Thursday, August 16, 2012
Not Picturing This Kind Of Progress
Texted by the high school principal, "He's refusing to obey. Any suggestions?"
This after I'd already made one quick trip up there, as he'd slipped out of here wearing a tank top t-shirt, wrong song ding dong, and needed a cover up shirt. Dress code violation.
I drove back up there, they'd called in the school counselor, and come to find out my son was crying in a conference room off the main office. "What's wrong?" I asked him.
He'd been overcome with depression, fear, and anxiety regarding a thuggish birth brother's recent arrest.
That he could verbalize this to me, that he was in touch with his feelings is monumentally important. That he didn't pick a fight or just blindly punch someone is amazing progress. That there was no subsequent destruction, nor even an escalation of his anger, blows me away.
This is what progress looks like in an emotionally traumatized kid. It's taken 12 long years to get to this point. He has conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, PTSD, and zero impulse control.
"I need to see Dr. Mandy," he blubbered. I promised I'd take him the next day for our standing appointment. Thank God he'd established a relationship and trust with her before he needed it in a crisis moment.
I just sat there next to him quietly as he sobbed some gut wrenching heaves of sadness.
The school administrators had all quietly walked away, fearing detonation, and rightly so, having witnessed the explosive episodes of some of my kids over the years.
But this time?
Progress. Pure T progress. I didn't need to take him home, they didn't need to call the deputies, no consequence was given, there was no negative fallout. I praised him for it, even to risk doing that sometimes is just asking for a sabotage, but I took the chance.
Eventually he got a grip and returned to class. I went home and read Claudia's post in which she looked back and could now determine she might've been in the throes of a clinical depression years ago as she struggled with the hugely awful behaviors of her children's acting out messes.
I could totally relate.
Both of us, as well as Dr. McCreight, The Adoption Counselor, all three of us were raised similarly to want to grow up and idealistically help others. I know this from conversations we've had, we've all three met in real life. We were raised with altruistic ideals, goals, and plans.
We're all emotionally strong women, grounded, and raised by wonderful parents, and we all wanted to share what we knew with children who we thought needed our help.
Great intentions, no concern for any kinds of rewards, other than the warm fuzzy feelings we knew we'd get from helping someone out. That's how we'd all been raised back then.
But BLAMMO did we hit walls, or what?
We've all three heard from hundreds of others just like ourselves, who just wanted to be there for children who needed us.
I, too, now know that I became severely depressed for quite some time over my perceived failure to prevent children from getting themselves arrested and from self-destructing.
I now know it wasn't my failure.
Dr. McCreight and Claudia both have introduced me to many theories and terms, both recently wrote about it here and here regarding inducement.
We all three, and many, many others, walked very blindly, and shockingly ignorant, into a very different world in which we knew very little, as educated as we all were at the time, one with a PhD, and us other two had advanced post grad degrees.
Then came mental illnesses, severe emotional instability, alphabet soup diagnoses, danger and violence, immense destruction, and scarily disturbed behaviors in the form of good looking, frightened and traumatized children that joined our respective families.
Decades later, it's a wonder any of us can still construct a complete sentence anymore.
It changed us certainly, but didn't destroy us.
We're still getting up every single day and fighting the battles with, and for, our children.
My one who'd fallen apart at school yesterday came in the house at 4 and made a beeline to me, hugging me, clinging, and thanking me for being there for him at school that day.
I nearly keeled over in shock at the demonstrative gratitude, something I so very rarely encounter.
But Dr. McCreight alludes to it here, that after years and years of other therapies, eventually an attachment forms, in whatever shape it might take, it doesn't always look like we think it should look.
I was standing there stir frying multi-colored bell peppers from my garden in olive oil in my very large black skillet, I made whole wheat pasta and a sauce, and we chowed down happily. "I could smell the garlic a hundred yards away," Scotty told me excitedly. I'd loaded it with Fire Hot Pepper Sauce and fresh chopped jalapenos, we were slobbering on ourselves because it was so good.
Tabby, pictured above jumping on the trampoline, Lily and I recounted what we'd eaten that day, completely vegan, thus earning us internal brownie points.
We attended Wednesday night church and youth group, the youth group game apparently involved Scotty dousing JoJo with a cooler full of ice, we came back home without incident, and our house quieted down early, leaving me to ponder the many mysteries of human behavior.
Oh, who am I kidding? I watched the Braves game, too emotionally exhausted to think.