Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Surviving the Monster

 Fire only needs 3 things: An ignition, oxygen and fuel.
For about 10 years I was a volunteer firefighter in upstate New York. Most of the time I managed to get through things pretty unscathed. Then their were times that like when I managed to miss tucking a patch of hair inside my Kevlar hood and burned of a huge chunk of hair. Over that time I was able to learn a lot about fire and what a monster it can become. I came to view fire as a living breathing thing. It was born, it ate, it grew and eventually died. When tended to carefully fire can be a wonderful thing, providing warmth and light. But when abused or neglected it becomes uncontrollable and takes the form of a monster devouring everything in it's path. Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder are in some ways like a forest fire. They can start from careless mistakes of selfish people. Imagine young campers having a good time creating a campfire. For a while they tend to the fire, it is fun, it is a source of entertainment. But eventually time goes by and they get tired, bored, go to sleep and eventually leave. When the fire isn't being provided with fuel, it can spread to surrounding areas to feed. If there is no one there to care for the fire it becomes more and more destructive until it either runs out of fuel or someone steps in and smothers it. For our children with difficult past, no one was there to tend to their needs. The fire from their fear became anger and it grows to become an out of control rage. And like a fire that has smoldered for a long time just barely alive, they can blow when oxygen is reintroduced. In our journey with Sweetie love is oxygen and the things we have bought for Sweetie is the fuel that has fed her fire. For a child who has been deprived for so long of basic needs and love, the flood of love and gifts creates a scenario very similar to a backdraft. Unleashing an uncontrollable monster. This is what happened to my Sweetie. And now we are left with the aftermath. We are a family that is a pile of debris and ashes.
However there is still hope. Soon after the largest of forest fires, new life rises from the ashes.
Our family is already starting to see sprouts of new growth already in Sweetie.
I have already shared how hard it was to place Sweetie back into a PRTF( Psychiatric Residential Therapy Facility).and how this one is way more structured and is just a tougher program. We were to have our first family therapy session today, but were unable to because I caught the flu. Even in this misery, God has made good of it. When we could not go, it allowed Sweetie to do an individual therapy session that was monumental in her journey. After the session her therapist wrote to me the following:
It went fantastic, actually. Really pleased with how she responded. She said that she felt like she had never really had much individual therapy before and that she needs it. I had some discussion with her about RAD and what that means and why it isn't her fault that she's had some difficulties forming attachments. It made sense to her and she was able to recognize that RAD is why she tends to form very quick attachments with peers and becomes emotional when those attachments dissolve quickly. She also recognized that with each foster placement she has had, it has gotten more and more difficult for her to trust caregivers. We also discussed that she has trouble trusting men and worries that they will sexually abuse her. She identified that a big goal of hers is to learn how to trust and to learn what love really is when it's healthy. She believes that she needs more 'help' than you guys do and believes that you are good parents. I think she really can be successful here if we can continue down this line of thinking. 
This is the first time that Sweetie has taken ownership for her behavior or treatment. It has always been someone else's fault or someone else had to do something to fix what was happening.
Even though I can hardly breathe and severe muscle and joint aches, my heart is happy and excited.
This is so huge for her and us. I was able to speak with her and she is sad and low. My heart hurts for her in that sense. This is the first time she is allowing herself to actually feel sad. Until now, she has always converted sad and fear to angry. She is being very insightful and in tuned to what is going on.
Unfortunately,she has stated that she does not want to see us for Thanksgiving because she does not feel safe around us. She said she loves us but just can't handle seeing us right now while she is in a bad place. I told her I was so proud of her for telling us how she felt, that I respected her for being able to voice that. I told her we support her in her decision and we are here when she is ready. She was the saddest I ever heard her and I believe this interaction to be genuine.
I am continuing to pray for radical transformation for my girl. I will continue to show her God's love through me. 
I am hoping to hear back from one of our pastors. He took a picture of this amazingly beautiful thistle and gave a wonderful talk on flourishing, not just surviving. I am so happy to be able to share Kurt's amazing photo. This is what I want for our Sweetie. I want a life for her where she does not merely survive. I believe that God has a beautiful path laid out for Sweetie. I believe in her ability to take a stand against the monster inside of her, find redemption and flourish.

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