Forks

There are now three forks left in the house.

They are becoming a metaphor for my life: forks as allegory for our lives.

She packs one when she takes a salad to school. Then she just throws it in the bin because ‘her bag is heavy’. Then she screams when she needs one, because there are no forks in the house; with utterly no clue about her role in that.

Because her amygdala, her trauma, her attachment, her FASD all think that forks – like everything else (money, socks, coffee sachets, homework, friends, me) – are magic and ‘should just be there’; available, ready and waiting the instant she needs them. Be there seamlessly. Be there unimpeded by thinking, or planning, or asking, or decision making, or responsibility, or action; no obstacle or challenge blocking the way. Sometimes, even the opening of the cutlery drawer is too much an obstacle; too much a challenge. There can be no intermediate steps to the fulfilment of the need, because they too are experienced as threat, and their very existence summons her amygdala into protective action.

The lack of a fork – directly to hand, exactly when it’s needed – is perceived as a clear and extreme danger that will be fought with the same all out ferocity of hand to hand combat with a lunging sabre toothed tiger. Any interruption to her thinking process, any delay in a need being answered, and her amygdala is there to fight her way out of the problem.

It’s not just things either. The train she needs to catch, the movie screening, the skate session timetable, the click of the boiled kettle, the Saturday job shift, the dinner arrival, the lift; all required by her amygdala to be available and ready exactly and only when she announces she is in need of them, the instant she needs them.

Like magic.

And likewise, if she doesn’t like the bread in the crock, her amygdala throws the whole loaf away. If the shampoo smells funny, her amygdala empties the whole pot somewhere in the bathroom. If the season of her favourite programme comes to it’s end, her amygdala smashes the controller. The mince I defrosted yesterday to cook with today has already vanished like magic because … her amygdala must have seen it, decided it doesn’t want it, and thrown it away.

If it’s night when she needs it to be day, if it’s Monday when she needs it to be Thursday, if it’s Winter when she needs it to be Summer; amygdala springs overzealous and armed to the teeth to her aid. This amygdala – her protector – was once her biggest friend. It is now her greatest foe.

Her home, her life, her body, her actions, her thoughts – as well as mine – are ruled and ruined by this tiny almond shape misfiring button in her limbic system.

And it hates forks.

 

 

Fake news

Fake news: Her story and my story are never alike

The differences in our stories are not just those of opinion; they are rooted in the chemical hardwiring of our brains.

My memory: that time when she stepped off the curb as a six year old right in front of a bus, and I snatched her back safe from harm.

Her memory: that time when I grabbed her and hurt her shoulder.

My memory: the time she kept running into the wall head-butting it while trying to throw herself down the stairs, me stood trembling in the way to block and protect her, when she pushed me and I fell all the way down.

Her memory: the day I slammed her against the wall and made a big bump on her head.

My memory: The time she turned her room upside down in a rage, lunged at me with scissors, tripped over the upturned broken chair on the floor and scraped her head on the edge of the table.

Her memory: the time I threw her against the table and cut her head open.

My memory: the time her sister’s FCs failed to make arrangements for our visit in the summer despite attempt after attempt to make it happen.

Her memory: the day I stopped her from seeing her sister.

My memory: the time she chose to miss the last train (again), and was angry at me for coming out to collect her; grabbing at the wheel so we swerved off the road on the long way home.

Her memory: the time I tried to kill her.

Her story and my story are never alike, and yet each of our stories is true.

Her experiences are framed always by her constant perception of being in danger. Her sense of truth is shaped by a worldview that sees everything and everyone as perilous; to be fought against tooth and nail.

No part of her rational brain can pierce the memories forged in those moments. No period of quiet, calm reflection can balance these truths for her in any way that helps her see or embrace the safety she now resides in. She lives forever in the maelstrom of hazard. Her ‘stories’ aren’t designed to mislead, to misinform, or to manipulate an outcome. They are pure survival born out of fear. She is obliviously locked in to the perilous world her amygdala presents to her, and every day this fake news filter sabotages everything for her; reinforcing the story of a dangerous world just that little bit more.

The truth of her fake news is what scares me the most.