In therapy this weekend we talked to Bear about why he feels he has to leave at 18.
Belief: Bear said it was because when he was in foster care he was told he would be kicked out/ leaving as soon as he came of age (in Nebraska that's when he turns 19, but here in Texas it's when he turns 18). Because he had this "belief" he made many "assumptions" which he'd never questioned. These assumptions fuel his distancing behavior with us.
Of course we told him we love him, and we want him to stay. There is no reason to leave.
Belief: Bear was also told by many people that he wouldn't make it when he was on his own. So he feels he has to prove everyone wrong, and he has to do it all by himself. He of course assumed we felt the same way, and he gave something Hubby has said to him a few times over the years as an example. Apparently Hubby has brought up the fact that Bear's biodad has been in jail as an example of what could happen to Bear. I know Hubby was trying to point out to Bear that stealing, doing drugs and skipping school are not the best way to stay out of jail, but of course to Bear it was reinforcing Bear's belief that everyone thought he couldn't live on his own. Added to the fact that he "knew" he had to leave and this was a threat.
Of course we told him that he probably could survive on his own, but there was no need to. We told him that we wanted to give him the opportunity to thrive. We reminded him that even though we are adults, we still come to our parents for advice and support. He is not alone, and we're going to be there for him. We want to be there for him, and not because we don't think he can do it, but because we love him and want the best for him.
No idea what this means for Bear's future with us.
He got to go to the football game with Hubby on Friday. He went scuba diving and finally finished his certification. He spent most of the day outside doing what he wanted to do. He's had a pretty good weekend. Will be interesting to see what happens next time he doesn't get what he wants.
Do want to mention one thing we've decided to start with Bear. A new way for him to "check in."
I like what Lisa's daughter J is doing which is a form of journaling that she's put on her blog Journey to Being a Normal Little Kid. It seemed to help her connect to her emotions and herself.
I felt mad when
I felt sad when (J apparently writes these each time, so she often writes now, "I didn't feel ________ today.")
I felt scared when
I feel glad that
The things I like about myself are:
I am grateful for:
I couldn't remember the exact wording when I told the therapist about this. Bear of course is adamantly against anything to do with writing. We talked about letting Bear do this verbally, but my issue with that was timing. Bear tends to only approach me when I'm in the middle of dealing with other things (and then using that as an excuse to never approach me). I'd rather this be something he does that we can pick and choose when to discuss it with him. If we see something upsetting or interesting then we could seek him out, otherwise we might only talk about it 2-3 times a week.
Here's the therapist's suggested wording:
I was feeling ____________ when? _________________________.
I asked for help when ____________________________ from who? _______________
What was the outcome? ________________________________ This was + or -.
I want him to start accessing and being aware of his emotions. We're talking about having a feeling word bank for the fill in the blank area:
Happy, sad, annoyed, afraid, proud, confused, grossed out, anxious/ nervous, glad, grateful, abandoned, neglected...
got any more feelings I could list? Or wording suggestions?