Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Healing Begins

This past week had been a good one. We have been busy and Sweetie has managed to keep it together all week. Over the last few weeks she had been pushing hard and refusing any direction. This makes it very difficult to parent. I think she had an "Aha" moment in therapy Saturday. Her favorite phrase has been "I don't have to, you can't make me" and she is right we can't make her do most things. Ms. Dana put it a way that seems to have made an impact by saying "You are right, you don't have to and no one can make you do anything, but that is just part of being a part of a family". For the first time Sweetie could say without even a bit of pause that we were a good family and she wanted to be part of it. I really believe her. She has been trying so hard to control her anger and to do what is asked. I am celebrating every small victory. When Sweetie gets aggravated she storms off, usually with a bunch of mumbling and grumbling. Last night as she stormed away from the dinner table I calmly said "that's ok you can go to your room to cool off if you need to, but would you mind just clearing your plate first". I don't know why I asked, I just knew she wouldn't do it, but I tried. And to my surprise she stopped mid stomp through the living room, turned around and came back to clear her plate and put it in the sink. Now, she was stomping and grumbling like crazy, but SHE DID IT!!!
I made sure to praise her for doing it and tell her how proud I was that she could control herself to do that. We are having progress. I am getting more and more glimpses of hope for our Sweetie. I see here bonding more with Cris. He has been working with her on kickboxing. This has been a great outlet for some pent up energy and it gives them something that is for "just them". She is really enjoying it. I am happy she is starting to show interest in something other than driving me nuts. That has been her most favorite past time for the last year. I have learned how not to respond to the button pushing and she has found I am like a broken record with my rehearsed responses so she has finally stopped trying to push them so much. It's been quite a while since she has called me anything to awful. She is settling into this new routine with a lot of structure. We have to work so hard to stay out of power struggles with Sweetie. We have figured out that is what she is looking for. If she can get us to engage in an argument, she still has the ability to try to control the situation. One of my favorite sayings now is "It's not worth arguing" or "I am just to tired to fight today, but you can feel free to argue with yourself all you want" as I walk away. She has been going to either church with me or going up to Jr. High Small Group on Sunday mornings. I believe this has a big impact on her healing.
It is so good for her to be surrounded by our church family who loves us (including her)so unconditionally. I am grateful for the beautiful young woman in our Jr. High group who accept and support Sweetie, no questions asked. These sweet souls really embody the spirit of Jesus. This past week one of the boys made a comment to Sweetie that could have been hurtful. I know this boy and I am sure he didn't mean it that way and Sweetie actually wasn't bothered by it. But one of the sweet girls (Shea) could see how that could be hurtful and sent Sweetie one of the nicest text about how
she is beautiful and awesome just the way she is. I was so proud of both Shea and my Sweetie. A year ago, Sweetie would have beaten up someone that picked on her and a year ago Shea might not have been mature enough to deal this the issue. It is amazing to watch our girls grow into beautiful women.
That was last week. 
This week we are back to tantruming Sweetie. She tantrummed for 3 hours tonight, an hour and a half while the therapist was here. She was actually more escalated than usual in order to provide a better show for the therapist. She went from being completely manic and banging repeatedly on windows and kicking doors to sitting on the floor yelling to sobbing and back around again. It was exhausting. It started the minute I walked in the door. As she often does, when Sweetie does something she knows is wrong she rats herself out. This time it was that she friended a 19 year old guy on Facebook.
She knew it was against the rules and knew she would get caught when I checked the computer. As soon as I opened my mouth to say anything she started arguing and blowing up. The therapist asked that we start documenting her moods as she is starting to believe that  Sweetie's issues aren't all RAD and ADHD, but Bipolar. I have often thought that myself. Because she is either really really good or really really bad. There is no in the middle. She is an all or nothing girl. I will talk to her psychiatrist when we see him Thursday. This will be our first meeting since she was released from PRTF.

Last week we hit our first speed bump on our road to becoming therapeutic foster parents. But it was quickly rectified. The group we will be working with to get special authorization to accept us because of Sweetie's recent discharge from PRTF. We meet with our social worker next Tuesday night to officially get started. We do not have to take MAPP training again, which is awesome! My only worry now is that her therapist seeing her tonight may put a damper on things. I pray it does not.

Please continue to pray for Sweetie's continued healing, may she know God's love through me.
Also please pray for our strength and our patience. There are many days were it wears thin, but we are continuing to pour love on her even when she is acting her absolute worst.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

One Thing Remains

We have had a long week. Lots of bumps, but some really good moments of growth for our Sweetie.
It has been a week of many "I'm sorry" moments. That phrase is said so much it has no meaning.
At one point I made a comment that I understand that she is saying it, but if you say and it and repeat the same action over and over again you are not really sorry. The next time she was harassing the dogs, she immediately said "I'm sorry, wait not I'm not". I couldn't help but to laugh.
My child is very insightful and overall very honest with me. I am grateful for that.
And even though she does not really mean she is sorry, I can appreciate that she is practicing saying it. It has been a week where I can really see how truly shameful my girl feels all the time. She doesn't accept the 100 times a day we praise her. But then goes completely off the deep end because we give a small redirection where she becomes defiant and argumentative. Things snowball from there. It always ends the same with her crying making comments about how we don't love her and don't care.
I can't even count how many negative comments she makes about herself and us. She calls herself stupid and states how she messes up everything. I try to comfort her and build her up. At times this is hard to do, especially when I watch her intentionally sabotage things. I am working so hard not to get triggered by her and not to engage in her arguing. She keeps coming back over and over trying to push more. I understand why she does it and I am able to stay calm with her. But I am screaming inside. Everything in me wants to shake her to make her stop. Stop pushing us away, stop being defiant, just stop arguing. Her newest thing is to refuse to do what is asked and say she doesn't have to and I can't make her. She is right, I can't make her do anything. She is 120 pounds of raging hurt child. Last night it was over going to her room at 9:00. She refused to go to her room, she stood in the middle of the living room yelling "you can't make me".  After asking her nicely several times and getting the same response I said "you are right I can't make you, but then again you can't make me drive you to your friend's house next weekend either". It's a logical consequence.
If she can't go to her room when asked, I can't trust her to follow directions while with a friend.
Today was another long day with similar interactions but thanks to the support and prayers of many of my friends I was able to keep my cool really well!  So now I will focus on something good from the week. This past week she was having an issue with a girl at school talking about her. to other girls. Sweetie told me about the girl being mean. I asked her to remember if she could have done anything to make her feel bad. She remembered a couple weeks ago making fun of her scratching  her armpit. I talked to her on the way into school about the power of a real apology. I asked her to empathize how it would feel to be her. I encouraged her to talk to the girl. And you know what? She did it! She apologized! That is huge for our girl! I am so proud of her! I know many adults who could not do that. I celebrate this positive moment. I also chose to celebrate the tender moment we had in church where she had her head on my shoulder and her hand on Cris' shoulder. I love how she held my hand during one of my favorite songs and looked up at me during worship excited that she knew the song. It made my heart smile when I heard singing the words while she was taking her shower and right before she went to sleep this evening. We are getting through! I know it is challenging most of the time, but she is coming to know our love and God's love. There is not much else I can do but that for her.

I have spent a lot of time praying lately. Praying for healing for my sweet girl. Praying for my own healing from the wounds that she can inflect on my heart. But I am also praying for the next chapter of our crazy journey. Back in January I went to the Create for Care Retreat I had signed up for several breakout sessions on older children adoptions, but somehow was put into one on foster care. To be honest I skipped the breakout session and went and took a nap. My friend Kim was picking on me that maybe that was a sign that I should be fostering. I laughed and said absolutely not. Then a few weeks back on Sweetie's last day in residential treatment I sat next to one of the younger kids who has been living there. There was a moment that we had to share our favorite birthday memory. The little girl looked up at me with these huge brown eyes and said in this little voice that she didn't have any. It was in that very moment that I felt in my whole body that fostering is what I need to be doing. Over the last year my daughter has shared bits and pieces of things that happened to her in foster care. I think of the total lack of medical and dental care she received. I think of her being treated like she was less than a person, that she was damaged. And I think mostly about how many times someone gave up on her and threw her aside like the garbage that was in the garbage bags she brought with her when she moved here. It breaks my heart to know there are hundreds of thousands of children living in the United States being treated like this. I know I can not help them all, but I can perhaps make a difference in some children's lives. And perhaps those seeds of love that will be sown will grow beautiful fruit that will then be shared with others. I know it probably sounds crazy to take on more when we are already spread so thin. But isn't that one of the greatest gifts back to God. To give to his children when it is uncomfortable. I am faithful that he will provide for us what we need to be on this journey. So with that being said Cris and I are going to become therapeutic foster parents through NC Mentor. These are the people that we are working with as Sweetie's Intensive In Home Therapy. The children we would have in our home will come from backgrounds like our Sweetie and with behaviors like our Sweetie. There are not many people with the skills to parent kids with these trauma histories. Sweetie has given me such a gift, she has shown me what my purpose is. What I believe to be God's plan for me. My journey with Sweetie has strengthened my trust in the Lord. There is no way I could be staying afloat without him as my life preserver. He has given me strength when I did not feel I could go on. He has given me patience when I had none. And he has continued to pour into me his love so that I could continue to pour into Sweeties heart. God has helped to pave the way in my husbands heart and in Sweetie's. Both have been completely on board with this. This has been and will continue to be an uncomfortable journey. But it too also has many rewards. And in the end it may even help Sweetie & other children to heal. As of Friday the agency was trying to reactivate our foster license. If they can, I will just need the therapeutic training. I am praying that we can do that. But if not that is OK too. There will be a reason that we are in that training class. I know I will be able to share our story with people that are wanting to foster just for the money. Maybe that will change those people's minds. Or maybe it will encourage someone to prepare themselves more. Or maybe there is someone in that class who will need to know that you can do this. That you can love a child even when they are acting unlovable.

So as I sit here typing this I am brought back to I'm sorry. But this time it is me that is asking for forgiveness. Forgiveness for ignoring what God asked of me. I want to show your love to those who do not believe they deserve to be loved. That they will know that your love never gives up. This it always remains.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The Road Less Traveled

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Taking the road less travelled is windy and bumpy.
So when you get to a clearing you can appreciate the beauty that is in front of you.
Life with our Sweetie has definitely been a road less travelled. There have been great moments of sadness and hurt on this path. But the road has also brought me to such beautiful places with my dear girl. Sweetie's first week home was rough. She is really testing us right now. Trying to figure out the new structure in our home. She is looking for the smallest crack so that she can reinforce the belief that we will fail her. I will be honest and say that it is hard to be rejected most of the time, when you pour everything into one person. But then there are glorious beautiful moments like when I picked Sweetie up from school Friday. I should back up a bit...Thursday evening was really rough. It was one of those nights where she had a blow up that lasted a long time and included cussing us out and throwing things. The last thing she screamed at me was she hated me and that I will burn in hell. She would not come out of her room after that. The next morning she woke up as if nothing happened the night before. But I couldn't pretend it was all ok. I still gave her affection, even though I REALLY didn't want to! That afternoon I picked her up from school and I was just quiet. She asked me if I was mad at her. I told her no but I was sad that  she hated me and thought that I should burn in hell.
She started to whine that it is all because of you and at that moment I  snapped back that it has nothing to do with me. She started crying and said "no, I am crying because I hurt you". This was the first time that I saw genuine empathy towards me in my girl. I told her I forgave her for the harsh words and that I still love her. That I will always love her. In good moments and bad she will always be my daughter. She has been doing well since that happened. It is still difficult having to get through normal house routine with her, but it is a glimpse of hope for my girl. If she can have genuine empathy for me than that can develop into empathy for all mankind. This was a huge moment in our time together. Maybe the most important moment to date. I am proud of her for how far she is pushing herself. I know it is difficult to control the anger inside. Anger is easy and soothing to a soul that has always been surrounded with turmoil. Peace feels unsettling. She so wants to be loving and be happy. It is just so hard to be those things when you feel so awful about yourself and your past.
I know there will be many more blow ups to come, but I know in my heart that Sweetie is beginning to believe that we love her and care for her well being. And I know she is doing the best that she can right now with the tools that she has. Another positive is she has willingly been going to Jr. High small group at church. I know it is mostly because she likes a boy there, but she is excited to go each week. It makes me happy to have her there. I love my Jr. High kids and I am so happy to be able to share that with Sweetie.

We are on week 2  of Intensive In Home therapy. So far they are still working on building a relationship with her before they start pushing her a bit harder. It is difficult to have people in our house so much,3 times this week, 4 times next week... and it will be rotating like that for 6 months. It sure does make me tired.

I have taken the road less travelled for sure and it has made all the difference, for her and for me.