Sunday, March 14, 2010

Trauma sandwich

Yesterday, when talking to a friend, I began to really comprehend the amount of current trauma my daughter is processing.

Mom left for longer than she has ever been gone since joining this forever.

LOTS of new people entering our lives over several days.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnd ... baby sister's birthday is this week.

In reality, that birthday thing is probably the BIGGEST part of our current behaviors. They are a guaranteed trigger. Throw in the fact that the Happy Janssens brought along a perfect new bestest friend for said sister and ... ka-boom. Not necessarily KA-BOOOM! But a ka-boom, nonetheless.

One of my kids is completely stuck. Old school, rockin' the retro behaviors, stuck. Will. not. talk. about. it. Constant stream of attention-seeking behaviors (tumping over things, hurting siblings through play, clogging/spilling/breaking, and last - but never the least - peeing where thoust shouldn't be peeing).

Read a great post by the Porter's, discussing how our kids cycle through the healing process: "The kids are always cycling in their progress, meaning they improve, then regress, then improve and regress and so on... "

Spot on.

I have many people talk with me with such worry - how it doesn't seem like the kids are getting better. They are. One child, with a history of trauma, has crossed into a new and completely age appropriate "normal." They are THERE. The trauma will always cause glitches, but it is rare that we have to have any major therapeutic interventions with that kid now. My other child ... not so much. BUT when you back up and look at the big picture of where they once were ... wow.

Not the same child they were two years ago. The dips in the cycle are significant. Yet, I can make you a list of things which are gone. I can make you another list of things which are now a part of the dips but not the everyday behavior.

This dip is kicking my tail. In this one we are back to a constant stream of behaviors.  I walk away. I DO the right things. Yet, my mind is always there. I am always processing where they are and what is going on - even if they are just hanging out at a table!

And yet, even in this deep dip, things are better than in the past. This whole dipping thing reminds me of my first car. It was a '64 Lemans. Had no AC. Black vinyl seats. On cold days had to pop it in neutral and rev the engine at stoplights to keep it from dying. When I finally sold it for a newer car, the driver's side door would not open from the inside. I was totally Dukes-of-Hazzard'ing that puppy everywhere I went - in and out of the window. I would belly ache and complain.

Fast forward to our newly used van, which is GREAT and has AC in the front AND in the back. One little overhead light pops out of its casing and I'm all whining and moaning. Seriously? It's because I had a new normal. That first old car would get water in the FLOOR BOARD when it rained. Yup. Had to ask people to lift up their feet in the passenger's seat when you put on the brakes, because all of the water would come sloshing forward.

Not kidding.

And now I huff over a little popped out light.

You get really used to those crests in healing ... tastes of a new normal. It's nice. It feels like you could take on the WORLD. Then, along comes a dip and even though it's not the worst by any means, you have forgotten. You cry. You moan. It FEELS just as bad or worse. IT'S HARD.

So, I'm stepping back to see the big picture. I'm still VERY frustrated. I'm VERY tired emotionally. I just don't want to do another dip. Hate the dips.

We'll get through it. We always do. I'll see you guys on the other side.

(photo by krrass)


Hannah_Rae said...




Stephanie said...

Hey Christine....I can't remember if you blogged about this before...but, is it the BIRTHDAY itself that triggers Mar, I mean not just any party day but a birthday in particular, or is it just "someone's the focus of the day" whether it's Mar or someone else in the family, is that the trigger for her? Like if it was a graduation or something like that? or is there something with her and birthdays? Just curious....

Givans Family said...

I TOTALLY get it! And I saw a serious difference in matter what anyone else says. Last year, it seemed like she was ALWAYS in trouble...and it goes soooo much deeper than the behavior...I saw a difference in the way she walked, talked, gestured...EVERYTHING! Keep it up momma, you're doing just fine.

Mama Drama Times Two said...

Love the way you explained the whole dip/new normal by using an analogy with your old/new car.

Please know that we recognize that your wisdom and insightful experiences come at a very real price - sending you hugs as you navigate the next round of dips.

Diana said...

We're stuck in a dip around here, too, so I totally get it. We do forget and it does stink every time they dip. Thanks for reminding me that it is only a dip and my kid really will come out of it.

Kerrie said...

The dips are really, really hard for me. I think it's because I see the REAL Princess for about five seconds, and then she leaves again for like three months. It sucks.

J. said...

dip, dip, dip, we are dipping too, march break, need I say more.

Recovering Noah said...

Yep, we're in a dip, too. The Angry Pee-er has risen! She's very upset b/c Eli was sick for several days and got lots of attention and (gasp!) was invited to a birthday for (gasp!) HIS friend. And now we have lots and lots of wet beds and wet clothes. Good times.

Hope you have a better week this week. Crossing my fingers for ya.

Christine said...

Stephanie, it is the attention factor.

I personally, think it comes not just from "I WANT ALL THE ATTENTION!" but when everyone is focused on someone else, then it is much easier for those on the outskirts to be hurt quietly or taken advantage of. If everyone is looking at you, you feel safe. When the eyes turn elsewhere, you could slip between the cracks and you are no longer safe.

BT said...

Yup, we get used to that "new normal," and then any dip -- even a little one -- is a bit of a shock to the system.

We're dipping right now too -- just had a serious humdinger of a weekend -- and I think it's because of spring break. ugh.

Keep doing the right things.

Lisa said...

Love the analogy and just to let you know I had the s.a.m.e. car. Floods, racing the motor, blah, blah, blah.

The dips are so not fun but boy when they come out of it there sure is a blinding rainbow. Hoping the rainbow gets there soon.

Dianne said...

Yup, we're in a dip here too. Thanks for all your insight.

Dia por Dia said...

We have dipped so low recently that 2 of mine were sent to bed at 3pm last FOR THE NIGHT! Great way of explaining that and yes, I totally get what you are saying about how we get used to the "new normal" and sometimes it feels like it's even worse when they regress from there but it is all about perspective for me (and I seem to lose that often :-()

johnsonweider said...

My, but this post was really timely for us too! The dips just take you by surprise, even when you've known deep down that things just couldn't be this good without paybacks coming soon... It's so sad, isn't it? I KNOW we're making progress, but feels like 1 step forward and 3/4 step back. The cycle sucks!

Heather and Brad said...

I feel for you! It is ALWAYS hard for my kids when I leave and it is guaranteed that they will act out, especially after I get back. You're in my thoughts (at least we share the same pain?). You are such an inspiration to so many people!

Debs said...

Hi I've just discovered you and what a difference you have already made to us.
Love your short films, you bring such humour to our lives in the way you present solutions and ideas to these relentless everyday difficulties.
We are 5 years down the line with our little girlie and it is very up and down but you have given me hope understanding and support which I feel sadly has been lacking in our journey so far. Thanks

Courtney said...

This was a great post, thanks so much for the timely perspective check. If I look at where my boys were just 6 months ago, I was praying for things that have now come to fruition. And yet I forget to be thankful for those things because I am overwhelmed by the present.

So thanks for the reminder.