Therapy Tuesday Is No More

Today we went to see the girls’ psychiatrist. She gave her blessings to stopping therapy until we find a Dan Hughes trained attachment  therapist. We are currently on four different waiting lists for  therapists I have interviewed over the phone. I will interview them in person as they have openings. The psychiatrist is concerned with finding GB more time away from Hope and the stress that accompanies being near her.  That should be possible now that we have waiver services for Hope.

Hope had four vicious tantrums over the weekend. The Dad is no longer allowing her to triangulate (thank you, Michael!) and Hope is not taking it well. The waiver service social worker is coming today to help us set goals for Hope. I have no idea of how many hours we are going to get, but I am hopeful.

We had several instances of Hope acquiring things that do not belong to her.  Trying to track down where they came from.

The Cavalry Signed On

All the required people showed up for our 3:15 at 3:30 today. The Dad and I have all the required paperwork signed. We officially have 24/7 crisis intervention in place. Our waiver worker is coming again on Monday to start setting up skill services and respite services. Mean while, I am looking at attachment therapists. I have had enough Therapy Tuesdays. It is time for a change. The therapist we have is not working. Hope is 6.5 and I hear the clock ticking loudly.

Support Needed

Today, at 3:30 PM Eastern Time, Hope’s ICM caseworker, the new waiver caseworker, and the new caseworker’s supervisor are meeting with The Dad and I here to see what support they can give us. If they say her needs are too intense, the only help left is an RTF and we won’t do it. 

Please pray for us all- that we will have support from this program and peace will visit (at least occasionally) again.

Before Parenting in SPACE Even Started

The Dad and I took an early flight to Chicago and were at the hotel before lunch. The Dad had signed us up for a pre-conference session run by Christine  Moers from Welcome to My Brain. Christine is very knowledgeable about what it takes to parent kids of trauma. I don’t think she calls them RADishes or RADlets, but they are still the same kids, kids who have come from the hard places. Christine is always real and a natural in front of a group. She is entertaining and I expected to enjoy this part of the conference.

Christine caught me with the first group exercise and I pretty much stayed in that place all weekend. Christine pretended to give each of us a magic wand that would change one behavior of one child. After we introduced ourselves, we were expected to tell the group what we would use our wand for. I was so caught up in listening to everybody’s story that when my turn came, I had not thought about my answer. My first instinct was to use my wand to protect GB, but that wasn’t one behavior. The next thing that popped into my head was the smirk Hope always has right after she successfully triangulated one person against another (usually me). I.HATE.THAT.SMIRK! After everybody had introduced themselves and used their wand, Christine asked us to think about the behavior we used the wand on. That behavior was our biggest trigger.

She gave us a couple of minutes to try and figure out why Hope’s smirk was a trigger for me. I closed my eyes and imagined Hope with her smirk on. As I was doing this, Hope’s face turned into my youngest brother’s face, but the smirk stayed the same.

My youngest brother went through his short life manipulating people to get what he needed or wanted. He was really good at it. I resented him most of his life. He died at 27, driving drunk, trying to outrun a state trooper after he side swiped a car. I had never made the connection before, but that was the force behind Hope’s ability to make me climb walls with just one smirk. I spent the most of the weekend in my head, trying to sort things out.

The lesson I took away from this session is that not only do I, as a parent of children with RAD have to become familiar with their triggers, but I have to deal with my own triggers from my past. It wasn’t a lesson I was looking for.

The Yin and Yang of Returning Home

I expected payback when The Dad and I returned from Chicago. GB was a little clingy. She told me everything she had done, interspersing how the items she brought kept me close. She slept in my night gown, which still smelled like me. She brought Ernie, which had been MK’s when she was little. She brought the sleeping bag I had given her pre-Hope. The friend who kept her sent me an occasional  picture and she was obviously coping.

Hope showed me everything the friend keeping her bought her- jackets, shirts, and plenty of Bling! When asked if she missed us, she said no. It was much funner at the other friends house. Outside of shoving all the stuff she got in GB’s face, Hope was fine Monday.

Then came Therapy Tuesday. Hope raged three different times Tuesday afternoon and she was vicious. She told the therapist she didn’t remember ranging, but on the way home, when I asked her how many times she raged today, she knew without even thinking about it. Sigh.

Hope is no more attached than she was 18 months ago.

The Significance of the Pickle: By The Dad

I follow many (OK some) of the same blogs that my honey follows. I very seldom comment, but I still get a sense of belonging from listening to others challenges, feelings, actions, ramblings, etc. We all need to feel we are not alone! And I thoroughly understand, and appreciate the support, encouragement, and advice she receives from this on-line community family. Lately I’ve been feeling a bit jealous of this.

Although my honey is on the front line dealing with our children’s issues more than I am, I do consider myself a very involved dad. I have a somewhat flexible work schedule and work from home more than from the office, so I am home frequently when the girls are home. And I have adjusted my priorities considerably in recent years to place a much higher priority on family #2.

After my honey returned from this year’s Trauma Mama retreat in Orlando I began to really think about the jealousy I was feeling. What about the dads? Am I the only one that feels this way? I was reading Christine’s blog when I discovered House Calls Counselings Parenting in SPACE conference.  And just like Arlo Guthrie said “It come like a flash, Like a vision burnt across the clouds” why don’t you go to this conference and get connected? And maybe they’ll be some other dads there, too. Thinking this could be a common experience that helps my honey and I get closer to being on the same page, I asked her to attend with me. “What the …. would we do with the girls?” Fast forwarding a bit….. she still didn’t want to go as we left for the conference last Friday….

WOW, what an experience! I had read a number of books and articles at my honey’s suggestion, on attachment theory and therapeutic parenting. I was NOT a non believer but I can’t say I was fully convinced. After hearing first hand the stories of many other parents experiences, and just one session on the Fundamentals of Attachment, all the books and articles came to life for me, and it all suddenly made sense. Not only made sense but looked almost obvious. Of course these kids respond differently. And of course you need to parent them differently than I was parented.  They are physically wired differently!

The sessions I attended were very informative and I learned, or validated a lot of critically important stuff. Now I have attended a variety of conferences, e.g. technical conferences for my job, and a number of conferences for a variety of volunteer organizations I have been involved in. Across the board I have found that as valuable as the content at these conferences is, the real value comes from having the opportunity to talk with, and laugh/cry with other people in similar circumstances. This conference was no different. I got to share my story, and hear the stories of many others that validated so much of what I was feeling. I made a number of new friends, AND there were dozens of other dads there!

I heard other dads express some of the same feelings I was having, and I gained valuable insight from listening to Michael Moers. I am not alone! And there is a significant role for the secondary caregiver. Thank you again Michael. I no longer feel jealous or left out. I have found a family that I am a part of. This family gets it, and I am so looking forward to staying connected through the blogs and FB. I guess I really need that iPhone now. :-).

The Importance of Parenting in SPACE

I went to the Parenting in Space (SPACE: Safety, Support, Supervision, Structure, Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy.) Conference this past weekend. I was wildly unenthusiastic about leaving the girls and flying to Chicago for three days. The Dad had decided we should go. He took care of all the arrangements and I went along with it, albeit dragging my feet and whining quite a bit. 

I already had the connections I had made in Orlando. There are many women that will listen to me whine, offer help when I am overwhelmed,  and make me laugh when it seems like I have forgotten how. I knew The Dad didn’t have this, but I didn’t think it mattered. After all, men do not have friends that connect on meaningful levels, and they most certainly do not have any interest in sharing feelings. I was wrong.

Any Trauma Mamas who have been to Orlando know that the best thing that comes out of it is the conviction that we are not alone. There are other women living the same crazy life that we are. On the way home from the conference, The Dad and I were talking about  what we each considered the biggest gains we took away from the weekend. For the Dad, it was the many DOTs (Dads of Trauma) he met. The Dad wrote about his perspective  and I will post what he wrote tomorrow.

I was really surprised by how much The Dad got out of the weekend. I was more surprised at how much I learned about myself. I will try to share as much as I can in this week’s posts.