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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

An Udate to Grief Too Big

This post written back in October, is one of the most read on the blog.  I wrote it after an incredibly hard night for Simon. 

The first time I sat down with the therapy team to learn the results of his trauma assessment I cried.  He scored in the 90th percentile for anxiety.  That meant if he was in a room of 100 kids, he was more worried than at least 90 of them. He was diagnosed with PTSD.  We were waiting to rule out an attachment disorder. It all sounded so hopeless.

He was fidgety. He had no idea how to ask for help with anything. His voice was barely audible. He cried a lot. Even if you hadn't said anything.  The rest of the time he had a fake smile plastered on his face. He couldn't tolerate a hug, it was visibly uncomfortable for him. He felt he was better than his sisters because he had a Bio Dad and they didn't.

If I'm being really honest, as I look back, I had a tough time coping.  I had no idea what to do with a kid I couldn't hug or soothe.  I had a hard time feeling connected to Simon. I felt like I was failing him.  I felt like I wasn't ever going to feel like he was mine.  As the walls came down, I could see he desperately wanted to be connected to me, just as I wanted to be connected to him.

So I made an effort to praise him.  Encourage him. Notice him. Tell him I needed him and that I missed him. I stood up for him when his sisters were talking over and for him.  (With 3 sisters its easy to lose your voice.) We bonded over his love of anything I put on a plate for him. In return, he thanks me every night for cooking. I proudly displayed his artwork. He got into giving us head rubs and back rubs as a way to care for us and control safe touch.

Paper flowers Simon made me. Proudly displayed in an antique vase my Grandmother gifted me.

We've noticed he has made a lot of progress over the past year.  He can articulate his feelings and does so unprompted. Yesterday he waited a little while after Smiley got in trouble to come to me and ask:
"Mom, are you still mad? Because if you aren't, I was going to ask if you needed a hug."
Not only did he want to comfort me, he realized that I need some space when I'm upset.

Today he burst through the door when I picked him up from daycare:
"Mom you are going to be so happy! I have great news! Dad got picked to be my chaperone for my field trip!"
 Perhaps the biggest example of the connectedness is how he was feeling about visits with his Mom. Or rather, the lack of visits as the missed visit this past week will mean no visit until next month (8 weeks).  As his sisters cried their eyes out, he sat next to me just listening.  I mentioned to him that he seemed ok with the news that there wouldn't be a make-up visit.
"Sometimes I like staying home and spending extra time with you and Dad."
In my head I said,  "Aww, you are totally my favorite child today! Could you explain it to your sisters?"

I actually said, "And you can absolutely feel that way!"

Attachment will slide back and forth. I totally understand that.  We will go back to testing our attachment and commitment.  But this week this is where we are in our journey.  We are connected.  To each other. My creative, sweet, intelligent, messy little boy. I love you so!


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