The Downward Descent

I mapped out my weekend with a large tablet and favorite pencil.  The list was long, but not completely unrealistic.  It got off to a good start – kids slept late, Russ made coffee, we worked on our laptops side-by-side, stopping to talk every five minutes or so.  By the time the kitchen filled with children wanting breakfast, I was satisfied with what I had accomplished and felt optimistic about the rest of the day.

Then it happened.  We began a rapid, downward descent into the dark place our family has come to know.  Russ and I tried to slow it down, but the avalanche gained momentum.  We pulled out every therapeutic tool we could think of.  We talked about working the “plan” to no avail.  The triggers were too big, the feelings out of control, and down we went, falling in head-over-heels disorientation, until we slammed to the bottom of the pit.

The other children felt the power of the avalanche as it went sweeping by; thankfully, Samuel was home to shield them a little.  Ladybug later told us of going from room to room, checking on the younger children.  She found Honeybee holding Little Man in the living room, Samuel comforting Eby in his room, and Sunshine curled up alone on a chair, so she held her.

Hours later, feeling exhausted, I put my pajamas on and curled up next to Russ.  We had so many questions.  What were the triggers?  How could we have  caught it more quickly? What do we wish we had done differently?  It came to me that we had forgotten something very important – Dimples doesn’t do weekends.   We’ve known it for a long time, but in the last month or two our weekends have been unusually filled with travel and activities; somehow we had managed to get through them.

Now it is Monday afternoon.  Russ is at a conference in Boise, and I’m home trying to make a new plan.  I’ve made phone calls to all the people who need to be in the loop.  I left a lengthy voice mail for the new therapist in Couer d’Alene, asking for an appointment as soon as possible.  It’s becoming increasingly clear that, for all of us to be healthy,we need to broaden our support team and establish a schedule of regular respite, whether it is for the hours after school, for a Saturday, or for a weekend – we need to set it up.

While we can’t control every challenge, we also need to eliminate every trigger we possibly can.  We’re working on a plan for that as well.

I am fighting discouragement and pressing forward – but I have to admit, my heart is very heavy.

I didn’t want to write this post – it would be so easy to pretend that all is well, but from the beginning, I’ve tried to be honest about our successes and failures.  You’ve rejoiced with me when we’ve made progress and you’ve sympathized when things have been tough.  It’s especially hard to write because therapy went so well and we’ve been hopeful – we saw good progress and we plan to continue as soon as we can.  In fact, just writing those words brings back memories of sweet moments in Nebraska.  We’re on the right path — it’s just long and winding.

We sang this song in church – I’m pretty sure it was for me.

“…God is with us

He will go before

He will never leave us, He will never leave us

God is for us

He has open arms

He will never fail us, He will never fail us…”

Healing is possible and while we have no idea what this journey is going to look like, we won’t stop hoping.

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.

0 Comments

  1. Deb
    October 1, 2012

    Oh Lisa – my heart just breaks for you and I am fighting my own tears of disappointment on your behalf. Praying praying praying….. it's all I can do – so I am doing it. God Bless <3

    Reply
  2. Becky
    October 1, 2012

    Whenever real healing starts to happen, the wounds have to re-open a bit. I can imagine your daughter is feeling a bit "raw" after her intense therapy. There is no way you can protect her from feeling all the pain she's got stored up inside and has so recently accessed. I'm so impressed at your honesty and can only imagine how much your words are helping other families who struggle in similar ways.
    Our kids "don't do weekends" either. 😉 Good luck and God Bless!

    Reply
  3. Amanda
    October 1, 2012

    praying for your family!

    Reply
  4. Melissa
    October 1, 2012

    Prayers for you!!! I know how discouraging it can be when you see improvement and feel a bit more in control and then it all changes with a blink of an eye. We go through it and it is such a low. It reminds me how completely dependent we are on the LORD every single step we take. I will continue to pray for you. I am glad that you were able to identify the trigger and I pray that you will find the help you need!

    Reply
  5. Karen
    October 1, 2012

    Oh, the relentless downward spirals and the never ending search for the triggers. I can well relate.

    Reply
  6. RussAnita Olson
    October 1, 2012

    Lisa, thank you for your honesty. It is desperately needed in the adoption world. As an adoptive mom, I feel your pain. And understand the need for respite. One paradox to adoption that I'm still trying to come to terms with is loving my children, but needing to not spend every possible moment with them. I waited so long, I prayed for them to be here. But it's intense. And we both need a break from the work of being a family. They need a break from us too. None one warned us of this. It still shakes me to the core. I love my children, but I can't parent them without some time spent apart. And I believe they love me, but they need a break from the work of being a son/daughter. Respite is good. Dimples may need the break just as much as you do. We have been honest with our kids. We love them, and we know they are working on letting us love them, and loving us back. We are all working hard at being in a family. And because it's hard – it's okay to take a break from it. It's okay to admit it's hard. It's ok. A break is good. We all take breaks from hard work. Even God rested from his work. We need to take rest from the hard work we've been given.

    Reply
  7. Sara Edwards
    October 1, 2012

    Remembering the chorus, that in His name, we overcome, I am praying that your girl will be able, in the name of Christ, to overcome her pain and trauma. And praying for you and your husband, that you will rest and find great comfort in the magnitude of His great, capable, and immeasurable ability to heal her and bring her to that longed-for place of peace. The Lord our God is able!

    Reply
  8. Mary (Owlhaven)
    October 1, 2012

    Hang in there. Often there's backward movement on the path to improvement.
    Love and prayers,
    Mary

    Reply
  9. Courtney
    October 1, 2012

    lisa….i'm sorry. how i wish i could hug you…the REAL kind of hug. praying…

    Reply
  10. Hannah Tucker
    October 1, 2012

    Praying for you right now. I've been fighting my own fights (mainly bitterness, today; it's a big trap), and they're terrible enough, without adding a child's struggles, too… I can't imagine the heartache you're bearing right now.

    Reply
  11. Katie Patel
    October 1, 2012

    Not much wisdom to offer, just lots of hugs and prayers. thank you for being so honest. Here is a verse that spoke to me in some dark times: Acts 2:25-26
    I saw the LORD constantly before me, for HE is at my right hand that I may not be shaken or overthrown, or cast down. Therefore my heart rejoiced and my tounge exulted exceedingly; moreover my flesh also will dwell in hope.
    Praying that His mighty presence will be felt in your heart minute by minute, and that you will know in your very bones that His arm is not too short to save…all of us here on your blog, and the rest of your Christian friends can hold you up in prayer and keep you fighting the good fight, just like Aaron held up Moses' hands to keep the battle going (can't exactly remember if the names r right but you get the idea).
    Love to all of y ou!
    katie

    Reply
  12. Heidi
    October 1, 2012

    Oh, Lisa. I'm so sorry. Love and prayers to you.

    Reply
  13. Elizabeth
    October 1, 2012

    Oh that must be so discouraging… my heart breaks for all of you. I hate, hate, hate set-backs after what I've thought of as forward, positive motion. I will pray for your family. And, I want to share part of the hymn that has sustained me through some very difficult months this summer…. from How Firm a Foundation:

    The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose
    I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
    That soul that all hell should endeavor to shake
    I'll never, no never, no never forsake

    We've sung this hymn more than once this past summer and every time this last verse leaves me a blubbering mess. He will never forsake me, or my son, or you or your daughter!

    Reply
  14. Coffeemom
    October 1, 2012

    Oh I get it. Having our own small spiral tonight. Don't forget that w every forward gain our kids seem to have that backlash after. Not as far back maybe or not as long in duration… But it's the process and pattern that we all know : approach, retreat. Even good healing is scary. Time. Tender care of herbut also of you all. Respite as regular as helpful. Thats good parenting. Brava mom. It's progress in its own way. Don't despair. You're certainly NOT alone !

    Reply
  15. Marissa
    October 1, 2012

    Prayers!

    Reply
  16. Rosie
    October 1, 2012

    Lisa, I tend to read your blog without commenting – so I feel like I know you, even though you don't know me at all – but I wanted to tell you that I'm praying for you and your family.

    Reply
  17. forever2young
    October 1, 2012

    Respite is a good thing. A huge support team is awesome. I think it might be God's way for ensuring community and keeping my pride in check ;). Your not alone! We use respite for three hour every weekday after school including a homework helper. We use weekend respite two to three weekends a month. It's a good thing.

    Reply
  18. Sharon
    October 1, 2012

    So sorry-praying for your whole family. Weekends are really hard here too. I was so glad when I went to bed last night knowing that when I woke up it would be Monday…opposite of most people!

    Reply
  19. Caryn
    October 1, 2012

    We are in similar straits. I've been so deeply discourage lately. I keep reminding myself that the anger she's directing at me is really all the unexpressed emotions that she repressed for so many years. That she knows PAIN in away that I can't even imagine. And yet, we've been in therapy long enough now that she knows what she supposed to do and expresses that awareness, but seemingly refuses to do it. Tonight she screamed so many hateful things on the way home in the car, my our year olds were covering their ears and crying, then added "I'm always going to talk to you like this an there's nothing anyone's going to ever do to stop me!" Man she knows how to push my buttons. It takes all of my effort to stay in my 40 year old brain. Here though, nobody outside our family knows this is happening. I keep wondering f te neighbors can here her and what they must think. I am holding on until Weds when I have some in-home help starting. All my other kids at home when this happens are little ones and I need someone to take care of them while I focus on E. I hope that with that focused attention we can swing back the other way. My heart is heavy tonight for both our families. Continued prayers for all of you.

    Reply
  20. debbie
    October 1, 2012

    So sorry! I know you must be discouraged. Praying for your family.

    Reply
  21. sleepyknitter
    October 1, 2012

    Oh, yes! I so understand — the perfect or at least relatively perfect moment that unexpectedly spirals out of control and makes what was intended to be love feel like some kind of devastation, the most needy child spiraling out of control until the less needy ones are spiraling, too, and there is not enough of Mommy and Daddy to go around, and then even Mommy and Daddy are spiraling. I personally know and feel the heartbreak through your words, though I think you know far more of it than I do and have known it for longer than I have. I wish I could help in some way! I wish someone could help us in these moments, too! These are very lonely, lonely moments. But I do treasure the fellowship, even the "digital" fellowship, that comes from blogs like yours. Thank you for writing about the bad moments and not just the good.

    Reply
  22. Tisha
    October 1, 2012

    Praying for you all, Lisa.

    Reply
  23. angela
    October 2, 2012

    I can feel the devastation… because you write well, but also, because we've been there. I'm sorry. It's hard. Prayers.

    I have little foster babies I have to protect from the hateful words and screams so we have designated the trampoline as the place to have a tantrum and scream. I cannot allow it in the house…( and it's been so hard because we have been engulfed in hazardous smoke and I have not been able to send the children outside to the trampoline. Now that the air is clearing we can do that once again and it makes a huge difference). Funny thing is, the tantrums are getting less and less… they aren't enjoying being up there on the hillside with no one to yell at.

    We can talk and work through the issues in the house, but if it escalates they have to work out the noise up on the trampoline then we can come back together to discuss. It is actually working pretty well for us and I just wanted to mention it in case there is a mom out there who needs to protect babies and lives in the country… has to be the right circumstances, to be sure, but anyway, for what it is worth.

    Reply
  24. Mavis
    October 2, 2012

    I think you must be the most courageous woman I (kind of) know. God has blessed you with the will to persist and He will continue to give you the courage and strength you need to continue. Be blessed.

    Reply
  25. charity
    October 2, 2012

    anytime you climb a mountain there is always a descent on the other side, light and darkness, pleasure and pain, without both, there is no real learning. and from another perspective, the vinyl quote on my wall this year is : If a family STANDS at the top of a mountain, they did not FALL there. reminds each of us that we need to work hard as a family to move forward. i wish this were a world where all the work we put in were evidenced in the outcomes…but i suppose that will have to wait for another scene in the play…thinking of you all and sending love your way.

    Reply
  26. Linda
    October 2, 2012

    If Dimples isn't in respite care and spirals downward is there a place for the rest of the kids to go to not have to be a part of it? Maybe outside…just a thought. Sounds like her outbursts are very hard on the kids-not to mention you.
    Respite care sounds like a safe and healthy option for all involved. I would be close to a nervous breakdown with continuous rage attacks. Not sur

    Reply
  27. Tricia
    October 2, 2012

    prayers and hugs

    Reply
  28. sleighs79
    October 2, 2012

    Even as I lift your family in prayer this evening, I am so blessed by your honesty and determination and commitment, even in the face of great sacrifice. Isn't that just what He's called us to? Sacrificial love – both your love for Jesus and your love for Dimples are shining through every word you share with us.

    Reply
  29. Carrie
    October 2, 2012

    Praying for you to find the solution and team that helps at this stage. Wish I lived closer to offer you some help. Sending a hug instead.

    Reply
  30. Ann
    October 4, 2012

    Lisa, thank you once again for being honest, you are being the hands and feet of Jesus and I still believe there will be incredible redemption. Praying and praying for you and all.

    Reply
  31. Laurel
    October 5, 2012

    So. So. Sorry.

    At some point, you may need to consider residential care. It has been best . . . for our Little Miss . . . and for the rest of the family. Hard . . . but good.

    Praying for you, Sweet Friend.

    Laurel

    Reply
  32. Karen
    October 6, 2012

    we have have a child that doesn't do weekends either. It stinks – and is so hard on the other kids. Will be interested in how your plan comes together –

    Reply
  33. amber mamian
    October 8, 2012

    It definitely is a two steps forward ten steps back type of flow in our home as well. There is just so much pain and ugliness that sometimes our wee ones cannot bear it and they spew it out onto us. It is so hard to watch and I am praying for you and your family now. I know you will get through this and I am so thankful the Lord has chosen the perfect family to raise this precious child. You are so strong and you are dedicated to her and that is what will help her through this. She will heal. And, the joy you will receive when she does will be more than you can ever imagine. Keep on truckin'

    Reply

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