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Showing posts with the label emotions

Blending families: Fairy's story

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Fairy was only five or six when we started the adoption process. We did what we could to prepare her, as you do, and being the beautiful, empathetic child that she is, she really got it. She instinctively understood about her future brother being worried, about having to teach him that we are kind, that we would look after him. That it would take a while for him to settle in. Throughout the process, both Husband and I, and various Social Workers periodically used to ask her if she had any questions, but she only ever had the one:
"How long will it take for us to get to know each other?"
She knew it was a question that couldn't be answered, obviously, but regardless, that was the thing she most wanted to know, and she held it clutched to her chest like a talisman. 
Fast-forward nearly four years, and she and I were chatting about this in the car, part way through our half term break. To me it feels like something has slightly shifted this week, like she is starting to find h…

All children do that, part 2

Here's a good example of the adopted children vs biological children thing. Today Tickle came home with a note in his book saying he'd hit another child. 
Not out of the ordinary, you might think. Boys will be boys? Biological children do that too!
Tickle hit the child in the face with a whiteboard.
The reason Tickle hit the child, so he tells me, is because Tickle wanted him to talk, and he wasn't talking. 
The child is non-verbal, epileptic, and in a wheelchair. 
It's *really* hard to continually be kind and loving towards a child who's behaviour disgusts you. Sometimes, I can see past the behaviour to the child underneath, but in situations like this when it's done in anger, where he doesn't feel particularly threatened, he just wants his own way... I know underneath it all the issues are still there, the root of it all is the same, but... it's hard. 

His anger exhausts me.



--- Click here for my original post on biological vs adopted children.

Support: Why I want you to watch Three Girls

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Over the last three nights there's been a drama on BBC1 called 'Three Girls'.



Three Girls tells the story of three of the children involved in the Rochdale paedophile grooming investigation. I wasn't sure whether to watch it, initially. Considering what we're going through at the moment it was quite possible it would set me off crying for a week, or in to deep depression. In the end though I did; I'm not entirely sure why, but mostly I think because it's important to face things head on. The girls were brave enough to tell their stories, and they deserve to be listened to.

I'm glad I watched it. I want you to watch it too. I want all my friends to watch it.

It's taken me a good hour mulling it over to work out why that is. At first I thought perhaps I wanted people to see what it was like to have a different life. If I'm really honest, I'm pretty jealous of most of my friends at the moment. I see my Facebook newsfeed full of everyday problem…

All aboard the self-care shuttle!

My lovely Twitter friend Hannah Meadows wrote a great post about mental health for adoptive parents recently. (And I am *not* just saying that because she linked to a post of mine in it..!)

Mental Health has been right at the top of my list of priorities for the last couple of weeks. It's been odd, and it feels slightly weird to be consciously doing things for myself. Unfamiliar.

However, we have a LAC review on Thursday, and apart from anything else I want to show that we are active participants in the 'supporting Mum and Husband' club. I want Social Services to see that we are not giving up. (We are not. We decided the other night.)

[I know this is utterly the wrong reason to be doing things, and I don't really think it will make a blind bit of difference to Social Services, but I'll take motivation from wherever I can get it at the moment.]

I feel very strongly that self-care is absolutely vital for us to survive this. If we don't keep on top of this, our fa…

Saturday

Saturday started at 5am, as usual.

Husband took the early shift, also as usual. He seems to need less sleep than I do, and is also blessed with one of those brains that will switch off on demand, meaning he drops off within minutes of getting in to bed.

This particular morning we’d agreed the night before that Husband would definitely get up if it was any early one, as I’d been up early quite a lot of the week and was feeling tired to the point of not quite feeling safe to drive. Needless to say, I had then proceeded to wake up at half past four, half past six, and finally at quarter to eight – this time by the absolute racket that was coming from downstairs. Quite apart from the noise Tickle was making, Husband is normally very calm and softly-spoken, so the fact I could even hear his voice from upstairs was an indicator that something wasn’t right. The fact that his voice was saying “Tickle you are not allowed to head butt me” was an even bigger clue.

Thanks to Facebook messenger, I…

Fairy's morning

Here is a post I wrote this morning, but couldn't upload because the internet was down:

It gets worse before it gets better. I know this. But the worse is happening right now, and the better is only a hope for the future.

I want to make a better log of what is happening, and what I’m doing, so I can try to work out what works and what doesn’t. If any of my adoptive, therapeutic friends would like to make any suggestions then I would be delighted to hear them.

This morning Tickle was worried about school, as usual. It doesn’t help that his teacher left with one days notice, and they don’t seem to be actually doing any of the things we discussed that might help him cope a bit better.

At breakfast he was banging the table, and saying he wanted to hurt the cats. Each time I asked him to come in to the sitting room with me, to have a sit in the comfy chair and calm down. The first time I said I had to keep Etta safe, as he’s not allowed to hurt her; he has to come and sit with me unti…

Reflections on this week

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It's been a funny old week. (By which I mean I have journeyed through the depths of howling despair and back again.)

Less than a week ago I genuinely thought we might have to disrupt. Weirdly, today I'm feeling more positive about things than I have done in quite some time. This has been achieved, I think, by a few significant shifts in the way I'm thinking.

The first was to do with self care, though actually it's more than that. We all know that we should look after ourselves, do nice things, make sure we get a break now and then. However, this week I realised that what self care actually means is placing my own needs on equal footing with those of my children. Or maybe even above them, sometimes.

For the last 18 months our entire household has been a slave to Tickle's emotions. He has blossomed under this approach, but the rest of us have suffered.  This week we gave ourselves permission to step away from him and focus on ourselves and each other, even at the ti…

The Key

I've had a really crap few days.

My friends reading this will know that I had a big event last weekend; an event I've spent all year working on, which hundreds of people came to, and something of which I am very proud. I honestly don't know how I got through it - the build up, the preparation, the event itself. I've got a team of amazing people working with me, but I'm the big boss, so the buck stops with me.

It's my favourite weekend of the year, usually, but this year I didn't enjoy it. I mean, I did - I smiled, I laughed, I saw my friends, I felt proud of it all... but it was like I was viewing it through a lens. I didn't feel connected. I could see everyone having a great time, but I couldn't get a hold of that deep down in your stomach happiness. I just felt a bit hollow.

I've been feeling this way for a while. Not all the time, certainly, but I have noticed a definite reluctance to connect with my deep down feelings. Sometimes it's bec…

I'm OK

I'm OK.

For those who read my last post and are worrying, I'm OK. Not brilliant, obviously, but I had a long chat to my mum, and a cry, and it was OK for me not to be the one that copes with everything for a few minutes.

All day even the thought of being around Tickle was making me almost recoil, emotionally. It was like it was a trigger, for me. Fairy was chatting about him at one point, about one of the cute things he'd done, and I could actually feel myself shutting down inside.

Husband had kept T out all day, and whisked him straight upstairs when they got home. Eventually he stuck his head round the door and asked if I wanted to say goodnight. I didn't want to, but I did it anyway.

Then Tickle said "Will you stay with me mum?"

I said yes.

There was no thunderclap, no choir of angels, no glowing halo of light surrounding both of us. Nothing changed.

Just, he wanted me to stay with him, and I wanted to be there.

So, I'm OK. Not brilliant, obviously, bu…

It's been a tough week

It's been a tough week for us, my Little Man.
A week in which you've pushed your sister down the stairs
Yet stroked her back while she lay coughing.
"It's ok, sweetheart" you said,
Not three days since launching a missile at her head.

It's been a tough week for us, my Little Man,
As your hard veneer at school has cracked
In spectacular fashion;
Hitting teachers
Throwing plates
Overturning tables and chairs
Pushing, shouting, spitting.

I see you, Little Man.
And I see the Monster you struggle with inside.
I see him rushing to protect you from the danger he senses
but doesn't really understand.

I see him in your board-stiff limbs.
I see him on guard in every vein
I see him shove your sweet nature aside without a second thought,
To attack, bite, spit, and claw
When he thinks he's the only thing
Keeping you safe.

It's been a tough week for us, my Little Man.
Your Monster is close, overpowering you.
Protecting you.
He screams, drowning out the raging …

The morning after

It's the morning after. I'm writing because I still haven't quite worked out how I'm feeling. I'm feeling ill, which doesn't help; my endo has flared up and my head feels fuggy from crying so much yesterday.

Husband took Tickle out for the day yesterday, while Fairy went to Gran's and I had a rehearsal for a gig I'm doing next month. The music helped, gave me a focus, but as soon as that had finished everything was waiting for me just under the surface.

Trying to get my head around what I'm feeling is so difficult. In terms of actual, physical harm done to Fairy or myself, it's negligible. I'm sure there are many brothers who have done far worse things to their sisters and everyone has been OK. The emotional damage, on the other hand, is far more complex. Normally, when siblings are fighting, and a parent gets involved, you'd expect the fighting to stop - or at least for the angry child to find some semblance of self-control. Not with Ti…

Happy Mother's Day

Picture the scene. It's Mother's Day. I'm reading a book in bed, Husband is about to get Tickle dressed to take the kids out swimming, and just pops in to the loo. Fairy comes out of her bedroom, and starts to walk downstairs to get herself some breakfast. I hear a shout.

"Tickle! Stop it! Daaad!!"

I jump out of bed. Tickle has tried to push Fairy down the stairs, and is now thumping her on the head. I grab him, and take him upstairs to my room. I know I ought to stay with him, he's obviously in a bad place and needs me to stay close and regulate him.

But Fairy is crying on the stairs.

She has done nothing to deserve this. She was just walking down the stairs.

I go to her, sit on the stairs with her, put my arms round her and kiss her head.

Tickle appears at the top of the stairs. He's holding the bottle of water that was next to my bed, and before I can do anything he has launched it at Fairy's head.

A few days ago, I didn't have a plastic bottle…

Therapy

We've just had our first meeting with our new psychologist - the one who specialises in adoption and trauma. It was just an initial discussion and we only scratched the surface but there are a couple of things she said that left me a bit stunned.

Firstly, I described to her how we manage Tickle when he's disclosing, or goes loopy, or gets violent. I described grounding him, giving him sensory input, bringing him in to the present moment, helping him to find the words to talk about what he's feeling, the gentle but probing questions, the wondering, etc etc.

She looked at me, and said "What you are describing is basically what we do in therapy."

In their big, full on trauma therapy. In safe spaces, with a trained therapist, for a limited amount of time, in a dedicated environment, with supervision and support for the therapist. Husband and I are doing that, all the time, at home. With no support, with no escape, with no limitations on how long we will let these big…

It's getting difficult again

Today Husband was woken at 2.30 by Tickle. He managed a couple of hours doze on his bedroom floor before T decides to wake the whole house up by banging the wall and screaming - all before 5am. Husband did a fantastic job of calming him down, and I managed to doze until sixish. Love that man.

While Husband was in the shower, T and I had a long chat. He told me he was scared of a kid at school. I told him I knew that he was scared of this child, but I also knew he was much more scared about some other things, and I thought that sometimes it's much easier to pretend that the child is all he's scared about because the other things just *so* big and scary.

It took some time, but Tickle eventually agreed, and we had a chat about his big scary feelings. He was able to articulate things a bit better than last time; each time we talk I get an extra glimmer of understanding, another piece of the puzzle.

I told him we would keep him safe, that these things will never happen again. "…

I'm very tired.

Sometimes people say things to me like "Oh my kids used to get up at half five, I remember it well. It's exhausting, but it's a phase and it will pass."

I know they mean well, and I know they are trying to comfort me. Sometimes they don't know the reality, sometimes they seem (to me anyway) to be trying to make us realise how normal this behaviour is. I really do understand this comes from a place of love and wanting us to feel better, but what it ends up doing is minimising our feelings. When people say to Fairy "My brother hits me, that's normal." it makes her feel like she shouldn't mind, like she has no reason to feel scared of him.

Sometimes there's no point saying anything, so I just nod and smile, while I cry a bit inside. However if you're reading this, there's a good chance you really want to understand, so for you, I'm going to be really, brutally honest.

Tickle woke up at 5.30 this morning, and shouted at us because he…

Just a brief update...

Heard back from CAMHS today who have initially offered six sessions with me and Husband to talk through what's happening at home and offer us some 'support'. Non-committal about what they are actually going to offer Tickle, even when I pointed out it's all very well asking us how we feel about him punching us in the face but ideally we'd like them to help him deal with his emotions so that he doesn't punch us in the face in the first place. They are expecting us to travel a 2.5 hour round trip for each session (we were initially told they would come to us), plus if we follow their plan it will be two months before they even meet Tickle. I have explained to them that this is not an acceptable solution in any way, shape, or form. Will see what they come back with.

Yesterday had a much more useful meeting with two new social workers who are doing their own assessment of us and are actually planning on speaking to the children as part of that. Their initial reactio…

A day in the life

Today, one of our new Social Workers (the lovely one who is carrying out our assessment of need) emailed to say she needs to include something about the emotional impact all of this is having on our family, what a typical day is like, and the reality of parenting Tickle.

Here is my reply:
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Hi Lovely Social Worker,
OK I'll do my best..! It's not always easy to talk about I think, because if we stopped to admit quite how much of an impact it is having on us it would be too overwhelming and we'd struggle to get going again! I think most of our daily life at the moment is gritting our teeth and getting on with it.
A typical day would be Tickle waking around five, when he will come in to our room and ask dad to come back to bed with him as he's scared on his own. Sometimes he wakes in the night but will usually accept being settled back to sleep, though any time after about 4.30 he's unlikely to go to sleep again. Husband will stay with him, sometimes listening to …

One week on

Its been one week since the disclosure that changed everything, and nothing. Everything, because it finally confirmed what we had been suspecting for months and pushed us across the line from 'what we think we can cope with' to 'what we really can't cope with'. Nothing because... nothing has changed. We still haven't heard from the police, haven't got the extra support in place, and feel totally in limbo - waiting for something to happen but not quite sure what.

I do know that in real life it takes time to get stuff sorted out, but for us at the moment every day is like a huge looming mountain to climb. (That's what it feels like to me, anyway; Husband seems to be very stoically getting on with it.) From the moment Tickle goes to bed at night I almost dread him waking up. I'm anxious around him, on edge because you never know when he might decide to tell us something else. My brain re-plays the video of his disclosures whenever it gets a quiet momen…

I want Mum

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The summer holidays have been tricky, but not in the way I expected. I had thought I would find it exhausting having to plan out six weeks of activities, filling the time, making sure we were on an outing every day, dealing with Tickle bouncing off the walls at home. In actual fact (helped enormously by my fabulous back-garden-water-slide construction skills) this hasn't been so much of an issue.


I'm finding it difficult to put in to words why I have found the holidays so exhausting, not necessarily because I don't know what I want to say, but because it's difficult knowing how to write about it.

I have been quite aware recently about the stuff I am sharing online about both my children, but Tickle in particular. The purpose of this blog originally was to help me process my thoughts, vent some of my feelings, let my friends and family know how I'm doing without having to tell them all individually, and - in a hopeful, idealistic sort of way - to perhaps let other p…