Anger is Powerful, Sorrow is Terrifying

2007 First Week Home

Dimples has been at her school for four months now.  For the first three months she “honeymooned” and had nearly perfect behavior. We were beginning to wonder if being back in the familiar environment of lots of kids with no parents made her so comfortable that she was never going to exhibit what we experienced at home. She has always done great at school, camp, and other places where no attachment was expected.

Knowing she was only going to be there for a year or so, I felt the clock ticking and wondered how long it would take to get to the heart of her challenges. Three months, she made it nearly three months without much of a hint of trouble. Then the adults there started to matter to her, she was beginning to form some tentative bonds, and the shoe dropped; her closest staff member took a three week vacation.

Those three weeks, and the weeks following the counselor’s return brought some of her pain to the surface. Her fears of abandonment and the pain of loss began to bubble up, and with them came anger.

Anger feels so much better than sadness – anger is powerful, sorrow is terrifying. 

Anger feels like control. If deep grief, fear, and sorrow come the surface, those feelings may never stop and that is terrifying. Can you relate to that? I can.

While her emotions are getting stronger, her sense of safety is also growing, which is allowing a more honest and broken Dimples to emerge. She is still far more contained than she was at home, and I doubt they will ever see what we did. Life at home and life in a “home-like” setting are not the same, but this is as close as we can get.

We had a great Skype therapy session yesterday that surprised all of us. We went into it wondering if Dimples would even speak to us, and amazingly, she was able to express herself well and share some of her thoughts and feelings. We were so proud of her; she is gaining new skills and it is amazing to see.

The Lord has been so good to us; he provided this program when we needed it most, and we are tentatively hopeful. Thank you so much for praying for her and for our family; it means the world to us.

Lisa

 

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

39 Comments

  1. Tara Bradford
    May 8, 2013

    Thankful for your update and that Dimples is not shutting down.

    Anger feels like control. If deep grief, fear, and sorrow come the surface, those feelings may never stop and that is terrifying. Can you relate to that?

    I still relate to it as an adult adoptee keeping my emotions in check so that I don't explode or implode.

    Praying for you all and God's continued healing in Dimple's life. He is good all the time! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 8, 2013

      You're right, Tara, anger does feel like control – that is a great way to put it. Dimples is terrified to not be in control of herself and everyone around her. This is such hard work. Thanks for your thoughts.

      Reply
  2. Christin
    May 8, 2013

    Praying with you and following your journey. Even if I don't always comment. xo

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 8, 2013

      Thank you for commenting today, Christin.

      Reply
  3. Emily B
    May 8, 2013

    This gives me goosebumps. I'm continuing to pray for healing for her heart, and courage and hope for you in the process.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 8, 2013

      Emily, we are so grateful for your prayers.

      Reply
  4. AmyE
    May 8, 2013

    Anger is powerful … sorrow is terrifying. We've yet to see sorrow. Such a good reminder that it is there underneath all of that anger. Thank you, as always.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 8, 2013

      I still remember the first time Dimples cried sad tears rather than angry tears. Keep praying that one day it will come.

      Reply
      1. Chantelle
        May 8, 2013

        That 'sad versus angry tears' comment really hit home. I've only seen our daughter with attachment issues cry a couple of times with true sadness instead of madness. – As always, finding your blog so helpful. Keeping you in our prayers!

        Reply
        1. Lisa Qualls
          May 8, 2013

          Thank you, Chantelle – I know you "get it."

          Reply
  5. unconventionalwomanhood
    May 8, 2013

    Praying!!! Thanks for the updates!!!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 8, 2013

      Thank you for prayers!

      Reply
  6. rebekah
    May 8, 2013

    This title is so profound. And so misunderstood by everyone, including me, on a daily basis. Anger is so effective that it's hard to rally around something else. Thank you for your insight.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 8, 2013

      Rebekah, it is so hard to see past the anger in the moment – I know. You are very welcome.

      Reply
  7. Emily
    May 8, 2013

    Love you and praying with you lots and lots. Miss you- let's talk this week.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 8, 2013

      Thank you, Sunflower. Talk to you soon.

      Reply
  8. Angelina Denver
    May 8, 2013

    So sad that their anger covers up their true sorrow. I am praying for these children to learn what they need to now so they can lead healthy lives later. I pray that our hurt children can look back and see the benefits of this family we have foisted upon them (through God's leading for sure, but in their eyes we aren't the most welcome visitors) I pray. As always thank you for sharing your journey so eloquently and heartedly. May you continue to be one of God's mouthpieces for adoption, for families, for reconciliation, for love!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 8, 2013

      Thank you for encouraging me, Angelina. Blessings on your family.

      Reply
  9. Julianne
    May 8, 2013

    Lisa, thank you for sharing your journey. Our adopted son has been in a facility for just one week and I am numb and in fear of what is ahead. It is exhausting yet a relief at the same time. I will be praying for your family.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 8, 2013

      Julianne, I know how hard those first weeks are. Hang on – it will get better as you all adjust.

      Reply
  10. rayia
    May 8, 2013

    "anger is powerful, sorrow is terrifying". I think this is more common than any of us would like to think. Powerful post! Thank you for the honest updates and please know I will continue praying!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 8, 2013

      Rayia, thank you for your continued prayers and your kind comment.

      Reply
  11. Sonya Hillrich
    May 8, 2013

    Lisa, I just want to thank you for being honest through the process.
    I want to understand what is happening in Dimples' spirit & heart, because (just being honest here) I want it so badly to happen to my daughter while she is in our home. But whatever God's story is for her, I am so thankful that you are letting us in this little part of the net "see" the process you are all going through.
    I feel like you are doing a great job of honoring your family by not sharing ALL, yet uncovering a bit of the story to help those of us who may be in similar situations.
    Thanks again & praying for the heart of your precious girl.
    ~

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 8, 2013

      Sonya, I struggled this morning about what to post. Our story has been so public, and the Lord has used it many ways – and i want to honor Dimples and her healing process. So much of this is about our learning and healing too. We all have a long way to go and I'm glad it helps others to be with us on the journey.

      Reply
  12. gwenmj
    May 8, 2013

    Praying that sadness will overcome anger. Physically they are both draining but what a relief to see the tears of a child that has been affected by trauma. We have had only a few "victories" here when emotions are not out of control anger but they do come…..just slower than we all wish. Lisa – press on for every "little" victory is worth it!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 8, 2013

      Thank you, Gwen. I never would have imagined that I would be so thankful to see tears – this was all new to me six years ago. We've come such a long way…and you are so right that it comes slowly.

      Reply
  13. Kayla
    May 8, 2013

    Those words about sorrow and anger are so profound. My little guy seems so easy to anger sometimes. He is generally well adjusted and well attached but sometimes his anger over small things just is unexplainable. But I think what you've written is a deep piece of it; he feels a lot of sorrow about his birth family.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 8, 2013

      Sometimes I have a hard time really "seeing" but when I can do it, even for a moment, it helps me have more empathy for my wounded children. Thank you for sharing, Kayla.

      Reply
  14. Elizabeth
    May 8, 2013

    I am so glad to hear about Dimple's progress. You're right… anything (to our hurt children) is better than tapping into their deep, deep sorrow. Sometimes I get the sense that my son is actually working himself into anger if he feels the sorrow too close to the surface. In the past six months, though, we have seen sobbing tears of sorrow (not all the time, but sometimes). It is so painful to watch and be helpless to comfort him. He still won't accept our comfort when in this state, the most I can do is silently sit in his room and listen and just be present. It must be terrifying to feel that depth of sorrow and not know what to do with it or think that there will ever be an end.

    I have to say, those lines in Isaiah and Revelations that promise a time when there are no more tears mean so much more to me now than they ever did.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 8, 2013

      Thank you for sharing so beautifully, Elizabeth.

      Reply
  15. Heidi
    May 8, 2013

    As our school year draws to a close I am seeing the anger pour out and the deeper I dig, you're right, the more grief I see at the source of it. Once again, I'm passing this on. 🙂 Praying for continued healing…not just in dimples life, but in all of those little lives out there.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 8, 2013

      Thank you, Heidi – so much healing is needed.

      Reply
  16. kristine
    May 8, 2013

    I think hope is always tentative. It's when we cannot imagine anything other than a miracle coming in and saving us. Miracles happen. Praying for your beautiful girl Lisa.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 8, 2013

      So true, Kristine – I need to remember that every single day.

      Reply
  17. Lisa Qualls
    May 8, 2013

    I'm so glad you are going to make the trip, Laurel. We don't know how it will go, but the fact that she has asked you to come is amazing.

    Reply
  18. Maple Walnut Mama
    May 15, 2013

    "her sense of safety is also growing, which is allowing a more honest and broken Dimples to emerge" – this is beautiful! First comes the safety, then comes the brokeness, then comes the light – she is on the path. Sending wishes & courage to Dimples and the supportive clan who loves her.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      May 15, 2013

      Thank you – your comment is so encouraging to me.

      Reply
  19. Andrea
    June 3, 2013

    After having to have B admitted to a psyche facility for the second time in a little over a month I am reading back over this with knots in my stomach… he was able to maintain there for the first week… things were good, he could follow all the familiar rules and times. Then he came home and …bam it's easier to be mad than hurt, and 2 weeks later could no longer hold it together. Still lost as to how to help him needing to know how to get the facility or other to help. … lost…

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      June 3, 2013

      Andrea, I didn't realize the depth of the struggles you are having. We should talk. I'm so sorry.

      Reply

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