Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What Does it Look Like?

I want you all to know that I do count myself a blessed person.

I have more at my finger tips in terms of luxury than so many people of the world, I have a warm, safe home, a country that allows me freedom and comfort, I have a loving, honest husband, who truly would walk through fire for me, I have four beautiful children who I count as an amazing gift, and I have the knowledge and a testimony of my Savior and Redeemer, and a testimony of a loving Father in Heaven who knows me by name and truly cares for me.

So when I talk about what is hard in my life, I am not trying to discount any of my precious blessings. In fact, with time, I undoubtably see these hard times as some of my most beautiful blessings and my greatest opportunities to grow in this life.

As I sat talking with E's therapist today, we talked about my ability to deal with some of the extreme emotions and stress both E and L feel on a daily basis.

This made me think.  And the first thing I thought was, that this is hard. I can barely work through my own feelings every day, let alone be in tune with their extreme anxieties on a daily basis.

But then I remembered how far I have come in working with L and even E, and I was immediately grateful.

How does our Father in Heaven work with us?  Does He treat us selfishly?  Does He try to make us something we are not?


He meets us at our level and works from there.  He never has and never will make us do anything or be something we are not ready for.

This is what I am learning with my own children.

L's school taught me recently something that seems really simple in principle, but I will be honest, it is hard to do in reality.  It is that when I am working with L at home, I need to be in tune with her love comfort and not enforce my own love comfort on her.  When working with a child who has attachment issues, especially the reactive kind, finding the ability to show her love on her level is harder than I ever imagined.

When I picture any of my children, I picture myself holding them tight, kissing their cheek, rocking their fears away, singing my favorite lullaby in their ears (which happens to be, "Baby Mine") and cuddling in our favorite lazy-boy chair.  I picture us talking of their dreams, their fears, their heartache, and triumphs.

However, L's idea of love looks like this:

This is where her comfort level stands with me.  Every time I would enter her space to just say hi, or to try and hug her, she would freeze up, get agitated and stressed.  This could set her off into rages or nights without sleep. I wasn't sure what to do, how could I show my daughter I love her without hurting her?

This is what L's school asked me to try...let L be in her room (her safe and favorite place to be), with her door open, while I sit all the way across in the living room, about 40 feet away.  

What?!  How would that work?  How could she feel anything from that distance?

Well, let me tell you, she did.

I went into her room and told her, "I will be over here on the couch, while you can stay in your room."  I then told her, "I want to spend time with you," and left it at that.

I walked over to the couch, sat down, and looked at her and what I saw was the most relaxed L I have ever seen with me.  She was actually smiling a sincere smile at me.  I could only spend about five minutes before I could feel her starting to go to anxiety, so I got up, smiled at her and shut her door. She calmed down immediately.

This is her level.

This is her working to feel love.

This is what Reactive Attachment Disorder looks like.

It is finding the right balance of love within her comfort zone.  It is letting her know that I still love her without causing her stress or anxiety.

It is hard.  

It goes against every mothering feeling that I have.  But this isn't about me, it is about her.

Helping my E and my L with their emotions takes so much out of me daily to stay calm, to stay in tune, and to stay with love.  It can literally drain me dry.

But I know that I am learning.  I am learning how to see even the most broken of children as my Heavenly Father sees her.  I am learning how to seek the Holy Spirit for guidance during every melt down or hateful word.  I am learning how to see past my own needs and put my children's needs first.

It is hard.  But it is also a blessing.

Lots of love,