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Showing posts with the label trauma

Giving up the battle

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This morning we gave up the battle. And it felt great. 
Mornings have been a massive battle for control, and last night we decided we just weren't going to do that any more. When we thought about it, *really* thought about it, we realised that all the 'rules' we had been trying to enforce were actually totally arbitrary. You can't go downstairs until six o'clock - why not? What difference would it actually make? 
So Tickle woke at 5am, and Husband got him a drink and snack, and said he could play. We snoozed. Then Tickle wanted the iPad to watch CBeebies, so we gave it to him. We snoozed. Then he wanted to go downstairs and play, so we let him. We snoozed. He sounded like he was getting a bit silly, so we called down and reminded him he'd have to come up if he was going to be silly. He calmed down. We snoozed. Husband had a shower. 
Tickle started asking for breakfast around ten past six, by which time Husband was nearly finished, so he was happy to wait for five …

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.

Fairy, Tickle, and the Monster

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Fairy and I went for a walk to the park this evening. This is my feet, on the swing. We've decided it's going to be our evening ritual; Tickle goes to bed and we go out for a walk, a bit of fresh air, and to get the step count up on our Fitbits (Fairy has managed to snaffle Gran's old one and is now obsessively tracking everything).

As we were walking I asked how she was feeling about things at home at the moment..

"I decided something yesterday." she says. "I've had enough of the Monster."

"OK."

 [For those who don't know, the Monster is the name we have given to Tickle's Trauma.]

"But the quickest way to get rid of the Monster would also get rid of Tickle, and I don't want to do that."

We walked some more. We played at the park. I went on the zip wire, which she thought was hilarious. We walked home the long way; it was about quarter to nine and she brought the subject up again.

"I have had enough of the Monst…

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…

Therapeutic parenting and CPV

I've been doing some thinking this evening.

I've not had a brilliant day today; nothing out of the ordinary - not our ordinary anyway - apart from the fact that I had a big work thing this weekend (the sort that is a year in the planning) and that I think all the holding-myself-together that I've been doing for the last few months came suddenly and spectacularly apart at the seams. I finally let myself think the unthinkable in a way I'd never really done before, and not only that I went and admitted it to both Tickle's Social Worker and our Adoption Social Worker.

So this evening I'm worn out, and I've got a hell of a headache from crying for six hours, but I do feel a tiny bit relieved to at least have got it out in the open. Our Social Worker was practical and solid. She asked questions and she took a lot of notes. We formulated a bit of a plan of what we were going to do over the next few days, and she's going to come and visit again next week. Tickl…

Widening our vocabulary (or, The Great Attachment Swindle, part 2)

In part 1, I wrote about why attachment may not be the big deal it can sometimes be presented as, certainly in adoption circles. I definitely don't think we should be ignoring it completely, but I do think we should use vocabulary that is more specific to the problems our children may be facing, and that help us to move forward.

I ended the last post talking about trauma; below are some more suggestions for different ways of thinking about the common issues our children face.

Shame

Shame is something that is talked about a lot, particularly in relation to education, reward charts, etc. Nicola Marshall from BraveHeart Education has written a lovely blog about it, and why children can find it hard to move on from that intense feeling of shame.

If you want to go a bit further in to the science, we can have a look at Kohlberg's stages of Moral Development. (Disclaimer - theory, theory, theory. Even with the supporting research, it is never going to be a perfect answer, only a theor…

Attachment may not be the massive deal we all think it is...

I am aware that in the circles I move in this will be a contentious post, but I'm hoping that people can read it with an open mind... here we go:

I wrote a post about attachment some time ago, mainly because I was fed up with the massive mis-appropriation of the term, and the lack of understanding surrounding it. Unfortunately this sort of stuff is still being pedalled, so it's worth having a quick recap with some of the key points of what attachment is, and what it is not.

Attachment is a descriptive term which denotes a dependant relationship, i.e. the relationship a child has with a care-giver. Attachment is not a term for the relationship you have with your partner. (I have heard of people being given 'attachment questionnaires' by Social Workers to determine what their attachment relationship with their partner is like. While this may be useful on some levels to reflect on the relationship you have with your partner, and while yes, there is a school of thought tha…

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…

The Walnut under the Mountain

I'm drowning.

I'm in bed, at 10.30 on a Saturday morning, because I can't bring myself to get up and face the day. Face Him.

On Thursday afternoon, Tickle head butted me, full in the face. In the nose, actually. It was incredibly painful, and would have been even worse if I hadn't read his body language and reflexively started to move backwards. I suspect a trip to A&E would have been on the cards.

Since the incident, I haven't really spoken to him. Husband and Gran between them have picked up the slack, and I've not had to do much more than say goodnight.

I'm struggling with the idea of being in the same room as him. I was thinking earlier that he doesn't even feel like my son any more, though when I came to write it down I was relieved to find it didn't feel quite right. I do still have that tiny knot, deep in my stomach that connects me to him, though at the moment it feels like a walnut buried under a mountain.

Mostly at the moment he feels …

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…