Why the hell are they still in your room?

So, our children have lived with us for over 2 years, and they go through periods of sleeping in our room and sleeping in their own room. We have even put bunk beds in our room and made it very cramped so that they actually have a proper bed to sleep in. We know getting them into their own rooms isn’t going to be a quick fix. So we might as well get comfortable.

For the Logan, this has primarily been to try and find what works to get him sleeping – he doesn’t, or at least he didn’t. And often, he didn’t like anyone else to either. But moving house, taking melatonin plus sleeping in our room, plus exhaustive and exhausting experimentation work means… sometimes he actually does now.

And for Caitlin, it’s been anxiety, and inability to seek help (it honestly felt safer, to her, to self harm than seek help) and we are talking about an under 5 here, when this all began rearing its head. Sleeping next to me stopped that, eventually we could move to sleeping near me. And now it’s sleeping in my room even if I am absent, knowing I will be present later.

But even tonight, something has triggered her, she’s reverted back, she’s just been freaking out over us not being upstairs. Difference being, that now, we can even have the landing and hallway light off and she feels comfortable enough to get to the landing and make her presence be known from upstairs before she freaks out; the girl who would lie in bed until she was literally wetting herself, the girl who’d rather scratch herself until she bled so she didn’t have to scream for help, is actually getting out of bed and seeking our help. BECAUSE she’s in our room where it feels safe.

Shes been screaming that we aren’t up in the room, she can’t see us so she doesn’t know if we can keep her safe and her birth parents might show up and might try and take her away and hurt her.

And yet, I get “why the hell are they still in your room? What on earth are you doing setting them bunks up? you’re just inviting trouble… How old are they? How long have they lived with you? They have a good life now… they should appreciate that and learn to sleep in their own beds…”

Just a few of the more recent editions of the script that gets played over and over. Not that it’s really anyone’s business to be questioning the way I parent (or the way anyone parents for that matter). But to question you right back – think of the most traumatic thing you have ever been through since you had the “world knowledge” to understand it. Ok, how long did that take you to get over? Now imagine going through it and having your whole world ripped away from you twice. Everyone and everything you ever knew… twice. Again with the world knowledge to understand it.

That’s what these guys have been through, perhaps more, and without the world knowledge to even help themselves rationalise it. And worse still, without ever having made that connection with someone to be able to transfer any trust on to new adults. So having gone through it all without being able to trust anyone except each other (and even then, not really).

Now tell me that once you had built a safe relationship up with someone, following all of that, that you would not want to feel close to them at your most vulnerable time? The time where your memories rear their ugly heads, in such vivid dreams you cannot tell what’s real (from what is not). At the time when, in their early days, they experienced their most traumatic events.

And then ask yourself, where would you want to sleep? And understanding all of this, where would you want them to sleep? If your answer is still “well you should still have your own space to sleep” then either you have no empathy, or you are still not getting it, so just leave it be and stop asking. If you are getting it, stop asking me and back away. You don’t see the emotions that these children have to go through, that they should be naive to.

The underlying implication, of being questioned, is that I should be able to have my marital room to enjoy sex at will. I would give up anything for these two to feel safe, yes even chocolate… and anyone who knows me knows I would rather live without sex than chocolate, music, or a darn good book. But, does not having my own bedroom mean I can’t have sex? Really? C’mon guys, this may be England, but I am pretty sure there is no law that states “your marital room only, in the missionary position only once the children are sound asleep in their own rooms”. Never done it in the living room before? I’ve often heard talk of kitchen tables too… just saying.

But it’s not even about that. Surely, as a parent, your child’s welfare comes way above those things anyhow?

In short. If sleeping in my room is what they need, that’s what they are gonna have. Cause frankly, I don’t see anyone else out there making them feel safe, loved and happy. If I have to skip sex, or get inventive on where I can safely satisfy that need, that’s just the price I am willing to pay – but why is that anyone’s problem?

Can’t find the remote…

I know, as humans, there are times when we find ourselves wondering what it’d be like if we had a magic remote that enabled us to pause, rewind or even fast forward life.

Tonight, I am finding myself more in need of this all powerful, all magical and all enticing mystical remote than ever.

Yesterday, selfish old me, went to a lecture 3 hours followed by a spot of lunch with one of my new course mates and then used the chance of being child-free to go “santa shopping”. Yep, the time I get without prying eyes is so scarce that October really is a great time to be planning forward (amongst other reasons). But in all I was out of the house perhaps 6 hours.

That 6 hours was enough to trigger all sorts of anxiety, abandonment and separation issues for my children. For my eldest that meant, complete and utter refusal to sleep… and of course, in a way that means everyone else has to be awake too. Fed up of trying to play it out with patience. Fed up of feeding into another anxiety behaviour (lying and avoidance – at all costs – of the truth). Fed up of working around the clock. Fed up of being ill, in pain and unrested. Fed up of being punished for anything I do. Fed up, exhausted, ill, in pain, irritable, losing tolerance. I decided I couldn’t do it anymore.

 

Last night I had less than an hour’s sleep before giving up at 3am and saying “fine, you want to be awake, we’ll be awake, but not to play. This is not play time. It’s craft time. You will silently do crafts and not wake anyone else up.”

Since getting actually sick (on top of my exhausted bodily problems, my intolerances and the problems with my gall bladder etc.) I have been struggling to get back on my feet. And every time I think I am getting somewhere, I get struck down again by another bug, by the bug’s second wind, by exhaustion over being ill. I dunno. Just anything. And this lack of sleep, the lack of energy to plan, buy, prep and eat foods that won’t make me more ill. All of it is adding a toll I can’t compensate for.

And this evening I find myself torn. I literally feel like I just need to check out of life. Like I just need everything to stop, like taking me and the kids away to a hotel, locking ourselves away for a week. Snacks, toys, activity books, drinks, bath sensory play stuff and the bare essentials besides that. And just stay in the room, ordering room service, having breakfast in the room. Occassionally popping out for air. But away from everyone. And away from all responsibility and just get better. Properly.

But I can’t just hit the pause on life. Cause they need therapy. I have appointments outstanding, various professionals chasing me for a sensory questionnaire, or an educational philosophy, or a behavioural and emotional update.

I am one fricking person. Just one. Dealing with 2 complex children, home educating, providing therapy and guidance where so many damn professional bodies shirk responsibility “oh no, ‘a’ is an adopted child, that’s not our responsibility”, “nope. It’s not in the adoption support plan, that you agreed to [before you ever met the children, based on a report that clearly doesn’t even represent these children cause no one ever took the necessary time to actually even try to understand them] so no we won’t provide that help”. Trying to keep a house clean 24/7 as anything looking messy makes Logan feel chaotic and act chaotic and emotional. Trying to stay on top of all admin, prepare for a run of birthdays and then obviously Christmas. And generally just live.

My body is broken. My mind is broken. I am broken. I am not useful whilst I am broken. And I don’t know how to fix myself without the money I don’t have, the support I don’t have or time I don’t have.

Where is the remote?

Silence. Being Unsettled.

Sorry. Once again. Sorry for my silence.

One of the biggest problems in an adoptive placement is how quickly the settled can become unsettled again. And “unsettled” is definitely one word that could be used towards describing the last couple of weeks.

Things got a bit disruptive, and then I got exhausted. Having trouble with my gall bladder (and consequently my liver) meaning that I can not consume dairy, or meat, means I need to follow a vegan diet – which is time consuming for someone who also refuses to eat processed foods (so no meat substitute). So, when things get tense chaotic and busy here I end up sacrificing my required diet; despite knowing quite what it means in terms of tummy consequences, pain and fatigue, I do it anyway because “it’s just me” and I really just don’t have the energy anyhow, feeling fatigued and in pain is only one step further right?

Well, that’s what happened until Caitlin got a tummy bug and I caught it. BAM! My body is so physically run down that, what was a 12 hour stint for her was a 5 day stint for me, with coming close to hospitalisation as my blood sugar dipped. But that would have brought about a whole other level of issues with the kids – so I said “if it’s not too risky, I would like to stay at home a while longer, with guidance, so I can see if I can get better without spiraling the kids into despair”. So, with some guidance, I stayed at home and rested. And got gradually better.

But I had lost 8lbs, my stomach had shrunk so eating was difficult and often uncomfortable and for the next 10 days, or so, every part of me hurt, every activity exhausted me and/or had to be done in stages. And then a cold hit the household and I got taken back down again.

I am slowly getting back on top of things, but in between all the ill, I have had to pick up the pieces of the kids feeling so disturbed by me being so physically out of action. In the history of their lives with us, I have only been down for 1 period of time other than this, and luckily it was Christmas so Bruce was home to help. I have my issues, but nothing that really floors me very often, just the odd day here and there. So for them it is so hard to see me so fragile and useless. I am the only person that is there for them 24 hours a day, and suddenly I wasn’t. For children who’ve lived in at least 3 families (birth, foster and adoptive) which is the minimum usually for an adopted child, abandonment issues are right under the surface; your main carer suddenly being rendered useless is abandonment in their eyes – they are going to lose another family… again.

So that’s where we have been (added to therapeutic assessments, hospital appointments and starting a degree – yes I am crazy enough to add a degree and a blog to my work load).

Right now I can’t promise to be writing at a specific interval, all I can promise is that my “working towards” aim is to be publishing a”main” blog post weekly, and perhaps some smaller ones, or reviews in between if and when. But for now, I just promise I will write as often as I can, give as much of myself as is possible, write notes in between of things I need to catch up with and then catch up when I can.

That’s just the way life is for us, our pleasant chaos; it’s mad, it’s busy, it’s impossible… but we wouldn’t change our lives for the world. (Obviously we would add things in, like actually therapeutic support… but we wouldn’t go back and erase, or eradicate anything).