Monday, October 18, 2010

Adjusting. Attaching. Healing.

All of it hurts. All of it is hard.

It is hard for kids. It's hard for parents. And its hard for the parents to watch their kids struggle. It pisses me off quite frankly. And most days I'm quite sick and tired of it all. It. Is. Exhausting.

Everything he does, is necessary. Everything he does is based on his drive to survive. Everything he does, is to keep what little control he has in check. All of this to make himself feel safe.

Which is hard. Hard for a parent to watch. Only a parent sees. Only a parent recognizes that he doesn't feel safe. He doesn't feel safe with her. He doesn't feel safe regardless of where he is. He doesn't know she's going to protect him. He doesn't know that he'll have all he needs. He doesn't know that she will keep him warm. Safe. Fed. Clothed. Alive. Loved. Honored. Joyful.

Being that parent is hard to live through every day. Every day when you try. Try so hard. You see triggers triggered and you prepare yourself. You look into your bag of tools- set your emotional grade- prep the environment and psych yourself for all the possibilities that may come.

Even when- you handle each and every single minor and major traumatic transition, event, moment, noise, bump, disagreement, struggle, (etc) ---- even when you handle them with consistency. Make yourself sick and relieved all at the same time cause it was so hard to keep it there.... keep it consistent and nurturing. When after 9 months I want to kick and scream. Holler and Yell. But as a parent- you suffer through- stay sane, controlled nurturing and consistent- for him. The more he pushes these buttons- you know- he needs you more.

Consistent & Nurtured. Even then- he still will pause... he'll pause- something inside tells him to stop- to NOT DO WHAT SHE ASKED. Something inside tells him, he doesn't deserve this love. Something inside tells him, it is uncomfortable, overwhelming and too hard. He can't help himself. And I the parent. Watch it. Watch this internal struggle unfold- right there on his face- in his body language.

You think- pray- let him know he is safe. Don't listen the hurt lying to him. This. You. Can. Do.

But no. Not today. It's not you he's listening to today. Its the hurt and the pain.

What else can you do?

Consistency and nurturing.

Then he turns up the dial and goes for something he knows I can't let go. He ups the ante. And ups it and ups it. And if I'm unprepared- I will not respond appropriately.

His behavior is not at issue. Mine is. His is necessary. Mine is short sighted, prideful and hormonal!

We are almost at 9 months. There are signs secure attachment is starting (starting) to take a hold where anxious attachment has thrived for so long. Many of those signs are directly related to him fighting it off. What if I mishandle it? What if I do it wrong? I'm tired.  And I don't want to make it harder for him. OR ME! When does it stop getting HARDER?

Single parents, here's the thing. When you need a break-- really need a break- we risk alienating our child. Generally- there is no one else here. When we need 5 minutes to calm down- when we need 10 to figure out what to do- when we need 15 to pray to God for wisdom--- we risk alienating our child. I'm reminded of his past EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. EVERYDAY when I want 2 minutes to go to the bathroom by myself and he begs to come in with me- I'm reminded that he cried for touch so long he could no longer cry. I'm reminded, every time he pushes me away that he remembers being abandoned multiple times. I'm reminded, every time he doesn't use gentle hands- that he may be unaccustomed to their feel. I'm reminded that when he can't let go of me for 12 hours every night- when I, myself am lying there crying cause I need some breathing space, I'm reminded that there was a time he wasn't here. There was a time- when he had no one to cling to. I'm reminded that time was probably longer than I want to believe.

I'm also reminded- that this time- this time when he is pushing and pushing and pushing me away as fast and hard as I'm letting him.... is exactly the time when he needs me. ME. Not a pinch hitter. It's the time he needs me being consistent and nurturing, the most. And if I can tough it out. Figure out a way... perhaps... maybe... there's a chance, it'll ease up on both of you (us). Consistent and Nurturing the most. So single parents- we have to get it together, in the presence of the chaos overwhelming our children- be the anchor. Be the voice. (someone come over to my house about 9am every morning and remind me of this, will ya?!)

Despite almost nine months of adjustment, attachment tools and healing steps, it continues to be hard. And grows harder. But someday soon. Someday it will be better. It will get easier. I know it. He is doing exactly what he needs to do. Children are good that way. They know no other way to live. Adults... adults know the options and make the wrong choices all the time. ( sulking in seat, raises hand). I on the other hand am enlisting professional help.


Kate said...

Great post... I think it should be required reading for anyone thinking about adoption... and knowing how hard it is for us sometimes, even though we have someone to take our place when we tap out, I can't imagine how hard it is to go it alone. Hugs. And thoughts. And any help I can give... just let me know.

Bonnie said...

I think that you are on the verge of breakthrough - really it has taken 9 months for you both to grow together... the next 3 months are going to be something amazing. Hang in there you are doing a great job!

Jules said...

Very powerful post. You're such an honest writer Shannon. I hope it gets easier for you guys. Keep blogging.

Cindy said...

Great Post Shannon.

Melissa said...

I'm so sorry that it is so hard. Can I just say though that I'm impressed at your ability. Even in the midst when you feel beyond able to do it, be consistent and nuturing for him, I'm cheering you on even if it is from the world wide web. And I must say he is one beautiful child!

Liz said...

I'm so sorry it's been so hard, and getting harder...please find a way to get a break, I really do think you will come back better for him if you can figure out how to do that! And I hope the professional help does, indeed, help...

Sending lots of courage and support your way!

Julie said...

This post makes me want to hug you. I can't imagine doing this stuff as a single parent. It is hard enough for two people to conquer together. Sending you a hug.

Me. Us. She. said...

You are amazing. Single motherhood has to be the hardest job on planet earth. I think of all the times I toss Ariam at Jeremy and run to the bed for an hour of alone time. That keeps me sane. Without I don't know what I would do. You are a hero. you will be his hero someday when the harder stuff has passed. A

Chrissy said...

Yes it is tough! I hope it gets easier! I read your blogs and then wonder/hope that I am catching all of B's signs!!
Something I did- that you may want to consider- I found a college age boy that I TRUSTED to spend some good "guy" time B- once a week for about 3 hours. They played ball and did "boy stuff"- It HELPED ME to have that time- and I think it helped him to have someone else around- it is hard doing it alone!

Leah said...

So how's the professional help? We love our attachment therapist and I hope you love your just as much. Can't wait to see you both grow together!

Ashley said...

it IS all so hard. i can't imagine doing the past 8 months alone. i just keep telling myself it's a marathon, not a sprint. sending you love today shannon.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing again, Shannon. I'm not a single mom, but my husband leaves before he wakes and comes home in time for bedtime. The time between it can be oh-so-hard to be the grown-up and some days are just tougher than others. I pray each night for the ability to be a consistent and nurturing parent. I am thankful for a clean slate each day, to erase days when I didn't measure up the way I'd hoped.

Ms. Fricknfrack said...

You and the rest of the single parents out there are simply superhuman in my eyes.

And yes, you are right. It will get easier and it will get better. And I can't recommend therapy enough. Thank you for your honesty.

{Staci} said...

you are a hero shan. teg is a hero. i don't know what you're going through but i hope in some small way you feel me going through it with you. i wish we were closer so i can offer moral and physical support better.

if it's worth anything at all, you and teggy are some of the only people i remember to include in my prayers alongside my kiddos every day. i think about you all the time. i wish i were a better friend amidst my little bubbles of turmoil.

glad you're getting help.

Ladybugs appear said...

so get it. the smile on his face and more importantly the twinkle in his handsome eyes make me know the great work that you've both done.

Jennifer said...

You are a good mom; very conscientious....and that can be oh, so tiring and hard. Good for you for getting professional help.