OFF MY OWN ARM JUST TO GET YOU OUT OF HERE FOR GOOD!"
Then I left, drove circles in my car.
When I came back she was sound asleep, and this morning our paths did not really cross. She took the bus to her 1st day of volunteering at a park program. A model teen! I went into her room and saw the card with the storm cloud scotch taped above her bed.
It's taped so that you can see the inside, "I will always love you, Caroline."
I have absolutely no idea what thoughts are inside her head right now.