Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Answering The Question, "How Are You All Doing?"

   "So how are things going?" How many of you find your mind racing through possible answers when asked this question? First let me clarify something, I don't mind these questions I am writing this post to help you better understand how adoptive families function from day to day, particularly those with multiple layers of trauma that have a tendency to melt into one big puddle called complex trauma.

   See, my children like many who have gone through intense pain and loss, seldom have good days. Instead we have bad days, worse days and better days and once in a great long while we have a good day which we thoroughly love and enjoy! 

  Anxiety and trauma are two things (among many others of course) that you cannot stash in a closet and ignore until a more convenient time. They will make their presence known, like it or not. 

  Change is a big one for most adopted children, after all change is what happened when they were taken from their parents, so it must be bad.

   Food is often a source of anxiety. Either the child was deprived so he is unable to know when he is full, or perhaps not eating was the only thing he could control and now he cannot let go of that little bit of control.

  Sleep is scary for many children. You cannot protect yourself when your eyes are closed, however there are also those children who sleep to block out the world.

  Crowds of people are overwhelming, how can you monitor everyone, how can you know where each person is at any given moment? Think of all the places where you see a lot of people, family gatherings, parties, the grocery store, church, school.... many of our children don't feel safe in any of these situations.

  Change in the family structure, even if it is because a sibling is having a sleep over so he is sleeping with his friends rather than in his room. Scary stuff, what if I have to sleep somewhere else?

  Birthday's are big ones around here. One of our children in particular struggles in this area. Meltdowns, lies, manipulation and lashing out at everyone is par for the course. It isn't fair that I don't get a gift, it makes me feel unloved...maybe you are tired of me...what if you stop loving me? 

  Going away for meals is another one that can upset the apple cart...too many people getting their food before the traumatized child...what if there isn't enough?

  Changing seasons is another biggie watching mom pack away out grown clothing or unpacking the next seasons clothing is enough to unsettle my children, even seeing the new clothing doesn't alleviate the fear.

 A new school term, a new teacher...will this teacher keep me safe? Will I be able to manipulate this teacher? Will she believe my big stories thus making me feel both in control and out of control at the same time, because I know she/he isn't strong enough to see through my actions?

  Simple things like a sticker at the grocery checkout are enough to send some of my children into a tailspin simply because it is one more thing to analyze in an already sensory overwhelming situation. For a well adjusted child a sticker doesn't even register on their radar, for a child with trauma it may be enough to bring on a meltdown.

   Vacations, family gatherings, picnics, fun days... they all send my little ones into a frenzy of emotions and nonverbal fears. They react the only way they know how, by acting out their fears.

  When life is what most people would call boring, my children can function fairly well. But every week has a Sunday which sends at least one of them over the edge, every single weekend. Food is a natural part of every day and is a prime opportunity for conflict, summer vacation is a huge change in schedule, I recently packed away the children's winter clothing, Mothers Day was recently celebrated....

   "So how are things going?" How do you answer that question when any number of the above things are going on? Because quite honestly, at least one child is always struggling. It isn't all out raging all the time, it is more like the waves of the ocean there is a crash, a lull and then another crash. 

  I don't say all this so you feel sorry for us, because most days we feel blessed to have the opportunity to call these brave little people our children but I want you to have a bit of an understanding what is behind our children's acting out, as well as why we seldom say, "We are doing wonderful!" 

   The flip side is that I get tired of not being able to give a positive answer so I have already told people we things are going well but then they assume that my children are getting better and I am left trying to decide if I let them believe something that isn't exactly true or if I should give a lengthy explanation. So my answer has evolved into something like this, "We are doing okay, how about you?" 

Titus 2 Tuesday #linkup   


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