Being Sheep

"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep."John 10:14-15

Monday, July 30, 2012

Attachment Disorders and Relationships With God

The more I think about it, the more I realize that most of us have an "attachment disorder" in our relationship with God.

My son has really struggled in his attachment, specifically to me. I have loved him consistently, rocked and cuddled him, kissed his owies, changed his diapers, giggled with him, and so much more. Though I've certainly made mistakes, I've always loved him.

And yet, he still doesn't really like me. He's terrified of losing me, but it definitely seems he's terrified of that not because he loves me so much, but because I'm the only mama he's got.

His experience in life has shown that mamas don't stick around. Mamas love you, but after a while they go away and don't come back.

Little N definitely seems to believe that at some point I'm going to go away and not come back. He does everything in his power to see what will make me go away or stop loving him.

He'll tell me one day that he hates me and that I'm stupid. He'll hit, kick, bite. He'll hurt his brothers. He'll scream all day long. He'll turn everything possible into a conflict.

But other days? He'll hug and kiss me. He'll tell me he loves me. He'll pat my arm and tell me I'm a good mommy. He'll cuddle with me.

And I think a lot of us (including me) tend to be like that with God. On Sunday mornings we love him. He's wonderful! We tell him how good he is, we get warma nd fuzzy feelings about him. We'll snuggle right up next to him. We're pretty sure he's awesome and we're ready to let him take some control of our lives.

But then it's Monday morning. Or maybe we make it all the way to Tuesday. We're not so sure anymore. Is God really that good? Can we really trust him? Do we really want to open up our hearts to him only to find he's not really that good or trustworthy after all? Or maybe he exists only in our imaginations?

Kids from orphanages or other unstable environments frequently struggle with letting anyone else be in control. The only way they've survived so far, at least in their minds, is by staying in control, by not trusting anyone else, by putting up as many brick walls as necessary to keep people out.

The only way for these kids to heal, to truly have a healthy attachment with their parents, is to let go of that control. To learn that their mom or dad is trustworthy, to learn that they don't have to take care of everything anymore, to learn that their parents love them unconditionally.

The only way we can grow in our relationship with God is to let go of our control, to learn that God is trustworthy, that we don't have to take care of everything anymore,  to learn that God loves us unconditionally. No matter what we do or say, he's waiting with open arms. We can fight it all we want, we can believe it's not true, but that doesn't change the truth of God's unfailing, amazing love for us.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Stupid!

"You're stupid! I hate you!"

"That's ok, because I love you."

"NO NO NO!!! That's stupid! You're stupid!"

"I'll always love you, no matter what."



"I HATE YOU!!!"

"But I love you."

I'm pretty sure my little guy thinks he's a teenager. He's certainly trying to get a reaction, and it makes him so mad when he doesn't get the reaction he wanted. Shortly after this episode though, he calmed down and was very receptive to hugs and love from his mama. Taking it one day at a time...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday

Well, I'm pretty bad at actually blogging right now. I just am so burned out and tired these days that I sometimes can't muster up the emotional energy to put it all out there for others to read.

Our days are still filled with struggle. If you had told me two years ago that we'd still be struggling as much as we are, I don't think I could have continued to press on and do what I needed to do: to help my son heal, to be there for my other kids and my husband, and to take care of myself so I can keep caring for others. If you had asked me two years ago how long I thought the "adjustment" process would take, I probably would have said maybe about 6 more months? Certainly once we've been home for a year things will be back to a "new normal". It's a good thing I can't see the future. :)

But two years out we are still having many difficulties each day. Some days are much better than others. And then there are the weekends when Daddy is home. Things are usually pretty good then. N is always better when Daddy is around, plus we can tag-team and both of us can get a break. But then Monday rolls around....

Today is Monday. Today did not start out in a tantrum over what he wants to wear (yes, it sounds silly--but usually I don't even care what he wears, he just doesn't want me to agree with him on anything), which was a nice change. It started out with a minor fit about where we would sit for N to have his "baba milk", the milk bottle he gets three times a day. (Yes, he's almost three and still gets three bottles a day. Yes, I realize that's not normal. But it is what he needs. He missed out on getting the cuddles and rocking and nursing/bottle for many months, so we're making up for lost time.) He'll often tell me what he wants and it goes something like this:

N: "Can we sit on the couch for my baba milk?"
Me: "Sure! I'll be right there."
I pour the milk, head to the living room and proceed to sit on the couch.
N: "NOOOOOOO!!!!!" Scream, shriek, dramatically fall to the floor, kick legs, and possibly start throwing whatever is within reach if Mom can't get to him in time.
Me: "What is wrong?"
N: "I DON'T WANT YOU TO SIT THERE! I WANT TO SIT ON THE CHAIR!"
Me: "Well, we don't need to throw a fit about it. Take a deep breath. Good job. Now, where do you want to sit? Ok. What good words are you going to use?" (Sometimes this process takes an hour or more, today it only took a few minutes for the first tantrum of the day.)
N: "I please sit on the chair?"
Me: "Sure thing. Good job using your words. High five!"

Rinse and repeat with meals, snacks, what he wants to play, whether he wants the green or the yellow cup, what TV show he wants, etc.

Admittedly, there are plenty of times I don't want to use that "playful engagement" tone of voice. I think that if some people could see me now they'd be thinking 'look at that horrible mother. If only she'd do _________ her child would be fine.'

But most people who would say that have no clue about trauma, attachment disorders, PTSD, or sensory processing disorder.

Side note: So next time you see a toddler throwing the world's loudest tantrum in the store, hold off on the judgement. Maybe offer to help the parent carry her groceries to the car, or even just give her a kind look. You never know what someone is really going through. And sometimes you really have to buy milk, even when you know the possible consequences. 

It is nap time right now at my house, and my world feels at peace. But I never know who my child will be when he wakes up. Will he be happy and cuddly and tell me how much he loves me? Or will he loudly insist I don't love him, tell me he doesn't like me, refuse a hug or a cuddle, and throw a tantrum over nothing at all?

So slowly we will truck along. I will trust that God is still God, and he's still got it under control when I so often don't.