Thursday, August 20, 2015

And so we rock

Well, when the honeymoon ends, it goes out with a bang. For nearly three years, H. has kept her negative emotions pretty bottled up. Everything was fine, everything was happy, everything was good, even in the face of huge change and horrible past experiences. The trouble is, no matter who you are, at some point, all those negative emotions are going to have to be dealt with. Dealing with those feelings... anger, sadness, fear, grief... is not fun and can be pretty scary. You need to feel you are in a safe place in order to do that hard work.

The good news to my story is that I think we have brought H. to such a safe place and given her permission to start to deal with those big feelings. And that really is good news. She needs to do this and there were times I thought perhaps she was too bottled up to ever attempt it. I don't need to worry about that anymore. Not only is she progressing through the developmental work of a three year old, we are now adding the harder, emotional work on top of it.

And it is hard. Hard for her, hard for us. There was a lot of pain and loss in her previous life and I think there was never a point after the loss of her first family to really process it. J. and I are now truly her parents to her and we are safe. She feels safe to vent the emotions that have been stuffed down inside. Safe to let out the anger and fear and sadness that her earlier experiences left her with. While I realize that we are the stand-ins for other parents who let her down, it is not a fun thing to go through.

At least we have a little bit of practice with all of this, which is why I found myself rocking my 12 year old daughter like a baby in my lap the other day while she expressed some of these feelings. This helped to regulate her a bit and life was calmer for a while afterwards.

Even though I have experience with this, I can often be slow to catch on. Yesterday was not a good day for H. Nothing went her way, nothing made her happy, and she went out of her way to assure that these two things remained true. And I, woman who finds the personality trait of patience to be a developing skill, was feeling as though those reserves of patience were starting to run threatening low. (It was a very, very good thing that yesterday happened to be my riding day. Very restorative.) And as I'm racking my brain to try to figure out a way to re-regulate the child, my brain starts to make connections.

H. going out of her to be naughty and unpleasant....

we are heading towards a huge crying jag on my lap....

lap...

rocking...

baby...

EUREKA!

My girl was looking for a way to get her needs met, she just didn't know what she was looking for or how to ask for it. She knew how she felt, knew that I had helped her feel better the last time she felt this way, but couldn't quite make the connections to get what she wanted.

(And trust me, following me around for hours on end whining my name, "Mooommmmmyyyyy..... Moooommmmmyyyyy.... Moooommmmyyyy....does little to communicate what is desired or elicit much maternal sympathy, though through what must have been Divine intervention, I kept my cook and remained calm and caring towards her.)

After my light bulb moment, I asked if she wanted me to hold her and rock her. Her light bulb then went off and she nodded yes. So that is what we did. That very little girl inside of her needs to be loved and soothed and protected because it didn't happen the first time around. It's a good thing I have a nursing rocker with very low arms, because holding a 12 year old in your arms like a baby is not all that easy, but that is what we are going to do. I'm hoping that by caring for her in this way, we can meet her needs ahead of time and perhaps head off some of the more unpleasant behaviors we've been seeing. I know it won't hurt.

3 comments:

Shecki Grtlyblesd said...

My (bio) 11 year old still likes to be rocked on my lap. Just last night, actually. And even the teens will come sit on my lap for a cuddle. My adopted kids are less likely to seek me out for affection the way the bio kids do. Thank you for the reminder that I need to be pursuing them.

Jo's Corner said...

I so admire your parenting style and the wisdom that you share with others AP's/ Now, if it could just be made Mandatory Reading for all who have or will adopt!
Hugs, Jo

Gayle@GIFTFamilyServices said...

Even as adults we sometimes get so overwhelmed we forget how to ask for what we need. Nonverbal soothing often serves us well when words are inadequate.

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