Thursday, December 30, 2010

Where has December gone? An (almost) photo-essay.

It's probably a good thing that I haven't written since the beginning of the month since it usually means we are well and just busy leading our lives. This month has flown by! We have had many ups and some downs but I want to focus on the good stuff. Some of the things that have kept us busy...

Dance classes...





Making Christmas presents...


 Arts and crafts...





Putting up outside decorations....


Visit with Santa...

Christmas Texas-style....

Santa's "Ranch"





Choosing a Christmas tree... we had a little difference of opinion...


Decorating the car...


Decorating the tree...


How many kids does it take to put the tree in place?




Reading lots of Christmas stories...


Getting the "perfect" Christmas picture for our holiday cards... (just went out today!!!!)

They looked like peeing reindeer in some of our best shots. Given the relevance of pee to our special needs kids we toyed with writing something like "Hap-pee Holidays" on our cards but thought our family and friends just wouldn't understand...



Cleaning the house for grandma's visit...


Made Christmas fudge...




Celebrating adoption anniversaries....and getting some family jewelry...




Each of us now sports one of these.



Leaving treats for Santa...
Cookies, Fudge, Chips, Guacamole, Milk and Beer...
Christmas morning.

We do lots of shared gifts and family gifts.


The big hit was baby blankets from their grandma in PA. She made one for the youngest when she was born and that has been a big favorite. We mentioned to her during our summer vacation that our three oldest kids didn't have something like that and she took the idea and ran with it. They are among their most treasured items and all three insist on sleeping with them every night!



Comment of the day from one of our geekier children... "If we had one more kid with a name that started with a "P" then we could spell "PARTY" but instead we are a "TRAY."


Then right after Christmas someone had a birthday...



 We plan on quietly ringing in the new year...

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Don't let me forget...

This stage of Corazon's healing is awesome and inspiring but also painful and frustrating and aggravating. I want to shout "HEAL ALREADY!!!!" as though somehow she can just snap out of it. Of course that is far from the truth and while my head knows that my heart has more trouble accepting it. She is full of anxiety and fear just as any of us might be standing at the edge of a cliff ready to leap head-first into an unknown abyss. It matters not that it is the only place she has left to go. A part of her isn't sure she can survive and the unknown is immobilizing. So what we get is a recurrence of so many of the old behaviors. She is sneaking food, even taking it from the trash, just because it is there. She even admitted to grossing herself out this last time she took food from the trash. She is sneaking and lying a little more. She has forgotten how to do things like wash her face, load the dishwasher, hang up clothes. She is following me around EVERYWHERE to the point where I have stepped on her when I made a sudden turn. She has the most ridiculous questions she needs to ask me the moment I am speaking to another child, the neighbor, C. or on the phone. She interrupts constantly for no reason at all. She runs to me from the other side of the house to tell me my phone is ringing ...when it is right next to me. All of these are manifestations of her anxiety and fear. I am choosing to see them as signs of healing BUT they. are. driving. me. nuts.

I haven't quite figured out how to support her through this and I have to work really hard to check my attitude with feeling stalked by her. One good thing about this breakthrough is that we can talk about it a bit more than before. I can name the behavior and even ask her to label a brick with it. It gives us something "concrete" to do about all this. I also found some Reiki music entitled "Chakra Chants" and put it on her mp3 player. She loves it and listens to the first track often. It seems to ground her quite a bit and along with tapping I am seeing her be able to regroup a bit more readily than at other times.  I can only imagine the inner struggle that she is experiencing on a subconscious and semi-conscious level but it is so darn frustrating to not be able to help her.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Healing reminders

It is incredible that Corazon was able to write that entry into her journal. Our conversation was raw, real and painful. I can see she is on the edge of a major breakthrough and she is scared. Scared to take the next step but also scared NOT to. Her articulation of this wall was amazing partly because it isn't language I have used with her. She has a visual now for her RAD and how she can change it. She WANTS to change it even though she is afraid.

I know she is attached to us, especially me, but healing takes a long time and constant work, effort, and vigilance. When I get complacent and forget that she is still healing, I set us both up. That conversation was intense. She was so articulate about her understanding of her experiences, her narrative, so to speak. There were gaps and pieces missing. For example, she has such ambivalence towards her mother because her aunt was the attachment figure and who she felt most abandoned by. She doesn't really have "conscious" feelings to tap into about her mother although I know they are and will be there as she grows. The raw pain comes from her sense of abandonment by her aunt. I believe she will feel some sense of abandonment from her mother as well as she grows and understands more about these feelings.

One thing that helped in our conversation was our ability to use her younger sister, Milagro, as an example. At one point I asked her to imaging Milagro being taken from us and told she had a new family of wonderful people to care for her. I asked her to imagine what Milagro might feel, think, and do. Corazon was quick to point out that Milagro would NEVER forget us and NEVER accept her new family and NEVER believe we wouldn't come get her. I asked her to imagine the pain, confusion, and anger that our not coming to get Milagro would create.I asked her how willing she would be to accept and believe her new family with those feelings.  Corazon argued that "Milagro is REALLY smart. She would find a way to get herself sent back to us and she would wait as long as it took. She would NEVER let them be her family because we are her family." As she processed how this connected to her own feelings and experiences, Corazon "got it." She got the reasons why she had closed herself off and protected herself from the hurt.  Corazon broke down and cried and cried and cried. As she cried for Milagro she cried for herself. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.

We have started labelling the "bricks" of her wall so that she visualize and make tangible that which she is ready to break down and give up and that which she isn't. She is working on a drawing of a brick wall with all the labels. We have things like "lying," "sneaking," "not trusting mom" and "doing things wrong on purpose" on her wall. She keeps adding things big and small to it and it seems to be empowering her. It also gives her a goal so when I tell her we are "practicing" something she understands a little bit of how it connects to her wall. 

I don't know if this will work or not but right now it seems to be where we need to go. I am so proud of her and how hard she is working on this. I am also proud of her because she seems to understand that this is a "we" issue now. I can say "we" are working on such and such and she smiles. For so long the work has been labelled as "you" need to work on (even though of course we were all working on it in different ways and sometimes different "camps.")

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