A few weeks ago while you were in your equine therapy session, I watched a DVD that said this, “Aggression is not a behaviour problem, it’s an emotion problem.”. While I already knew this in theory, there was something about the way Dr. Neufeld described it that really sunk in for me. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, and so it was ironic when you crawled into my bed at 1am this morning and started to talk about that very thing. You explained that when you hit, bite or spit at me, it’s not really because you’re angry, but because you’re sad or scared. You told me that when you feel this way, hitting is how your body protects you from getting hurt. You talked about how you learned when you were little how to protect yourself, which was a remarkable statement because you were too young and don’t remember the actual events that caused you to need these skills. I explained to you that when you were a baby, your body got stuck in “fight mode” and now it doesn’t know how to calm down. The grown-up’s call this “hypervigilance” but at home, we call it being scared or worried. I hope that I’m helping you to understand what’s going on with your body and that I’m not confusing you further. It’s such a complex thing for a 9 year old to understand, but you have proven time and again that I am telling you things you already know.
It fills my heart that you have become confident enough in me to share these vulnerable thoughts, and while you’re laying in my arms sobbing I am oddly happy, because your tears are a sign that you are finally breaking through the mad. That, my darling girl, is progress… and all I can hope for is that someday you feel safe enough to live in calm and comfort.