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The Mask

I arrive with a smile on my face,

You hope I might be ok,

I appear to be engaging and calm,

When you ask me how I’m doing I repeatedly say ‘I’m fine’.

Maybe I’m different,

Perhaps I’ve not been as affected as they warned,

At least I’m safe now,

You think things might just be ok.

You wait for the rages, the defiance the lies,

There are none,

It’s been three weeks now,

I’m still smiling.

You breathe a sigh of relief,

Trauma hasn’t won,

I must be really pleased to be here,

Leaving the past behind and welcoming my future with you.

I tell you I love you all day, every day.

It’s a bit irritating but you think it must be positive that I already feel that way.

They tell you I’m attaching well,

I even call you Mummy/Daddy,

I’m helpful, kind and want to be with you ALL the time,

I even follow you to the loo. I must really like you,

We make cakes together and I love them so much, I eat them all!

I’m very talkative and ask lots of questions. Lots and lots and lots,

Is this normal? You ask yourself,

Of course, it is. All children ask lots of questions,

Even absolutely ridiculous questions. Don’t they?

You can’t understand why I slept so well when I first arrived,

I’m not settling very well now. Constantly calling out for you,

You’re tired but trying to remain patient,

Perhaps I would benefit from a weighted blanket,

It helps a bit. Not a lot.

You have noticed that certain items have started to go missing,

‘Have i seen them? ‘ You ask,

‘No’ I state. Extra firmly,

You find them under my bed when looking for something else,

You are hurt, angry. I’ve let you down. I’ve lied!

I continue to lie when challenged about it,

You start to doubt your own sanity,

Others tell you it’s normal,

You are beginning to realise it is NOT.

Now my hugs feel inauthentic, my declaration of Love a lie,

Those constant questions are now very annoying,

I don’t stop eating. You are sure it’s more than a healthy appetite,

Perhaps I’m greedy,

The sleep issues are now unbearable,

You are tired. Very very tired.

When others ask you what’s wrong,

You try to explain. It’s like death by a thousand paper cuts,

You feel like a fraud as compared to many, her behaviour is ‘low level’,

It doesn’t feel that way!

Others may offer unhelpful advice. They do not see behind the mask.

Your child may wear a mask when they come to live with you. This can be extremely difficult as others around probably won’t see beneath the mask. We can be lulled into a false sense of security, thinking all is well.

When the mask begins to slip, we can feel unsupported. Perhaps those around you will minimise the problem or compare your child to theirs.

At the NATP we are with you all the way. We hear you, believe you and will support you to help your child to slowly begin to trust that the Mask is not necessary with you.

(C) NATP - Sarah Dillon.

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