The Crew - Miss Fabulous, Lil Bro, Big Sis and Mr. Man

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What was my first name?

I had mentioned last week that the Behavior Therapist that works with Miss and Mr. had wanted to revisit what I knew about Miss’ past and trauma history. I shared again what I know of the environment that she came from and that no specific details were ever shared regarding trauma that happened specifically to Miss. Other than the obvious things that she was malnourished, separated from her birthmother and family during the second year of life, and then her telling behaviors themselves. The story that can be pieced together isn’t a good one for sure and her Psychiatrist, Psychologist and Attachment Therapist all agree that her behaviors indicate that the trauma was significant.

It is interesting how things fall into place. Honestly the therapist bringing this all up made me feel ill and kind of anxious. There is that Mommy part of me that just wants her to suddenly be a okay one day and have miraculously moved past it all. I don’t want her to have to deal with the past and I’d love to think she doesn’t remember it. But I know that isn’t reality. At the very least she has emotional memory of what happened.

She was not aware of that conversation; she was not in the house. This week on the ride home from school she asked her grandma, “What was my first name?” Nan was caught off guard and didn’t really know what to say to that kind of question. She asked what she meant and Miss said, “My first name, from before, what was it?” Nan told her that her name was M and left it at that. The fact is we did not change her birth name only how it is spelled so her name has always been M.

That night she had a bad dream. I know that I heard her crying the way she does when she is scared or hurt. I went into her room and she appeared sound asleep and wasn’t crying but she was all sweaty and she just didn’t look okay so I tried to wake her. She actually was really deep in sleep and would not wake up but she hit me and was in fight mode. I tried again to wake her and when I couldn’t I thought it best to just let her sleep.

There had been some other behaviors showing up, the kind I don’t talk about here that were also clueing me in that something was up with her. The following night when I put her to bed she asked for some yogurt because it is just her thing and she always wants something else to eat and we work with it. Ya know. So when I came in with the yogurt she was half asleep and when I touched her arm she jumped like she always does, like she is going to come out of her skin. That triggered me to think about the bad dream the night before so I asked her. “You had a bad dream last night huh?” She looked at me with those ‘why do you about this’ eyes and said yes. I asked her what the bad dream was about and she said, “I don’t know” with those I am not going to talk about it eyes. So I said, “Oh okay.” And then I said, “Is this the I don’t know like you really don’t remember or the I don’t know when you really don’t want to talk about it?” Isn’t it funny how we learn to talk to our kids over years of practice? So she said, “The I don’t want to talk about it kind.”

So I asked some general specifics about the dream, all the while I am feeding her yogurt like a baby. I had my no big deal demeanor on. The bottom line was she does remember and so we will be moving forward through therapy to help her process things.

I assured her that nothing can ever make me stop loving her and that I will always keep her safe. She nodded yes. I gave her big hugs and cuddles and she went to sleep soon after. She slept well.

Parenthood is such an enormous job and I honestly never knew I would have to do this kind of parenting. That I would have to try to be the link between another human being able to escape their past or being consumed by it. That I would have to learn to love past all the mind numbing Chinese torture tactics, the pee, the poop, the puke, the line of sight for safety sake 24 stinking 7 all the while trying to be what I must be for my other children and my spouse.

I could not have imagined that so much damage could have been done to a person by the time they were 2-years-old.


GB's Mom said...

You are doing a great job! Damage can be done shortly after birth, They don't have words to remember, but it's called "body memory" and it keeps the emotion.

Molly said...

We studied trauma in my Toddler Development class. It is absolutely heartbreaking the impact trauma at a young age (a year or 16 months) can have. It's so hard because like GBs mom said, they don't really have the words at that point, so how do they express something they couldn't understand or label when they were little?

Tara - SanitySrchr said...

I hate that for M. Bad dreams are extremely hard. Praying.

Jeri said...

Miss M is so blessed to have a mom that not only gets it, but knows how to handle "it" when "it" rears it's ugly head. Hang in spoonful at a time.

Diana said...

PTSD stinks. RAD stinks. The fact that someone hurt our kids so deeply when they were so very little REALLY stinks!!

Everyone told us when we adopted our kids that our little one would be just fine, he'd never remember, yada yada yada. HA! Were they ever off base! Good thing I never believed them because my youngest is by far my most RADalicious. I knew before I ever brought him home it was going to be that way.

J. said...

we talked about that yesterday with Calvin in therapy. I think sometimes not knowing the details is easier. I know the outline, we can work through it but if I knew the actual deatils when I ran into bio mom ( which I some day will) I would probaly deck her. Not a good plan I think.
M is lucky to have Mama who gets it.

Lisa said...

Those body memories, I think, are sometimes the hardest to calm and help them understand.

You are doing a great job.

MomInTheTrench said...

Good post. Just think, if we had known the kind of parent we'd be required to be, we might have missed out.

The LaBelle Family said...

I SOOO hear that! Kudos, once again, to you, my shero!