Sunday, December 11, 2011
Crises challenge our deepest beliefs: that bad things don't happen to good people, that life makes sense, that we have control over what happens. Tedeschi describes them as seismic, because they overturn basic assumptions upon which life is built. Afterward, a new framework must be constructed. "That's no small thing," he observes. "It requires some people to make big changes not only in how they think but in what they do and in how they choose to live." Brooding over what happened—in other circumstances a dangerous warning sign of depression—may actually be essential to the process of growth.
Notably, the people who find value in adversity aren't the toughest or the most rational. Instead, they tend to be ordinary—neither the best- nor the worst-adjusted. What makes them different is that they are able to incorporate what happened into the story of their own life. They are willing to undertake the painful process of rethinking who they are and giving up an old script that no longer applies. "Maybe one of the keys [to growth] is the capacity to admit that you've been changed by experience," says King. "Which means admitting that you're vulnerable, and admitting that there would have been good things about your life if you hadn't had to go through those negative events."
I was back reading in Psychology Today and first read a rather disturbing article about those who'd had severe early childhood trauma going on to recreate that exact same life subconsciously. I hate reading articles that take away hope, as I look to so many of my children who've not only survived, but thrived after such severity and extreme lack before adoption.
The second paragraph above better defines some kids like my Sabrina. Or maybe it's about me...or you.
The first paragraph seems to be more akin to what we parents grapple with, as the adoption of older children brings so many fingers pointed at us, as if we were the root cause of our new children's emotional disturbances. What the heck?
Even caseworkers and therapists might initially question us about the children's rage triggers when obviously it comes from a deep dark place within them. I remember one young child of mine raging four times in the first day here. I then had no clue what I was in for, not all children rage, but those that do will rattle a new parent to the core.
It's like a two year old tantruming in a large person's body. It can be scary. The destruction can be staggering, a stunned parent stands there in mute shock. Another what the heck?
I was thinking all day long about post-traumatic growth, feeling a sense of inner happiness that I haven't known in a long, long time, as I'd long fretted about me ever being able to return to the land of the living someday, figuring the shocks and the traumas had reduced me to a pile of stinking rubble.
Does this mean I can be stronger than ever? How cool is that?
I painted nine hours here, finished staining the wood, and then repainting trim that takes a battering every single year around here, as if someone is going around chipping chunks off at every opportunity, which is not the case, basically we just have tremendous wear and tear upon a house.
Sabrina cracked up laughing at me, catching me dancing and painting at the same time, singing off key, which is the best I can muster up.
I'd downloaded a CD of my favorite brother-in-law, an old Steely Dan, that I'd always liked, especially My Old School as it talks about both William & Mary and Annandale (Va) where I'd attended junior high school in the 1960s. But a line about the oleanders being in bloom up in Annandale has always bothered me. Oleanders don't grow in Annanadale. They're too tropical for northern Virginia, but I don't suppose the lyricist got all bothered by this discrepancy.
The youtube clip I linked is a stunning look back at 1973, my second year of college, the year Sarah was born. It looks like a thousand years ago, feels like it too sometimes. We had stereo record turntables and mongo sized speakers. But it was Stevie Wonder's Inner Visions, "He's Mistra Know It All," beautiful piano playing that I put on repeat and listened to dozens of times as I painted, thinking about who I used to be...before all this, back when my sister and her first husband were still alive, before I'd seen much of any dark side of life.
(Jimbo - click on it, both of them actually, and it'll totally remind you of Ellen and Alan). I remember going to a Stevie Wonder concert with my first husband, my brothers, sister, and Sarah in my belly as Stevie Wonder opened for the Rolling Stones. Seriously we saved up about five big bucks each to attend. Wonder what on earth concert tickets cost nowadays?
I'd written a couple more paragraphs about the 70s but deleted it, suffice it to say, since my nieces read this, your daddy was really cool. And Lauren, when I think about how much I miss Ellen, I just can't begin to imagine the depths of your pain. I hope you read the article I linked yesterday, it really spoke to me, and I hope it does to you also.
I was a fun loving, much goofier, unafraid of anything, adventuresome, naive, dirt grubbing, beginning gardener. I'd go out dancing all night. Not drinking alcohol allows one to power on ahead full steam while others are dropping like flies around me. What's wrong with y'all? Who wants to be impaired? Don't you like yourselves? Doncha wanna take care of your body? Now at 57 I'm even more glad that I've always eaten right and not crapped myself up with bad habits. I had no clue how much I'd later need all my strength and health.
Grandma cooked us supper to allow me to continue painting and my teenage sons actually thanked her. Wow.
My other teenagers got out after seven classroom hours of Driver's Ed and didn't complain. That's unusual enough, they return this morning, a Sunday, for another seven hours.
I have more painting to do. I comprehend that I'm literally making big changes in the house for obvious reasons, trying to disassociate my memories from some of the bad times we've endured, erasing the walls that witnessed the Hell, changing it up for the better, the kids still living at home are a pretty darn good group, moody teenagers with irritability, some anger and oppositional issues, but overall it's just so much better nowadays.
Our pediatrician volunteers one day a week at the elementary school helping Tabby's class because the doctor's son has always been in Tabby's class for years now. "That Tabby is really smart," Dr N told me, me beaming with pride because that's not the typical kind of remark I've gotten from folks over the years.
Tabby is smart and I hope and pray I can keep her on track in the years to come, I want to help her achieve her dreams and goals.