Tuesday, July 19, 2011

traveling with trauma

It doesn't matter if you have 1 child or 20, once that first child enters your life you soon realize...vacations are not the same!
No longer are your days filled with sleeping late and lounging by the pool.
Instead you fill your time chasing after children and trying to keep them from breaking all the valuables at your rental home.
And I will admit to staring longingly at the woman sitting in her beach chair, waves lapping at her feet while she reads a book that has nothing to do with parenting.
But God is quick to remind me that my day is coming and when that day arrives I will stare longingly at the pregnant woman chasing her 16 month old down the beach!

Traveling with trauma is like traveling with a newborn, a fussy newborn, a fussy teething newborn...with a massive ear infection...you get the point:)
I'm not sure what about traveling sets off kids that have been neglected and abused.
(feel free to let me know your opinion)
Maybe the large amount of people coming and going remind my girls of the chaos of their early years? Maybe the lack of structure makes them feel that we no longer have control so they need to take over?
Whatever the reason it seems to always trigger BIG FEELINGS!

I could tell yesterday afternoon that G was not feeling safe.
It started with random questions asked about a hundred times, then it graduated to calling my name over and over for no apparent reason.
I was on my game though and whipped out the newest therapeutic parenting techniques I had learned from Christine Moers, which successfully put off the inevitable for a while.

But it wasn't long until I knew, this night would not end without an outburst, a rage, a total come apart!
It's like watching a car crash in sloooowwwww motion.
You know it's going to happen.
You are powerless to stop it.

The night continued with spitting and glaring at siblings.
And ended at about 12:30am with G in the van where she could scream and yell without waking the entire house while I
sat outside and wondered if I might possibly become the first Fripp Island deer casualty?!

Today I have gone back to all the things I learned early in therapy.
I took away all her choices (cereal, what she plays with, where she sits, etc)
I kept her right by my side.
She had to stay here and rest while everyone else went to the beach.
And at first she was angry, who wouldn't be?
But she spent the morning cuddling with me.
It was as if she was actually thankful for the boundary being placed on her.
As soon as the crew returned she was back to whispering ugly things to her siblings
and trying other ways to gain control.

Now it is 9:00 and for the first time ever I am alone in the house
with the younger 4.
G is screaming, crying and telling me just how much she hates me
and how smart she thinks I am.

I know this sounds INSANE but I am actually rejoicing a little.
I can see progress in the middle of the craziness!
See my heart actually aches for her and I can't say truthfully it always has.

At first when they came into our lives my heart easily broke for her and what she had been through (probably just as yours does as you read about it).
But then as the months and years wore on and I became more and more of a target to her rage and anger...empathy was unfortunately something I wanted desperately but seemed a far off dream.
I faked it like the best of them and prayed for it with all I had.

Tonight I see those prayers being answered.
My heart breaks to see her sad about not going to the beach with the family.
I want desperately to let her sleep in the same room with her cousins!
But more than all of that, I want her healthy enough to handle those things.

For those of you reading this parenting a hurting child,
I know you are tired!
I know you sometimes want out!
I know you feel like you aren't making a difference, that your child is not healing!
Please know that you are making a difference!
Just by not leaving them you are helping to heal them!
And your selfless act is not going unseen.
Your are laying down your life, your desires for another...
and that is the greatest act of love, right?

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