Tag Archives: Therapy

Be Better

Parenting is hard. It a sustained job, lasting hopefully a lifetime. There are innumerable challenges. There are hopes and dreams that sometimes aren’t based in reality. There soooo many decisions, seriously, so many decisions. It’s self-sacrificing, expensive and a deeply emotional experience. You will go through every emotion in existence and make up a few too.

And failure is on a pretty wide continuum. A couple of mistakes and you could lose your child in any number of ways–to the system, to your poor choices, to their poor choices, to someone else’s poor choices. So much is on the line all the time.

It’s awesome and exhausting.

I totally get why so many adult adoptees are like, “please get your ish together before adopting.” They aren’t wrong.

I periodically go down memory lane pondering my choice to create my little family this way. I remember folks giving tons of unsolicited advice. I remember knowing it was the right choice for me, but not appreciating just how…big it was. Don’t get my wrong, I know it’s live altering for me and for Hope, but I dunno, I just never could wrap my hands around just how huge it was.

I’m grateful that I’d had decades of therapy before becoming Hope’s mom. I swear, after all Hope and I have gone through, I think it should be mandatory for APs to be in therapy pre-placement. The need for self-awareness is essential. Of course, even with therapy, you’ll still fail at times, maybe even a lot.

I was chatting with an adoptee recently, about their childhood and the lasting impact. Honestly, I had to wipe a few tears, when I really wanted to just breakdown. It’s tough learning that child didn’t get so many emotional needs met, likely because the APs didn’t know therapeutic interventions were needed before things became dire. They didn’t get that this child’s needs were different than their siblings, that not having those needs met resulted in so much hurt, so much more trauma and so much more distrust.

I found myself wondering about the ways in which I might have met Hope’s needs better. Like, I know that my reaction to Hope’s sick drama is rooted in the really over-the-top ways she sought attention in the first Thanksgiving when she got overwhelmed she sat in my cousin’s floor, stripped her sock and shoe and stared at her foot for nearly an hour while complaining of having a muscle spasm. It’s like I’m anchored in that memory and ever since my reactions to Hope getting sick have been less than stellar. Oh, I always make sure she gets necessary medical attention, but my initial reaction is to downplay her cries in my head.

I legit know this backstory and I’m still stuck in the memory of Hope staring at her foot. Over the years I’ve learned to be better, but I hate admitting that the doubt rises whenever she complains. I hate myself for it too, especially like after I realized Hope was indeed having a bad reaction to the second Pfizer shot about 30 hours later.

I guess listening to this person talk about what it was like, and knowing other glimpses of their journey, I know that sometimes I am seeing their reaction to that distrust, the PTSD that formed in the moments of the most need so many years ago. Like, when parents eff up, if we live long enough we can figure out if we hit a sweet emotional spot during our child rearing. We need some hyper-awareness about that going in, and especially we foster or adopt.

Hope and I have been in therapy together and separate since day one. I’m glad. I’m also glad I had been in therapy since undergrad. Certainly there have been times I’ve taken breaks, but it has pretty consistently a part of my life for over 30 years. I’d think my fvck ups would be so much worse if I hadn’t been in therapy and didn’t double down on it once Hope came along.

In any case, as I talk to this person more, I’m challenged to really deeply think about what’s at stake long term and how best to guard against harmful parenting. I can’t protect Hope from everything, but gosh, I need to keep working on me so at least I’m not a suspect! I’m nearly 50 still talking to my mom and asking for advice, so this parenting thing is a lifetime gig. There’s absolutely not excuse for not chasing continuous improvement in parenting. Holy Homeboy willing, you will have decades of time to grow and do this thing better. Getting better and being better.

That’s the challenge APs, we just gotta always pushing the desire to BE BETTER. There is always room for us to get better.


Nine Months Later

I’ve been on the road ever since Hope and I returned from #thebestspringbreak ever. It has been kind of grueling and I know that it’s been hard for my daughter. She’s a great sport when it comes to my job; I know that Hope is not thrilled that I travel so much (neither am I half the time), but she knows that it is just the way things are.

This month’s travel connected me with colleagues and friends who I deeply care about so there’s been lots of bar time catching up, thinking about new collaborations and debriefing on the workshops we ran or sat in on. I love my work, but it’s these times when I’m super energized—hanging out with cool, creative souls whose work dovetails with mine and who like to work together to change the world. Bar time makes the whole ordeal of preparing content, schlepping to the airport and being away from my family worth it.

This weekend, I participated in a leadership workshop in which I was asked to consider a number of questions about my life that I realized needed further examination. I found myself listing incidents that positioned me or push/dragged me to the next level of personal development. I did this exercise last fall in a colleague’s workshop, but I guess I was still in the thick of things and didn’t have the perspective I do now.

I started thinking about last year’s car accident and my head injury and what these last 9 months have been like.

I started thinking about how the injury blossomed; it took more than a week for most of the symptoms to emerge. I started thinking about all the weird things that seem different after the accident. I never had dry eyes before. I still occasionally experience aphasia and some short term memory issues. I get tired more easily than I used to when I’m doing more brain work. My feel for numbers eventually came back and I’m comfortable with my research and data analysis and can spout off my findings but something still feels just off 9 months later.

Ironically I don’t have a word to better describe “feeling off.” It just doesn’t come quite as easy as it did before.

Normally I dive in and research a lot about what is going on neurologically with Hope. I want to understand the science behind what she’s experiencing and struggling with and why. In 9 months I have never done that with my brain injury. It’s like getting that info makes it real, concrete, and maybe semi-permanent. I’m not sure I want to know if the rest of my life will really be reflected in a pre-post accident way. I’m not sure I want to know a lot about how post-concussion syndrome comes back a year post accident. I’m not sure I want to fully know what I’m dealing with.

So, I just don’t deal with it. #surpriseme

My attorneys aren’t thrilled with my refusal to really understand the nature of my injuries. That’s ok, I’m not thrilled that I found myself having to sue the other party. The suit isn’t frivolous; I have real impact and expenses, but the suit just makes things linger around for who knows how long—much like my symptoms and in the words of Hope, “Can we just not?”

I was asked this weekend about why I didn’t tell people about the accident and my injury. It’s not shame or worry. It’s just…I wanted to move on. I wanted to push through. I wanted to get back in control after going through a period that seemed really uncertain. I’m a control freak. I wanted to push my brain (including the rest it needed) to get its ish together.

I didn’t want to accept that the accident would redefine me in any way. Nine months later, I can admit that it was a turning point. Life after a brain injury is different. It just is. I’m ok; I’m still sharp, and I feel like most of my black girl magic is back, but it’s not the same.

I am different, and it’s a pretty fair guess that things will never be what they were before I was hit in the 3rd Street tunnel on my way to work.

This is my life post-trauma.

Last night I was turning this fact over in my tired brain, and I thought about Hope’s experiences with trauma. I started thinking what I learned about her when we were first matched and what I’ve learned about her life since. I thought about how my own avoidance of emotionally dealing with my ONE injury stacked up against Hope’s reluctant work on her multiple moments of trauma.

I remain in awe of her. She’s done some remarkable work in these last few years. I know she’s healthier for it, but I know that that stuff is still there, that the effects just linger and reemerge periodically.

Hope was sharing with me recently how she had shared her life story with someone recently and how it made her feel—seemingly a bit numb. I considered how hard I have worked to avoid dealing with the emotional part of my injuries and how week after week, I take Hope to therapy to wrestle with her memories of trauma. It’s incredibly hard work.

I know she struggles with it. I know she sometimes hates going to therapy to talk about her pain. I see it in her eyes. I hear it in her voice. And yet, she never fights me about going. She goes, and she engages. She does the work.

I asked her recently about how it felt to go to therapy. She shrugged, said it was easier than it used to be. I asked her if she thought it helped. She sighed and nodded her head.

I go to therapy as well, but I haven’t spent much time working on what it feels like to be affected by a brain injury. I haven’t done that work. Other than a couple of sessions during the worst of my symptoms, I just haven’t talked about it. It’s been easier not to.

I suppose I owe it to myself and to Hope to go wrestle with the baggage I acquired 9 months ago. I can’t say I’m looking forward to doing this work, but Hope is right: it gets better.


Old Visions & New Identities

With the New Year, like many people, I often take time to take account of what happened the previous year, consider what I hope will happen the next year and just take a moment to breathe the present.  The last couple of years, I’ve also embarked on creating a vision board using Powerpoint.   I use pictures, words, clip art, etc to create a vision for what I want to happen in my life for the next year.  I print it out and post it somewhere in the house so I see it every day.  I’m not necessarily into the whole “Secret” thing, but I do believe in making sure I stay focused on moving things around in my life to make that vision a reality.

So, in 2013 my vision board tackled this adoption journey, a bathroom and bedroom renovation, some vacation time, health improvement, faith building, advancement towards graduation, seeing a group of girlfriends that I adore and finding love.

Well, you know how the adoption thing is going.  The dissertation is underway (Woot, starting chapter 5 this weekend!!).  I did some bathroom updates myself on the cheap, enough to get me by for now.  Hope’s bedroom is shaping up fabulously.  I saw my girlfriends when one got married. Vacations got subbed with trips to see Hope.   I grew in my faith and in my church.  I began 2014 weighing the same thing I weighed a year ago (eh, could be worse, shrug).  And then there was love; love was nowhere to be found in 2013.

Sigh.  For some reason in the last 24 hours, the lack of romantic love bothered me the most.  Never mind that my life is about to be turned upside down with the adoption; nope, last night I found myself crying out to God, “Hey, what about the brown chocolate dude I put on that vision board last year?  Huh?  What about him? Where is he?  I even put a pair of wedding rings on my vision board. Come on man!!  Holy Dude, what is up with that???  Well I’m putting it on the board again! ”  Then I cried.  Oh, good grief, these emotional landmines are ridiculous…Jeesch!

I haven’t cried about being single in a long time; honestly I can’t remember the last time I got emotional about being single.  Sure, there’ve been lonely moments, but I’ve dated a lot over the years, had good relationships, not so good ones, ones that I thought would lead to marriage and others where I just knew it was never going to work, but boy were they  fun <smirk>.

All this emotion came out of nowhere, and it annoys me.  I haven’t really had time to think about dating in months.  I saw someone off and on for a few months, a lingering relationship that was kind of comfortable, but we both knew it wasn’t going anywhere.  The upside is that it wasn’t a relationship that was threatening to my goals since I knew it wasn’t going to lead to anything permanent, and require me to navigate figuring out this parenting thing, this dissertation thing and then the whole real relationship thing.  We remain friends, but we’ve moved on.

I know that I’m not in a space to handle a serious relationship at the moment, but I suppose I didn’t realize that underneath it all there’s a loneliness I simply wasn’t cognizant of until I took a moment to take stock of life.   I don’t mind being alone, but I just didn’t know I was kind of lonely until I was putting another faceless Tyson Beckford-esque looking dude on my 2014 vision board.  I do wonder whether the loneliness is somewhat exacerbated by some of the isolation I feel on this adoption journey.   I don’t really know.

I also wonder whether it has to do with the identity shift that’s so imminent.  The day that Hope arrives I’ll officially be a Single Black Mom (SBM) in addition to ABM.  I’ll be a SABM.  Ugh, acronyms.

And since I don’t plan to go around announcing that Hope is adopted, the absence of a partner potentially puts me into an identity category rife with stereotypes and unpleasant narratives.  It also creates a narrative for the imaginary man that folks will assume passed through my life about 13 years ago, whether he was a husband or just a ‘baby daddy.’  Hear me clear, I have nothing against SBMs, but like most, I didn’t expect to be one.  I’m so excited about this chapter, but something about the looming new identity and the absence of even the imaginary dude has me mourning what I thought my life would be like at this point.

I’ve been thinking about that life a lot lately.  I didn’t think I was still mourning it, but the parallels and bittersweet episodes that put me on the path to adoption occasionally lead me to think about what might’ve been.  I’m a doer, so I resigned to change my life when things didn’t turn out the way I expected, but I guess I still think about that life.

I do wish I had a partner on this journey.  I wonder when I’ll have another date.  I wonder if I’ll end up as one of those moms on an afternoon talk show, desperately needing a makeover because I started wearing “mom jeans” and just stopped grooming because I accepted never going on another date because I was so devoted to my kid, and I just let myself go.  Yikes.  So dramatic.

I don’t want to be that person either, even though I intend to be devoted to Hope.  I still hope, in time, to go out with the hot single dad that I met when I forced her to play one season of county soccer, during which time she sulkily rode the bench, while looking forward to the after-game pizza party.  I want to be that SABM.  I want to still have a separate identity as a fun, sexy, desirable woman.  I’m a little afraid that the Single Black Female (SBF) that I’ve known all these years will just cease to exist for a while.  That makes me sad…and a bit lonely.   Sigh.

This life changing stuff is a messy, messy business….a business that, apparently, will keep my therapist in nice shoes for many years to come.


K E Garland

Inspirational kwotes, stories and images

Riddle from the Middle

real life with a side of snark

Dmy Inspires

Changing The World, With My Story...

Learning to Mama

Never perfect, always learning.

The Boeskool

Jesus, Politics, and Bathroom Humor...

Erica Roman Blog

I write so that my healing may bring healing to others.

My Mind on Paper

The Inspired Writing of Kevin D. Hofmann

My Wonderfully Unexpected Journey

When Life Grabbed Me By The Ears

imashleymi.wordpress.com/

things are glam in mommyhood

wearefamily

an adoption support community

Fighting for Answers

Tales From an Adoption Journey

Transracialeyes

Because of course race and culture matter.

SJW - Stuck in the Middle

The Life of Biracial Transracial Adoptee

%d bloggers like this: