Epiphanies

What do you do when you suddenly realize that you are the catalyst when it comes to your children? My husband and I were talking over our daughters’ behavior and belief systems this morning. They treat each other nasty and then both lash out at me when I try to address their behavior. Jeff pointed out that they can speak calmly to each other at night right before bed. I suddenly realized – that’s when I’m not longer in the picture (I go to bed before they do), when I am no longer physically present.

How are they when I’m gone on Sunday mornings? Fine.
How are they when I’m gone on Tuesday evenings? Fine.
How are they when they are getting ready for bed and I’m already asleep? Fine.

So if I’m not around, they will either ignore each other or interact fairly good natured, but still harass each other some. When I am around, they are nasty to each other. Then when I try to interact with one or both, they are disrespectful to me or are so completely engrossed in tearing each other apart that it’s as if I’m not even there.

I followed this thought process. If I am the cause (Jeff thinks I need to reword this to something more positive) of their negative attitudes, behavior, and disrespectful relationships, no wonder my anxiety skyrockets. No wonder my anxiety climbs all afternoon before I pick them up from school. No wonder I can’t relax when they are at home. My body realized this long before my mind did.

Now what do I do with this information? I’m not sure.

Nightmares

I think my brain is processing some stuff. I’m not exactly sure why it’s happening now. Either I’m so tired that I can’t defend myself against the nightmares, or the things we’re discussing in therapy are triggering them, or maybe it’s “calm” enough in our house these days that my defenses are lowered. Either way, I’ve woken up three nights in the past week with my heart rate accelerated, my breathing out of control, and sweating profusely. The nightmares are horrid.

I’ve been having nightmares about rages. It’s been awhile since we’ve had one. I think six weeks or so. But we’ve gone through so many rage experiences in the past two years that my body definitely remembers exactly what they feel like. In my dreams, I can’t tell that I’m dreaming. I dream that I’m sleeping, that I wake up, and that my daughter starts screaming at me. For hours. In one of my dreams, I lashed out at her because I couldn’t take it anymore. In all of my other dreams, I’ve just stood there and taken the abuse. Eventually I wake up for real and realize that everything was a nightmare, not my reality. But it feels so real because sometimes it is my reality.

This week I’ll tell my therapist about it. Hopefully she’ll have some suggestions on how I can combat the nightmares. If I can realize it’s just a dream while still asleep, maybe there’s something I can do. I’ve been practicing breathing exercises right before bed but that’s obviously not helping alleviate the nightmares. I’m not sure what to do but I feel more tired than ever. Not even my sleep is restful.

Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day, a day that is often fraught with extremely conflicting emotions for adoptive families.

For my eldest – grief over the loss of her birth mother combined with the love of her adoptive mother, a love she has not yet learned to trust.

For my youngest – grief buried somewhere extremely deep over never knowing her birth mother and probably wondering why she wasn’t wanted. Not even close to letting her adoptive mother into her heart.

For me – occasional moments of hope that raising these two teens will change their lives for the better combined with a whole lot of grieving over the loss of my dreams for my family. Trauma makes it almost impossible for us to be anywhere near “normal.”

I don’t remember last year’s Mother’s Day. I know it was a terrible day but I’ve blocked out the specific memories. So far today has been much better, but the day is still young. I’m at a coffee shop, holed up with my computer and a good book, which is my habit on Sunday mornings. My daughters complained that I was going out on Mother’s Day, but I explained to them that Mother’s Day is supposed to be about making mama happy. What makes mama happy? Some time spent with her family and some time spent in quiet, alone. This morning I’m embracing the quiet. This afternoon and evening will be spent with my family.

I can only pray that we will have some semblance of regulation and calm. My expectations are low but I always hold out hope that this is the holiday that will be low on drama. One can always hope.

New Years

I have very little time to write tonight. I spent most of my alone time taking a bath and then journaling. But I did want to take a moment to just acknowledge that it is a new year. A new start. 2016 was the worst year of my life. I hope and pray that 2017 will be better. I know that I’m willing to work hard to ensure it will be.

Happy New Year!!

Surviving Christmas

We survived!! Woohoo!!

We have officially survived Christmas. No rages. No real meltdowns. Just two whiny, extremely clingy children. I’ll take it.

Personally, I experienced very little joy in the holiday. I wish I had found some joy in it but I didn’t. Survival is good, but I feel empty.

I want to write a blog post soon about what I’ve recently discovered to be my biggest challenge in life – my complete lack of self-confidence. I used to have some, though I’ve never been a confident person by nature. Right now I have absolutely none. I feel like a shell of a person. Everything is a projection of confidence, a facade. I haven’t had the emotional energy to write the post just yet, but I am exploring the idea. After all, knowing is half the battle, right?

Christmas Eve

It’s Christmas Eve. It’s been an interesting day. We made it to church this morning, for which I am very grateful! The day has been a bit tense but no major issues, another thing I am very grateful for. I know to take one day at a time, even one hour at a time, because the mood in our home can change so quickly. But right now, things are peaceful.

My husband and two daughters are upstairs watching Star Trek. I’m downstairs on my computer, putzing around with reading lists and dreaming about the possibilities for next year. I find it encouraging that I can dream just a little bit. Realistically, I know that I’ll accomplish very little of my dream list as life is just too traumatic right now. But I’m an ambitious and motivated person. Over the next week I’ll put together my new year’s resolutions and my year’s reading lists and hope for the best.

Being real

It’s been ages since I’ve blogged. I simply haven’t had the time or the emotional energy. I miss blogging. I miss sharing my thoughts, hoping that my words will reach some potential adoptive family. I miss connecting with others who are considering adoption or have adopted themselves or are homemakers and share some of my homemaking interests.

Life is hard. Really, really hard. Since I last posted, I traveled to China by myself to adopt a 13 year old girl. My husband and I now have two daughters, a 14 year old from Taiwan and a 13 year old from China. Both have documented physical needs but their most pressing need is to overcome all of the trauma they’ve endured.

But they aren’t the only ones who have daily challenges. Both my husband and I have been heartbroken in the past two years. We have emotional scarring, some of which has healed and some of which is still raw and bleeding. We have a family therapist now. I can now claim an acronym of my own – PTSD. Daily life is a huge struggle. In the past few months, I’ve had two panic attacks and have fought off many others. I now have ongoing anxiety and am trying to get medical support from my doctor.

Hopefully I can start sharing some of the struggles I face and lessons I’ve learned as an adoptive parent. This is not easy. I’m sure that some children come home and meld right into the family. Neither of my daughters have had that experience. It has been a rough road and I often lose hope that everyone in the family will heal.

This is life. My life.

Return to posting?

It’s been so long that I don’t even know where to begin. And yet I want to try. I had hoped to blog through our older child adoption in hopes of helping others who are interested in adopting an older child. But our experience has been so difficult that I have not had the energy or time to write. Plus, I struggle with knowing how much to share. I’m very open with my side of our family life but I want to protect my daughter’s privacy.

I have really struggled with parenting. My daughter has a very difficult background and has plenty of scarring to prove it. She does not know how to face life in a healthy way. It’s my job to teach her.

Secondary PTSD? Yup, we’re familiar with it. I now have some of my very own trauma as well. I have been stretched, tested, tried, burned with fire… and am slowly recovering. I will start trying to share some of my story.

MIA but for good reason

It’s been almost two months since I’ve done any regular posting. I just don’t know what to say anymore. Life is HARD here. Teen adoption is definitely not for the faint of heart. Most days I feel like I should be classified as faint of heart… I do want to blog about our experiences but I linked my Facebook account to this blog and feel as if I am violating my daughter’s privacy. Too many people know us in person and I’ve had to request that they be careful not to discuss anything I’ve posted about the challenges of older child adoption. That’s not fair to anyone. I’m not sure what the solution is… stop posting my links on FB? Stop blogging altogether? I haven’t found a solution I’m comfortable with.

Maybe once we’re past this crisis point, I’ll be able to blog about how things went and what we learned. Maybe at that point I won’t feel like I’m betraying my daughter by posting on the internet about her behavior. Maybe for awhile I should just blog about the happy aspects of our lives, though that’s definitely not a true perspective of what’s going on in our house.

Not that I have much time for blogging anyways… life is rough!

Christmas Time – a book review and giveaway!

I received an email offering to let me review a new Christmas book titled Christmas Time – It’s All About Jesus!. Since my daughter is newly home from Taiwan, I thought it would be fun to have a children’s book about Christmas to read to her.

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My favorite part about this book is the illustrations. The cover is beautiful and each page is colorful and cute. It’s definitely a warm feeling book. The little mouse on each page was a cute touch! The story is simple while still covering all of the basics. The angel’s visit to Mary. Mary visiting Elizabeth. Joseph’s dream. Travel to Bethlehem. Jesus’ birth. The shepherds hearing the angels’ song and visiting baby Jesus.

My daughter seemed slightly interested in the story. When the book arrived, she pointed at the cover and said “Jesus.” She’s not a Christian and recognized that this is a story about the birth of Christ. She listened as I read and followed along. The word choice was too complex for her, though, as she is still learning English. Miracle, wonder, engaged, greeting – all words too hard for her. She was more interested in the illustrations than the actual story.

I wish the publisher had chosen a simpler font for the text on each page. It’s kind of hard to read. The R’s and N’s look very similar and a couple times I had to pause to make sure I was reading the text properly.

I will try rereading this book to my daughter closer to Christmas, as I’m sure her English will improve between now and then. Maybe she’ll enjoy it more once she can understand more of the story.

Aneko Press was kind enough to provide me with an extra copy to give away! Just leave me a comment and I will draw a winner on Tuesday, November 17th.