I was away speaking at Joy for the Journey this weekend which is always a risk when 2/3 of your children are attachment challenged. (Amazing retreat by the way). I joined the family at church Sunday morning partially so Sunday would be “normal.” It would give me a chance to reconnect with the kids before jumping into our maniacal Monday.
Sunday afternoon, our most obviously hypervigilant child started pretending she was giong to get to try out another family for a year beginning after Christmas. She swore me to secrecy that it was all a farse.
Of course, some of the kids figured it out, but still kept playing along like they believed she was really leaving. Oh the irony.
It soon became obvious that it was all a test to see if she would be missed. Surprisingly, she actually verbalized this to me. Writing on the wall: I’m feeling insecure. The fact that she could verbalize the reason for the game is evidence of how far she’s come in being able to identify her feelings.
Monday went all right but she went to bed dysregulated, feeling singled out, and extra needy. Writing on the wall: I’m still feeling insecure. My grasp on reality is slipping away.
Tuesday (Trauma Tuesday as we not so affectionately call it) started off rocky. I was able to gain some reconnection time but she was edgy all day. We kept reconnecting but then I would lose her again and again. It didn’t help that I was knee deep in a power struggle with one of the other kids. Writing on the wall: Others’ relationship struggles make me really insecure in my relationships. It’s ramping up my hypervigilance as I feel more and more scared.
During the late afternoon, we had a conversation about whether or not birthmom was alive. Writing on the wall: I’m reverting back to using fantasy to cope with a reality that is too scary to process.
“If my birthmom was still alive, would you let me go live with her?”
“Sure.” BAM! WRONG ANSWER!
“I knew you hated me and didn’t want me to live here.” Writing on the wall: I’m testing you for security, and you just failed. Now you’ve gone and done it.
Tae Kwon Do went off without a hitch until the ride home. To the innocent bystander it was just a conversation about PJ and Mia’s younger childhood. To the hypervigilant, insecure, traumatized child, it was a stark reminder that she has no recollection of her younger childhood or any proof it even happened or anyone cares. Writing on the wall: Further proof I don’t matter to anyone…including you.
When we got home, she was suprisingly connected…clinging to a thread. Then there was that proverbial straw–a fun game gone wrong. Hasty, harsh words of correction from us resulted in mouthy disrespect from her. All attempts at reconnection failed.
After bed time prayers, we asked her to stay. Then the damn broke loose. Anger. Guteral, deep grieving. These meltdowns always blindside me, but the writing was there. I should have seen this episode coming a mile away.
“I miss you, W!” over and over and over again.
Until that moment, I was focused on fixing how she reacted to the game situation. But I looked back and noticed all the writing on the wall.
This was not about the felt injustice with how we corrected about the silly game and the resulting tiff with little sister. This was days worth of grieving and processing finally breaking loose.
You see it’s so easy to get bogged down in poor behaviors and miss what the writing on the wall is trying to tell us about what’s really going on with our kids.
What are you kids trying to tell you?