Monday, April 18, 2011

What healing REALLY looks like

A few years back I listened/watched a Nancy Thomas audio or DVD (sorry, I can't be more specific!). In that, somewhere, she was talking about kids as they are healing. She made the comment that some kids have one last big "hurrah" ... almost as one final test to make sure this whole love and trust thing is for real.

That stuck with me.

It stuck with me like the time a lady looked at me and said, "Your baby can sleep through the night in eight weeks."

You don't say those things to desperate mothers. You just don't. You don't even hint at it, a little bit. We will hear it how we choose to hear it and engrave it in the stubborn stone of our minds and swear by it. We will lose all logical thinking. We will then grieve and mourn when our lives and/or actual remnants of logical thinking step in and force us to look at the big picture.

A last "hurrah"??

Yeah, we've had that. We've had it 1,026 times, minimum.

That is not what healing looks like in our home.

However, a year ago I saw a wonderful little graph created by the Porter's. It is the most beautifully non-scientific graph in the history of graphs. I made one of my own to give you an idea:

Online Graphing


THAT IS WHAT HEALING LOOKS LIKE IN MY HOUSE!

To look at that graph, one cannot deny that healing is actually occurring. Right? Of course. We all have eyeballs and brains. Yet, living in the middle of that graph is a whole other ball of wax.

You are always moving forward, even when behaviors are regressive. However, living with regressive behaviors when you have had a taste of those high points on the graph is BEYOND DIFFICULT. That is why I made my own copy of the graph. That is why I may tattoo it to my forehead and etch it into the glass on my bathroom mirror.

This stuff is hard.

What does healing look like in my home? We can have a really good, sweet day of connecting. Yet, the next day one child is dealing with their anniversary while we are trying to get to a fun activity. I attempted to help them work through it so they could actually play upon arrival. I found myself being yelled at in the middle of a grocery store parking lot. Senior adults staring at me. Good times.

The day after a celebration (which, by the way, went off without any behavioral hitches whatsoever!), another child waited until I left for a run before picking a fight with dad. They were fulfilling a desperate internal need to punish themselves for the great day they had. Much to their dismay, Dad was rockin' the therapeutic interventions that day, and did not engage.

That is healing in our home. My kids can have their good day now. They can let others have a good day. They can give you that celebration and enjoy it, themselves. However, one tends to act out before and another acts out after. That's not cut-and-dry, of course. Now, wouldn't THAT be easy?

It's still there. The pain and hurt is still there. The trauma still exists in their core. Yet, I look at that chart and say, "Yup. Can't deny it. The good is better than we've had. Absolutely - even when it is still whonky."

The whonky is better.

27 comments:

Jamie said...

Hi Christine:

Love your blog. You are a kindred spirit and I have so much to learn. Help me with the chatter. My son asks crazy questions and rambles on about insignificant things. He argues with me when I comment on something that he has said that I have had a hard time following. What strategies do you use? Thanks

Jamie

BT said...

That is what healing looks like at our house too. I remind myself of that kind of graph constantly, especially when we're in teh midst of a regression (especially a long one) because the regressions seem so much more painful now because our new "normal" is mostly defined by the progress which has really spoiled me. When we head into regression I have to really fight the panic inside and focus on the fact that present regressions are so much better than our old "normal."

One last "hurrah?" If only.

Christine said...

Jamie, watch my YouTube videos, as well as click on the link at the bottom of the post above to read all my "therapeutic parenting" posts.

J. said...

a straight line would so easy, who wants easy.... tee hee - great graph, looks a lot like that around here too

Last Mom said...

I hate that graph because it is so true! We are in a valley right now. I just want a straight line up, please!

Becky said...

I am noticing this (graph pattern) at our house as well - with sincere spikes up and down. I am learning - learning that whatever is destroyed... well, it is just stuff regardless although I have to admit scratches through to metal on the car was a lump to swallow. (LOL)

I look forward to the day when life feels "normal" again. It does get there, right?

Kristi said...

Oh. I really wanted to believe the first part. You know about one last hurrah before healing is done. I was thinking fantastic! Our last hurrah just ended and now we are healed and will live on happily ever after. But then you said what I know to be true. There is no "last" hurrah. Healing happens slowly over time and you have to actually stop and remember all the "hurrah's" before to know that healing is actually happening.

Kerrie said...

Oh yeah, that's TOTALLY what the graph around here looks like, too. I remember our therapist told me that Princess wouldn't regress lower than her last low, and I though, what the heck does THAT mean? Now I know.

I can't remember which of the trillions of books I got this from, but my Princess Regression Mantra is "steps backward are temporary; steps forward are permanent." So if you see me at Target with a crazy look on my face and my lips moving, you'll know what I'm chanting.

Diana said...

I believe your graph is a MUCH more realistic picture of what healing really looks like. It absolutely is not linear for anyone. Occasionally we may get lulled into thinking a plateau is the last hurrah, but it isn't. It's just a plateau before another valley or climb. And, just when we think we're near the top, someone goes and raises the bar on us. It's never ending!

I think it's also important to note that not only is this what healing looks like for our kids, it's what it looks like for US, too. Some days are better than others. Some days we've got our groove on and we're kicking some serious RAD behind. Others, we have no desire whatsoever to even pull those big girl panties out of the drawer...let alone put them on.

Llama Momma said...

Such good stuff here, Christine!!

I went back and read your babywise post and could not agree more. Someone gave me that book when I was pregnant with my twins. I read it, and thought, "hmmm." It gave opposite advice as some of my "twin" baby care books.

Our boys were born at 32 weeks and had a number of challenges. I relied on the advice of our amazing nurses and doctors, and we got through!

Right after bringing the boys home, I remember telling our pediatrician that I felt terrible because they kept falling asleep in their bouncy seats after I fed them. He stopped me and said, "Wait. So they're both asleep in the bouncy seats?" I said, "Yeah," feeling so guilty.

He gave me a high five and said, "That's GREAT! I want you to lie down and take a nap every time that happens!"

It's like those potty training in a day books. I always tell people, "Oh, yeah. I used that potty training method in a day book. It took about six weeks." ;-)

Children are all so unique!! Thank goodness!!

Stacy said...

yes that looks very familiar! I'd like to post a graph on how adopting children as infants has it's own chart, starting at the top and dropping fast, only to pick up with the ebb and flow that you show. It's hopefull but exhausting.

Wife to the Rockstar said...

I love this. SO MUCH.

Doug said...

We have always said two steps forward, one to one-and-a-half steps back. Yet when we look back the seven years since our kids came home there is MUCH progress.

As they are getting older (9 and 10 now) the issues are changing and of course how we deal with them has changed. It's kind of hard to make an 80lb. kid do something he doesn't want to do.

My husband and I met Mary F and her husband for dinner last Friday and we had to tease her about having her picture show up on your blog. :) Good conversations!!

Lindsay Mama to Nine said...

A-to-the-MEN sista....Sorry but this post totally had me singing "I take two Steps forward, I take two steps back"...ugh..Paula Abdul should not be able to hyjack my brain that easily...awesome post.

Cheryl said...

Ugh--that commment was not from Doug, it was from me!!! Sorry--my BIL used my computer this past weekend...

Erika said...

I always believe that we've crossed over to the other side. I mean I BELIEVE it. Until the next trigger or the next regression or the next... whatever... And then when that's over, I'm like..."that's it, we've moved on - all better now..." and then another trigger comes. It's insanity. Or is it my insane way to stay sane? I don't know.

Christine said...

Cheryl, you got to eat with Mary F?!?!?!?

LUCKY SKUNK!

I love that woman very, very, very much.

Kathleen said...

Before you tattoo it to your forehead, you should probably switch the labels on the axes. As it is, progress is always increasing and you're going back and forth through time.

KO said...

Love the graph, and we too have started to chart our daughters'
freeze - her way of coping.

The hardest part is, by far, tasting the good times, only to go relive the hard times.

I saw a comment about the crazy talk ... at the beach our son asks 'what is that' a zillion times as we hunt for shells, after a few minutes of me not answering he gives up. Oh, how powerful silence can be.

Christine said...

But Kathleen, that's exactly how it FEELS. ;-)

Hannah_Rae said...

Oh my yes. That's all. The end.

Laura said...

THANK YOU for sharing that graph! It's soooooo true, but it's not something I realized until I saw it. That's so very encouraging (the fact that I find it encouraging should give you insight as to what life at our house is like!)

Happymom4 aka Hope Anne said...

Oh yes you are SOOOO on target with that!!! EXACTLY how I would have drawn it with our DD. . . now, the upward peaks are longer and the down bits are farther between. After 5 years though, the downs still happen after a patch of good stuff . . . but I've learned to roll with it better . . . and she's quicker to respond so we have maybe a bad HOUR now and then in the midst of good months, instead of bad DAYS and DAYS after maybe a week or two of good.

coffeemom said...

Can I tell you how much I love your graph??? Nope, I can't, because I don't have the words.

Healing is good, but its a process that is beyond hard and those steps forward and back, head spinning.

Just thank you.

the wrath of khandrea said...

i am making a chart. immediately. because it shows me two things: one, GOOD THINGS DO HAPPEN. and two: when the bad comes back, it's at a slightly better level of bad than it was before. please let my chart reflect this as well...

Cheryl said...

Christine, I love Mary more! J/K

We've known each other for a few years (through the Haitian adoption connection and geography) and are seriously realizing we need to get together more often! But busy lives and children tend to get in the way...

We are already making plans to come to Orlando next year--no way we are going to miss it again.

Samantha said...

Thanks for putting this out there. I've had that graph in my head for a year! Seeing it on the screen made me smile :-)