So remember how I'm trying to do the no-yelling thing? Yeah... it's been going... okay. Yelling has gone down substantially but my frustration level rose to a crisis level. A sort of dreading going home, trying to resist the urge to run away crisis level. It was really, incredibly unpleasant and a little scary for me for awhile. I honestly have never been so explosively angry in my life and it is a horrible feeling. Terrifying really. So there was a lot of hiding out/avoiding home. Does this sound bad? It was, it was bad.
I don't regret the no-yelling though because it kind of forced an emotional crisis that would've happened eventually. And perhaps this is a normal thing? I don't know. I do know that one of my friends once told me that she wanted to "throw her daughter across the room". And when I was like "Oh ha ha ha. Yeah it must be hard." She said "No seriously, I want to throw her. I don't. But I'm dead serious that I want to do it." At the time I thought she was joking, that it was just the sleep deprivation. But now I can say that I know exactly where she was at. And it is a dark, dark place.
So I started calling in the experts, any social worker I could get my hands on for advice, the blogsphere of adoptive parents and books, books, books. Our social worker was awesome, she said "I know it's hard. He's mourning his losses and it's so upsetting because there's pretty much nothing you can do to help him."
I assume that most parents when their child is upset, sad or hurts himself can pick that child up and comfort them because that child knew them for 9 months before he ever took his first breath. When I pick my child up he screams louder. Sometimes he goes ballistic over a small frustration as if the small trigger brought back a world of pain that he doesn't know how to reconcile. Some of this is toddler stuff, some of it is adoption stuff. I'm not a social worker so I don't know the difference, all I know is that it sucks.
It sucks a lot.
But we did get to talk things out with our social worker and she gave us some helpful advice: Pick him up as much as you can. Take him swinging with you. Do any activity you can get him to do in your lap. Treat him like you would treat an infant, physically and cognitively he is almost two but the trauma of the adoption gives him a much younger emotional age. Baby him as much as you can... We had stopped picking him up every time he asked because frankly he's already really heavy to carry around for extended periods of time. This was a huge mistake and we paid the price. So now I basically carry him around all day long. Soon my left arm will be strong enough for me to enter it in Guinness book of records. This one simple change however has made a huge difference. HUGE. He's calmer, happier and more able to handle everything. And when he is calmer, happier and more able to handle things, so am I.
I'm not telling this story because it's fun to share my bad moments. Just seeing all of my mistakes printed out in black and white makes me cringe. I'm telling this story because I want to be real, about everything. Elian has brought me unimaginable joy but his arrival has also exposed terrifyingly dark parts of myself. I didn't have the preparation I needed to help him or the experience of knowing what to do and I am indebted to all the parents (adoptive or otherwise) who freely shared their struggles in books and on the web. People like to say that "love is enough" but love is fickle and people are imperfect. Love is not always enough. We come with dings and scratches and faulty steering.
Sometimes we need help.
Sometimes your love won't be enough. Sometimes you'll need help. And that's why I'm telling my story.