Every now and then Hope and I go through this absurd production written, starring and exclusively produced by Hope to get my attention.
These plays typically occur close to major holidays, schedule disruptions or anytime Hope apparently doesn’t think she’s getting enough attention.
[Cue Sophia Patrillo Voice]
Picture it: abdominal pain, usually cramps (which can legit be a problem).
Cramps worsen and ‘spread’ to the entire stomach.
Becomes accompanied by either constipation or diarrhea; initially faked.
She works herself into a frenzy, at which point the constipation or diarrhea become legit.
Cry and moan, occasionally hyperventilating, like a bad actress in a bad horror movie.
Other side show ailments begin to emerge, including but not limited to short term amnesia, ear infections, inability to swallow, inability to talk at all, and something akin to what looks like a druggie nod.
Crying and gnashing of teeth; sometimes yelling.
[End Act I]
We’re regulars at the local Patient First; always the same diagnosis. Nothing wrong, maybe a little dehydrated. Go home, drink some water, eat some fruits and veggies.
Anyhoo, after our girl-fest weekend, I thought I’d fed the attention beast enough to sidestep her need to put on this play of Two Acts., but no, she managed to orchestrate her drama today with minimal warning.
The only warning I had was when I called to check on her this afternoon and she indicated that she didn’t know where I was; I didn’t tell her I was going to work (I did) and she wondered when I would be home.
Well, I missed my cue, because while I was at the grocery store she called in full on hysterics, yelling into the phone, moaning, screeching and vocalizing in an incoherent manner so loudly that other line-mates looked on with concern.
I tried reasoning with her, and she just couldn’t finish a sentence—she was clearly dying a quick and horrible death.
She could not get it together—not at all, so I eventually hung up.
We’ve been here before.
I set my basket down, picked up Yappy from daycare and headed home. On my way, I try to figure out why she got triggered. I also tried to control my own rage at having to “Play” this thing out with her tonight. It’s exhausting, expensive and while I intellectually get it, I find it to be over the top manipulation.
I get home to find a child who is now calm.
[Cue my simmering anger]
“Come on, let’s go to the urgent care.”
“Oh, I don’t need to go to the urgent care, I just wanted to know when you were coming home.”
“Bull sh!t, you know the drill; put your shoes on and let’s go play this out.”
Off to the urgent care we went. Somehow on the way she developed amnesia and a busted knee which brought about an exaggerated limp—gotta make the most out of this urgent care visit.
In triage, I made her tell the nurse what was wrong with her because well, this was her drama. I’m just here to pay for the front row tickets.
Lots of concern.
Blood pressure and oxygenation: Perfect:
Flu test: Negative.
Blood work: Great, if not sludgy because of dehydration.
Abdominal palpation: She flinched a tiny bit, triggering the newbie nurse practitioner to ponder appendicitis.
Meanwhile, Hope is giggling, chatty. It’s like giving a dry flower water.
No, she does not have appendicitis.
Will I bring her back to check in tomorrow?
Hell naw, this play is over.
They gave her some Tylenol (that no doubt cost $50), and handed me a discharge slip.
Something different happened this time around though. Typically this drama is so predictable…I know my lines, she knows hers. But she added some this time.
While waiting for the urinalysis she said, ”I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry for what?”
“I’m sorry I yelled at you on the phone. I just wanted to know when you were coming home.”
I did not know what my lines were supposed to be, so I had to improvise.
“Um, I told you I had a couple of errands and I had to pick up Yappy. All of the drama was not necessary. I would’ve been home soon. All of this drama is ridiculous and you know that. You could have just called me to see if I was on my way.”
On our way home, she apologized again.
“I know I do this over and over again, so you probably don’t think I’m really sorry, but I am.”
“I know. What will you do next time?”
“You can just call me without the drama. This girl who cried wolf has gotten old. How will I be able to tell if something is really wrong?”
I know she is sorry. I don’t know if she has the skills to do something different and better next time. I expect that there will be more visits to the urgent care.
What’s frustrating is that I know she can’t help it. She knows I’ll take care of her. She knows I’ll drop everything to see about her.
But her trauma brain still doesn’t know that. This is how she survived; she is how she got her needs met. I know that even though she knows on some conscious level that she doesn’t have to do this, that that primitive brain of hers will continue to put on this kind of drama every few months.
And we’ll go through the motions again and again until that hurt brain realizes I’m not going anywhere.
December 20th, 2016 at 8:17 am
If they make a drama vaccine I will let you know when I get on too. Sounds so familiar I nodded my head your whole post. Good work keeping cool and remembering what it is all about. Very impressed she apologized too, that looks like some solid progress.
December 20th, 2016 at 10:47 am
I’m trying to stay positive, but in the moment, I just want to yell and scream louder than her. I don’t, but I want to! I take her to the urgent care for 2 reasons: natural consequences are getting poked and prodded & so she does know that I am willing to care for her even when she is being a pain in my a$$.
December 20th, 2016 at 8:37 am
Oh my god the psychosomatic symptoms. My girl is physically as healthy as a horse except for those mysterious (and *urgent*!) psychosomatic symptoms. And like you, “while I intellectually get it, I find it to be over the top manipulation.”
My girl does not understand on even an intellectual level that her symptoms are about anxiety and attention seeking. She truly expects the doctors to find something organic. And worst of all, when there’s no organic explanation, she blames it on her medication and renews her campaign to go off of her meds. (No, no, NOOO!!)
December 20th, 2016 at 10:49 am
I definitely know that Hope knows that she overplayed her hand last night. She gets it. Still not exactly sure what the trigger was, but she was really, really extra. Hope is very compliant with meds and stuff, but I dunno, this trauma brain stuff is so messy. Sometimes I just don’t get it.
December 20th, 2016 at 9:24 am
Oh girl! If this isn’t the story of my last few weeks with Mary. She had the second of her 4 yearly visits with her mom (mom missed the first one!) and that visit plus the holiday’s and her birthday coming havebecome the trifecta of Mary’s unraveling! The BS we have had to deal with for attention these past 3 weeks have been nothing short of FIVEFINGASTOTHEFACE-worthy, but you know, laws and what not! And much like Hope, she KNOWS well enough what she’s doing, and that WE KNOW what she’s doing, but it just….it’s a lot!
Hope is just under twice Mary’s age, but I think emotionally they are about the same age (Mariah is VERY mature emotionally for her age) so I’m hoping, like Hope, Mary will start to understand that all of this is more irritating than anything, becuase like our parents, and their parents before them, and before them, and etc…we know EVERYTHING!
December 23rd, 2016 at 9:21 am
Girlllllll, listen. We try to reflect after we have some distance I told her that when she told me she just wanted to know when I was going to be home all I could think about was how the law was going to get me if I was near her because…well, you know. 😡😡😡
Yes Hope is very young emotionally. We’ve made some gains, but it’s been slow and emo age and chron age aren’t even close.
December 20th, 2016 at 11:12 am
You’re an absolutely brilliant writer. This is so funny and endearing at the same time.
December 23rd, 2016 at 9:13 am
Awww! ❤ Thanks! 😉 All true; our shenanigans are something else! 🙂
December 22nd, 2016 at 12:02 am
Greetings from Canada ☺Thank you for sharing your journey through motherhood. I just found this blog and I am so happy! As a single black woman who is beginning to map out my own plans for adoption, I really appreciate your willingness to share your journey with others. Thank you so much!
December 23rd, 2016 at 9:12 am
Thanks so much for your comment. I really appreciate it. There are relatively few people of color writing about adoption, so the support means a lot! ❤ Have you decided on what kind of adoption you will pursue? All the best on your journey!
January 2nd, 2017 at 11:01 am
“On my way, I try to figure out why she got triggered. I also tried to control my own rage at having to “Play” this thing out with her tonight. It’s exhausting, expensive and while I intellectually get it, I find it to be over the top manipulation.” and “fed the attention beast”.
Thank you! I thought I was crazy. This perfectly describes the back-&-forth with my daughter. Insane jealousy over her younger brother. He came to live with us first, then she came unexpectedly a few months later. Her adoption was finalized in Sept., & we’re still waiting for his adoption. I’m constantly trying to do better & not letter the “attention beast” trigger my own anger, but the constant neediness, clinging on, & jealousy wear me down. Thank you for letting me read words of understanding & that I’m not the only one.