Friday 21 May 2010

Archived Post 2010 - Sadness and gratitude.

Esssie said this in her last post "I have not cried once in the past three years, but I came darn close that day. I have choked on it, I have cut off my own oxygen supply. I have done everything possible other than cauterize my own tear ducts. Because if I cried I would have to acknowledge how really really bad things were. If I did that, I would have to do something about it. And there are not too many choices in the "doing something about it" category. So no matter what has happened, however frustrated, angry, depressed, guilty, furious, whatever feeling whisked through I have forced it to keep going on. Totally unhealthy. Really bad. I know."

I know how she feels, every fiber of being knows how she feels because some days I feel as if I let myself cry over it I will never stop. I do cry, I steal a moment here and there usually when I am alone and the boys are at at school. I started to cry last night when I told Jack about Randall s conversation with me at dinner because it breaks my heart that I have to explain to an eight year old who I love that another person, a person who created him and carried him in her did not value him as a person. She did not love him enough and nurture him enough and coo at him like a mother should to their infant. He was not cherished, he was not protected, he was neglected and that neglect will have a profound impact on the rest of his life. When I think I about that I need to cry.

My son, yes my son, can throw watering cans at me, he can hit me and kick me and tell me to fuck off. He can scream at me that I do not love him enough and that I do not care about him when I follow through on a consequence and yet I do still love him. He hurts me over and over again and I have not rejected him. Why do I keep on loving him when he hurts me over and over again? I keep loving him because the woman who created him did not love him enough, she left him alone, she did not play with him or meet his needs, she got high and drunk and left him to fend for himself and when he was found walking down the street in his pajama's looking for food he was taken away from her and she did not love him enough to put him first. When I think about those things I need to cry.

When I watch my children learn to play, when I watch them have tea parties and catch dragon flies, I get sad. I get sad  because they should have been doing all those things their whole lives and instead they are just learning to do them now. When I watch them learn to play I need to cry.

When my children allow themselves to cry when they are hurt, when they wear my hairspray and deodorant to smell like me, when they scream at me one minute and then ask for a hug ten seconds later I pause and remember that they are healing and attaching.  I need to cry then too.

 I want to cry for my sons and for the countless children in the world whose childhoods are taken away from them by abusive and neglectful parents, I want to cry for them all but I start now I might never stop. Helping children heal is the hardest job in the world. I can't think to much about what I do though because if the tears start I might not be able to stop them. When all children of the world are nurtured, cared for and seen for the beautiful gift that they are I will be able to stop feeling like I need to cry for them.

If you are nurturing a child who was broken by another person let me thank you because you are making difference in their life even though some days it feels as though it is the most thankless job. You may never see the difference you make for that child but you are making a difference with each and every moment that you keep loving them.

Thank you for your courage and commitment to making a difference in the life of a child.

Thursday 20 May 2010

Archived Post 2010 - Broken hearts

The day did not get any better and as Kevin was outside pulling weeds ( because he made the choice to make a small job take forever and have a good old screaming tantrum in the middle )> Randall and I sat down for dinner.

It was a yummy meal, Randall looked at me and said " Mom, how come birth mom did not want any more". After I put my heart back together I tried to talk him through just how that happened and how she got to keep 1 child but the other 4 had to go into care and how 3 were adopted and one was not.

 It is way to much for an eight year old to comprehend even when you tell them in kid terms and leave out all the brutal neglect and abuse. I did the best I could, then Kevin came in part way through and and added his 2 cents and then I got the behaviour from him that goes along with talking about birth mom, silliness, reprimanded, hiding then apologetic and looking for cuddles. We all moved on and went to bed but it was hard for them and for me.

This is only the 2nd time in 2 years he has had a real conversation with me about her. He is slowly but surely working all of this out, I wish he did not have to though.

Friday 14 May 2010

Archived Post 2010 - A Therapy Primer

As a society one of the biggest mistakes that we make is to tell people to pull up their socks and get on with life. Sometimes life is really hard, things go wrong, people get hurt and the last thing that we need to do is minimize a persons suffering. It is hard for a lot of adults to admit that they need help. It is hard for adults to admit that they can not just pull up their socks and move on, that the pain is to great and that they need someone to help them.

Let me tell you this now, I will say it as many times as you need to hear. Therapy is a really, really good thing.

I have heard all the excuses in the book that people have to avoid going to therapy. They are really good excuses....
I tried it, it didn't work.
or how about - They asked me to swing naked from the chandelier to help with my depression and I just could not do it.
or - I can't afford it.
or - we went 3 times and nothing got any better.
or - it won't help, I just need a thicker skin.
or - they won't understand what it is like to parent a kid with ____ ( RAD, ADHD, Autism, etc.)

Let me say it again, therapy is a really, really good thing.

There are a few things that you need to remember though ( I am not an expert but I have been in therapy a really long time and my husband is a therapist)

- you may not click with the first therapist you try, you may have to try out a whole bunch of them before you find the right one who you feel comfortable with and who can help you with your issues.

- There are lots of types of therapy and not all therapists are trained in all methods, most specialize in one or two things. If you want to talk about trauma and PTSD do not go to someone who specialized in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy unless they also have trauma experience and skills. Do not be afraid to question someones training because not everyone is honest.

- Yes it can get really expensive, really quickly. We find the money. We eat out less, we rent movies instead of going to the theater and we are generally really frugal about a lot of things to find the money for us both to have our own therapists. I go every three weeks, that is enough for me at this point in my life, when I was in university and depressed I went every week, sometimes twice ( I still have debt from those years)

- Many therapists have a sliding scale, talk about your money woes, be honest and see if they are able to help you out. It may seem like a lot of money per hour but remember it is about the same amount of money your mechanic charges for an hour of work. Therapists go to school a long time and are always taking courses to improve their skills, they do not make a lot money, trust me.

- Therapy is not just for kids or really broken adults, many people benefit from therapy once they find the right therapist. Sometimes it is a short term thing and other times it takes years. Few things can be dealt with in less than about 10 sessions though because you need to build a relationship with the therapist, work through the issue and then bring closure to the relationship.

Let me say it again, therapy is a really, really good thing.

There are lots of people out their who say that they are specialists in one type of therapy or another. I thought I would fill you in on some that language because it can get a bit overwhelming.

Certified Counsellor - not all therapists are PhD's, some have a master's degree but they should belong to college or governing body. It is different in every state and province but look into how it works where you live and ask if they are members of the local college/governing body for their field. Social workers can be counsellors in some places and they belong to a different college than psychotherapists... it can get really confusing with all the different systems but check credentials of whomever you see.

EMDR - Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing  is a method of psychotherapy that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, EMDR has helped an estimated two million people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress - taken from EMDR International Assoc. Homepage

CBT - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a therapy type that encourages the client to become aware of the behaviours that reinforce psychological distress. It is useful with issues like anxiety ( and related issues), OCD and panic disorder. You can find more information here

Gestalt Therapy - focuses on gaining an awareness of emotions and behaviors in the present rather than in the past. The therapist does not interpret experiences for the patient, instead the therapist and patient work together to help the patient understand themselves. There are many aspect to Gestalt and you may hear it referred to as the "two chair" method. You can find more information here

Therapy for you to do with your child
Our kids often need therapy, it is much more useful if you attend all therapy sessions with your child. There are many reasons for this that a good therapist can explain to you but it is about attachment and your child's relationship with you, not with the therapist. If you can not find someone who will encourage your active participation then keep looking until you do.

Attachment Therapy - Is a really great thing to do with your kids if they have attachment issues. (This is not holding therapy. If someone wants to do that with you and your kids please run screaming from the room) There are lots of great ways to foster attachment with kids and none of them involve any holding except having your child sit on your lap sometimes. Dyadic Developmental Therapy is great place to start with and then you can look for therapists who are trained in that method or similar methods within your community.

 Art/Music/Therapy -  these use a medium to get the therapeutic process going. You can find more information on Art and Music therapy by following those links. I have grouped them together here but they both have very different approaches and very different outcomes.

Play Therapy - A therapy style that speaks to children in the language they speak best, play. It is useful for kids with a variety of issues including trauma.  There are lots of different techniques used in play therapy including sand tray, puppetry and story telling. You can find a longer definition here

Do not be afraid of therapy, it can be a really, really good thing and just like everything else in the world, there are bad therapists out there. Do not let them shade your view because there are also lots of great ones who can help.

Let me say it again, therapy is a really, really good thing.

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Archived Post 2010 - Don't mess with the Mama

Jack often says to the boys, don't mess with the Mama, it works, they get the point and  stop whatever it is that they are doing, usually talking back. Kevin is finally learning that this phrase can be applied to lots of things, when I say I am going to do something I am going to follow through and I don't really care what you throw at me in the process, you are not going to win. Don't mess with the Mama.

Last night while we were eating supper I looked over at Kevin's still packed lunch bag ( they are supposed to unpack them when they get home) and asked him if he had eaten his lunch. He said he had and I believed him (duh), then we rushed around to get ready for Scouts. I had meant to ask him to unpack his lunch bag but I got distracted and by the time we got home fromScouts I had forgotten all about the lunch bag. I put the boys to bed and then Jack called out to me from downstairs. Grumbling about having to get up from the chair I finally just sat in I went to the top of the stairs, Jack holds up a thermos and says " it's full" we discuss and discover that it is Kevin's.

I was pissed.

I don't really care that he did not eat his lunch, I care that he lied to me. Knowing that the boys were not yet asleep and were listening to Jack and I talk, I went back to their room and informed Kevin that he was busted and he would be having stew for breakfast and left it at that.

He got up this morning, he was happy and loving. We went downstairs and I told him to have a seat at the table and eat his stew.  He ate it without a fuss. Stew is not his favourite meal but I am big believer in eating what you are served  ( I make exceptions for things they really hate but a mild dislike of something means that you are still eating it.). After he finished we calmly discussed what the problem was and he understood that I was more annoyed by the lie than the behaviour and he agreed that there would of been other ways to solve the problem. Then he joined us for breakfast, asked for a bowl of yogurt, I said no, we are having oatmeal, he agreed to have some oatmeal ( also not something he enjoys) as long as it was just a little. He ate it, was in a good mood and went off to school happy as can be.

A year ago these events would have resulted in a tantrum.
A year ago I would of had to fight my way through this with him.
A year ago I would of probably not been able to get him to join us for breakfast because he would still he sitting there with that bowl of food.

Don't mess with the Mama, she doesn't give up because healing comes with not giving up.