Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Yes Lord, I'd like to cash my weekend of fun in for a fix it token with my girl. Could ya hook a sister up?

Last June or July we booked a trip to Key West with J's brother & wife and his sister & husband. At the time, I figured that all would be well with Eme Grace by the time this trip rolled around. We have spent the past 9 months working very heavy on a healthy attachment. Our #1 goal was here emotional healing. I was nervous up till the last second, but can honestly say that I really felt good about the quick trip away. She was in very good hands and her brothers were there as well as all her favorite dogs. Boy was I wrong.

We received very positive updates several times a day and things seemed to be going well for her. She was eating, sleeping and playing. All things normal for a fun loving girl her age.

We got home late and because I missed her so much I had to pick her up out of bed to snuggle her. She wanted nothing to do with me. Nothing. She went to Daddy for his comfort and made every attempt to push me away. I climbed into bed with her and we fell fast asleep. My hope was that morning would bring a new level of comfort. Not so much.

She wasn't angry, just indifferent. I saw through her act and knew that her heart was in a million pieces and as soon as we got home, she would need to be repouched...back to square 1.

The moment we got out of the car and I put her down she flipped her shit. No good way to put it, she had a colossal meltdown to the highest degree. I picked her up and carried her to the sofa where she could kick, scream and let it out without hurting herself on anything. She wasn't alone, I was right there with her, telling her to let it out. I understood in that moment that we are a long way from where we need to be. I let my girl down in a major way. This Mommy screwed up. I underestimated the pain, the loss, the memory, the anxiety, the fear. My weekend of fun came at her expense. She's a hot mess.

As quick as Daddy could unpack the ergo, she was back in it. Her meltdown in the ergo continued for another hour. & for the first time ever, she wanted as far from me as she could get. She kicked, she screamed, she slapped, she raged, she cried...hard. I cried right along side of her and continued my "it's okay, Mommy is strong enough for both of us...you just let it all out. This Mommy always comes back. This Mommy loves you to the ends of the earth and back and I will always come back. I love you, I love you, I love you"....& so goes the story.

She crashed and burned out of complete exhaustion. We laid together and napped, with her on my chest still in the ergo. She didn't sleep well, she whimpered throughout the rest. & for the first time in a very long time, it was my comfort that she rejected.

Her main attachment is to me, I broke her heart. It was me who brought out the animalistic behavior of pain and anger all rolled up in a tightly wound ball of flight or fight fury. The moaning cries came from a place deep within her full of fear, for over an hour.

I was counting on her waking up fighting mad that she was still in the ergo, but nope, that wasn't the case. She woke up in what would seem to be a perfectly lovely mood. I hand fed her little bites of spinach dip on bread and she happily accepted this and then she proceeded to charm the pants off of Daddy & I. She worked it, like a pro. & it was in this moment that I realized we still live with fake. Fake smiles, fake laughter, fake kisses, fake. We saw a lot of fake in China and fake continued to live with us for the next 2-3 months. It wasn't till a good 5-months into our relationship that fake disappeared. We haven't seen fake for about 4 months, till today.

I thank Alison for texting me off the ledge and being one of the few that knows exactly what I'm seeing is real. It's behavior that was saved up just for Mommy. Her anxiety peeked and knowing what little I know about her stress levels, I do believe she was out of whack and I believe some of her behavior was completely out of her control. This isn't something that we are using to teach her that Mommy always comes back, this is something that we are learning from.

Alison said something to me that stuck with me all day and that was that it was better for her to act like this than indifferent. It has stuck with me because I'm not sure I would have recognized the signs had she not. Her daily report was wonderful and normal and had she not melted down to this level of degree, I might have assumed that all was well and continue on with life as normal. & that would have been the biggest mistake ever and would have probably come back to haunt me 3 years later and put us in a whole different predicament. We all know what assuming means right?!?! ASS/U/ME My advice to anyone out there reading this post on our pain is to NOT assume that all is well with your child because you haven't picked up on any signs that are not normal. I secretly hoped that the minute we entered our home, she would feel safe and comfortable and those warm fuzzy feelings would replace all her indifferent feelings. Had she just got over it once we got home, life probably would have moved on and my girl's heart would have cracked deeper into the sea of abyss.

So here we are, moving through the pain...together. Using the knowledge that we have to make better decisions in the future and reminding myself that love is not enough.
This Mommy gig isn't for wimps.


Sandra said...

I'm sorry you are going through this. I've been there (to an extent) with Tahlia. I know I don't need to tell you what to do; you are going to do whatever it takes. ((hugs))

3D said...

I am sorry that you were faced with this.

I live with the daily fear that I am doing it all wrong. That I am messing it up.

Question...you said "My advice to anyone out there reading this post on our pain is to NOT assume that all is well with your child because you haven't picked up on any signs that are not normal." Then how do I know?

I have read and read and almost fear that I have read too much.

Keep smilin!

t~ said...

D, I really believe it's best to assume that their little hearts are a hot mess and to parent it that way. You can't over do it. Eme doesn't have the language skills to talk to me about her thoughts and even if she did, I wouldn't expect her to have words for those feelings. It's when we get complacent and make the choice for them that all is well. Hope that makes more sense.

Randi said...

What you said in your last comment does make sense, but also makes me wonder how I ever know if I am doing the right thing. You are right in saying this mommy thing is not for wimps. I struggle every day with how I am parenting my daughter.

I really want to thank you for being so open about all that you have gone through with Eme. I have read your blog for a long while, as we have some mutual friends. I know that many people choose to go private once their kids come home and that is so understandable. But, there is so much that can be learned from sharing. Thanks for being real and letting others learn from you.

Anonymous said...

My oldset daughter was adopted when she was 2 and 1/2 my youngest when he was four. It's so hard to know that you "see" it while others might not. Emmie has been home 4 years this July and we still have some semi-meltdowns. She just turned 6 this year and has finally "relaxed". She knows as you say "this mommy always comes home" Little brother however will be home 1 year and we STILL are living in the "Land Of The Fake." You are doing a wonderful job...

Georgea's Mommy said...

Thanks for sharing your heart & your reality. This one brought me to tears. Sweet Emerson. Georgea seems to be revisiting some emotional pain right now. We're working hard to comfort her. It hurts. You guys are on my heart & in my prayers.


Joanne said...

Oh my heart was so heavy reading this post...I will keep you all in my prayers ~ Only in our adoption community can we really understand, listen and really "be there" for each other! I remember not going out for about the first year Mia was home ( I tried a few times, but it was too difficult for her) and just now she is realizing that mommy will always come back! Our poor girls have been through so much in their short lives ~ but we have a lifetime to try to make up for it ~ thinking of you!

Debra said...

Bless you all. My heart just breaks for Eme and you guys. Thank you for posting this. My eldest has been home for over 7 years and we still struggle. I wish I had been more proactive with her and her fears. You seem to be doing everything right and I admire you for that.

Shari U said...

That post was really hard to read. I'm sorry for Eme's pain and I know your heart is filled with pain, too. All I can say is "been there, done that". This brings back a lot of painful memories of our early days with Abby. I got some good help on APC, but I remember being so scared and wondering if my little girl would ever be "normal". Keep the girl close, let her work it out. You really are a super mom and I have no doubt you'll get Emerson through this. In the meantime, God bless you.

Ani said...

My heart breaks for your precious little girl. If only love were enough...
Thank you for your honesty, blessings to you all.

Linda and David said...

I am so glad you are sharing this, but so sorry you are having to go through it. I wonder EVERYDAY if I'm being the best Mommy I can be; I question every little thing I do & every little thing my daughter does. I wonder if she is progressing with attachment or if she is still just getting better at surviving/faking it!

I have only returned to work a couple days of month (and barely work an 8 hour shift!), and when I first started back (after being home from China 3-4 months), Micalee was everything from indifferent to visibly pissed at me (even hitting me!). I have to be honest; it's easier to handle the pissed than the indifferent! Some days are better than others, but it's still hard!

Thank you for continuing to share your stories. I have learned so much from you! I'll be praying for you & Eme & all of your family.

Magi said...

I'm very sorry you are all having to go through this. I do believe it's true that it's so much better that she melted down to let you know she was hurting. You may feel you've taken a step backwards, but you are doing what you need to keep going forward. This is not easy stuff, and you're going to make mistakes. Don't beat yourself up over this. You will all learn from this and continue moving forward.

dawn said...

It is all so hard. so very hard on them. Yesterday Rosie was mucking around in the morning and I told her to get going cos we had to take "big lily" to school. Long and the short of it...she kept mucking around and didn't get herself upstairs and did not get herself ready (I get her ready but she has to come upstairs) I told her a kazillion times if she wasn't ready she would have to stay with Daddy and I would go and would be right back. School is one mile away. I left her with Daddy, not a first and she loves Daddy. I came home to a raging melted mess who collapsed on the floor when she saw me.
THe other day however she let me go on an errand very happily without her......you just never know when it will strike. Sometimes I feel like a boxer who is always going that funny jumping stance with my arms a the ready to strike. But I am good with it and I will keep striking for her and for us.
Hang in there.

JoAnn in NJ said...

so sorry to hear this T, but you are strong enough to get through this.

this is why over and over again I tell people (esp MIL) that I do not leave my child unless I am have to go to work.

Adopting a child is not for the faint of heart, and we seem to have none of the issues you and Allison do. Luckily Kelsey's adapted okay to me working, but if I see she exhibits behavior that says differently, then I will change my job status.

Good luck, I will keep you in my thoughts!

Colleen said...

Not for whimps... not for the weak. I am so sorry that this is happening. SO sorry. I get the "fake". I have one in my house - and its been terrifying lately her actions. (and I haven't gone anywhere...) I don't think you are back to square 1, but you sure have alot ahead of you...again. This.shit.is.hard.

And...if ya haven't BTDT...you won't get it, at least no one my way seems to. (even some that have BTDT).

a Tonggu Momma said...

I've been there. We went away for a short weekend after the Tongginator had been home with us for about 20 months. It was... okay... when we returned, but then the husband ended up in the hospital for three days. And the Tongginator fell apart, completely. We were back to square one all over again, but I actually think it was good in the long run. Because it forced the issue. And we got through it. And she could have remained indifferent for many, many more years if it hadn't happened. It's hard. And I'm sorry y'all are going through it.

CrombieClan said...

Knock, knock...back door friends are always best. Luv ya and thanks for sharing your journey...our journey...our daughters/sister for life.

A Beautiful Mess said...

Sorry T.....there is good news...you know what you have to do to help you daughter heal....even though we talk about it in the IA community there are lots of folks out there that would glaze over the meltdown.

Pouch her up...and the two of you together will help each other through this time.

Janet said...

Oh wow. This post really spoke to me, T. We had a LOT of "fake" going on, for a LONG time. You just can tell when their smile isn't real, when they're not REALLY laughing, you know?

We all took a family trip away and it completely knocked A off his equilibrium. He had been completely potty trained for two months and went right back to wetting the bed. Still does. Something just snapped in him.

So I know exactly what you mean when you feel guilty. I am so sorry. But PLEASE don't beat yourself up. We are just people too.

You WILL make it through this.Eme will make it through this. It sometimes takes a LONG time. You are doing great and you are recognizing things that other people might not. I really do think Eme's throwing this fit was a GOOD thing. She cares, T. She obviously does. The bond is there.

Lindsay said...

I'm sorry Eme is still feeling this pain, but it is a good sign that she let you see her hurt. Rages like you describe are really awful; it just plain hurts to see your child in that much pain. But she is at least expressing that pain to you and you are an awesome mom because you saw exactly what she needed from you, and you gave it. I know exactly what you mean about the fake-happy. And just how incredibly frustrating it is that others don't or won't understand what is real. She's hurting just now but she is also healing and learning that you are forever and you always come back. She will get there.

Laurie said...

Poor little Sweetie...hugs

Briana's Mom said...

This Mommy gig definitely isn't for wimps. We had an issue in our house this evening (that I just blogged about). Our girls have been through so much in their short lives. It just breaks my heart.

I'm glad that Eme was able to express her emotions to you. Now you know what you have to work on. I know you will help her heal her little heart. It will just take time.

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

Oh my heart breaks for you both...... I know this was rough on your sweet girl.....and pretty tough on you too. Being a Mommy is definitely not for whimps. It sounds like you have such a wonderful support system of those that have BTDT. I wish I had more advice to give you, but it sounds like you are already doing all the right things.



3 Peanuts said...

I am so so so sorry you are going through this T. I am sure the pain of seeing her pain is horrible. I am sure there is guilt event hough you could not have know this would happen. I am at a loss for words to help you. We all make stumbles and mistakes in this journey and hindsight is 20/20.

This scares me. Kate will be home 3 years on April 4th (6 weeks from now) and Dave and I have never been away for a night in 3 years. Our 15th wedding anniversary is in December (which will be a solid 3 years and 8 months that she will be home) and I am still afraid to go away on a short trip. We are trying to decide what to do...this makes me think.

Hugs to you...I know you will work past this in the best way.

~ Alison n' Mali~ said...

Happy to help =)

I still get fake after 4.5 years. Not as often now that I am able to recognize it, and I call her out on it every single time. Nothing can be ignored or brushed off. We stop (literally) 20 times each day to 'chat' about attitudes, actions, directions, feelings, etc. The general public assumes I'm insane. & they can stick it.

Emotionally, I think our girls may end up stronger than most in the long run - just b/c they've had to overcome SO many obstacles and fight SO hard (to trust, to attach, etc). They'll never take it for granted. & neither will I.

No wimps allowed.

Pug Mama said...

At least you are going through this with eyes wide open. You know what to look for, what you see, etc....
It is hard, but you are going to get through it, because you are informed and knowledgeable.
This is the BIGGEST reason why I have so much separation anxiety when it comes to Low.
Ain't for the weak - you are so right.