I Was Thinking…
Our oldest daughter moved out in early August. This is our daughter who struggles the most with deficits from her past. She is an incredibly intelligent young lady who really struggles with relationships and regulation. She of course would not agree, but it is clear to the rest of the world. She was very adamant about going so, as I have written about before, we set her up a little bubble of a world in an attempt to help her succeed.
Well, she has done okay. She’s not been well regulated when it has come to money, asking for help, keeping in contact with family, sleeping and eating right, and a few other areas. On a positive note she has done a good job of holding down a pretty labor-intensive job, even though she is really tired of it. However, her dis-regulation has begun to spin out of control even more lately and we were getting a little worried about what our next move would be.
Then it hit me. She has lost the connection. Her foundation. She is in survival! So, I planted a seed about her coming home to visit on her next day off. Not exactly my first desire...our home has been very peaceful since she left, but it was the right thing to do. She lives in a town about 45 miles away, which happens to be where my husband is presently working. It would be easy; she could ride with him both ways. She said she would love to and seemed genuinely excited. Well then she hit the wall…she spent more money than she had and got “denied” again. Shame took control. She texted and said how stupid she was and that she couldn’t come because she had to stay there and deal with her problems. And so on and so on...major drama!
I just calmly reminded her that we could help her fix her problems. I asked why she would punish herself this way. I told her I knew it was hard to admit she made the same dumb choices again, but that all in all we were in this NO MATTER WHAT. There was a bit more discussion and finally she decided to come home after all. I sunk a lot of energy into supporting her to make this decision because I knew if she did not come home the spiral was going to get totally out of control!
Well, long story short - she came home. It was awkward at first because she expected the world to stop and be about her…typical RAD viewpoint. But we got past that. I spent a few 30 or 40 minute chunks of time just with her. I listened to half-truths, exaggerations and complaints, but didn’t call them out too much – NEUTRAL was the name of the game. If I did, it was with humor or overly mushy concern. This is how best to get this child’s attention. I took her shopping and bought her vitamins and fruit and some of her favorite foods for groceries. She was happy as a lark!
She left early the next morning filled up, reconnected and ready to deal with reality again. It’s amazing the difference getting plugged back in can make. It is not always easy from my end…time with her is often like being on a rollercoaster after having eaten a lot of junk food. Not very fun! But when she is plugged into us she is less likely to spin totally out of control. Her gauge is more affected by our morals and values. She can ask us for help more easily. The roller coaster ride is a little less dramatic. She called that night and texted the next day. Just keeping me in the loop. Sounding happy.
It works…this intentional parenting stuff! It doesn’t make it all go away, but it makes it doable. And most importantly it gives a child who has lost so much in her life a place she can go that helps her feel safe enough to sleep like a log (her words not mine), people that do see past the façade she uses to protect herself into her true heart, and enough hope to fill her bucket time and time again!
This certainly is NOT an easy job. And it absolutely won’t be over anytime soon. But for right now this is working…meeting our 18.5 year old where she is at and keeping our connection strong!