Wednesday, January 10, 2018

When Routine Is Disrupted - Chaos Ensues

Children with early childhood trauma thrive on routine. Routine means security, it means they don't have to wonder what will happen next, it means they don't have to fear that they will experience pain or harm from an unknown experience. Even simple things like going to Grandpa n Grandma's house is scary. They know they are safe there but that fear that was planted deep into their psych when they were but infants refuses to allow them to enjoy activities without becoming hyper vigilant.

Beginning this week, Dean will be working night shift in order to get a project completed. The children are.a.mess. They didn't do too bad until today, then it all broke loose. Joseph has been super hyper vigilant. He see's everything that goes on around him, hears everything that is said and has the solution to every thing that befalls anyone in the house...but he is unable to keep at his school work, he can't follow instructions, he forgot how to eat pizza and wanders around the house as if he is a stranger in his own home. Kiana reacted in what is typical for her, outright defiance, meltdowns and rage. Ask her to do something and she will do it halfway, pretend she didn't hear you or lets out her big feelings at the top of her lungs. Lia cries and cries and cries. Monday night we called Dean and a few minutes of Face Time with her daddy made her feel ever so much better. Tristan was getting fed up with his siblings reactions and tried to step in which only made matters worse. I told him he is the man of the house and he cannot allow the younger one's big feelings to upset him. He responded that the man of the house wouldn't let them get away with such acting which is true, but the man of the house would understand what is going on and redirect them

Sometimes I get frustrated with the seeming lack of progress my children are making in dealing with their trauma. We have done years of therapy and go out of our way to help them feel safe and secure but still they struggle. Then I had a "trauma flashback" that put this in perspective.

On Sunday our teacher asked if anyone would share a time when they were at the end of themselves and God answered their prayer. My stomach knotted, I got hot from head to toe, my heart started racing and my throat choked up. In that instant I was back in the room with CYS being told that I was a horrible, mentally ill mother and that Dean and I were abusive parents. My legs were weak and trembling and I feared I was about to experience a panic attack right then. Thankfully I got my emotions under control and was able to remain in the room. I remember thinking, "This is how the children feel when they are triggered." I was sure I wouldn't forget that lesson right away but a few days later found me feeling overwhelmed and frustrated with their trauma responses.

If I have such intense reactions to things that happened to me as an adult when I had a semblance of control over the situation, how much more intense must it be for children who zero control over their safety and well being?

I know if I am calm, quiet and gentle they respond so much better but it seems I can take it too a certain level then my brain screams for peace and quiet. I become almost frantic in my need for the noise to cease and the stress to fade away. A friend who has a newborn who was born addicted to drugs said a nurse told her that babies born with drugs in their system have no tolerance window. They need their needs met NOW or they become inconsolable. I tucked that nugget of truth away and decided that maybe I should show my "drug addicted brain" that is going through withdrawal some grace.

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