Drowning Out the Feelings

 

2008

We had a therapy session with Dimples yesterday and didn’t have to drive 370 miles.  This was the first time we have used Skype to meet with Dimples and her therapist. I wondered if it would be effective, or if it would feel strained or distant. Once we got into the session, the fact that we were seeing each other through our computers no longer mattered. In fact, it was probably the best session we’ve had, not because it felt good – it didn’t.

At one point in the session, Dimples was talking about being mad about a decision we made when she was home. I listened and watched her face as closely as I could. Then I said, “Dimples, I know this made you feel angry, but it looks to me like you are really very sad about it. You look like a sad girl.” She immediately countered that she was not sad, only mad, and her therapist probed it a little bit – pushing her to experience her feelings. She couldn’t do it and finally spun around in her chair and moved away from the computer.

As her therapist talked with us, Dimples began to sing, softly at first and then more loudly, to drown us out. It must be horrible to have so much pain inside that it feels too big to let anyone touch it. Aren’t we all prone to that? We may not sing to drown it out, but how many of us use other methods to avoid feeling pain? If we just keep moving, or talking, or eating, or whatever our method of coping is, maybe we won’t have to feel it.

We fear that if we truly peel back the layers and expose our pain, it might  be so big that it will consume us.

We must see  Dimples through eyes of compassion, even when she pushes us away and calls us “those people.” This is incredibly difficult because who wants more pain? Who wants more suffering? I don’t.

I think about Jesus who willingly suffered for us; I try to let go of my fear, pride, and the sin that entangles me, and keep my eyes on the Author of our story. He wrote Dimples into our family and while we have no idea what this is all going to look like in a year or ten years, we trust the Author of our lives.

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.

32 Comments

  1. Julie Blair Pitts
    April 24, 2013

    And yet…I am just so weary of the struggle and the pain and the trying and the failing and the trying again. I'm tired of trying to see my son as "precious" when everything he does drives me to the brink of wondering if we will ever see him again the way we used to. I'm exhausted from giving all I am to him, for him, about him, with him, into him, etc that I have almost nothing left for anything else. I "compete" with a ghost–his birth mother–whom he's not seen since she left him at the hospital. He thinks she still loves/ wants him. He hangs on that hope. That's it. Today, he didn't want to call me "mom". I don't know what he wanted to call me, but he corrected himself when he called me "mom". I am trying to keep my eyes on the Author, yet I cry out to him like in the Plumb song "How Many Times". I'm worn. We are worn. All of us.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 24, 2013

      Julie, I'm so sorry for the weariness. As you know, the day-to-day struggle is exhausting. We're getting a break from that right now, and I know that gives me a little more ability to have grace. I'm not as worn right now with Dimples' continual challenges. I'm praying for strength for you right now.

      Reply
      1. Julie Blair Pitts
        April 24, 2013

        We are in it for eternity with him. No matter what. The day to day is right now completely overwhelming. Tomorrow is back to back appointments with him. I dread it. Yet, he is MY son, the one God promised me 2 full years before he was born, and the one we fought the government in Guate to bring home. He is ours. So…we try to keep our eyes on the prize and move forward. Just not feeling it right now. Neither of us are, and yet I stumbled across a blog post I wrote for a friend a few years ago after we returned from the ETC conference in Nashville. In some ways, we have come a very long way. In other ways, we have a very long way to go. Pressing on…thank you for praying for strength for me. Pray for my sweet boy. He IS sweet. He is also a complete mess.

        Reply
    2. Heather
      April 24, 2013

      Julie,

      I get it, though our children perhaps struggle differently. I often tell my husband that I don't just need Jesus to fill me up. I need to BE Jesus. And well, that just hasn't happened yet :). I'm lifting up prayers for you right now, sister. Thank you for your honesty.

      Reply
      1. Julie Blair Pitts
        April 25, 2013

        Thank you, Heather. So true. Being Jesus and being filled with Him are so similar and vastly different simultaneously. One of my friends talked of truly crying out to God–not just praying–but getting down, on the floor (or wherever) and CRYING OUT TO JESUS. I have visions of doing that…and in my heart, I am crying out. The song by Plumb really sticks with me "I Need You Now". I have sung that over the past week with so much true, raw emotion it is kind of scary.

        Reply
    3. Lindy Gregg
      April 26, 2013

      Julie–I don't know you at all, but I know the kind of pain you are describing. That song from Plumb has been like my balm in the past months. It's words are SO true. Sundays were always the hardest days for me in our first painful years, and I would just walk away from the house (my husband was home). We live in the country, so I would truly just sob as I walked. I had no words. I had no pleas. I just had tears. I look back and see those times as so precious. I could do nothing. I could change nothing. But I could throw myself into the arms of God and let him carry me for just a little while. I will be praying for you and your son. I will be praying that God will give you glimpses of the boy that used to be–and is still in there somewhere. I will be praying for strength each day, and peace to return to your home. I SO remember this place where you find yourself and I'm so sorry. It's a hard, hard place to be. Praying for comfort and wisdom for you today.

      Reply
  2. Amber D. Litzinger
    April 24, 2013

    Yes Dimples is so blessed to have you both….because through all the fear, uncertainty, and pain you are FIGHTING for her (with all that that means). I am SO blessed by your picture or God's love for us through your love for Dimples. You are an encouragement to me as I walk out the story of God writing ME into my children's lives. God sees your labor and it is NOT in vain. Sending LOVE.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 24, 2013

      Amber, thank you for your encouraging words to me.

      Reply
  3. Mary (Owlhaven)
    April 24, 2013

    We humans drown out the pain of life in so many ways, don't we? I find myself avoiding talking about hard stuff with my kiddos at times, because I don't want to 'stir up' anything. But of course then the feelings still lurk under there….flaring out in anger at unexpected moments. Sigh.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 24, 2013

      So true, Mary. That anger bubbles out at unexpected times.

      Reply
  4. Kathy
    April 24, 2013

    Amen! We do not know what even tomorrow looks like let alone a year or more, but God does and we can wake tomorrow trusting in that. My dreams last night were fear based and the Lord woke me to Phil 4:6-7. I am terrible at memorizing verses so imagine my delight when I opened my bible before my feet hit the ground and read…"do not be anxious about anything,…" Living for the day has been one of our toughest (if not THE toughest) things. When I get overwhelmed with ALL the healing that needs to happen, and feel inadequate to do it…I'm quickly reminded that I am inadequate to do it! We can assist, but only the Lord can heal our children…and that brings me before Him in prayer! Us mothers with children from tough places can change the world through prayer!!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 24, 2013

      Prayer is so important and I need to do so much more of it. Thank you, Kathy.

      Reply
  5. AmyE
    April 24, 2013

    "He wrote Dimples into our family … we trust the Author of our lives." We just find out last week that someone close to us is disrupting after 3 years. So hard to hear … so hard not to judge. It has reaffirmed those words that you wrote so clearly to us. The Author of our lives is writing our story, and we will not take the pen out of his hand … even when we'd like to some time. And again, your story of Dimples and her inability to express her sadness … exactly what we live through daily. I need to remember, "You look like a sad … " I forget to help him name his feelings. Thanks for the encouragement.

    Reply
    1. Julie Blair Pitts
      April 24, 2013

      Amy…I need to remember that, too. Sooo hard to remember in the moment.

      Reply
    2. Lisa Qualls
      April 24, 2013

      Amy, I know it must be so hard to see your friends disrupt – it is a brutally painful thing for everyone. I hope they will keep trusting the Author and know that He is still writing their story. I try to remember that "God draws straight with crooked lines."

      Reply
  6. Erin
    April 24, 2013

    How wonderful that you can do therapy by Skype. I was thinking as I read this that there are a whole lot of ADULTS out there who aren't ready to face up to their pain inside. I wanted to encourage you to keep walking this path – Dimples is SO BLESSED to have "those people" even if she can't "go there" yet.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 24, 2013

      Thank you, Erin – your words brought tears to my eyes.

      Reply
  7. Heather
    April 24, 2013

    Lisa, I am so blessed and (Ouch!) so challenged by this post. I am always so impressed at your gracious spirit, which I know has been hard won. I am often overcome with weariness myself dealing with our son's special needs, and I know, in my quiet moments before the Lord that, in my case, my weariness is because I still want life MY way. I have more dying to do. Thank you for your example and your transparency.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 24, 2013

      Oh Heather, I want life my way too! I've said it before, and I'll confess it again – I miss my old life. But God has a bigger and better plan for our family and didn't leave us there. He keeps pressing us forward toward a richer life in Him.

      Reply
  8. Kathy
    April 24, 2013

    Hi Julie Pitts, I fb friend-ed you! Together (and by God's grace)we can all get through this! The Lord has given me the strength to see the "I hate you's" or the "I wish you were dead's" as my daughter's pain and hurt talking and not from her heart. I've saved an old loving email from her (when she was in a good place that day) and re-read it on those overwhelming days. I sent the email to my older married daughter and just last week (during a tough day) my daughter sent it back to me 🙂 It spoke right to my heart. Maybe you have a birthday or mother's day card from him?? And if you don't, I will give you one….."Mom (yes he knows it ), I may not treat you like I should but you are the safest place for me to give my hurt and pain and fear too. I love you but don't know how to tell you. It's way too scary for me to attach to you and accept your love. Thank you for being patient with me as I try to get through all my pain. Thank you for loving me when I treat you like I don't care. Your Son"
    Hang in there. Every day is a new beginning! Don't let the evil one feed you his lies that it's hopeless, because NOTHING is impossible with God!

    Reply
    1. Julie Blair Pitts
      April 25, 2013

      Kathy–you are so sweet. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!! My son is only 8, so I don't have much, but he does write me cards and draws pictures. I have them plastered all over my office here at home so he can see them. Sometimes, he destroys them. I will check fb and accept your friend request…thank you again for your kindness!!

      Reply
  9. linedancergal
    April 24, 2013

    Every time I think of Dimples I have this longing to put my arms round her and tell her Jesus can FIX this!
    I was just sitting here thinking about The Voyage of the Dawn Treader when Eustace became a dragon and then Aslan had to help him come back to normal. He peeled off the layers like an onion. Eustace said it hurt but it also felt really good. I think that's what Jesus is doing/will do for Dimples. Help her peel back each defence one at a time. It will hurt her to do, but with each layer she will feel better and better.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 24, 2013

      That is a story our family has often spoken of – our dragon skin may be tough, but it is stifling and nobody can get close to a dragon. I'm pretty sure my dragon skin needs to be peeled off too. Thank you for this reminder.

      Reply
  10. Lisa H.
    April 24, 2013

    The "those people" comment must really have stung….It zinged to me for you! Dimples can't say it, but "those people" are one of God's very best gifts to her, and you are being so faithful…..You are honoring Jesus in the way you are parenting Dimples, and that's the best any of us can do!

    Hugs and Prayers for you, Friend!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 25, 2013

      Lisa, you know it stung! I just try so hard to remember that she is hurting, so she wants us to hurt too – I can't always do it though! I hope one day she does see us a gift or at least God's provision for her.

      Reply
  11. Cheri
    April 24, 2013

    Wow, you nailed it for Dimples. Processing the truth in the midst of pain is hard work. Prayers for His arms of grace to surround her, help her, and bring layers of healing to her. I'm sure you have heard all of his before but we had a therapy conversation this week about "peeling back the layers-exposing pain-it being so big it consumes us"….our therapist said it does consume our kiddos-they internally think about it ALL the time and many try to keep it inside, hide it, or don't know how to process it-when trust was nonexistent in their early lives they truly believe that no one can "handle" all that is inside of them and if they share it they will suffer yet again all that they have suffered in the past(including being left/alone/abandoned again). Our son yearns to be returned to his birth country and begs me to "just send him back". Right now it is all just too painful to have someone care for him, about him, and invest in him. He acts like "how dare you tell me what to do, parent me, care about me". How often I hear how he hates me (because I care and it reminds him of others who should have but didn't). He is determined to move out and take care of himself, which will not be happening for many, many years. His mantra is I don't need much and I can do it on my own. Thanks for sharing your life, it encourages and equips even in the midst of the painful times.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 25, 2013

      Cheri, you have a great therapist – what a blessing. As I read your comment, I found myself thinking more about Bee…I'm going to think about this more.

      Reply
  12. kathy Gardner
    April 25, 2013

    I believe if we just keep on being faithful, day after day after day, our children will begin to trust us. This you have done and are doing. That is all we can do. We are beginning to see some heart changes in our daughter. You will too. Be encouraged.

    Reply
  13. Traci
    April 25, 2013

    Thank you for making me see this differently. My 9 year old daughter (with us 2 years) sings over me when she is upset. It drives me crazy. Next time I will see it from a different perspective 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 25, 2013

      I'm glad that was helpful, Traci. It's probably not unlike the chanting or nonsense questions I've written about before.

      Reply
  14. Phyllis
    April 26, 2013

    Wow! Nice to know that other kids do the same thing (but horribly sad, too). We have been in counseling for a year and a half now. Our son locks all his hurt deep inside and refuses to let anyone help him with it. We have seen in our last 2 sessions that he seems to go off into a "nothingness" in his brain. No emotions there. No amount of reasoning is helping him. It will be only through God's power that our son will turn it over to Him. I have so appreciated your blog. It has been so helpful to me in so many ways. We are really struggling with many issues right now. I'm so weary. But you have been such an encouragement to me on this road. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 26, 2013

      Thank you, Phyllis. It is sad – and I tend to grow fearful. I am praying for your family right now.

      Reply

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