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In this life we can not always do great things. But we can do small things with great love.." :) Mother Teresa

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“I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.”
― C. S. Lewis


I believe in the sun even when it's not shining. I believe in love even when I don't feel it. And I believe in God even when He is silent. (quote found on the wall of a concentration camp)

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Monday, May 30, 2011

When Triggers Get Triggered

One of the things about raising children with a large part of their lives already behind them, and you not knowing anything but bits a pieces of information..... is, it makes for interesting times! :)

We had one of those times today.  How would we have known that going to a place similar to Chuck E. Cheese would set off such tremors.  I should have known when we had said we were going to go to Chuck E. Cheese, about a month ago, the reaction of our Alli was rather unusual.  It caused her stress, and she didn't want to wait, yet she didn't want to go.... and she became dysregulated.

Well, we have had some very good times, and then today, was the day to go to Chuck E. Cheese.... but mama got creative and found a BETTER place that was even on sale!  Who would have thought that would have caused a trigger?  Not me.... Why? I dunno. :)

So, we got to  Amazing Jakes,  and walked into a huge fun land with an ENORMOUS food bar.
Everybody filled up, and then it was time for games. Alli said, "Can everybody finish eating! I'm bored"......
And I knew, something was up......
She struggled to have a good time.  She really DID have a good time, in spite of herself.  I so felt for her struggling, but could not figure out why the struggle.
She finished her game card... (everybody had one)  and then announced, "I'm bored, I want to leave".... and then came the pouts.  The mournful look... the slouched shoulders, the woe is me.....

I tried to get her to engage in the joy of others still having fun, but she was too overwhelmed.
Some would look at her behavior and say, "How selfish!" "How Spoiled!"
I'm sure some did.

Anna was so sweet, she took Alli for a little walk and talked to her about her surprise and told her they could google how to use it when they got home. She seemed excited about that for a minute.... and then it was back to the pouts.

Everybody was done, and enjoying ice cream, but Alli was in full pout mode, so I told everybody, take your time.... have fun, and Mama and Alli are headed to the van.

We got in and cooled the van down for everybody else, and she was not yet regulated to talk.
So, when everybody came out, we started home.  We all talked about what a great time we had, except Alli. She was by now, curled in a ball. Pouting.

We sang some songs and daddy pointed out the most beautiful flowers to everybody. We didn't address our little ball of pouts.... we just continued our celebration.

When we got home she bolted from the van and tried to run into the house, but the door was locked. I asked her, "Would you like to unlock the door?" She said, "Yes", and I handed her the key.
When we got inside, she asked if there was a quiet place she could go.  I  told her, "My room, or your room, or the front porch or the back porch."  Would you like to go and spend some time with Guess?
She said no.

After about 30 minutes home, it all came to a head.  I was tired, and actually abit irritated that she had not calmed herself.... so I took her by the hand and we walked back to her room and sat on the day bed.
I told her I was doing my best not to be angry.... but honestly I was.  I told her that it was hard to see her not have a good time, and not care to make it special for Anna and Sarah. We had waited so long for this......
Her response was to break down crying... "THEN WHY DON'T YOU JUST GET RID OF ME!"

I took her into my arms and said, "Why in the world would we do that? It never even crossed our minds!"
"Everybody ELSE has gotten RID OF ME!"  "They Couldn't handle my temper!" "If you can't handle me, you can just get rid of me!"
I told her as I held her.... "I never said I couldn't handle you!" In fact, "I love you! YOU ARE MY DAUGHTER, WE WOULD NEVER EVEN THINK OF GETTING RID OF YOU!"

I opened up the door and she walked in, swinging it WIDE open...my starting phrase....

"Things must have been SO hard for you before!"
She started to cry.. Really cry, and for the first time told me all she could remember about her life in Russia.... then, about her life in her first home..... and it TURNS OUT..... when she was in Respite care, she was supposed to go to Chuck E. Cheese, but instead, her first family came and got her and she was taken to a Psych Unit.
OK, trigger, BIG FAT TRIGGER.... she never got to go.
All those memories came pouring back to her when she realized we were going to Chuck E. Cheese.... She had never been. And then, when we picked a different place, even though we thought it would be MORE FUN, it didn't matter.  She lost again.... still didn't get to go to Chuck E. Cheese.
These things sound trivial, but to a child, they most certainly are not! Especially not to a child who has had so much deprivation.

We hugged for a long time as she poured her heart out, and we were able to talk about her attitude.
She REALLY REALLY wants to make changes, but she gets stuck sometimes and can't find her way out.  I told her I would help her.... I will shine the light to help her out.

She then told me she loved us and knows we care for her. She knows she is in the right place. She knows we will never leave her.
This is a huge struggle for her.
She remembers the conversations about sending her away.  They are hard...... All in all, I think she had a very honest approach in our talk.
She was able to admit that she needed help to learn how to speak appropriately when she is upset.
She is going to work on tone of voice, and I am going to try to help her understand what we are talking about when we SAY tone of voice. :)

The last thing we talked about was her future. As we snuggled together, I told her I could see her as a beautiful teenage girl, full of life, going somewhere with her friends and coming home and saying, "Mom, Dad, I'm home!" 
She closed her eyes and enjoyed the description......

3 months...is not that long of a time.... but we have covered MUCH ground in a short time.


Anonymous said...

I like this story, very much. Please, tell Alli we love her, too and give her our best. She sounds like a very wonderful girl. Many blessings.

junglemama said...

Thank you for sharing. It is so great that she is able to open up to you.

:)De said...

The triggers..oh the triggers. We got a new puppy last year and all of a sudden I started seeing some very crazy behaviors from one of my lovelies… hording, sneaking and stealing food. Eating out of the trashcan! I am not easily shocked, but that one threw me. After much reassuring that he was safe and not going to be punished, he shared a story of a puppy with his first family that got into the trash and the adult male in the house became so angry that he killed the dog in front of my child!

Us getting the new puppy just flooded his memory of fear of being hungry, punished, hurt…

Do you think you will try to make a trip to Chuck E Cheese for her?

Christie M said...

De, we are on the same page here! :)
We were talking about it last night.
I think that is a very good possibility....

Annie said...

You are so brilliant....it is amazing how the "natural" approach, the "typical" parenting trick, will force the child to pull that trigger, rather than helping them to unload the gun (so to speak).

It is SO easy to make things worse, in fact, that it terrifies me. I can think of so many times I have chosen to do it, rather than to calm myself, get centered in the moment and be accepting and curious.

The problem is that a tormented child does not look pathetic and appealing, but bratty and oppositional. And, as you pointed out, even onlookers are brimming over with negative judgments. That makes it so much harder to follow your intuition - against your initial gut reaction, against "common sense" and against general opinion. Yet, when you do it - sometimes things play out so miraculously. Children want so much to unpack and let go of their pain. Just by being patient and understanding you helped her so much...and came to understand her so much better.

You Are Still Holy