Last week we were getting changed after swimming and a sauna. Eldest asked Small about some scars she has. Small explained that when she can’t get her clothes on because they are hurting her, she instead scratches herself as hard as she can. Small said the pain from scratching till it bleeds stops her thinking about the sensory pain from putting clothes on.
Small asked Eldest about some of her scars. She was curious as Eldest doesn’t have the same problems with clothes that she does. So why would she have hurt herself? Eldest was confused for a while and looked me, not knowing what to say to her little sister. I wondered out loud if Eldest could think of other things she might want to distract herself from by hurting herself. Eldest thought then said yes maybe to stop herself thinking about difficult thoughts or when she feels anxious. She said she likes to use sharp things to scratch or cut herself.
And my girls stood comparing scars and chatting about when and how they did them, as though this was the most normal thing in the world to do when you are 8 and 10 year old little girls.
And I managed not to cry. But only just.
Silence means I am overwhelmed by so many thoughts that I don’t know where to start.
Silence means I fear you may not understand my words nor my meaning.
Silence means I am worried about rejection or accusation.
Silence means I have said it all before and still it goes on….and on….and on….
“He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.”
― Elbert Hubbard
It’s been so long since I’ve blogged that there may be nobody left to read this! I think it reflects how hard the last year has been for us at 3girlstogether. There came a point where I felt that nobody would want to continue reading me talking about lack of access to ASF, lack of support from SWs and other profs, and patchy support at school. I was even boring myself talking about the vicious circle we were trapped in.
Today I have decided I will try to think about how far we have come since my last post. For this post at least I will gloss over everything else. So here is what has changed in the last 9 months:
- We have survived another year at school.
- We have accessed ASF for assessments by specialist providers and have (nearly) got the finalised reports and costings for therapeutic input and further assessments.
- I have tribunal dates for the LA’s refusal to assess for EHCPs for the girls.
- I have finally found a nanny/support worker who will enable me to work and also give me one to one time with the girls each week.
- Our local peer support group is going from strength to strength and now has over 60 members.
- The girls now have a paediatrician which means they can quickly access other specialist referrals.
- In term time I do something that I enjoy one morning a week
Actually when I look at that list I feel a little bit proud of what I have achieved in 9 months. Maybe I should blog more often!
I blogged about acceptance before, in fact you can read my blog here. That was 2 years ago now. And I think acceptance for me is changing.
Recently I had a break from social media for a few weeks to give myself time and space to think. I wanted to be sure that I am able to manage the girls long term. And I am. I know I am. My lovely GP has been helpful in talking through these issues and making me realise that I am doing a good job and I should stop putting pressure on myself or allowing others to do so.
Parenting Small can be draining. The older she gets the more pronounced her difficulties seem. She is clingy with an insatiable need to be near me or on me. Her sensory issues, inflexibility, need for control and obsessions all seem to be getting steadily worse. I am accepting that this is just the way she is, and it’s ok for me to find it a little claustrophobic sometimes. I know how to prioritise my girls’ needs and do what is best for them. But I need to do the same for myself too.
But perhaps the biggest part of acceptance for me has to be learning to accept the status quo with my eldest. Many kind adopters have messaged me saying that it is fear that stops Eldest from showing love to me, that it will come in time if I persist with therapeutic parenting, that parenting children with trauma is a long game and if I keep it up eventually there will be a breakthrough. All those things are true for many adopters and many children. All those messages are sent with love, care and a desire to give me hope.
But what if it isn’t true for my family? What if Eldest does not have the ability to develop love or empathy for anyone? What if, in her eyes, people are like are objects or possessions, and she just isn’t able to develop beyond that? And what if she is unable to modify her negative behaviours in any significant way? Then all I am doing is putting pressure on her with my expectations. And pressure on myself too. I believe that is the case for us. There are a few who know us well who think I may be right.
I am still parenting therapeutically. I know we can have happy times, and I can make positive memories for us as a family. But I am no longer waiting for that elusive magical breakthrough with Eldest. I am trying to accept her limitations and love her for who she is and accepting that this is who she will always be.
I’m not there yet on this journey to acceptance but I’m getting there. I feel generally at peace and that can only be a good thing.
My mum is amazing. I aspire to be like her. I have always wanted to be as successful and respected as she is. As good and honest a person as she is. To be as good a mum to my children as she was and is to me and my siblings.
Since I have adopted my mum has blown me away with her capacity to understand and show empathy both for my girls and for me. She has read up on attachment and has an admirable understanding of the impact of the girls’ past. She has shamelessly button-holed professionals she comes across in her voluntary work to quiz them on the intricacies of developmental trauma. She has driven miles not only to attend meetings with me but also to make valuable contributions in those meetings.
I know I can ring my mum and talk things through with her. She never gets tired of me repeating the same fears and worries, never offers unsolicited advice, she backs me up when I need it. Especially as a single mum it is amazing to know I can offload on someone who won’t judge me. She constantly expresses her belief that I am a good mum to my girls. She never makes me feel like a failure.
I have a very strong memory from my childhood of sitting on my mum’s knee and being comforted by the feel of her hug and by her distinct smell. It was a feeling of safety and security; being enveloped in her love. There’s nothing quite like that memory for me. My mum still has the ability to do that for me now even at my age. Just thinking about her makes me feel better!
Everybody should have somebody like my mum in their lives but I am convinced that she is one in a hundred million. My mum is definitely my hero!
I fight hard for my eldest daughter. I battle with professionals to get her what she needs. I take her out on day trips with her younger sister and we all have fun and make good memories. I go up to her room at bedtime to chat to her about the good things from our day and then tell her I love her and kiss her goodnight.
I use PACE a lot. I’m pretty good at wondering with her about what is going on under the surface; what’s driving her behaviour. I plan activities, structure our home lives etc. I try to parent her in the very best way possible.
At the moment I’m doing an attachment parenting course. Last week the psychologist running the course asked me if I thought the emotional connection was there for me. It was asked in a supportive way. Not in any way to criticise. And I answered truthfully.
How does a parent remain emotionally engaged after 4 years of rejection?
I’m sure there are parents who do. I try. I try very hard. But I guess if I’m honest then the answer is probably no.
I’ve thought about this all week. I do know that the fact she isn’t able to love me still makes me cry. So there must be something there.
I hope and pray she doesn’t know how much I struggle with this. I’m guessing the professionals would say that she must know.
What does this make me? Human? A failure? Unworthy?
I don’t know