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

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Anxious Attachment

We have noticed for quite some time that N prefers men to women. He's more calm, more himself, less scared when he's with a man rather than a woman. We can only speculate why this is, but before he was in our family most of the adults in his life were women, so our assumption is that he mainly has a fear that any connection he has with a woman will mean he loses the connection he's made with me, his mama. He's still terrified of having a true and healthy attachment with me, but at the same time craves that attachment.

This past week N had his first dental appointment for a cleaning. After talking it over, we decided that N's daddy should bring him to his appointment, since that would reduce the amount of anxiety he has just due to being with me.

I was very nervous about bringing him, so I was thrilled that S made it work out in his schedule to be the one to bring him. I pictured 30 minutes (or more) of screaming and fighting, ending with a lecture from the dentist and many stares as I left the building--screaming and kicking toddler in tow.

We love our dentist office, and I know they really would have handled it well, but that fear was there anyway--and even if the staff handles it well, you know the other patients would be assuming the worst: that I just don't know how to discipline this child and that he's horribly spoiled. And I must admit, years ago I would have thought the same thing if I witnessed it with someone else.

But anyway, the morning of the appointment N was in a frenzy. Everything was upsetting, he just couldn't get regulated no matter what I tried. I ended up putting his compression vest on him, wrapping his arms with ace bandages, and 'helping' him jump on the mini trampoline about 5 minutes before he needed to leave.

So off he went with Daddy to the dentist. He was fine. S put his compression vest on him and used gentle pressure on his legs to give him some proprioceptive input. He was nervous with the female hygienist, but still cooperative. Completely, 100% fine with the male dentist. Came home with a balloon, stickers, a new toothbrush and a big smile.

And I was thrilled. But a little sad. Because I'm certain that had I brought him, he would have fought with me,  the hygienist, and the dentist.

And so it goes with an anxiously attached child. He wants the attachment, the love and bonding; he craves it deeply--he can never get enough, no matter how much I give. And yet at the same time he fights it tooth and nail, so it ends up looking to everyone else like there's something wrong with me. Since he's not like this with others, there must be something about me, I must be doing something wrong. And that's a hard thing to deal with, to remind myself that I'm not doing anything wrong (I mean yes, I make mistakes, but you know what I mean...), that I need to just keep on loving. Keep on caring, keep on putting our relationship first. Because the only thing that will truly help his behavior is for him to feel safe. I know he's safe, everybody around us knows he's safe, but he does not. And the fear will stay until he knows. 

1 comment:

  1. Keep on keepin' on, Honey. One day you will look back and it will be just a hazy memory. I have a neighbor that adopted 2 Russian toddler boys, and went back and adopted a teen. All with attachment disorders. They are all productive members of society. The "teen" son, has served in the US military and now is an engineering freshman in college in FL. ♥