Fight Like a Girl

fight like a girl

One of Russ’ students gave him an orange bracelet for Kalkidan’s birthday that says, “FIGHT like a GIRL.”

Kalkidan was a fighter. First she fought out of fear. Later she fought for healing.

One of my few memories from the accident is Russ’ voice as he, and a nurse who stopped to help, did CPR on Kalkidan.  Their voices, counting compressions, came to me in a moment of foggy consciousness. I heard Russ calling out to God, and then I heard him say,  “Come on, Kalkidan, you’re a fighter. I need you to fight harder than you’ve ever fought before. I love you.”

Children who experience severe trauma and neglect seem to have fear running through their veins. Their brains and bodies are affected, so that even when they are in a safe and loving family, they live in a state of high-alert.

Some children fight, others run, others freeze – flight,  fight, or freeze.

I have children who run to escape when they are frightened or under stress, but not Kalkidan. She was a fighter.

For many years, Kalkidan fought us. Despite incredible effort, she viewed her family as a threat. Parents aren’t safe -they die and abandon you, or they hurt you. Siblings aren’t safe – there is never enough to go around; they are competition for food, clothes, and even attention.

She always had her guard up. Most people wouldn’t have recognized it; they would have seen a lively girl with a great big smile. That was her protection; being cute and getting attention helped her feel safer in a world she could not control. In the orphanage, it was literally a survival skill.

Through many years of therapy, Kalkidan began to trust us. Although it was terrifying, she began to believe us when we told her she was loved, and she was safe.  She decided that being a Qualls just might be a good thing, and she began to work – hard.

Kalkidan committed herself to the work of therapy and to using the tools she was given. At the age of 12 she began to use her words to express herself, not only her actions. She wrote me notes sharing the things that were too hard for her to say. I have one tucked in my Bible where she told me that I hurt her feelings with something I said – I wouldn’t have known if she hadn’t told me.

It took tremendous courage for her to push past her fear. With the help of many professionals, pastors, friends and family who surrounded us, she fought for healing. And we all fought with her.

We are thankful beyond words for the healing Kalkidan and our family experienced. I wish we could have had years to enjoy her and grow with her; I don’t understand why God took her when he did.

Nevertheless, our loss is deeper and sweeter because of the gift of healing. We miss Kalkidan, and I’ve come to realize just how much I admire her for being a fighter.

Kalkidan – you fought like a girl, and you won.

You moms of fighters, hold on. I know how incredibly hard and terrifying it is; don’t lose heart. Pray for the day when your child will fight with you, not against you.

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.

16 Comments

  1. Bethany
    November 3, 2015

    I was sobbing by the time I finished reading this today. I have 2 children who have been in my home for 2 years and fight so hard. After 2 years I would have thought that it would be easier somehow – less fighting for all of us – some healing. My oldest, who is 8, seems to have just begun to really fight and every day, all day is a fight. It is an internal struggle for me constantly to maintain calm, to not give in to the "natural" parenting method of consequences, and keep trusting. I think of you and your family daily as you have gone through years of this and now have this loss. There are questions I cannot voice here but on my list of "People to share coffee with someday" I will admit you are the top person right now. Thank you for being so real.

    Reply
  2. Sherry
    November 3, 2015

    Thank you Lisa that even through your grief, you are encouraging others. I have tears as I read this both for your loss and for our little 9 year old fighter. Thank you for perspective and hope.

    Reply
  3. ElizabethG
    November 3, 2015

    I needed this today. Not in a trite way, but in a deep my soul is wounded and weary from the fight way. I'm a mom of 8 aged 9-3 months. Today and lately it feels a little like they are all out to get me! Three in particular, one most of all. Thank YOU for encouraging me. Thank God for using you to do it.

    Reply
  4. AmyE
    November 3, 2015

    Tears flowing freely. I sometimes forget to cry for my fighter. It has been so long. From the beginning I connected deeply with the story of "Dimples". Thanks for your reminder to not give up hope.

    Reply
  5. KMcD
    November 3, 2015

    As the Mom of a newly adopted fighter, Thank you. <3

    Reply
  6. Tracy Barton-Niles
    November 3, 2015

    Thank you for sharing this post. we have a fighter. we are holding on and letting God do his thing. it's beyond hard and I am so sorry for your loss. deeply sorry.

    Reply
  7. Mary DeGennaro
    November 3, 2015

    I wish I had known her!

    Reply
  8. Laura
    November 3, 2015

    Thank you again for sharing your story with such grace and love. It truly is helpful and heartwarming for those of us parenting little ones from hard places.

    Reply
  9. Angel Finsrud
    November 3, 2015

    Timely encouragement and reminder. Well maybe not timely as I am now a blubbering mess and someone is coming to the front door 🙂 But thank you. We are praying desperately that our son will begin to use his resolute tenacity to fight for healing.

    Reply
  10. Carly
    November 4, 2015

    Needed to hear this today. THANKS, my Friend!

    Reply
  11. Emily B
    November 4, 2015

    I have one fighter. And boy…does she fight hard. Kalkidan's story of the fighting…and then the fighting for healing…is one I hold onto. I pray that one day Lexi will fight for the right things and that she will experience healing, too. I'm so thankful you got that healing time with Kalkidan.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 4, 2015

      Me too, Emily. One of God’s greatest gifts in our lives.

      Reply
  12. erika
    November 6, 2015

    Lisa- you are such a good mom. You're still fighting for Kalkidan. You're still loving her. You will never give up on her even now. You continue to give me strength when I want to throw in the towel with my fight (going on FIVE years). Thank you for the constant reminder to not give up, to keep pushing, to keep loving, and to keep fighting.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 8, 2015

      Erika, you have my admiration and prayers.

      Reply
  13. Maria Rippo
    November 15, 2015

    Lisa, I just wrote a paper on this for anyone who is interested in understanding it deeper. Sounds like you have a really amazing understanding of the deep affects of trauma! What a blessing you are!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      November 19, 2015

      Maria, I would love to read it if you want to email it to me at lis[email protected]

      Reply

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