A Shift in Focus

It’s been a long time since I wrote for myself. Lately I’ve been writing all of these posts to my daughter, which she will likely never read, because I wanted to get out all of the thoughts in my head. The things I wanted to tell her but couldn’t necessarily do at this time. It’s also a way for me to process this new life – parenting a high needs child.

The past year and a half since I adopted A, has been insanely chaotic. The process of attaching to a child not born to you is not an easy one. We are, for the most part, very attached now. I have all of those feelings that a mother has for her child. I would do anything for my baby girl, born to me or not. But it wasn’t easy and there were times when we took a few steps backwards before moving ahead again. We are in a good place now. She has been behaviourally much better this year than during the end of last year. A bad reaction to medications made things really rough in October; she was psychotic and I was beyond burnt out. I was so happy when I found out it was caused by the medication, because I knew it would get better when she stopped taking it, and it did. She’s on better meds now, and since we finalized her adoption last month, she’s like a new kid. She’s feeling secure, calm, happy… all of the things a traumatized and brain damaged child needs to feel in order to be well attached and able to manage behaviours.

I am finally beginning to feel as if I’m getting a piece of myself back. My own self has been completely overshadowed by her needs. I had become angry and irritable all of the time and I had withdrawn from my family and friends. I think I was beginning to suffer from some secondary PTSD. But this last month or so I’ve started to see a glimmer of the old me coming back. I have been trying to reach out to friends more, to get out of the house on occasion (this is especially hard since I sold my car when I decided to work from home, so I wouldn’t have to manage the obscene payments) and to get back into some creative stuff like scrapbooking and painting.

The biggest new thing is that I finally got a date for gastric bypass surgery. This is a surgery I was supposed to have two years ago before I adopted A, but had to be delayed. My surgery is on March 1st, less than two weeks away, and I’ve been on a strict pre-surgery diet for the past 6 weeks. I’m glad that A is in a good place right now, because I don’t think I could have managed shifting focus to myself, a few months ago. I sort of wonder if I’m a little nuts to be doing this while I’m singlehandedly parenting a very high needs child, but I suppose I always have been one to leap into things head first, and work out the details later.

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Battle for Control

Lately my daughter hasn’t wanted to go to school. I haven’t been able to figure out exactly why, but her teacher says that all kids are like this in the spring as the days get longer and they want to be playing and not stuck in the classroom. She thinks my daughter is experiencing the same thing as the other children, just to a more extreme degree. She’s probably right. My girl takes everything to the extreme. But, I have to keep my power. I have to always be the one in control, so that she feels safe and taken care of. And so I resort to whatever methods I can to win the battle.

Three times I had to make good on my threats to put her on the deck with her clothes and lock the door until she went to school. Twice she eventually did. The third time the sun was out so she decided to play in the yard instead. Since then I’ve had to up the ante. If she won’t go to school, I threatened to carry her to the driveway and stand there in my pyjamas in front of the passing cars and school busses until she crosses the street. This morning I did just that. This morning she went to school.

I don’t like it one bit. Tossing her things onto the deck and locking the door doesn’t make me happy. Neither does having to embarrass her in front of her schoolmates. But consequences don’t work; I’ve tried them all. Letting her get away with it certainly does not work. There is a reason traumatized kids need high structure; it’s because it’s what makes them feel safe. And so I keep things structured, I make her go to school every day because being flexible doesn’t work for us. I get her out that door by whatever means necessary, and I really have no idea if I’m doing this right or not, but I’m doing the best that I know how to do.