Many times I am stopped with funny looks in stores. I have a daughter with leg braces, and as anyone can see multiple special needs. I am pretty calm and just smile, answer questions, and ignore funny looks. I don't claim sainthood, but a few years back I may have been the one staring at "that kind of child". So I practice patience, forgiveness, and most importantly education. I do not believe in "hiding" her disability. It is part of her, it makes her unique, and defines the way we see the world around us.
But then you look at my son.
That is what most people see. The all American blonde hair, blue eyed kid. The kid everyone likes. He's funny, loves animals, and hates cleaning his room. Its what you don't see. I call it the hidden scars.
My son lived through more abuse and trauma in the first year of life than you could ever imagine. He was beaten, dropped, neglected, and eventually shaken to the point where he nearly died. His abuser was a person who was supposed to protect, defend, and love him. His bio mom.
I made some big mistakes when we first got him. The biggest one was the lie I bought. He will be fine. He will just magically be normal. But for Marvin that normal never came.
Marvin flourishes with us. He is like a little plant soaking up sunshine and love. But Marvin's mind stopped growing when the abuse started. He has memory loss, numbers and letter look funny to him, and learning new things is a challenge. He also can have tantrums that last for hours, anxiety attacks, and stress episodes.
Chances are you won't ever see them. Marvin is a master chameleon. He has learned how to survive and put on a happy face. But the scars are there.
Marvin needs support and help to make it day to day. He has traumatic brain injuries. He needs constant reassurances that he is safe and supported. Thankfully we are getting support. We get support from a trauma specialist. We basically had to learn to re parent Marvin. We are in the process of getting him support in school so he can succeed.
Marvin is amazing. He was a victim of horrible violence and a survivor. He continues to live day to day and has a zest for life. We continue to fight for him and advocate for his unique needs. I also am no longer hiding it. When we hide abuse and violence we have let the abuser win. We need to shine light on the deeds done in the dark so we can help victims advocate for themselves. There is no shame in this. There is only shame when we choose silence and let the innocent continue to suffer.
I choose to be silent no longer. For my son's sake I will not pretend anymore. I am breaking the silence.