Sunday, October 30, 2011

Building foundations...

 Sometimes I literally put words in my kids mouths….

It is not out of forse.
It is not out of Control…

It is out of their sheer NEED, of being able to understand, no not just understand , but COMPREHEND life’s interactions, that so many of us take for granted…

You see my children appear to be 2,3,6,6,6,8,8,10 & 18….but they are not.
Nope. On good days my non Nero-Typical kiddo’s act about half their age…the rest of the time, I am raising 6 emotionally unstable two year olds….and I LOVE two year olds, when they are chronologically two. When they are little, the bi-polar irrational selfish, narcissistic behavior is adorable and charming…two year old behavior in a screaming drooling eight year old,

That is what people don’t get. My sweet lost babies, act, fake and desperately try to be normal…with NO foundation, no tools, no true understanding what NORMAL is.

That is what early childhood Trauma takes from theses kids it takes, or never really supplies a FOUNDATION.

A Foundation for TRUST.
A Foundation for EMPATHY.
A Foundation for HONESTY.
A Foundation for SORROW.
A Foundation for RELATIONSHIPS.
A Foundation for RESPECT.
A Foundation for SELF WORTH.
A Foundation for LOVE to give and receive it.

How do you form a healthy human soul without a foundation?
It’s like building a house on a stretch of sand. Without somehow figuring out how to get a sturdy foundation under these children, they will be washed away with the tide.

 Question: How do you go about building a foundation under an already built house, whose walls are caving in?

Answer: Very carefully, with lots of Structural Support.
It feels impossible at times….

I can’t name or number the amount of times daily, we have inappropriate reactions, interactions, conversations between family members in out home. It becomes part of the norm. Weird stuff, Misunderstandings that turn into WORLD WAR III.

A month ago we were all playing and goofing off in the Family room carpet, I think we were playing animal Charades. (I do a fabulous Elephant Impression, BTW)
Anywho, Hubs was being a Lion, or Panther “something in the Big Cat Family” he stinks at Charades, he was a little confusing.
In Scoobs excitement and haste, he jumped from our fire place mantel right on top of Hubbies unsuspecting arched back. Hubs was down for the count. It really, and I mean REALLY hurt him.

So Scooby got ANGRY, He was sooo MAD.  He went into the other room and started baming on the piano, throwing  pillows off and then dissecting the couch. Knocking chairs down, stomping and screaming…

After making sure Hubs was really O.K. I quietly walked into the Living Room and sat.
Didn’t say ANYTHING, just sat and watched him get it out.
He was breathing so hard, his poor little heart must have been beating 1000 times a minute. Finally I asked him if he wanted to sit by me.

He did.

Chest heaving up and down, hands trembling, my little 8 year old was in Fight mode.

After we did some “Breaths”.
Scoobs we discovered since he was little needed to be closed in on. We put pressure on both his back and chest with open palms and simulate calm, deep breaths.
Little did we know, 4 years later he would be diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder.

I asked him what he was feeling?

“O.K. , Buddy do you know, Daddy and I both know it was an Accident?”

“Yeah, but I’m STILL MAD”

“Could maybe that MAD, be embarrassed and Sorry?”

“I don’t know, it just feels like MAD.”

“I understand it feels like a BIG, YUCKY, HUGE MONSTER FEELING, but maybe that is how “Sorry”, can feel to, maybe?”

I said” I want to go check on Daddy and see if he is doing O.K., want to go with me?”

“He might be MAD at me.”

“Honey, I think he was surprised and hurt, but knows it was an accident……..would you like to tell him that it was an accident and that you are sorry?”


“Could, maybe I help you talk to Dad, and give you some words?”


And that brave ANGRY kid, sat down in front of his Dad, and started scratching ferociously….”I ITCH”…

“I know sweetie, sometimes saying sorry, feels uncomfortable.”


This is where Sensory Processing and lack of Emotional Processing meet.

I sat down on the floor and pulled his back against my chest and there we sat.
I held his hands and tapped his palms to calm him as he looked at his Dad.

“Repeat after me Buddy.”

“Dad, I am sorry you got hurt.”

He said it and started screaming “I ITCH!”

“Keep with me Sweetie.”

“Dad, I didn’t mean to hurt you. I was excited about the game and wanted your attention. I thought I was being silly and fun, but I hurt you, and that made me feel BAD, and SAD, and ANGRY with myself.”

Big Crocodile Tears sprung out of my boys beautiful gray eyes. A huge sob racked his little body as he went to find solace in his Fathers arms.

“I am sorry Dad, so sorry.” He said over and over again.

Sometimes we need to put words in their mouths they can not, and will not find on their own….much like teaching a two year old “Hot”, or “Owie” or even saying “I love you” over and over again. These basic principles of  TRUST,OBJECT PERMANENCE,EMPATHY,HONESTY,APPROPRIATENESS, SORROW,RELATIONSHIPS,RESPECT,SELF WORTH, and most of all LOVE.

These principles must be modeled and displayed…and sometimes mimicked and supported.
Sometimes I have to put words in my children’s mouths, so that I can slowly add a foundation to their hearts.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The gifts Trauma has given me....

These thin lines…

I used to think things were black and white, the gray was where you did not want to get caught up in…so stay on the white and everything will be Alright….that was what living in Anglo Saxon America had taught me. What I understood was expected of me… what would keep me good and safe.

I still believe in doing what’s right, in choosing what is kind and good…But sometimes the lines get crossed , the gray is where you find truth and in reality good intentions can have devastating results…because sometimes “doing what’s right” comes from a moral opinion, but not TRUTH.

Sometimes us do gooders, those of us that are about saving the world, try to save things and people that don’t want to be saved…

I have learned so much in the last two years.
What is important, what is not, redeeming pieces of myself I had to leave along the way, I am finding my way back to me out of the Trauma that has sucked so much of who I am out . Trauma will take everything, if you let it.
I have lost people, relationships, traditions, expectations, definitions and a lot of “itions” that don’t add up to the importance of what we are doing in our home.

Trauma has also given me these incredible gifts. Gifts of understanding more deeply, Loving more than hoarding, listening more than speaking.  I have been praying more than asking. Receiving, more than expecting ,growing more than receding, forgiving more than judging.

After reading, learning, attending, and delving into the depths of Trauma, brain workings, and attachment…I can forgive, understand, release and let go of much of the times people, family, parents have hurt me, or each other. I can see inner workings of loss, attachment, and trauma and the multitude of lifes hard knocks that resulted in the most damaging kind of relationships, between parent and child, sister and brother.

We all are neighborhoods, cities, states, and whole countries of these faulted people.

Trauma makes me want to love harder, let more go, forgive completely and concentrate my love, my power for good things on healing, forgiving and not continuing a cycle.

I still believe in good, I still see evidence of evil…but I also see so very much we can all do in pure forgiveness, love and understanding.

I used to think I knew and understood so very much…
Now with each new passing day, I am amazed at how little I understood before, and how much more I have yet to learn, forgive and take in…

Friday, October 21, 2011

Hot Cocoa anyone? Taking the heat out of it…

The weather has gotten colder, and as the Fall sets in, I turn back to my comfort staples of Herbal tea and occasional Hot Chocolate. It is rare from October through April not to find my tea kettle a-boiling on my stove top.

Hot Chocolate took a whole new meaning for me around October of last year.
The word “Cocoa” became a battlefield that my teen loved to set up with landmines.

You see, Cocoa in English means, Hot steamy chocolate. Possibly enhanced with marshmallow’s or flavors. To wealthy people it is perhaps a perfume, clothing brand, or Courtney Cox’s daughters name….

In Kreyole,”Cocoa” is the equivalent to calling a woman the “C” word.
(like the body part)
Yep, I know.
Oddly weird, depressing, and quite possibly I have now ruined the word “Cocoa” for you,F.O.R.E.V.E.R,sorry about that.

Well. Just. You. Wait.

One day when we were establishing new language, and sharing slang language in English and Kreyole, this little gem was uncovered, backlogged to be used as fodder for a later date…

And a later date arrived. At church when I went to pick her up out of her Sunday School class, and asked “Are you ready little darlin’?”
She answered “Yes my little Cocoa”.
Pure awesomeness.

We were speaking in code. I knew what she was doing and saying, and yet she knew I would not call her on it in public.

The gauntlet was tossed, and if you know me, I don’t do well with passive aggressive ANYTHING.

The rest of the week in public, she used my sweet new little nickname as often as possible…shocked and dismayed at the ineffectiveness it was having.

I was hoping she would get bord and drop it.

This is much like waiting for a Steaming cup of Hot Chocolate to cool, by itself, leaving it on the counter top and checking in on it… but this Mama, isn’t the wait-and-see-and maybe-it-will-cool-off kinda girl. (Patience is NOT a strong suit...hey I'm working on it.)

Did she drop it?

Daily with out fail the anty was upped and I was officially” the Cocoa.”

One sleepless night a plan popped into my head “Eureka”. The next day I was preparing to teach my sweet darlin’ daughter and the Young Woman in her church youth group how to decorate Cupcakes in my home…

The next night as I had expected, in walks my sweetie, and five of her friends. I get a side hug and a “Hey Cocoa” how’s it going?”

I replied “Great.’

As we finished decorating and licking frosting off our fingers , I was asked, “Mom, do we get to eat some of these, or are we having another snack?”

As I smiled graciously I relplied,”Sure are sweetie,and we are having some…………….. Hot Cocoa.”

“Would you girls like your Cocoa hot, or would you like it cold?
I could blend your Cocoa with ice. I have syrups , so you can have flavored Hot Cocoa if you would like, or you could just have some plain old Cocoa,…it’s really up to you”.
“I mean , who doesn’t LOVE Hot steaming Cocoa, right Papillion?”

I probably said the word Cocoa over 75 times that night.
I killed the word Cocoa…I didn’t wait for it to cool off, I doused that bad boy with cold milk, and then tossed some ice cubes in for good measure….

I stole the Cocoa’s power.

Sometimes there are battles, gauntlets thrown and we need to have patience and let it just cool down on the counter top…there are also times we can and should desensitize and water down the power and control our special needs kids toss out at us.

That night not only did I lose my fabulous nickname, but I also saw some love and RESPECT in my daughters eyes as she recognized, this whole time, I wasn’t taking her crap. I wasn’t loosening her boundaries, I was playfully “bringing it” with a round of her own medicine…and with the gleam of “Touché” in her eyes, the girls left, we cleaned up the kitchen side by side, and rinsed out our mugs….

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Old Highway Less Taken

Very close to this time 11 years ago I was in a horrible car accident, right outside the local high school.
Newly married, a broke newlywed of 5 months, I totaled our only car. It was a new dodge stratus, dark green, a very stupid purchase.
My husband was working, doing accounting at a local essential oil company, and working on his bachelor’s degree in Social work.
I was a Nanny for the owners of the company he worked for.
We were young, shiny and hopeful.

 I was T-boned out on the old highway; I hadn’t even seen the Old man in the Cadillac coming.
I remember the sound of smashing glass, everything going dark, coming to and not feeling my body, not being able to open my eyes, hearing the medics frantically try to break more glass to get to me, asking “Is she breathing”, “I think her arm is broken.”
 I remember screaming in my head “I am HERE”, “I can hear you”….but I couldn’t even open my own eyes.
I was afraid this was what death was.

What felt like a lifetime later, strapped to a board and loaded into a wailing ambulance, pain started to awake the rest of my senses. I had broken the drivers side window with my left arm and head, trapping my body in the wreckage.

By some manner of ultimate blessing, no bones were in fact broken. I was one HUGE green, blue and purple bruise. I had stitches everywhere, a very, very deep concussion, but after a night held for observation, released to go home.

I went to bed in our dank little apartment, Trev being ordered to wake me every few hours, to ensure I would wake up. What a long day into night that was. The next early morning I woke to huge sharp shooting pains across my abdomen. Painful debilitating back pain….something was not right. I could barley get the words out, as another painful spasm shook my body and I screamed.

Trev loaded me into the car, I kept the window down as I threw up over and over again, swearing I was dying, and they must have missed something….they had. I was pregnant, and beginning to miscarry as we drove to the hospital. They gave me shots of painkiller that left monster bruises, but more than anything was the pain of losing the life inside me, I had not yet learned to love…but very much mourned with every contraction.
After the external bruises had faded and the stitches were all removed, I remember driving that road , and the pure ache washing over me as I feared, “maybe that baby was my only chance at Motherhood.” Those days and months were wrought with insomnia, fear of driving, depression and hopelessness.

Eleven years later tonight, we were on that road again. I had dealt all day long with the hell that only a Borderline daughter with feet held to the fire of consequence can bring, she had called me 37 times today. 37 times. By the time Trev got home I was exhausted. We packed a picnic dinner and decided to go for a drive and enjoy the fall colors. In truth we were dancing, picking the kids feet up off the ground, being spontaneous, and trying to outrun the crazy.

As we drove on that Old Highway tonight, I remembered that trial and smiled and blew it a kiss. I told my 21 year old self ‘Darlin’ you ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” and put into perspective…as much as this hurts. As WRONG as this feels to let her go, to relinquish the Death hold I have had on her NOT-TO-LET-HER-DIE…as painful as it is to not know what comes next. I have been here before, on this Highway, T-boned and bruised…and I survived. I learned from it, and grew stronger, and more wise.

I thought so many years before, that right then, that moment, had defined my life, but it hadn’t. It was just one of many of the hard knocks, the heartbreaks I was yet to endure.

As horrific these next days and months are going to be. Acknowledging that I don’t and won’t know if my baby will be O.K.
Losing that previous pregnancy was nothing compared to how losing/letting go of Papillion is.

But maybe, just maybe, in 11 more years, a wiser, even stronger Lindsay will be driving down this Old Highway, remembering the hurt and pain that she did not let define her life.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Loss and Casualties of Trauma, the effect it has on the whole family.

Trauma is no destination vacation as we all know. We spend hours, weeks, months, years and lifetimes devoted to healing, attaching, letting love become a mutual thing.

And it is beautiful, rewarding…and really, REALLY shitty. I don’t swear a whole lot, but there is no other word that profoundly dictates how I feel about Healing Trauma, then SHITTY.

I had three very separate conversations with three of my children today. All three broke my heart in a thousand different ways. All three I swear to love forever. All three are lost, scared, and feel very alone, I am betting on a solid 10 out of 11 people in my family feel this way.

This morning Papillion called my husband and me, in a very demanding voice oozing with manipulation she requested a “conference call”, so we sat in the hallway, while the littles were occupied with Sesame Street and had our little conversation.

Her request was to “give me my freedom and let me call my 47 year old boyfriend”, the one she met at the State Hospital. There has been a therapeutic hold on his specific phone number, for very good reasons…in hope of her healing, and not choosing to over sexualize herself…..yet….

She is being kicked out of her 10th hospital. Yes, I did say tenth. In the last four months we have been admitted to 1, 2,34,5,6,7,8,9,10, separate hospitals. I have spared this blog, and you the gory details.
This last hospital was the Mecca, of all trauma hospitals, with a specific PTSD Woman’s wing. The price $2,000 per day. TWO GRAND a day. Specific  incredible Therapy daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m…..and she wouldn’t apply herself, refused to go, got violent, defiant and literally through temper tantrums, faked seizures and has exhausted every resource, every person, every financial option she has had available to her, in four months. No one will admit and work with someone that refuses treatment. She can’t come home untreated. She is 18 and reminds us she can do whatever she wants to. Good Luck with that Baby Girl.

To say I am heart broken would be implying there is anything left of the tattered, beat up bruised piece of hamburger in my chest that refuses to stop beating. It hurts somedays to much to swallow.

We can’t do anything more, but love her.

Today, I had to tell her just that, and I cried and she said how sorry she was, (but she isn’t) and how she wished she would have tried, if only we had let her talk to “Billy” the love of her life, (but she would’t have)…and how if we just buy her an apartment and give her money she will be fine (but she won’t be)…so she might be moving to Florida and living with a Birth Father she has never met before, she may be moving in with Billy, she may get deported….she refuses help, destroys any treatment, she has no sense of right and wrong, she has attempted suicide over 20 times in the last year and a half.

If it was just me, I would bunker down and wait and watch and hold her hand while this soul cancer destroys her, but I can’t sacrifice my other children. Once one child in a family is successful at Suicide, there is a 50% better chance of losing another child to the same fate. I can’t let her disease infect the delicate Emotional Immune systems of my other children. I. am. Terrified. at what this means, but I am more terrified of what she is capable of doing to my other children.

Her vulnerable Manipulation, her shame, her survival tools, may keep her alive for a while, but the demons are still there, waiting and ready…and pretty pissed off while we tried to unseat them…it is only a matter of time until we are back where we started.  She will most likely be successful, and there is nothing I can, or anyone else can do about it anymore.

“I love you Papillion, I always will, I wish you would have let us help you.”

“I am here, I love you and always will.”

“Please let us know how you are doing”.


 then you give it back to God, and pray he has it from here…..
and then you go dry heave in the shower.

Knowing that something was “up”, Chatter’s hyper vigilance was on full force. The kid should be a Power Ranger, or a Jedi, she can sniff drama out, and recreate it x 100000.

So after initiating a gazillion (and no I am NOT exaggerating) arguments, control battles, bullying, and generally making everyone in a half mile vicinity miserable…and no regular “therapeutic tools” working for longer than a nano-second…I shouted “RESET”…and everyone got jammies back on and got back into bed.  Many mornings if they snap out of it quicker, and the hope of a “Second Breakfast” will do’er, (food at my house is the ultimate motivator).

Well sheesh apparently one child heard “RAGE LIKE A CRAZY PERSON ON METH”…instead of “RESET”….I really should talk clearer.

Two hours later, a bite mark and I am pretty sure I will have a black eye to brag about, the storm had found her calm. And then we chatted.

“Chatter, what’s hurting so bad today?”

“I’m MAD!,…NOT SAD…and NO ONE will DO what I SAY”.

“That’s hard, can MAD sometimes be SAD?”

“Yeah, but not today”.

“O.K.” What are we “Mad” about”?

“I want everyone to listen to me, to give me what I want, for you and Dad to see only me”.
(No she did not say this, but this was the jist of what she was trying to say)

….and we went through it, we broke down each of the mornings shenanigans and asked her what she was trying to say or ask for with each of them.

One of the doozies is her forced affection. She forces herself on me, my husband, the other children, demanding love, patting us, hugging and kissing until the offended literally wants to shove her away. It makes the boys BATTY. She knows it.

Sooo She got “loved” back, in a wack,
talking smack…
with all her wickity wack…..

Sorry, couldn’t help it.

And that is what we talked about.

“Hugs” and what they “mean”.

“Chatter what does it mean to you when you give someone a “hug”?”

“It makes them see me and be by me and I am doing to them what I want”.

“So help me understand precious, a hug is controlling someone?”


“Do you think that it makes someone feel good when you do that?”

“I don’t know, but it makes them feel I am the boss of them, and I want that.”

“When Mommy hugs you am I trying to be the boss of you?”

“No, your hugs mean “Chatter I love you.”

“Your so right sweet pea, hugs can mean a lot of things, “I love you, I am sorry, I want you to feel better, I miss you, It’s going to be O.K., what do you think these hugs are meant to do?”

“To make me feel better.”

“Way to go Chatter, can I ask you something?”

“What do you think your “make you see me and I’m the boss of you” hugs, make people feel?”

“That I am trying to make them mad.”

“You’re such a smart girl; do you want people, and your family to want to get hugged by you?”

tears….and a head drops in shame.

A very quiet “yes.”

“Then lets work on, what your hugs mean and I will help you O.K.?”

“O.K. Mom, and Mom “…

“Yes sweetie”…

“I don’t know how to make hugs nice.”

“ I know, but you will…because I will give you all the love hugs until you are so filled up with them, you will know exactly how and when to give them, but  until then, why don’t we make the rule for you, that you don’t hug, unless you ask the person, even Mom and Dad, O.K.”….


and I want to scream, it isn’t O.K. it isn’t O.K. that she doesn’t know how to give a “love hug, which “Hugs” simple, physical affection is only another tool for survival. Gag.

During the “Battles of El Morning” the biggest target everyone had was Peanut butter. My pre-Haitian Invasion kiddo’s generally are. They get ganged up on and targeted by the other children with better survival skills. Today I had Chatter, Diva, Cookie, Dude, P.B. and baby Faith home…and I spend most the day hovering, protecting, but also backing off enough for observation….
Everyone LOVES and I mean LOVES baby Faith….so target #1 today was Peanut butter….Object: to conquer and destroy.

P.B. had been teased, goaded, mocked and had things taken from him all morning, then he would blow out and smack someone and have to suffer his consequence.  I hate it.
There are times I have to make exceptions, times I have to hug and comfort him after a time out, knowing this isn’t him….it’s what their trauma is doing to HIM…he has lost the simple, silly childhood this life had afforded him, prior to us adopting and bringing his siblings into his home, his family….it is a sacrifice we expected him to make…and I’m not sure how fair that was to him.

I remember 5 months after the kids had come home, four out of five were supped up in Rages, broken things lay all around the house…and he stood quivering chin at the top of my stairs fingers clenched in fists shouting “I PRAYED FOR THIS?” “I PRAYED FOR THIS?”….indeed for the past 3 ½ years at every meal and bedtime he did, we all did.

At lunchtime today, I sat six children down, had their coordinating IKEA colored plates and cups ready, left over spaghetti warmed and ready to be slurped up, when P.B. was asked to give the mealtime prayer. …and 4 little people decided to copy him in high teasing voices, I asked them to stop, and they did, for two seconds…
and then started again, P.B. asked nicely as well, and then screamed “STOP IT, in tears….. EUREEKA! They had landed the Jack Pot, frustrating both P.B. and Mom in the process….and tears…that’s GOLD!

I. Had. HAD. IT.

You could have see the steam out of my ears…I wanted to swoop up his hurting little heart and tell him how very sorry I am, how sorry I am that I ruined his life….and then I thought…give him his words…and so I did.

I took everyone’s plate, promising that they would eat soon, but they needed to listen to something P.B. has to say….and I said it, and he repeated me. Eyes shining, feeling validated.

“Guys, I love you, and I want you to be nice to me.
And sometimes you are, but most the time you are trying to make me mad, and I don’t like that. I hurts me, and my feelings.
This was my house, and my Mommy and Daddy first, and I am sharing them with you, because you needed a house and a Mom and Dad. I am happy you are here, but also sad and mad, when you are mean to me and our family.

It makes me so so sad when I hit you, that is not the boy I know I am.” (He cried really hard during this one)

I paused…..
Then he added this on his own words:

“I really want to love you everyday and every minute, but you make it hard for me. I am a nice, boy, I love you guys, please let me share my Mom and Dad with you…..Thank you for listening to my words and not copying me.”

They all were somber and quiet.

Chatter first said “I am sorry P.B. I know you are sharing Mommy and Daddy with us, and the animals.”

Diva was really quiet just said “I love you P.B. I will try harder”.

Cookie said “I know I am mean to you, but I really am glad you are my brother”.

Dude said “Can we eat now”.

And they did….and my tears salted their spaghetti……