Getting there… again.

Hi all,

It feels like I spend my entire life at the moment feeling like I am going backwards, or clawing back some semblance of normality. Like some kind of “on top” of things, and some kind of basic routine. And some regular kind of self-care and restoration.

But here I am with a mortgage sorted, living in my own home, having handed the keys back to the rental we were in. Having sorted our paperwork, shredded things, and in the process of sorting things out we can sell, dispose of or give to charity. The garden is slowly becoming less a mess of bramble, bindweed and nettles meaning we are going to have more access to the metal, glass and scraps underneath. Every step closer we get is one step closer at a life that’s ours, that cannot be undermined, overruled or sidelined.

Closer to an organised chaos. A chaos we can both enjoy and relax in.

Stop and think

After watching friends be torn to shreds by other so-called friends…

Suffering and endurance are relative experiences. Relative to what you have been through, and faced in the past. Relative to the things that accumulate in your current circumstances. Relative to the support network, chance of recuperation and positive inputs in your life. And relative to the likelihood of you overcoming the obstacles on your path.
 
Don’t assume that you know how a person feels about a scenario that seems trivial to you. The person may be moaning about the thing that is actually the straw breaking the camel’s back in a bigger picture that is obscured to you.
 
Support one another. Stop and think about what you are going to say and whether it’s fair. And definitely don’t invalidate someone’s suffering.
love

Just updating…

So, another busy week in the Chaos household.

Still getting sorted from the house purchase, been cleaning the old house and getting that emptied. And somehow trying to keep the children occupied, and mostly succeeding.

Next week, if all goes to plan, we will be giving the keys to our old house back and saying “goodbye” to having to communicate to the complete waste of space agency. HOORAY!!! Then life can really begin to pick up, there’ll be nothing anchoring me down any longer (well, financials always play some kind of part in anchoring, but meh, there are ways and means…).

We successfully managed a late night family party too. I cheated, I let them take their Kindle Fire, they don’t get much screen time, so when they do get it, it is amazing, and they don’t waste it – they are wholly consumed. Around 10 they started to get restless, and grumpy (they are normally in bed at 7) so we started to get ready to leave, but then nanny gave them a helium balloon each to take home… so naturally, we stayed for another hour as they ran around the room being complete loons.

Just to add to the madness though, I decided it would be fun to sprain my ankle and create some kind of knee impact injury, you know, just because why the hell not? I like a challenge.

Anyhow, old house almost handed back, Uni work almost complete for the academic year (final assignments over the next 2 weeks), new house almost in order inside (don’t even talk to me about the garden – 2 words “bindweed” and “brambles”), some semblance of normal chaos should resume shortly! WOOOOOOO

The Bank Holiday Hangover

This phrase has a slightly different meaning to me than it did before. Before it had obvious roots in alcohol and late nights. But nowadays, here, it has to refer to the post-change-in-routine behaviours that are so abundant the day after.

Unlike the change in routine that occurs around going on holiday, the Bank Holiday weekend sees us staying at home and avoiding the crowds that seem to amass everywhere. It’s like, being Bank Holiday weekend means people have to act like it’s a stay-cation and they become tourists in their own area or just a little further afield. Which is great, people bringing money into the local economy can only ever lead to positive growth for the local economy, and with growth comes security and development right?

There are some negatives come with it… things like litter but I’m teaching the children the right way to deal with that (dropping litter is only acceptable in Mumma’s car, if Mumma is driving and you can’t safely reach the car bin – everywhere else is unacceptable). Or traffic/noise pollution, but hey, without better public transport you’re not gonna change traffic, and with fun often comes noise but it’s not permanent or long lasting so…

But the biggest negative for us comes with the children. Busy places, loud places, public alcohol consumption and boisterous groups. All of these things anxiety triggers for the children. And whilst anxieties like this will need to be worked with in the future, right now they can be avoided and the children have so much they are working on, so we will avoid them, or only have them in small and controlled doses.

But the hangover. After 3 days of “hiding” we get the repercussions of our choices. The built up tension of being stuck in a confined area with one another for more extended periods than usual. Perhaps it’s the release of anticipation of something bad happening (and not coming to fruition) mixed in a bit too. As well as the overwhelming surge of emotion that comes with a sudden realisation of freedom.

Either way, the Bank Holiday Hangover involves no alcohol for me (I couldn’t handle a traditional hangover on top). But is just as physically draining. And I know we are not alone, I hear the same things from other adoptive parents and parents of children with additional needs.

DO NOT GIVE UP!

So, the day started with the best intentions of actually chilling. We are only a short few weeks into having purchased our new house and it’s been a bit of a mission. Aside from the general moving into a house-ness, the children being challenging etc. The garden is a mess. Brambles, bindweed, broken concrete path. I have really pushed to try and make things get done as quickly as possible, but it hasn’t been much fun for the children; though they have enjoyed helping their normal routine, toys etc. not really available.

So after taking a quick trip to the recycle centre (to get rid of some of the concrete path and some brambles) we sat down to a treat from the bakery and prepared to chill. I opened up my laptop and it pinged immediately.

The therapist, who I was about to email with our updated address… was at our old house for our pre-agreed therapy session… 30 minutes drive away!

DARN!

So I raced there.

Started an hour late, so instead of having Logan’s session, Caitlin’s session and then an adult session. We scrapped the adult session. Just as the therapists were about to leave, Logan ran, quite literally, into the corner of the playhouse. Gashed his cheek and eye. 2 hour wait in a Minor Injuries Unit and he may have concussion. So low physical and mental activity and keep an eye on him for 48 hours.

Then I went back to the old house to mow the rather large lawn… and I am finally home, at the new house, with my bottom firmly parked wondering what on earth has just happened. But then. This is just a normal day in our household. Things are this intense daily.

And so I look at what has been achieved today. Rubble and garden waste removal started, therapy done, proved that I will be there when he’s hurt/needs me, put everything to one side to make sure he feels like he’s been safely cared for, mowed a lawn, picked up loads more from the old house. And all safely in our new house to end another day together.

Even though the day seemed set against it, we’ve survived and achieved as a family.

Our pleasant chaos.

Who’s fault is it anyway?

I often get asked why the children aren’t “over it” yet. By “it” they mean the trauma of their past, by “over it” they mean, why haven’t they opened their eyes to see how lucky they are?

Well, you see, tonight a perfect example of how differently their brains are wired just got thrown at me in a kaboom kind of way…

We were having a discussion about “how rubbish the day has been” in his mind or rather how it isn’t as “ruined” as he thinks. And then contentment returns, sleep may be possible (note the “may”). But just before he goes to bed a thought pops up in his head “when I lived with my foster family, all of the other kids got taken to school first. I was always last”. The tone in his voice suggesting that it was because he was liked the least. We had a chat. Caitlin’s nursery was the closest, and she could start the earliest. The other 2 children in the foster home were taken to schools in order of the distance from home. He was still in the primary school he’d been attending when he lived with birth family. 40 minutes from the foster home.

But for a child that’s been neglected, abused and scapegoated, the only logical conclusion that anything can have happened the way it did is because they are a bad person. So, because he’s a “bad person” and no one could possibly like, let alone love him, it must be true that everything they do is a representation of that. After all it’s all they deserve.

He went to school last because people hate him. He has the last birthday in the year in our family because we hate him.

This is his true belief. How do you even go about reprogramming those patterns in someone’s brain?

Real empathy… where did it come from???

So today, I was floored.

A close family member’s leopard gecko died. The children love it – they go straight to the room where the gecko lives every visit and are very excited to handle her. So I knew they’d probably feel sad about it.

Logan is someone who feels his own sadness, usually more centred around what he won’t get to have/do any longer, rather than the actual grieving of it (I’m sure he feels loss but doesn’t understand it as sadness).

However, when I told him today, he broke his heart and said how sad it felt, then just went silent. A look of realisation came over his face, followed by a deeper wave of sadness. Then words came out of his mouth that I was not expecting. “I can’t imagine how Peter must be feeling, he must be very very upset” or words to that affect.

I am so glad I was sat down. I was definitely overcome. The boy who cannot regulate, doesn’t understand physical feelings, let alone emotional ones, and even when it’s pointed out will often chose the self-focused thought over empathy… did he just empathise with someone in the middle of expressing his own sadness? Did he feel and understand sadness enough to realise someone else may be feeling worse than him? I think he did.

So utterly motivated. He still can’t regulate, he still has moments where he’s wetting himself, making himself sweat unecessarily, still not letting himself express illness, respond to thirst. BUT – He just showed real empathy. This is massive. There is hope that we can help him understand emotion, consequences and selflessness. We have seen the first signs. It may not be a regular occurance for a while, but the door is open; we previously didn’t know if the door had been locked, and the key destroyed.

This is massive.

So…. um… yeah, I made it happen!!!

I said we had problems with our agency. And that if they didn’t want to resolve the issues I’d be leaving. Well… a little update on that covered in a few points below:

  • I reported them to the Property Ombudsman, not sure how much I can disclose about it, but they have my records, and see that there is a case to work with. Now the agency have been given time to provide their evidence so that the Ombudsman can go through and decide what has been correctly followed and what has not.
  • I worked my butt off and found us a house to move into, secured the mortgage and got completion through (viewing to completion took 9 weeks… I was pushing it and I made it happen fast).
  • I have managed to get the bulk of our furniture in place/built/setup and a lot of our stuff is now in.
  • The old house is not clear yet, but I still have about a month to get it sorted
  • in the midst of this I have kept up with my learning (on track with my degree), the bills are all being paid (and all addresses are slowly starting to be transferred across)
  • got internet setup in the new house (gone from a rural 3mb/s top speed to up to 100mb/s… it’s phenomenal). AND I bought a new laptop… so I can actually write now.
  • after figuring I need to have a storage bed (despite the large room size of the master bedroom, it’s an attic room so oddly shaped, and the walls aren’t all “wardrobe friendly”). I decided to plan an Ikea hack (I can link the details here at once it’s 100% finished) to make a superking sized, tall storage bed – by no means a high sleeper, but tall enough for me to have to actually climb into bed). Thinking if I go superking sized, when Caitlin refuses to sleep in her own bed, and Logan gets jealous and wants to sleep in there too… I may have some hope of at least an extra 3cm (don’t ruin my thunder, I do realistically understand that I will have one in my back, the other in my face, cramp and no sleep).

But, the cherry on top absolutely has to be… for a whole week now we’ve been sleeping at the new house. And they have slept (maybe not most people’s definition of slept, but remained in their own beds until “get up” time none the less) in their own rooms and not wanted to sleep in my bed. I actually have a bed with lot of space (unfortunately I also have a head with lots of thoughts that keeps waking me up in panics, but once we have everything here and the old house is mostly cleared down… I’m sure that’ll pass.

For the first time in a while, I am seeing a slither of hope that we might be able to gather some semblance of NORMAL… Still have two highy wired and anxious children but spring-summer marks them being ripped out of their family/family home every year for the last few years so why wouldn’t they be??? But with that slither of hope comes a burst of energy that’s keeping me focused on plodding forward.

 

night