I’m stuck in the negative a lot of the time.
Like, a lot of the time.
… Okay. Most of the time… or at least it seems that way.
In any case, I find myself stuck in the yuck more often than I’m comfortable with. The onslaught of trauma-related behavior is a lot to handle day in, day out. It’s so, so easy to lose sight of the good things in my life with so many negative things floating around in my line-of-sight, but that’s no way to live. And I know that because living immersed in negativity can only lead to something unpleasant at best and devastating at worst:
But knowing this, I find it damn-near impossible to drag myself out of the Swamp of Sadness when I can’t see past the negative behaviors of my kids with trauma histories. I literally have to leave the house for a few days (or, sometimes, a few weeks) to get back into a healthier mindset.
Oldest and I just so happen to be on a trip without Middle and Little at the moment. We’ve been traveling home from visiting my friends and family in the KC Metro area, and having that little break has allowed me to reflect on everything my family has been through in the last three years without having to deal with any trauma behaviors while doing so.
And, yeah… We’ve been through a LOT of crappy things and I’ve thought a LOT about those crappy things on this trip.
But we’ve also made huge progress. And there really are positives to be celebrated. And that is what I should be spending the majority of my time focusing on while I have this little break.
So I think it’s time that I publicly brag on my kiddos here on this ol’ blog o’ mine. Because for all their challenges, my kids do the best they can and they deserve acknowledgment for their progress, damn it!
Before I launch into this tirade of pride, though, I want to acknowledge that I know many of you reading this are having trouble finding joy in your life. I know that many of you wake up and just wish that you had something to brag about. I know many of you are trapped in the yuck.
And that’s okay. Hell… I get stuck in the yuck all the time.
In fact, I was there just a few days ago. Eight days ago, to be exact. If you’d told me last Wednesday that I’d be smiling as I thought of my kiddos, I would have laughed in your face because that day – the day I told Little I couldn’t help him anymore – I couldn’t find anything good about anything.
Some time away from the trauma behavior has helped me gain some perspective. I urge you, fellow trauma parents, to take some time away if you can manage it, to give yourself that much-needed perspective.
Some of you won’t be able to manage taking the amount of time away necessary to get such perspective. And, even worse, some of you truly are in situations so dire that there really may not be anything positive you can focus on at the moment. I know. I know because I’ve been there, too.
We’ve been very lucky in that some healing has actually happened for us – and I know that we are lucky to be in this position today.
So, if you can’t be positive, I understand one hundred percent, and there’s no judgment from me… because, as I said, I’ve been there and I know there will be A LOT of negative days… weeks… months… ahead of me in my own life.
But, if you can find something positive to reflect on, please do it. It’s good for your soul and it’s good for your kids. I’d love to read your comments on this topic. Whether you want to share your joys and wins, your still–kinda-crappy-but-better-than-things-used-to-bes or your screw-this-nonsense-everything-sucks-and-always–wills, I’d love to read your thoughts, my friends.
And now, on with the brag-fest!
Since starting medication, Little has stopped having daily meltdowns. He now goes a few days at a time without losing his little mind. In fact, he went over twenty days without a meltdown in the month of June. This is huge. This is amazing progress. And it has allowed for real attachment work between him and others – myself included!
The medication has also helped him slow down enough to make HUGE progress in his reading. He has enough patience to sound words out and enough confidence to try more than once after making a pronunciation mistake. Again, this is major progress!
Little has been able to vocalize negative feelings (his usual habit has been to feign happiness until he’s almost manic… which of course leads to epic nuclear meltdowns every time). We’ve had some tough conversations on subjects no six-year-old kid should have to have, and I am beyond proud of him for being brave enough to share his feelings with me.
During our family trip, Little actually showed a little wariness around unfamiliar adults! In fact, he asked me if it was okay to talk to an adult who tried to engage in conversation with him before he responded! WOW!!!
He’s getting better about listening to his body and sleeping/toileting/eating when he feels those natural urges. He’s actually sleeping sometimes, you guys!
He’s been attempting to engage with Middle in healthy play, which is something he never even tried in the past.
I’ve been seeing him stop and think before engaging in his previously “typical” meltdown behavior… And I’ve been seeing him actively decide against losing it and take steps (deep breaths, yoga, etc.) to avoid losing his little mind.
And Little hasn’t hurt my cat in months.
When Middle and Little came to live with us, neither of them knew their ABC songs and they had trouble counting. Middle had to repeat kindergarten because of “the game.” But we moved to a less demanding school, and the kid has flourished into this amazingly smart, inquisitive, clever little kid who not only passed kindergarten but was placed into the “elementary learning collaborative” (a more academically-focused program in her school) and, after scoring really high on some state test or another, is going to be tested for gifted and talented this year.
Middle only very rarely has meltdowns these days. She used to have violent, hours-long meltdowns every day… Just like Little (thankfully they seemed to alternate days for me during those incredibly stressful and emotional times. Thanks, kids!). And she wouldn’t let me get away from her when she was so dysregulated… I remember one night she was hysterical and I had to get out of the house before I lost it, and she grabbed my hair and screamed, “Don’t leave me!!!” It was intense and usually involved a homework struggle. Since we’ve decided to enforce a “homework is optional policy,” she actually volunteers to do her homework most of the time and does it well! She still gets “RAD Pokey” on most days, but no longer flails into “epic meltdown” territory when Husband and I try to get her back on track.
Middle no longer struggles to make friends at school.
Middle is funny. She is one of the funniest kids I’ve ever met.
Middle’s artistic abilities floor me. She’s especially talented at drawing and making wolves:
Middle has been trying her hardest to accept our help when her brain “gets wonky.” Even though we’re still working on it, she’s doing great.
Middle has also been able to express negative feelings out loud. This is huge, as she was also more likely to put on a fake happy face until reaching near-mania and then crashing.
She’s been able to recognize the signs that she’s dysregulated more and more lately. And, she has actually been proactively removing herself from situations that make her feel “wonky.” I’m so proud of her for taking this responsible step! It’s hard to step away from “fun that isn’t so fun” when you’re only seven years old, and she’s been willing to do that to keep herself from getting into trouble.
Middle is the greatest little nurse if someone in the house feels sick or achy. And she gives great back rubs!
As I’ve said before, my Oldest hasn’t always been an “easy kid.” She has 9p Deletion Syndrome and in her early life she had a lot of major physical and behavioral issues. Doctors told me she would never walk and talk.
Oldest not only walks, she talks (sometimes incessantly!), she sings, she participates in plays, she reads, she writes, she even computes some math equations. She’s exceptionally literate on the computer and she often tests near grade-level in oral tests in social studies and science classes. She tells jokes and plays tricks and has even attempted to cheat on a test (which sounds awful, until you realize that doctors never would have imagined her developing the cognitive capacity necessary for such a maneuver).
She’s fashionable and has incredibly high self-esteem. At age 10, the age most girls are starting to develop insecurities over their bodies and personalities, Oldest answers the question, “What would you change about yourself if you could?” with an amazingly confident, “Nothing. I like myself the way I am!”
She’s empathetic and caring and has handled the arrival of trauma behaviors in our home with optimism, kindness and hope.
She has braces – which I worried over needlessly before they were applied to her teeth. I worried she’d try to break her braces or pull her brackets off. I figured we’d be getting the braces removed shortly after applying them, because my kid can’t even stand to have a band-aid or lip gloss stuck to her skin. But she has taken her orthodontic work very seriously – she never fought us on using head gear, and she refuses gum and popcorn every time it’s offered to her even though the kid loves popcorn.
After a year or so, she learned how to properly pet my cat and she’s done a great job being kind to him and taking care of him when asked to do so.
Oldest is an absolute JOY on road trips. Seriously. We laughed ourselves silly several times as we drove halfway across the country earlier this month. And she was a big helper when I asked for it.
Oldest has been trying to establish her independence and has been seeking more responsibility and privileges. We are working hard on this. Progress may be slower than we’d like, but it’s progress and that’s freaking fantastic!
And my god, she is the friendliest kid on the planet. When we lived in Hawaii, the teachers nicknamed her “Miss Aloha” because of her friendly, inclusive demeanor and her tendency to say a kind hello to anyone who walked past.
I love these little minions of mine. And for all their challenges and struggles and genetic issues and mental health disorders, I wouldn’t trade my kids for all the money in the world.