There is something that happens to a traumatized child when you travel. It seems it awakens a deep dark fear. For our G it is the fear of being left alone or given away. I'm not an expert on traumatized kids but I am an expert on G. I can honestly say no one knows her better. That is scary because at times I don't feel like I know her either. But I know her better now than last year this time.
Right now G is in Grandma's room after throwing a fit about going to bed. On her way to the room she began spitting and told Jim how she was going to "hit you in the face!" Once in the room she really let us have it "I'm going to burp in your face! I'm going to put fire on your face and keep it there forever and ever!" "I don't like anyone in the whole wide world! Not even Grandma and Granddaddy hank! Not even Great Grandma!" It hit me tonight what she is really saying. I want you to die! This may sound extreme and no I don't really think she wants us to die. But I do think she thinks she does at that very moment! She is saying I'm so scared and so hurt I want you to hurt just as bad. She is even more angry that Jim and I don't get angry (this is were punishing her for her behavior would totally pay her off and validate what she already thinks is true). But every time she does this and we don't leave then she heals.
She is now sitting quietly in the room, totally in control of herself (10 min ago she was banging the door). Jim will go in and talk to her, ask her what she said, make her acknowledge the things she said (and she will freely say "I said I was going to put fire on your face" with a very straight face and flat look to her eye...she does not have remorse...not her fault part of the attachment funk). He will then say "do you really want to put fire on my face? do you really not like anyone in the whole wide world?" (he has to say do you and not did you...she most certainly meant those things at the time) She will say "no" And Jim will say I don't believe you want to do those things at all I think you are scared and when you get scared you get angry and you want to hurt mommy and daddy. It's OK to be mad but one day, when you are healthier you will learn how to be mad without losing control of your tongue.
Now she is having to clean the door that she banged, then the wall and banister she spit all over, then she will practice walking up and down the stairs then she will go to bed. She will do all of these things gladly, no remorse, no bad attitude (for a reason I still don't understand this is the part that irritates me the most). Rage comes and goes as quickly as my braxton hicks contractions. What has been harder to handle is our own anger and frustration. We are 2 years into this and tonight we did great. But there are days when frustration is written all over our face. When, honestly my own anger burns as deep as hers seems to. In her I have seen the darkness of my own heart and it is not a pretty sight. She didn't put those things there. They have been there all along but I have never been pushed as hard as she has pushed me.
When a traumatized child first comes to live with you it seems easy to remember how hurt they are, it is at the forefront of your mind all the time. But as I have loved this child for years I find myself losing empathy for her. No longer is her past at the front of my brain. How foolish of me to think I can understand what it's like to feel abandoned at a time in your life when you are learning how and who to trust. When I stop and think of what she has been through just in the past week of our vacation, it is simply amazing she has done so well! It speaks to her healing and how firmly she is established in our family.
Last year I did not understand this at all! I was just beginning to really study attachment disorder. I will post our first big trip with G soon. It was terrible, and we did not know what we were doing. The wonderful thing was that even though we didn't handle it as well as we would now we were helping her heal just in the fact that we didn't leave! If you are reading this and in your heart you really want to help a child like G but you read this and you think I can't do that...you can! I promise, you can! It is not easy. A lot of time it plain sucks! And at times you will probably wish you hadn't signed up for it but slowly you will start to see healing! And you will know that had that child stayed in the situation they came from they would be far from the child standing before you! What an awesome privilege to be part of the healing of a broken child!