(A repost after a site glitch deleted the original post off the blog)
He wore the marks of his anger like a tattoo.
Scrawled across his nine-year-old arms were the black lines.
I asked him to color his emotions, an exercise used to release the feelings trapped behind muted lips.
With markers in one hand and clean, white paper in the other he locked himself away.
During the previous five hours we had fought to stay upright as his rage threatened to blow us all down.
He left a path of destruction in his wake.
The carnage surrounded us…
little boy fist sized holes in his dry wall,
a cobweb of cracks in the glass of his bedroom window,
the Picasso like pieces of his biological mother’s photograph littered his bedroom floor…a pair of lips or half a face, like confetti from a party.
The destruction was overwhelming. The clean-up, as daunting as a FEMA site.
But the clean-up came later.
First we had to calm the storm.
It has been so long, we had almost forgotten.
The rage….oh, such rage.
And beneath it such fear…such sadness…such loss.
I found myself trying to breathe. The panic stole it from me as I tried to surface…I just needed a breath.
Like a fireman battling a kitchen fire, I tried to stop the spread. Anger is so contagious. It spreads quickly, jumping from one source to another, gaining fuel, getting bigger.
Like a smokejumper I worked to get ahead of the flames, protecting the green part of the forest, and trying to prevent a full blown wildfire.
I can’t fight fire with fire, and I couldn’t fight anger with anger.
The rage was simply an external symptom of an internal hurt. I couldn’t get sucked in. I had to rise above, so as to be in a position to lift him from above, out of the inferno he found himself in.
He finally came out from behind locked doors.
In his hand there was no paper.
Instead he wore the evidence of his emotions on his body.
It was as though the hidden hurts from years of abuse had festered their way up through his skin. He wore his hurts like burns.
His skin was covered with permeant black marker…his color for anger.
He colored himself in his emotions.
“I am ANGRY,” he declared.
I looked at him, awed by his presence.
He stood like a piece of art,
a profoundly haunting piece of art.
He named it “Anger.”
Which means sadness, and fear, and abandonment, and insecurity, and loss.
Affected and weary from the battle, I sat.
That is the effect of abuse, friends.
As he stood before me covered with permanent scribbles of black, all I could think was,
“This is the symbol that should be held in front of a failing child welfare system.”
SO many times “the system” stepped into his home and turned a blind eye.
SO many times those who were in a position to protect him, failed him.
He now stood before me bearing the marks of their indifference.
And now I watch as the system fails other precious littles that are being marked…
and some marks don’t ever wash away.