Thursday, September 01, 2011
How Cool Is All This?
Basically, DBT maintains that some people, due to invalidating environments during upbringing and due to biological factors as yet unknown, react abnormally to emotional stimulation. Their level of arousal goes up much more quickly, peaks at a higher level, and takes more time to return to baseline. This explains why borderlines are known for crisis-strewn lives and extreme emotional lability (emotions that shift rapidly). Because of their past invalidation, they don't have any methods for coping with these sudden, intense surges of emotion.
Although my caseworker told me about this therapeutic intervention several years ago, and I know others have mentioned it, it is still fairly new to me. Jonathan's counselor at the psych facility emailed me a downloadable manual, I truly am very open to learning new methods of helping my children cope, and temper dysregulation AKA rages are so common in emotionally disturbed children.
When this is combined with other diagnoses, when violence, aggression and danger are also factored in, then all Hell can, and does, break loose leaving injured, stunned parents in its wake.
Before Jonathan even entered the room yesterday, I told his counselor what one might expect to see in our session, a BTDT moment, which then transpired predictably. She'd had the forethought to suggest we not use the word, "but', that we substitute "and," as it's less inflammatory.
"OK, guide me or re-direct me," I asked her, knowing I'd need multiple prompts as I learned these techniques. She'd told me of using them on her own children, or in other situations, as keeping anyone on an even keel is usually beneficial to everyone.
I really, really like her. Like Charli, Mikey, and Dr Mandy, she is incredibly well-versed and insightful. She'd even gone to the same Catholic high school as my darling niece, Lauren, later earning a Master's Degree from FSU. I need to know these details in order to formulate my own thoughts. Go figure. The degrees hanging on her office wall, hardly a mile from my own birthplace, detailed her educational achievements.
My eyes swept her bookshelf. Snap. My photographic memory (involving books) filed away the titles in my mind.
I appear to be a pompous know-it-all, I blame the books.
Part of moving up in his levels involves participating in family therapy in which Jonathan fairly soon came unglued, later threatening to hit anyone who tried to move him from his chair.
"Well your mom's leaving now," the therapist told him after this rather unfruitful session. Seriously? I get to leave? I don't have to suffer the fallout? Did I just win the sweepstakes or something? The cumulative trauma has been exponentially difficult for me after so many many years of all this rage management. Being re-traumatized already that morning, my worn out heart was pounding from the stress of again experiencing his underlying violent fury. I've too often witnessed and born the brunt of its unleashed explosions.
As I walked off safely, out of the building, I witnessed another kid's rage, a counselor or behavior aide, someone, I don't know who, had to participate in a restraint. For the millionth time I envied them their 24-7 security, their professional staff who also had access to PRNs, shots to sedate a major rager. We parents only have busted in walls, broken windows and injuries.
I got in my truck oh so deeply gratefully and left the premises, heading home to my big ole family that is exponentially calmer and infinitely easier to manage without Jonathan living with us, threatening everyone and picking on younger, or smaller, individuals.
This one pictured here is nearly 16, another of Jonathan's preferred targets, as this one is developmentally and physically delayed.
We've all breathed significantly easier during the last 16 days in which he has been gone.
I listened to podcasts, guzzled water, popped my sugarfree bubblegum as rudely as I wanted to, a destressing technique, what with me having the absolute luxury of being totally alone, passing by the thrift stores that've seemingly sprung up everywhere in cities due to the recession.
I had no cash on me, only a debit card, due to the fact that cash would always be stolen in my home. Nowadays though, this threat has eased up tremendously, as have danger levels. The only two likely combatants would be Allen and JoJo and they generally only fight with each other, two emotional twins with short fuses and a long history between them.
A phone call later informed me that Jonathan sobbed hard afterwards, always a good sign, crying rather than raging, he'd torn up the Kleenex box, and the therapist was not giving him the clothes I'd brought there, as she'd made it a clear priority and condition of his participation, explaining this to him over and over, much as I've also done for more'n nine years.
"I don't care," he growled, as he's always done.
A recent RAD dx has been added to his psych evals which initially surprised me until it was carefully explained to me, this new therapist totally agrees with that assessment. "RAD kids often behave much better in a facility when the component of family expectations are removed."
"I like it here," Jonathan has told me on the phone and to all the various counselors there.
"He has been raised very well," his therapist told me, complimenting me on his constant politeness.
Yeah boy, he can say, "yes ma'am,' and then turn on a dime, lashing out and assaulting folks. Go figure.
I was emotionally exhausted upon arrival home because I had participated properly.
It's stressful and exhausting, but as The Adoption Counselor explained today, "Most of us go into adoption totally naive about the unchangeable things in life – we have hope and optimism and a profound belief that we can make a difference in a child’s life. We take all of the things we learn about the long term effects of early neglect and abuse, and the info on fasd, and we attend conferences and read books and invest our lives in learning how to put together the pieces of the puzzle that make up our child in a way that is healthy and good for him and good for us. Well, I believe we do make a difference, but it’s not always the difference that we wanted or expected or even hoped to see. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like there was any difference made at all. Sometimes there are pieces to the puzzle that we can’t find, or that we don’t even know are missing until we are far, far down the road of hazardous parenting."
This is sad, but oh so true.
I thought about friendships I've neglected, relationships I'd dissolved or not followed through upon, I thought about the times I could've spent with my Dad who's now gone on to Heaven, but instead I was always needed over on my side of the house dealing with issues that never were properly resolved, nor could've been...have I totally wasted my time and my life?
Maybe, maybe not.
I just have to remember to concentrate on the successes. These aren't my successes, nor my failures. This is just how it is.
A man I've not seen in forty something years just recently found me on facebook, I've had a lot of this on FB, where folks ask, "How've you been? What're you up to?"
I don't even know how to answer that question.
I've been to the inner pits of Hell? I've been high on the mountain? I've been um...busy?
Do I quantify with numbers? 39 kids? 21 grandbabies? 50 acres? 25 years in the public school system? 10 years retired? 2 times married? 45 permaculture beds? 72K brain farts?
When one googles me, one gets my blog. That's pretty self-explanatory.
Ouch. What a life, girl.
"Maybe we can catch a ballgame in October," my favorite brother-in-law texted me the other night, as we together watched the Nationals trounce the Braves, he in DC, me down here.
I have a dinner date in September with Brenda, The Adoption Counselor, that I'm so looking forward to, good Lord willing, and if the creeks don't rise, which is highly unlikely in our very severe drought. She'll be in Atlanta, I've lined up babysitters, please Lord help make it happen.
Claudia's hinted that she too may be down this way soon. How cool is all this? Poor Claudia's had to be relentlessly cheerful to balance out my adoption experiences expressed here so graphically. I can't wait to give her a big ole hug, her midwestern reserve up against my Southern gushing effusiveness.