Thursday 27 October 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Dear M.,

Dear M,

We had our last session today, I left after that hug with tears in my eyes, there were so many things I wanted to say but did not. I could not find the words I needed to say to make you understand what you have helped me to do, who you have helped me to become and so tonight I put it out there for the world to read because you deserve this. A public thank you.

14 years ago I picked up the phone and called an intake worker. I was assigned to you, we set up a first appointment. I remember being nervous as I parked the car and then sat in it for awhile afraid to come inside the building. I had never talked to anyone before about how I was feeling.  I walked into your office scared, depressed and unsure if I wanted help or even if life was worth living. You listened, you were the first person in a long time to listen to me, to hear me. We talked for an hour about what was going on and you told me that we would try out a few sessions to see if this was a good fit for both of us.

Clearly since I am writing this letter to you today we both felt it was a good fit.

Those first few months of therapy were intense, I was struggling to stay alive and you were pushing me in the all the right ways to do that and be the person I was meant to be. Healing is hard work, I had a lot of healing to do. You gave me your home number, I carried it around with me, it was like a security blanket, a life line for when the darkness tried to take over and I felt all alone. I would call you and your calm voice would bring me back from the edge. Time and time again I interrupted your life on weekends, in the evenings, when you were with family and you always took time for me.
I will be forever grateful that you thought I was important enough to give me that time. It was your time and yet you gave it to me, a client, time you took from your family or your personal life and you gave it to me. That gift of time made all the difference in my life. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months, things began to change for me. The meds worked and the darkness became less overwhelming. I was healing, you were helping.  I learned to cope with my new realities, I began to learn that the only person I could change was myself.

Over the years I began to need you less but your presence in my life was still a comfort when things were hard. You were there when my grandmothers died, there were the calls and emails when I lived overseas, you were around when I stressed about getting married and after we adopted, I needed you again.

 I knew you, you knew me, I would not have to start at the beginning and again you made time.

There were the sessions when we talked about knitting or about how our outside world was intersecting with our therapeutic one. There were days when you just listened to me talk about my dysfunctional family or about how proud I was that I had walked away from my raging kid. It was all therapy, it was all getting me to the place where I am today, alive, loving life (most days) and better person because you took the time to help me heal.

When we met I was a scared and depressed student, now I am Mom, a teacher, a wife, I am healing. I never thought that I would make it, I never thought that I would heal, that I would be happy and yet here I am. I know that I did the work, I know that I deserve that praise but you made time, you made time to teach me the skills I needed to heal.

How exactly do you say thank you for that?

And now I move on, with my skills, and my memories, forever grateful to a woman who believed that I was worth her time.

Forever grateful
 If you need help coping, please go find a competent therapist to help you through the darkness, it is worth the money and the time. 

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Walk Away

I walked away from Randall this morning, well first I started to get frustrated then I thought about just making him comply ( read yelling till I got what I wanted) with my request  but then I realised that would get me nowhere. So instead I walked into his room, turned out the lights, closed his curtains and told him that perhaps he needed more sleep. I lifted him into his bed, said goodnight and closed his door. He yelled and screamed for about 5 minutes and then he realised that I was not playing and stopped hollering.

When I was ready I went back and asked him if he was ready to start his day again. He said he was. I let him know that I was not interested in starting my day by fighting with him and if that was how he wanted to behave then he was welcome to get some more sleep because clearly he was over tired. He was not interested in missing school so he pulled it together.

All of this was because I heard him hollering at his brother, who then tattled on him which caused me to ask him a question. Yes, I asked my child a question about what happened with his brother. He did not want to answer, I kept asking, he began to lie and shift the blame. I began to get frustrated, I told him that I did not want to play games, just answer the question - it was a hard question - I asked what they were fighting about. He would not answer so instead of continuing the battle I walked away, he kept yelling so I went back to his room and put him back in his bed. It worked, it stopped the spiral of destruction* we were getting into where he yells, I yell louder and then I give him a consequence because I am the adult and I can do that. But that spiral teaches him nothing except that I am louder than he is and I can get what I want because I am the adult. It is not healing, it is not therapeutic, it does not foster attachment.

I do not do it often enough, Randall and I often get into the spiral of destruction because I forget that he is still healing. I forget that he is not his brother and they are not in the same place in terms of their attachment to me. I forget because the chinese water torture games that he plays with me do exactly what they are supposed to do, drive me crazy. Crazy Mama yells at him, crazy Mama loses her temper and freaks out which reinforces him that I do not love him and that he is not good enough to be loved.

We go through this almost every day, it gets exhausting. He pushes me into the spiral, I take the bait and down we go. There are times when I am successful as I was this morning, times when I can step away but more often than not he is back at dripping water on my forehead before the day is through.
I think I need to a shirt to go with my patient pants that say - end the spiral of destruction...

*my own personal super clinical term

Friday 21 October 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Reason 746

Yesterday after a particularly long day Calvin came to me while I was folding laundry and said " Mom I am feeling crappy, can I have a hug".

I gave him a hug and we talked a bit. I knew that he had a difficult day at school I also knew that he was overwhelmed by the amount of homework he because he has not been bringing it home and now was doing it all at once. After our quick chat he moved on, did his extra chore (which was a consequence) with a smile on his face and went off to play with his brother.

Pretty typical little boy dramas for a little boy who is finally at the stage where he is just a pretty typical little boy you know aside from the lying first, trying to get away with everything and threatening to kill people if they look at him the wrong way because he perceives them as a threat to his survival. But you know, other than that he is becoming a pretty regular kid.

Do we still need to parent him differently than the average kid?


Is worth it?

Absolutely it is and every time I see him make a big step like he did yesterday my heart swells with pride because this little boy (who so many people had given up on) is going to make a difference in the world.

Sunday 9 October 2011

Archived Post 2011 - Triggers

I have mentioned recently how well Kevin has been doing, how hard he has been working and just how very far he has come. Yesterday I saw a glimmer of the child I once knew and I was totally not expecting it.

T's foster family dropped her off at 1pm, we timed things very carefully so that we would be able to supervise her with the boys at at all times. We got it the car to head to the city and chatter started. Kevin chattered all the way to the city making up all sorts of tall tales about things he is doing and has done some of which I called him on and others I ignored. He kept chatting and making a point of saying Dad as often as he possibly could. He was clearly stressed and triggered by having his sister present and although I thought he would be I was surprised by the chatter.

While Kevin chattered non stop Randall withdrew into a book for the 40 minutes we were in the car. It was an interesting ride.

I was surprised at just how much being with T triggered Kevin. He has not been like this in the past but then again he has grown so much in the last 6 months and he knows just how much she is struggling to stay out of trouble. He loves her and he misses her but he understands how hard it is to make good choices and on deeply personal level that what she is missing is a family who will always love her. He can articulate that to me and he has begun to say that, it warms my heart to hear him talk about being happy to be adopted.

Once we got into the city things got better. We met E and his Mom and played a few games of laser tag with some friends to celebrate Randall and T's birthdays. The visit went well, T acted like a 14 year old girl with significant attachment issues and the boys all had a blast playing laser tag.

Kevin had managed to regulate himself by the time we were home and we enjoyed our shared meal with E's family. T did not stay for supper because we do not feel that we can provide the level of supervision required so that she is not constantly saying inappropriate things to the boys.

Bedtime was easy - gasp I know - and no one had a melt down.

Today was a different story but I will take one tantrum free day and run with it because it this is a new phenomenon around here and I kinda like it.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Archived Post 2011 - How it looks now.

It's been just over three years since I became a parent, since I began loving two kids who really needed a family who was never going to give up on them.

There have been days when I want give up, yesterday was one of them.

My kids have stopped raging, they have stopped using bodily fluids as weapons of destruction, they have begun to learn to burst into tears when there emotions begin to overwhelm rather than beat the crap out of the closest person. It is progress but there are still days when the crazy lying, the sneaking and pushing me away dances on my last nerve. Yes even though things are better old habits and protective behaviours die hard.

Some of my kids choices are old habits but others are behaviours that are meant to protect them, behaviours that kept them alive when adults were not keeping them safe. For a long time my children were taught that adults would not meet their needs, they learned to fend for themselves and protect themselves at all costs, lying, stealing and sneaking were ways to be fed and to stay safe. Not investing in relationships with adults was a way to protect their hearts from the pain of the loss that they were certain would come if they began to care.

On one level my kids know they can trust me, but when they are  faced with a situation in which they feel threatened they often react in a way that will keep them safe no matter what. I would be lying if I told you that it does not make me crazy. I would by lying if I told you that I took it in stride every time that it happens and reacted to the behaviours in a calm and understanding manner.

The lying, stealing, sneaking and rejection makes me crazy in the moments when it occurs and sometimes I am able to take it in stride and talk the offending kid through the moment. Other times I react like many frustrated parents would and yell. The thing is, when I react like that we don't get anywhere because my yelling just triggers my kids and then we get caught in a circle where we argue with one another. It is really hard to be the adult in those moments, it is so hard to step back and be calm, to take a deep breath and talk through the moment without creating more drama.

Sometimes it helps to remember that these behaviours are way better than the behaviours I dealt with when I first began parenting. These behaviours pale in comparison to the places my kids used to go and if I can remember that in the moments when I need to I can be a better parent. I can be calmer and more therapeutic and that means that with time these behaviours will lessen just aa the other have and that will be a good really good thing.

I am going to put on my patient pants before I pick my boys up from school, hope they help.