As I was listening to a foster parent talk about a torrent of abuse that had flooded out of their young person’s mouth, an image came into my mind, that the words might be experienced as bullets fired from a Gatling gun penetrating the skin and causing deep wounds that could fester.
Now, if we give the Foster Parent a bulletproof vest the bullets will not penetrate, though they will still impact and bruise. The danger then is that these bullets could ricochet back into the young person without the lead having been taken out.
What though if the Gatling gun is simply a vehicle to getting out the unbearable feelings: a way to discharge the bullets held in the young person’s body from their adverse childhood experiences?
I think that Foster parent was the only person the young person felt safe enough with, to fire their Gatling gun at? That young person knew they could take this risk, without fear of being rejected from their Foster Parent.
That Foster parent knew that the bullets simply didn’t matter. They had connected that this torrent of abuse was simply an outpouring of intolerable feelings and instead of putting on a bulletproof vest they held the young persons hand.
The Foster parent was able to respond with feelings from a place of empathy, as they knew that these bullets needed to flood out of their young person’s body. They knew that it was not personal, that the bullets belonged to the past and it was the hidden feelings that needed to be spoken about in the here and now.
The message the young person received by the taking of the hand was that “it is fine to fire your bullets, they can bruise me and I still love you. I hear your pain and anger, I am still here and will wait together till you are ready to lay down your Gatling Gun and we will be okay together”.
If what Aly has said resonates with you, and you would like to become a therapeutic foster parent, please get in touch for an informal chat: