The first year or so with Gianna looked like this: her scared and angry or trying to control the situation all the time. I would say 99% of the time but I can't really remember a time at first when she wasn't doing those things...unless she was sleeping, which didn't happen very often.
Now it looks like this: everything going well and then BAM!!! Out of nowhere comes BIG feelings of anger, distrust and shame.
We are in the middle of 3 days of mad. Now that we have been doing this for a little over 3 years I know a little more about what triggers past memories. Police officers or anyone in uniform, large crowds of people, loud noises, seeing or talking about her biological family, McDonald's and orange soda.
The thing about adopting kids that aren't babies is that their little brains have all sorts of memories that you are not aware of. You have no idea what is going to trigger a memory. A smell, a season, a song, a stranger, you just never know. I'm not sure what triggered this and she is not yet able to tell me. But this is what our day looked like...
She got up late because she was up late last night mad. She wanted her hair up; NO she wanted her hair down... this is a sure sign that she is being triggered by something. When she wants control and then falls apart when she doesn't get it. The day wore on and during normal correction, I would get lots of backtalk and attitude. (Meaning that she is viewing normal everyday correction as me singling her out and saying 'I don't want you. You are unworthy. I don't love you.'- How awful, right?!) I tried some therapeutic stuff to get her out of the funk. It just wasn't happening.
It wasn't long until I was sitting down and holding her while her little body thrashed around. And she screamed about how much she hated me and that she was going to erase the "I love you letter" she had just written me (pretty mild considering things that have been said in the past). Finally I felt her little body relax and I cradled her 5 year old body like an infant while she tried to avoid eye contact. And I sang "You are my sunshine..."
Then we talked about the things that usually make her mad. About police, about orange soda and other things and we wondered what had made her mad this time. Neither of us knew. She was still angry and not yet ready to submit to anything I said, so I told her I would be back and when she was stronger we would go downstairs together. She ran after me clinging to my leg like a 15 month old being left at nursery for the first time ever. So we walked together into my room where I started folding clothes. She screamed at me to do what she wanted me to do. She flirted with hitting the wall but I could tell her little heart wasn't in it. And then I heard her ask in a angry but hopeful voice "I want to help fold laundry!" Well OK! She quickly shifted from angry little girl full of shame to happy to have a purpose and proud to help. As we sat folding laundry together. I had to marvel at how some of the most emotional times cause the most bonding. And thankful I am learning to see past the ugly behavior to the hurt she's trying to mask.
"G how did you feel earlier?"...
"And how do you feel now?"...
A sweet friend Ms. Patty was upset that we had to leave Gianna's graffiti wall at our old house.
So she talked to her niece who makes quilts and they sent over fabric squares and markers for the kids and Jim and I to color and write verses on that they will take and turn into a quilt!!!
How amazing is that?!
So I thought today would be as good a day as any!