I Was Thinking....
Loss is an interesting beast and our kids all struggle with it! Such an important concept for ALL of us to consider as we parent children with real and unresolved loss and grief experiences. A family we are close to is moving this weekend. A couple of their kids are very close to mine...in age and through close friendship. I am specifically watching my two youngest manage this huge transition. Of my two, one is bio and one is adopted.
While my youngest daughter, who is adopted, would not be able to talk about her grief and loss with you yet, it is quite deeply rooted in who she is. It impacts how she does relationships...making new ones, maintaining them and the possibility of losing them. On the outside, you would never know that her friend is leaving. She lets me see snippets of her feelings about it, but they are so quick they are easily missed. And once they have passed there is no more dealing with it.
On the other hand, my youngest son, who is biological, has not suffered a lot of loss and especially not the most painful grief of losing his primary attachment figure! He is very open about the pain of all of this new change. He is able to be sad and vulnerable and to take the time to sort through his feelings. And does it often and for as long as it takes.
I have to tell you it is hard to watch your children grieve. To know that they are in pain is difficult. But it sure looks different on a survivor! My son's grief is familiar to me. I know what to say and do. I know how to guide him. He comes to me with his grief, lets me see it, lets me help. He lets his friend know how he feels and that he will miss him. His friend can't be confused about how valuable he is to him. I have heard them talking about it and about how they will cope. Making future plans together...the friendship is not over!
On the other hand, my daughters grief is foreign to me. As a matter of fact, I believe in an effort to not open that wound within herself she rarely allows herself to feel anything that gets near the grief of loss. We work on this all of the time, but it is a part of her core that is very protected! She hasn't talked to her friend about her feelings at all, doesn't even look like she remembers it is happening. She hasn't made plans with her about how they will cope. I would understand if her friend wonders if she even cares that they are moving. This is all very foreign to me and it takes very intentional parenting from me in order to help her with it. I bring up the subject all of the time, getting her to think about her feelings...just nudge it a bit. I understand she is very preoccupied trying to survive this - she is especially out of it these days. Slow processing, forgetful, absent-minded and irritable. I continue to engage the other mom (in front of the girls) about plans to get together, text, meet half way and so on. I am hoping to be the bridge. When the two girls are together in my presence, I put the words there that I know my daughter would say if she could. Like boy ______ is really going to miss you _________. You are a great friend. Good friends don't stop being friends because they move. etc... I will teach my daughter how to have a friendship from a distance. She is very black and white about relationships and loss. I will have to give her those tools. She will be okay and some of her fears about the world will be healed as we go through this process and she learns that just because people go away doesn't mean you are unworthy of good!
As Intentional Parents, the whole idea of No Matter What and for as LONG as it takes is SO crucial! If you looked at what my daughter presents, you would think she is just fine with all of this. If you look past the behavior for just a moment, the overwhelming sadness that you would find is huge. This is where doing it differently and meeting her where she is at comes into play. I am her Safety Net; that means I need to see and care for ALL of her even and especially when she doesn't ask. Even when it is hard and seems like I am swimming up stream! This is where healing happens!
From one parent to another...I challenge you to realize the grief your child carries with them. It is at their core; they have suffered the ultimate loss - the loss of that most important first attachment figure. It is not always grief about the physical person, but it IS many times about the loss of feeling worthy, special or good enough. Meet them there and you will have great impact on healing their hear and all of their future relationships!
I was thinking...
This morning as I was standing in front of my TV waiting for my workout video to start, my eyes barely open, my heart NOT in it. I thought to myself I really don't want to do this. This is taking everything I've got! Even though I haven't been doing as well on the eating end of things as I would like I told myself at least I was moving...I began to think about REGULATION!
Moving has not been something I have ever been good at much less liked. When I was in the densest fog, due to living with my attachment disorderd daughter, it was the last thing I had the wherewithal to do. I feel like my emotional strength was used to help her heal or just to survive - whatever you want to call it! However, 13 years later as I find my own healing, I realize it is time to do things differently. So, I have made a commitment to myself to become a healthier person. BUT it is still not easy, and more days than I like to admit, takes every bit of regulation I have.
As I began my work out, my thoughts about regulation turned to my daughter and the destructive choices she makes over and over again. Sabotaging her own happiness time after time. Creating issues that are painful and frustrating for all of us! My daughter has a kind and loving heart, she is extremely intelligent, she is physically beautiful but she has suffered MUCH! Her ability to regulate has been very compromised! She is about immediate gratification at any cost, she gets caught up in or creates drama at every turn, she is about making sure everyone else likes her even at her own expense. She does not have much regulation at all!
Today I am reminded that I have regulation because I come from a loving, stable, healthy place. I have never suffered the ultimate loss of my primary attachment figure. I have had my Safety Net strong and intact all of my life and it is still HARD to muster up regulation sometimes...even when it is good for me. I am reminded that forgiveness and HOPE are key when being an Intentional Parent. I am reminded that once again deficit is what is at play, not defiance. I am reminded that I have pledged to be her Mom NO MATTER WHAT and for as long as it takes!
So, I start my day fresh today; my own regulation in place, forgiveness for myself and those whose choices have hurt me and renewed hope in my heart for my daughter. Bring it on world I am ready!
Remember...you are NOT alone!
Just can't say enough about the power of STARTING OVER!
Choosing to start over, start fresh, begin again...whatever you want to call it, is huge! It allows room for so much healing.
Starting over really teaches the importance of forgiveness the understanding that no one is perfect. Our children have a hard time believing they are good enough to be loved even though they mess up - they don't know the concept of forgiveness. It also allows us to forgive ourselves when we are upset about the choices we made in regards to our children, our spouse, our friends. We can parent better if we can allow ourselves a clean slate.
The choice to start over is an essential building block of self-esteem for our children. It says you are more important than your behavior, you are so important to me we are going to start fresh. It says I know you can do this!
The choice to start over is a gift of hope to our children. Starting over fresh is a chance to really connect. It is our assurance to them that we believe they can do it no matter what. It is what fuels them to keep trusting, to keep risking their heart and to really know - in their core - that they are worthy of good things! That they are worthy of a family, of never ending love, of joy, of a future full of potential and so much more.
So, when everything seems to be falling apart, when you have been hurt by ugly behavior or ugly words, when you've done or said something you are not proud of, when it seems like nothing is working...choose to start over. Let go of the hurt, the ugly, the shame, the fear that it will never change. Forgive. Start fresh. Choose to do this every day, every hour and sometimes every minute, for as long as it takes. There is great power in choosing to start over!
Remember...you are NOT alone!
I was thinking...
PERCEPTION is everything! As I look back over the last 13 years I see that I kept running into situations where if my perception of the moment or the person or myself had been different, the outcome would have been VERY different! I would have been happier, my life would have been more peaceful, my children would have felt understood and hopeful.
Understanding that the key to positively surviving this journey is in our ability to perceive what is REALLY the truth in the moment is so important! So many times we experience life through an out of date, unprepared, injured filter. One that is foggy and cracked. One that should be repaired especially as we embark on the journey of helping a hurt child heal.
Problem is, most of us don't know that our filter is flawed nor do we understand that those flaws are a large part of the hurdles we face everyday. It is so important to identify our own "stuff" and then be able to move it out of the way so that we can meet our children right where they are. Once we change out our lens for a clearer one we can embrace an attitude of openness which allows us to gain the knowledge we need to do "it" differently and use a parenting approach that is much more intentional then we have in the past.
We begin to become keenly aware that our perception of every moment has to be based in all that we know about our child...his past experiences, the impacts of trauma he suffers, his beliefs about himself and others, his grief and losses, his WHOLE self! We can better perceive what his behaviors are about, what his words are really saying, and how he really feels about us. We can be his parent. We can love him the way HE needs to be loved.
Relationships are a two-way street - even parent child relationships. Our children need us to figure out how to understand them. The only way we can do that is to open ourselves up to change. Our perspective about how things should be or how our child should be at any given moment needs to meet his abilities at any given moment. Take a look at your filter...does it allow you to see your WHOLE child?
Remember...you are NOT alone!